If you have ever been hurt in love, you know how hard it can be to start over. Maybe it has been several months or even several years since your partner left your heart bruised and broken. In many ways, it can seem as though no time has passed at all because the pain is still very present. Well-meaning friends might encourage you to get back out there, be open, have fun. This sounds great in theory. As much as you want to, it is easier said than done. After all, if you burned your hand while cooking, wouldn’t you be a little skittish about going anywhere near the stove? And depending on the degree of the burn, you might swear off cooking indefinitely. So it is with love. We get hurt in the course of living and loving and then we want to permanently shut down our hearts so we never feel that hurt again. While that is a normal reaction, it is one that we have to move beyond in order to experience meaningful connections in our lives. Therefore, here are three ways to literally and figuratively move through that healing process and prepare your heart for love.
One of the first things people do when distressed is to stop breathing. If someone you love says he/she does not want to be with you anymore, or if he/she declares love for someone else, it can feel like the wind has been knocked out of you. Instinctually, you develop a pattern of holding your breath as if to brace yourself for the next attack. Breath holding is not good because it can actually intensify anxiety reactions. Therefore, one of the best ways to start to restore safety is to breathe. In doing so, you calm your physiology and tell your body to be at peace.
Some forms of breath work are alternate nostril breathing. Basically, you place a finger to close one nostril as you inhale. Then, you close that nostril, open the other, and exhale out through the opposite nostril. You do this for several rounds. It is designed to calm to heart and mind. You can also do 4-7-8 breathing. Breathe in for four counts, hold for seven counts, and exhale out for eight counts. This also induces a relaxation effect. It signals to your body that you are safe and there is nothing to fear.
Once safety is restored many people find that trust has to be restored as well. A lot of times people develop suspicion of others after heart break. People generalize their negative experiences with one person or even a few people and assume all people are bad. But what is probably even more detrimental than losing trust in others is losing trust in yourself. After heart break, some people blame themselves for not seeing the signs earlier. They might even feel ashamed for staying in an unhealthy situation longer than they should have stayed. This lack of trust in yourself can really interfere with opening up again because of fear that you won’t see what you need to see about another person and choose wisely. One of the ways to trust yourself again is through practicing authentic movement.
Authentic movement is an expressive form of improvisational dance. There is usually a mover and a witness. The mover closes her eyes and turns inward, listening to her thoughts, feelings, and impulses until she feels led to move. The witness, in turn, observes non-judgmentally and then mirrors back what is observed. It is a way to explore unconscious material and express feelings without words. For someone who is healing a heart break, some of the movement themes might relate to setting boundaries and protecting yourself. Perhaps movements might be more intense as you discharge the anger and grief from your previous breakup. Your authentic movement might be fun and playful as you recapture joy and spontaneity. You might also remain perfectly still. The purpose of the exercise is simply to listen to yourself and do what moves you. Do not worry if you don’t have a witness to observe your movement. Just play around with listening to yourself and responding, and in time, you will learn to trust yourself again.
A final way to heal your heart and prepare for love is to do heart opening yoga. As said in the beginning, the natural instinct after getting hurt is to close off. You do not go out as much, if at all. When you do meet people you do not really share who you are. You wait for them to wrong you instead of giving new connections the benefit of a doubt. This might feel safe initially. But if you remain in a prolonged state of guardedness and mistrust, you will keep yourself from the love you desire and deserve. Therefore, heart opening yoga is a great way to practice openness.
Heart opening yoga is a series of poses that expand your chest and rib cage. Some of these poses are upward facing dog, camel pose, fish pose, and more. These poses serve to stretch the areas that have been constricted and closed and make them mobile and open again. As breath and energy flows, you can start to feel lighter physically and emotionally. Then, when you set the intention of creating space in for love, the practice becomes even more powerful.
Perhaps after reading this article, something is stirring within you to get back out there, but you are paralyzed by fear. It is okay to take your time. In fact, allowing time to heal is wise. You need time to recover when someone you love walks away. The experience of it all can leave you second guessing and wondering what you did wrong and why you were not enough. At some point though, you have to be willing to let go of the past and try again. These three mindful movement practices can do wonders in healing hurt, rebuilding self-confidence, and preparing for love. Give it a try and see what pleasant surprises might be right around the corner.