Heartbreak is its own breed of crisis. No, it’s not the grating, workaday kind of stress. It’s the break-you-in-half kind that changes the way you see the world, and often, yourself.
It seems worth addressing in the wake of Valentine’s Day, a holiday associated with heart-shaped everything and the dream of everlasting love. (Take it from someone who’s been dumped more than once within the haloed glow of this Hallmark holiday.)
If you happen to be going through a heartbreak yourself, whether it be a long, wounded, limping close or the shock you didn’t see coming, you will find no advice kinder and deeper and more vital to healing the human spirit than that of Buddhist teacher Susan Piver, author of The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, whose work I’ve long admired.
Susan taught me something about heartbreak no one had said to me before: That heartbreak gives you something that nothing else can—that it opens you up in a way that not only should you not fear, but embrace. I realized how much sense this made to me—how, in the wake of my own many breakups, I’d felt closer to friends and even coworkers who knew what I was going through. How reaching out to my rich, enduring connections were the only thing keeping me from crying all the time.
It’s as if this disorienting experience gives us a window into our own power and ability to love, even in the midst of tremendous vulnerability. The key is to embrace it, and one way is through Loving Kindness Meditation.
She writes on her site that though the idea of loving anyone, including yourself, feels impossible when you’re feeling cold and enraged, it can be the balm to that wound.
Try It: Loving Kindness Meditation
Here’s an excerpt of Susan’s instructions on how:
“To begin the practice, sit or lie down somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes. Take a few minutes to settle down by focusing on your breath until you feel that you’re actually there.
Then bring to mind a sense of how hard you have worked in your life to find happiness…In this and other circumstances, you have done your best and sometimes this has resulted in happiness, sometimes in sorrow. Either way, your intention was to find happiness, joy, and contentment…Feel, as fully as you can, what it feels like when you try really hard and then suffer a loss like this. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Even yourself. With this in mind, send yourself the following wishes:
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I be peaceful.
May I live with ease.”
….After practicing this on yourself, she walks you through the same meditation, with a focus on a loved one, and then a stranger, and then, the enemy—a person who has hurt you, perhaps the one who broke your heart.
“Doing this practice may be quite difficult, or it may not,” she writes. “If it raises feelings of grief, rage, confusion, impatience, hang in there. Do not try to push these feelings away. Let them in. Try to feel them without—and this is the most important thing ever— judging yourself or the meaning of your feelings. Just feel. If you cry or fume, it’s OK.”
You will ultimately be OK, too. You will.
(Read Piver’s complete post here.)
Terri Trespicio is a media personality, lifestyle expert, and coach. Visit her at territrespicio.com.