“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of liberation and a foundation for inner security.” – Albert Einstein
This connects beautifully to the blog post of day 1 which started off with words from David Abram who I had listened to the night before:
“It is not until you allow every other being and everything else around you to be fully alive, that you will be and feel fully alive.”
Today, a week later I’m obviously not quoting Einstein after having met him in person yesterday, but because I came across this quote while reading a book in the sunshine this morning. It weaves wonderfully into Abram’s quote and holds a lot of treasures regarding vitality as well. Some months ago, I had realized that vitality is closely related to an experience of connection and a longing for wholeness. I’ve started to wonder, so how do we get there? If I was to choose the most important part of the Einstein quote above, it would be the following:
“[…] widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”
If I was to narrow it down even more, it would look like this:
“[…] compassion […]“
If one wants to look at compassion, it’s in the heart where it’s located. If compassion is important for moving closer to an experience of wholeness and with that increased vitality, then the opening of the heart seems to be important in this as well. Letting it all in, feeling more deeply. Our heart is a special and mysterious thing, capable of so much during a whole lifetime, beating continuously from before birth, until sometime to the moment of the very last breath. Not only physically, it is a powerful sensing organ as we indulge in euphoria or suffer from very sharp emotional pain at other times, it is home to this vital thing called love…
Over the past years, I have started to experience how we can consciously open our own heart, by means of mind and body.
Through studying Theory U, a leadership tool, I learned what a huge impact empathic listening has on the quality of a conversation. By bringing one’s awareness to one’s heart while listening to someone else, a deeper connection builds up and the outcome may be of a different kind than when only listening with one’s rational mind.
Another tool regarding the opening of the heart is good old yoga.
Physically stretching the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and belly, heart openers can create a deep emotional release, and with that help to move from a stuck emotion with a closed heart to a more open and flowing feeling which creates new space for compassion.
FALLING IN LOVE
A natural ‘tool’ that we luckily all have on board from the very beginning (and that we get to practice our whole lifetime): When falling in love, the heart opens magically wide and it becomes easy to embrace all the beauty and be compassionate to others.
This smooth feeling of warmth and life in the chest – that’s vitality, and that’s also often due to an open heart. So, one step toward wholeness and vitality is the opening of the heart. Let’s practice yoga or give our heart some attention, or do really whatever in order to make it happen. Let’s fall in love.
From attention, to opening, to connection, to wholeness.
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