Updated: Aug 12, 2021
"Riding on the golden flames of our power center (solar plexus), we now arrive at the very heart of the chakra system. Here, in a band of green, lies the center of the rainbow bridge, the midpoint of our journey. Like the green growing plants, which push toward the heavens from their roots in the earth, we too reach outwards in two directions - anchoring the manifesting current deep in our bodies and expanding the liberating current as we reach beyond ourselves. In the heart chakra, these currents come to perfect balance in the center of our being. From that sacred center the heart of the system - we enter the mystery of love." - Eastern Body, Western Mind, Anodea Judith
Its right is to love and be loved.
Its element is air.
Its color is green.
So we have made our way up the chakras and find ourselves at the heart of it all. The heart chakra is the center of the 3 lower chakras ( physical, survival, ego) and the 3 higher chakras ( expansion, wisdom, spirit/ consciousness). It can be likened to the meeting point of heaven and earth. What a powerful place this sacred seat of the heart is. And in this sacred seat can be found such gems as compassion, love, harmony, relationship, nurture, patience, kindness, generosity, and bliss. It is here that we learn to integrate and find balance within ourselves so that our consciousness can expand. It is here where we first develop a loving relationship with ourselves, so that we may cultivate loving relationships with others.
Let's explore a little more...
Love - it's not just a word its a verb
Love is not just something you say or feel, it is something you must do too. Perhaps we overuse the word love so much the meaning has been diluted, or perhaps we use the word without any substance at all. Either way, there's a timeless phrase that perfectly simplifies this, 'actions speak louder than words'. I can attest myself that I have believed that just saying I love you was enough, and later realized that my actions perhaps may have said something else. You see - to love is a verb, it is something you do, not just feel. Of course, we do most certainly feel love, but that feeling is born out of action, and it's the dynamic action of giving and receiving.
"Love is a daily, even hourly, conscious commitment to behave in a loving and caring fashion toward ourselves and others"- Eastern body Western Mind
Love like any feeling can ebb and flow, so it must be worked on consistently and devotionally. We must constantly tend to it like a garden, watering, weeding, tenderly nurturing the space so that it continues to flourish and grow. Stop tending to the garden, and the once manageable weeds spread out of control and all the beautiful seeds that once bloomed and flourished begin to wilt and wither.
Love is also expressed not with just what we do, but the way we do it.
We can look after someone, tend to their needs, and be there for them regularly, but there will be a stark difference if we do that with a tinge of resentment, frustration, impatience or when we truly do it from a place of selfless service and compassion. Imagine someone giving you a cup of tea carefully with a smile, or placing it down so heavily they basically throw it at you so it splashes everywhere and their face is clearly not showing any signs of warmth or kindness. Both are acts of service, but it's the way the service was given that made all the difference.
We can all take love for granted from time to time, the love we have for ourselves, and the love we share with others. It's good to look honestly at our gardens occasionally and do some digging and weeding if they have been a bit neglected for a while. It's amazing how quickly things spring back to life when we do.
Relationships - With Self, With Other
Where love is concerned, relationships will blossom. The heart chakra is all about connection and relationship. First, it must start with a healthy, loving relationship with the self. If the 3rd chakra is balanced, we will have a strong sense of self-esteem, self-worth and a healthy sense of "I". For how can we connect and love another, if we have not yet established what that feels like within ourselves? How can we honor another, feel compassion for, or simply respect another if we have yet to develop that within our own self? Our relationship with the other reflects the relationship we have within our own intimate space. If you find you struggle in relationships with other people, in any form, it is very wise to go back and address the relationship you have with yourself first. And remember, it is in the small actions you take, each and every day that cultivates that love towards self.
When we know and honor the self within, then we can begin to honor and truly know another. Relationships are where we start to move away from the 'I' centered ego into a more expansive intimacy. Now that we know how to meet our needs and feel loved, we can then begin to reach out and meet the needs of others. We are social beings and we need to feel love and intimacy. In fact, it is only through relationships with others that we can truly evolve into our fullest potential. However, it is true also, that to love is to lose and we have all most likely experienced loss of love at some point in our lives. Falling in love can be hands down the most ecstatic feeling in the world, and losing love can be by far the most devastating. I have myself many times, felt that relationships were too difficult, or the potential loss too devastating, that I wish to run away quickly, not get too attached or open too much. I have shut down and closed my heart the moment things began to get a little bumpy. BUT... one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that it is actually through love you heal the broken pieces of the heart. That love is difficult because it becomes a mirror where all those shadowy pieces of ourselves we so neatly try to conceal are revealed in all their glory and to open the heart means to expose the most fragile and vulnerable parts of us. True love should hold space for those hidden pieces to come to the surface, to be loved, accepted, and beheld for what they are, just pieces of the beautiful sacred puzzle of you. THIS is where healing happens, through relationships. However, in order for that process to happen, the other must also be able to do the same, to show you all the fragile, vulnerable, wounded, and scarred pieces of them and to know they too will be loved and accepted unconditionally, even for all of their light and their shadow. And it is for this reason, true love can change the world, for only hurt people can hurt people. It's the same for love between siblings, parents, communities, friends, and strangers. We are all looking to be loved, unconditionally. There is an inner-child within us all that just needs to be loved. Imagine what the world would look like if we all learned how to really love?
It goes without saying that when we begin to truly open to and cultivate stronger love within our hearts, we also become more compassionate, kind, and forgiving too. Unconditional love and acceptance is the foundation for compassion, or is it that compassion is the foundation for love? Either way, the two go hand in hand. Compassion is an act of understanding or seeing the pain in ourselves or another and wanting to ease that pain. It is the desire to end suffering and starts with the ability to relate to the suffering so that we understand what it feels like, and understand what needs to be done to make it better. Sometimes, we can take compassionate action and actually help a situation improve, but other times compassion is simply just loving acceptance, and forgiveness. It's treating others with warmth, kindness, and caring, no matter what, and to be self-compassionate is treating ourselves in the exact same way, no matter what. It's a powerful thing to remember that we are all suffering, we all experience pain, we are all needing love and acceptance and that hurt people, hurt people. We can choose to either continue to pass the baton of pain and suffering on to the next person or show compassion and finally put the baton down. Compassion is the realization that we are all connected and all one and the same. We are all tender hearts that just... need... love.
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive". - Dalai Lama
Being right in the middle of the chakra system, the heart chakra is also concerned with balance. Only when we are in balance are we truly in peace and harmony within ourselves. It is the balance between our earthly, primal being and our spiritual, heavenly being. When someone isn't in balance here, they might be too concerned with the spirit and not grounded "away with the fairies", not able to function in the world, or.. they are too concerned with the body and neglect their spiritual purpose being too much 'I' centered and not enough expansion and connection.
We also need balance when it comes to love and the openness of our hearts. With an open heart, we need boundaries. With selfless love, we need to make sure we have a balance between give and take. We all know some people who have such a big heart they easily get taken advantage of, they may become too needy of affection or too smothering as they give it. Sometimes excessive love can become controlling love, or someone becomes so selfless, giving so much to others that they lose themselves entirely, neglecting their own needs and heart. Without the proper boundaries, our love becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. We don't need excessive love, but healthy and balanced love.
It is here at the heart chakra we must also balance the two energies within us, Yin and Yang, or masculine and feminine. We all, despite our gender, are made up of both. We may not be perfectly balanced in how much of each we have, oftentimes we are more dominant in one energy, but as long as we don't deny or repress the other, we will be harmonious. If we do deny and repress it in ourselves, because as an organism we will always seek balance, we will project it onto others. The perfect example is the male who represses their feminine side, projecting the feminine energy to their partner or wife, expecting them to be beautiful and soft, caring and kind, to make the home and deal with all of the emotional work. And, she is not allowed to have opinions, demand action, or take charge. The opposite is true when the feminine doesn't allow in her masculine side, she will then rely on her partner to be the hero, the fixer, the solver, and is more content with being in the passenger seat.
That works well if we find a partner who can fit those needs, but we are reliant on the other to find balance within ourselves. What happens when that relationship dissolves? Or what happens when the other starts to realize and awaken the dormant energies within themselves? The once emotionless man suddenly becomes emotional and no one knows how to deal with this new side now, or the woman finds her confidence and sense of power and ownership over decision making and begins to assert herself more? If there is no room for these energies to be transient, it could send the partner fleeing looking for someone who can fulfill the role once again, instead of looking within to find it within themselves. And if the relationship dissolves and the person is left on their own, and still hasn't embraced their other side, how will they function, for they always need the other half to make them whole. We shouldn't need another to make us whole, we should come together, as two whole beings who only amplify each other, not depend on each other for completion.
There should be a constant dance between the two energies. We all need both within us. Sometimes one is more dominant than the other, but we should have a healthy relationship with both so that we may find peace and harmony within ourselves, and within our relationships.
It is here in the heart chakra that integration of the self and the spirit happens. When we are balanced in the heart chakra, we feel loving, compassionate, kind, patient, peaceful, generous, forgiving, tolerant, and warm towards others and ourselves. We can also have too much or too little heart chakra energy and you can see in the diagram below what it would look like to be excessive or deficient. We want to be right in the middle, healthy, happy, and balanced.
The good news is, there are many ways to find balance again, and I know - when we put in the work, we really do see the results. Remember - love is not a word, it's a verb. It's what we do and how we do it :)
"There is only one happiness in this world, to love and be loved" - George Sand