For the past several weeks, I’ve been practicing my call to a more formal meditation practice and have been engaging with Susan Piver’s “Open Heart Project.” (It’s fabulous, by the way, and I highly recommend checking it out no matter what your level of experience with meditation practices.) In this week’s post, she speaks about the power of sorrow and a sense of permeability that allows us to receive input in fresh new ways. As I pondered this “softness” in myself, several instances immediately came to mind...
Recently while coaching a brilliant young woman, I heard her utter the words, “I’m not pretty enough” and my heart nearly broke wide open with sorrow. I thought perhaps I would burst into tears in our session because all I notice when I’m in her presence is the sheer beauty of who she is—both inside and out. Rather than fleeing my impulse to hide my tears as she spoke, I breathed more deeply and shared with her my experience. Our mutual acts of courage and tenderness left us both sniffling for several moments as we compassionately connected.
Yesterday while walking through Seattle’s Experience Music Project with my visiting 2nd cousin, I felt myself go all soft and mushy as his twelve-year-old, slightly sweaty palms entwined with my own fingers while he guided me through the horror exhibit and led me gleefully into the “scream room.”
And, you might as well knock me over with a feather and send in the box of tissues when I receive a compliment or praise on my book, As I Lay Pondering. I continue to be humbled and thrilled as others reveal how my words are touching their lives and helping shape their days. I can’t imagine my tender emotions ever abating on this topic.
I also saw “The Artist” today and found myself with a lump in my throat as tears dripped down the heroine’s cheeks and when “The Dog” repeatedly plead for his master’s well being.
I’ve always sniffled at Hallmark commercials and wiped my tear-filled eyes when the princess finds her prince, but something about this new “softness” feels rich and strong. Piver speaks about becoming “both more resilient and more gentle.” Yes. Strong and tender. Bold and humble. Fierce and mild. Open. Willing. Able to meet the world in new ways. Colors are more brilliant. Rain feels like a gentle cloak rather than a suffocating torrent. And if there were an 8th dwarf in Snow White’s crew (and I were it), you could just call me Softie.
So, is it meditation that’s making me soft? Hmmm... I’m off to ponder if that’s the case for these feelings or perhaps they are simply the residual effects of an increasingly open heart. Whatever it is, I think I like it.
Finally... when and where do you notice tenderness in your life? Would you prefer a little more softness? Or do you hold onto the notion that tenderness is weak? What if you could be both fierce and mild in the same moment... or greet the world with Technicolor vision? Would a few minutes of meditation each day be worth the time? How might you “soften” to this experience? I’d love to know where your pondering takes you!
btw - today's photo scene was so overwhelmingly beautiful to me on a recent walk, i implored my dear husband to stop and snap the shot... just one more example of having an open heart, methinks.