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Waking up to an Open Heart

One year ago today, I started my long journey home from India, where I had just spent two of the most intense weeks of my life. Upon return, I simply wrote: “I never knew what an open heart felt like until I opened it.” Up until that point, I genuinely thought my heart was open… I mean, I’m a yoga teacher, a mother, a wife, I have a marvelous tribe of friends, I genuinely adore people and LOVE to connect… I’m a Cancer sun sign for goodness sake- so emotional, constantly FEELING- how could my heart not be open?

Let me back up to about a month before I traveled to India. I visited my integrative doctor in Atlanta just to get a check up, where she performed an energy test and the terrifying word “anger” kept creeping into the results. To be honest, when I read the results, I felt just that.. angry. I was physically getting angry because “I wasn’t angry.” And here was this kind doctor, sitting across from me (a yoga teacher) explaining about the heart chakra. “I know about the heart chakra,” I was thinking. She then went on to say I should consider a loving-kindness meditation everyday and went in to explaining what it was and what it meant. Again, my ego was about to explode… “I f’ing know what a loving-kindness meditation is and I have 10 mantras and mudras to go along with it.” Let’s just say- I was annoyed and shook…

This appointment was a 90 minute drive from my hometown, and the whole way home, I just kept obsessing about the fact that my body, my energy, and another human was telling me I was “angry.” This was my wake up call. You know, sometimes you just need to be woken up even if it’s abrupt and annoying. Sensation surfaces for a reason. It wasn’t random that my energy test showed anger all over it, yet I had convinced myself that this couldn’t be true. I thought, “I’m not angry, I’m just passionate.” True, I was/am extremely passionate, but I soon realized that I was, in fact, experiencing this intense feeling of anger, but it was merely because I genuinely wanted/want people to feel their best, to live their truth, and to experience the magic of this life. And when I encountered people who were suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, OR sleepwalking through life, I would often get angry that I couldn’t be of more service or that they didn’t want to make a change. But, looking back, I realize this was very much ego-driven and one of the greatest tests of my life.

Fast-forward to India… I arrived in the middle of the night, not knowing a soul. Alive, alert, exhausted, yet exhilarated- totally and completely ready for whatever was in store. For the first few days, I kept to myself. I was on an Ayurvedic Journey- a quest to understand the sister science of yoga by LIVING it in totality. Everyday I focused solely on nourishing the entirety of MY being. During the quiet of my days, I began to not only notice, but truly observe the people of this sacred land. Every single moment seemed to be a ritualistic act of devotion. The way they greet every being: “Namaste,” the light within me bows to the light within you, the way they pulled weeds- with profound intention, focus, and dedication, the way they spoke- as if you were the most important person they’d ever encountered- reminding me of the power of devotion. From the calls to prayer, to the way the performed their work, every single moment was a prayer for these gorgeous souls living in the land of vibrancy. 

This concept alone woke me up; but then one day it rained. 

Every other day had been sunny literally and figuratively, our days focused solely on relaxing, eating well, practicing yoga, meditation, journaling, and Ayurvedic treatments. I was spending one week at the Ayurvedic Center and then traveling into the land of profound spirituality for week two. I was prepared to have my world rocked when were to visit Varanasi (where the veil between the living and spirit world is thinnest) and the Taj Mahal, but it happened sooner than I expected. On that day, in Southern India, I sat on my front porch and watched the sky open, releasing the thickets raindrops I had ever witnessed. And it didn’t stop… The sidewalks became rivers and I watched the beautiful beings staying at the center scurry- running to a cooking class, treatment, or back to their rooms for shelter. When the rain exploded, so too did my eyes. It was as if I cried out tears I had been holding onto for a decade in that moment. And to be honest, I didn’t even really know why I was crying, I just finally let go. In the land of devotion, I realized anger is fear caught on fire and the water arrived to cleanse my weary soul. I didn’t even realize I had been bottled up for so many years, filled with spaces in my life that needed to be healed (specifically my throat chakra- home of communication). As a result of being closed off, I had been suffering from loss of voice, sinus infections, tense jaw, and more for my entire life. I bought into the notion that some things were just part of life and I was “born” this way. Not. The. Case… Sure, there are biological pains, illness, and disease in our lives but the symptoms of said issues don’t have to take over your life- they don’t have to be your norm. You can absolutely set yourself free. I mean, can you imagine a life with no pain??? Pain arises to remind us to check in and DEAL with something that’s going on emotionally or energetically in our lives. Before the rain, I had (not so randomly) developed a minor sinus infection (something I had suffered from my entire life)- why? because I was allowing my emotions to bottle up so intensely that they literally transformed into stuffed up mucus… This rain was THE release- I grabbed my journal and wrote for what must have been 2 hours and didn’t stop during the rest of the trip. When the rain finally softened, I welcomed relationships with the sisters on the adventure, I laughed more, spoke more (I said things OUT-LOUD I had never been courageous enough to say before), and finally melted my thick wall of protection, exhaled, and took action to open my heart.

From that day forward in India and once I arrived back home, my sole purpose became letting go and opening my heart. Please note, it was much easier to cruise through life on autopilot, allowing the intensities of life to grow into anger, but alas, we have been placed on this earth to wake up! 

I would later find out that my husband was offended when he read my words, “I never knew what an open heart felt like until I opened it.” He took it personally- that he was unable in our many years together to open my heart. I am here to remind you and myself today that it isn’t someone else’s job to open your heart- only YOU can do that. Do I love him? Of course. Have I opened my heart to him? Absolutely; but like the moon, we go through phases. When I got home from India, our marriage was on the rocks and I even considered divorce. I was focused solely on myself. Looking back, I certainly could have found a better balance, but in reality, I HAD to experience the intensity of an open heart for myself in that moment. I needed this time to fall in love with myself. For nearly my entire adult life, I had spent my days bottling up my own emotions and burying everything I felt in my past so that I could serve others- I started teaching yoga immediately out of college, got married when I was 24, opened a yoga studio 1.5 yrs later (while I was pregnant), and then went on to have 2 beautiful children back to back. My life was full of other people needing me and as a Cancer, I was so happy to give all of me. I was reminded, though, through this journey to India and the day it rained, that I had to open my heart to the divine alive within me and relearn to love, trust, and have faith. We cannot depend on other people to open our hearts, to let go of anger, or send love into our lives; we must find that for ourselves and then devote ourselves to the magic of surrender… over and over again.

Of course, India is insanely divine, but please know that to open your heart doesn’t mean one needs to travel across the globe- quite the contrary… We simply take the time to understand how powerful this life becomes when we finally confront our hearts. Some of the realizations I had on that rainy day in Southern India, I literally never even realized were hurting me- I had buried some things so deeply that honestly, my mind had forgotten about them, but my body had not. This heart, this body, this temple is more intelligent than we’ll ever really understand. So, if you’re reading this, I pray that this is the wake up call to TAKE ACTION toward opening the heart, by actively breathing LOVE into all that we do, think, or say. Get down and dirty with your emotions, awakening to any blockages in the physical body that show up as pain. Feelings and sensations, both positive and seemingly negative show up FOR us for a reason- and a damn good one. Any and all sensation is a calling, a beckoning, from the divine intelligence within and above to WAKE UP and open up. The ball is in your field (is that the saying? I don’t know… I know nothing about any sports and that is my truth)- the point being: the choice is yours to continue life in autopilot, allowing the mucus of burried emotions or events to continue to accumulate into actual pain or illness… OR we set ourselves free TODAY. 

This is NOT pretty work. It is heavy, intense, and often dramatic. But, it is essential. This is your LIFE we’re talking about. The only one we know for sure. That is not to be taken lightly. So, I ask that you consider taking this wake-up call seriously. Visit the journal feature on the moonlit app or grab a pen and paper and allow yourself to write a list- maybe even a dirty list- of anything and everything that pisses you off (past or present). Let yourself pour out anything that’s caused you to respond with anger or in fear. Put pen to paper or fingers to screen and remove the words from your heart. Then, DELETE it, rip it, or burn it- let it go and move on! You will feel lighter already, but what if you vowed to do this everyday for the next 7 days? Write, release, move on. REPEAT. This is our preparation for the upcoming Full Moon in Virgo. This virgo lunar event is one of cleansing, organization, and getting in tune with ourselves in order to prosper in our purpose. Although it requires work upfront, trust me when I say it’s worth it. To understand your highest purpose is the most powerful thing you will ever do for yourself. Please know that purpose evolves, just like we do, but we are always being led down the path to righteousness when we take the time to wake up and respond to our purpose. Pain (mentally, physically, and emotionally) shows up, stress is alive, and life feels heavy when we’re off the path toward our highest truth. These moments are gifts- little reminders, tugging at us and calling our attention, begging us to pause and check in. (By the way, if we don’t listen to said pain, stress, or weight, it will continue to show up until we deal with it…) When life feels a little off, it’s because it is. When we’re filled with anger, there’s a reason. May we TOGETHER wake up to anything clouding the heart and make the bold decision today to open it like never before!

Get ready for a major shift with this upcoming Full Moon- ritual, astro insight, guided meditation, and journal prompt all specific to THIS moon will be live on February 19th! Visit the moonlit app now and schedule a reminder!

Stay LIT,

Alee Link