One of my Enneagram teachers once said that the natural state of the heart is that of gratitude. An open heart receives the impacts of life, moment by moment, like the ocean receives raindrops. No rejection and no coveting of any single drop – just the absorption of the part into the whole.
Like this, our heart has the capacity to open to suffering and joy with equal tenderness. In fact, this is what it calls us to. The secret of the heart is that it wants to feel everything. It wants to be fully alive and learn all that it can from the trials and celebrations of life. Our ego has other plans. It says a fervent “thank you!” to all that is agreeable to it and an eager “no thanks” to everything that is not.
The other day I said to a friend that it is a miracle that we can experience suffering. It is nothing short of utterly amazing that we have consciousness that can experience anything – suffering or otherwise. Of course it’s not so amazing when ego grabs hold of the suffering and keeps us there, tormenting us with its blame and masochism.
The practice of yoga or meditation asks us to confront our suffering and stay the course with it, experientially, until it reveals to us the seed of liberation it contains. When we move closer to suffering and experience it fully, it transforms and leaves us with greater expansion and greater understanding. When this has happened in my life I am left humbled, and grateful.
Of course this is not easy work. It is painful to feel. It is terrifying to take the leap of faith that on the other side of the inferno of suffering is the promise land of greater wholeness. In honor of Thanksgiving, I wonder if it is possible to risk it. To soften the heart into non-judgment – you are as you are. To release expectation – life is as it is. Whatever life is moving in you today is a miracle. Can you receive it with an open heart and feel gratitude radiate from that part of you that just wants to be?
Just as it is.
Alive, conscious, and expanding.