How does one’s heart become open?

– How does one’s heart become open?
– It’s when you decide to trust. We talk about hearts closing, hearts opening, but the way I see it in reality, the heart is never closed. It has walls built around it that the mind puts there. It’s our mechanism of protection against feeling. The more mental a person is, the less they rely on feelings to give them information about their life. They figure everything out with their head. And that’s basically what the walls are. They’re just coping mechanisms. And when we talk about heart opening, it means that we are willing to let go of those protective mechanisms and trust that the heart can’t be hurt.
– So an actual decision to let go of the wall? Like deciding to let go of the old story?
– Yes, of the old story, of protective mechanisms, of the fear of the child. The fear is always about the overwhelm, about feeling so many feelings that we do not have guidance with, that we are left alone with, and a lot of these feelings are uncomfortable feelings and we don’t know how to work through them . . . how to get from feeling alone to feeling held. And ideally you learn all of these things in the family. You learn that when you feel alone, when you feel hungry, when you feel tired, you call and somebody comes and fills that need. And that’s how trust builds. And the more trust builds, the more resilient you become when maybe sometimes there is no one coming, or not right away. You can weather that. But if you, from the start, feel this neglect or the nonresponse so many times, then you lose the trust that it is coming, and then you can’t see it anymore when it is, because you already set yourself up to not feel it, to not feel disappointed anymore, to not feel at all basically. So then you can also not feel when something good is coming. And that is usually what happens in most people’s lives where they built these walls to just not feel and live their life with their mental capacity. But the heart is still there it’s just the voice is not heard. The heart is still open, it’s just we’re not listening.
– It’s open underneath the wall.
– Yeah, underneath the wall, and it’s still processing, and it’s still feeling. If we truly didn’t feel it, we wouldn’t be sitting here at all. But we continuously re-enact the old story, we’re still getting hurt, we’re still protecting, so we’re living in an illusion of what really is. It’s a story. I can feel my heart opening when I am touched, anything that touches me whether it’s a happy thing or a sad thing, or a beautiful thing . . . I can feel literally my chest opening . . . . and it usually reaches my eyes right away. I feel some tears behind my eyes that do not have to actually appear, but I can feel my eyes filling with tears. And it’s a really exquisite feeling … I love that feeling. I don’t judge it. I feel so alive when it opens.
– How do you keep your heart protected once the walls are down?
– There is no protection necessary. You don’t need protection. It’s an illusion that we can get hurt. Who’s there to hurt? Maybe I’m naïve, but the way I operate, the way I feel it is that the whole world is just an extension of myself and whatever reflects back to me is always myself. So the more my heart is open and loving, the more love I feel and see around me.

(B. Sztab and A Burdziuk, personal communication, December 11, 2011)