…by Suzanne Falter-Barnes
Five years ago a psychic in Key West, FL told me something I\’m only
just now beginning to understand. As I sat there in front of her, in a
darkened room all full of incense, she intoned: “You\’ll have the
success you want, Suzanne… but only when you open your heart.” I
wasn\’t sure what this meant, exactly, but I did what any good self-help
devotee would do. I set out to crack the code on what ‘opening your
heart\’ meant.

My first stop was the aromatherapy store, where I spent a good hour
sniffing this and that until I\’d whipped up my own little brew designed
to split open a congested heart chakra. (Mind you, I had no idea what I
was doing, but this did seem like the place to start.) Then I headed
over to my friend, Mary, the Oriental Medicine Woman. Mary listened to
me quite seriously when I requested she set lots of needles that would
open my heart. After the third treatment, she gingerly asked how it was
going. “I don\’t know,” I replied. “Well, what would ‘opening your
heart\’ be like?” she asked. Again, I could not answer. Meanwhile, a
nightly application of my heart chakra oil was giving me nothing but a
greasy, rose-scented chest.

Ultimately, I forgot about opening my heart as the whirlwind of life
sucked me on toward the next endeavor. Then one night I sat up in bed,
suddenly aware of exactly what opening my heart really means. It means
working hard on your passion, and investing time, money, and energy in
getting it out there. It means doing whatever you have to do to follow
your gut instincts and act on them. And it means facing down fear, and
being uncomfortable, and having the courage to truly share yourself
with others.

I knew this already. I\’d learned it the first time I put together and
lead a How Much Joy Can You Stand? workshop. During the weeks that I
created it, I was racked with doubt; in the following weeks, when I
worked on filling it, I had to keep making one uncomfortable phone call
after another. Then, when I actually led it, I leapt from one peak of
euphoria to another slippery point of fear, again and again. And yet,
when that first day was over, we all seemed to be floating a few feet
above the ground. For the first time, with my own eyes, I saw how I had
really moved people. The feeling was one of deep, intimate connection;
it was profound and unforgettable.

These days my work seems to be carrying me along in a tidal wave that
moves at warp speed. I used to worry about being overwhelmed; now I\’m
just hoping I remember to do basic things like eat and meet the school
bus. I wake up every morning flooded with ideas and instructions on the
many projects I feel guided to do. And instead of worrying or panicking
— I find I\’m just following along, open, willing, doing.

That seems to be what opening your heart is all about. And I\’ve gotten
here not by some external mechanism like aromatherapy, but simply by
following my path and doing what I\’m intuitively guided to do.

‘Open your heart\’ is another way to say “Touch someone else, as truly
and deeply as you can.” And as you do, prepare to be touched in return.
For this is the continuum your creative gifts will always provide. You
long to express yourself, so you do. And what you receive in return is
not only creative fulfillment, but the beauty of knowing you have had
an impact on another soul.

So why does such a pure act of goodness require courage? Because
ultimately we fear that very power that we crave, just as much as we
shy away from the tenderness of our love for our fellow man. Such
intimacy brings up all our most ‘uncool\’ feelings; it makes us realize
the tremendous responsibility that comes with living a life of
integrity. Suddenly it is no longer okay to live with mediocrity.
Instead, you\’ve tasted true depth and meaning… so you have no choice
but to open your heart again and again, as you make sharing your gifts
a regular part of your life.

This is a perfect plan, one you can even enjoy once you relax into it.
I invite you to dig a little deeper and open the piece of your heart
that remains hidden. All you will receive in return is love, growth,
and a sense that all is right with the world.