Driving in this morning, I was thinking about what to write.  What needs to be said.  This week has had me bare witness to so many feelings, so many stories of pain and regret, of joy, of confusion, of hurt and disenfranchisement, things to celebrate and reasons to grieve.  As a healer and therapist, I walk within these realms of feelings and life changing moments all the time.  It is a blessing to be invited to witness it, it is humbling to see the human spirit in the raw and in its glory.

We so regularly stuff our vulnerable self into the shadow, it takes a brave heart to hold the tension of vulnerability and the unknown.  The question often hangs in the air- is this what I need to do?  Must I lay down my defenses and feel the vulnerability?  With gentleness I say- yes.  Surprisingly, the most common reaction to that answer is relief, and my theory as to why is because if you are ready to ask it, then you are ready to do it.

Of course, when we are ready to feel our vulnerability, we are going to need to support it.  Likely you are going to need a healthy balance of authentic connection with others as well as time alone.  To determine what you need, live from your heart.  Every time I find myself in the midst of a tidal wave, I sink into that center of my body.  When I do, I find it swimming with energy, whispering to me what I need in that moment, allowing me to feel deeply what is around me without being sucked under.  It kind of feels like I am on an inner tube, bobbing along with the energy of the wave but safely keeping my head above water.

The heart chakra is said to be the wellspring of love, warmth and compassion.  It is the center of our generosity, our connection to others, our recognition that we are all interconnected.  It is not uncommon for pain and suffering to bring out a protective drive with our heart chakra- to fold in and withdraw, and if you are in an unsafe situation this is imperative.  To live from the heart, it may be necessary to make changes, to say goodbye to those who are not safe or respectful of boundaries.  Having a life threatening condition can clarify rather quickly what needs to be done.

If you are wanting to connect to or open up your heart chakra, taking an inventory of those needs is really important.  Once you are meeting those needs, there are yoga poses that can help open the heart and chest area.  When my heart was heavy with grief, I turned daily to my art journal, finding the color, shape and form that matched what I was feeling inside and then quietly free writing what I discovered.  There was this cd we played frequently when my mom was dying, Mark Kelso’s For God Alone, and thee was one particular track that I associated with the final breath she ever took.  I used to play it a lot when I was journaling, and one day I decided to look at the name of the song.  It was called, “Pain in my Heart”.  It couldn’t have been more accurate.

The tidal wave is overwhelming, I hope that these words help you today.

– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor, who works as an oncology counselor at the Dempsey Center. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions, in person or via Skype, workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss one by visiting our website, Creative Transformations, where you will also find the links to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.