Ten Thousand Days

Open Heart Surgery

August 8, 2018

Photo: Jared Rice

Day 1436 – Day 1443

This past weekend,  I stumbled upon an outdoor yoga class at Whistler.  I didn’t have my yoga mat, but grateful to have been in the right place at the right time,  I said ‘yes’ to life and joined the class, with nothing but the sky above me and the grass below me.

The sun salutation – which we did 108 times – is a good overall regimen for stretching, forward bending, inversion, back bending and stillness.  Just as it is important to let go of tension in yoga postures, I’ve had to learn to let go of what was never mine to carry, in the rest of my life.

A theme in my life has been other people’s projections onto me.  We all experience this, but ministers get a particular set of projections that people feel comfortable flinging our way.  Doctors, lawyers, and psychiatrists, to name a few, get their own special sets of projections.  Whenever I’ve refused to live up to these projections, a good dose of anger and a whole host of other projections follow.

As I flowed through the sun salutations, I thought of a few people and their projections, and I set them free into the grass below me, and into the sky above.   I’m grateful for that self awareness.  After we finished the series, we did a heart opening posture, and the teacher had us join together to support one another physically, in a gesture of Oneness.  She had us speak an affirmation for ourselves and those we supported.  I could barely speak.

Oh dear.

There is a lot of stuff I’m still carrying in my heart, and I don’t think that all of it was ever mine to carry.

Last week I wrote about being in a weird place of recognizing that something has completed.  Sometimes there are bits and bobs that linger and hide in our bodies.  Trauma gets stored in the body and we can put up walls that defend against further attack, but this also traps, within us, what has already caused us pain. This is, quite literally, our emotional armour.

I am reminded of the Osho Zen Tarot card “Fighting” and of the messages it conveys.

Long ago, but not long enough ago, I wasted a lot of spiritual energy and precious time responding to the projections of a person in my personal life.  He projected his own aspirations and his failures onto me. While I fought these projections as unfair, I failed to notice that I had absent-mindedly dressed myself in them, like old clothes.  Wearing them got me nowhere.  Fighting them got me nowhere.  It wasted more of my time and energy which would have been better spent on myself and my own spiritual goals.   His projections were never mine to carry.   But, I stayed engaged in the battle with them until he cut me to the bone.

I’ve taken off those old clothes, but what I’ve found under them is an emotional armour around my heart, created to protect me from that relationship.  The relationship is long over but the pain is trapped in my body.

My spiritual path involves a meditation focused on the heart.   I need to open my armoured heart and release the painthat lingers in my pericardium and in the spaces between my vertebra. (I’m grateful for the self awareness to know where my sadness hides in my own body.) I cannot achieve my spiritual goals (or other goals, for that matter) carrying this pain that was never mine to carry.

But to relinquish the armour, I must feel safe.

I dreamed this week that I was trying to show my photo to this man but he had no interest in seeing it.  The photo was starkly black and white.  Half of my face was fully in shadow, and half was in the light.  At one time his projections were that I was all good and divine ( a popular projection for a minister), and suddenly,  when I challenged him, I was all bad.  But I am not the Jekyll and Hyde personality.  His projections did not come through in the image of me.  It was neither all black nor all white.  It was a complete balance of both dark and light.

A wayfarer needs both kindness and firmness, both humility and self-respect, both immunity to projection and acceptance of one’s own truth.  Perhaps it is not so important that he – or anyone else – see me for who I am.   Perhaps it is me that needs to see and accept the potency of my own duality.  My shadow self is the carrier of many gifts, including the anger that – unacknowledged, can turn to stubborn fighting – or, if integrated into wholeness, can act as the catalyst to maintain strong but flexible boundaries that keep me safe to open my heart again.

The lesson of the Tarot card “Fighting” is that by armouring ourselves, we shut out pain, but we also shut our hearts.  We are neither able to love anyone else, nor ourselves.   How can we love what we cannot acknowledge and accept?

Only an open heart will be my path to true strength and power.


Photo: Dave Contreras


For what are you most grateful, today?


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