My ability to present in the world with an open heart
depends on my ability to be present to myself with an open heart.
Dani Shapiro shared this quote by Sylvia Boorstein in her memoir, Devotion. At our recent workshop, Dani told the story of when she met Sylvia at Kripalu, and how, quite unexpectedly she became an important influence in her own spiritual journey.
In the year since I first read Devotion, my beloved copy has been dog-eared and phrases underlined with the wispy grey of my pencil. Her words were an important catalyst in my own journey. This quote, in particular, is marked with several !!!, a salient reminder of how it resonated with me. As I fingered the pages today, thinking random thoughts about how far I’ve come and how far I believe I still have to go, I came across it again.
To be present to myself with an open heart.
This has been the hardest part of my journey. I’ve learned to recognize and respect my limitations. In doing that, I’ve managed to calm many of my stormy waters, but not to master them. And while this has led to self-acceptance and understanding, I still struggle to love myself.
When I wrote about Dani’s words, I described how Devotion whispered to me with newfound knowledge and inspiration. I discussed how hard it is to accept ourselves, with all our flaws and weaknesses. Not only to accept but to love and cherish. This is truly the ultimate challenge.
She, and many others, unlocked deep and primal longings that had been resting dormant arguably all my life. In the last year or more, the bits and pieces have begun to unfold, to stretch and yawn as if waking from a long slumber. As they have I’ve been rocked to my core by their beauty and turmoil. In their urgency to be recognized, they’ve become tangled together vying for my full and complete attention.
But my attentions are divided. Divided between real life, and change. And I’m balancing tenuously in between, trying to bridge the gap and fill my life with the meaning and contentment that blends them both.
What I now know, that I never did before, is that there is no rush. As my heart’s cadence has slowed to a manageable rhythm, I’ve learned that there are pockets of joy in the journey, and while each step forward sometimes feels more like two steps back, this work matters and makes a difference. Piece by piece, I’m slowly untangling the confusion.
As I do, I find myself hoping more than ever that the turmoil will settle completely into beauty, and then maybe I will have learned to be present to myself with an open heart.