Hello and happy Valentine’s Day. It is a great day to think about love, although the same can be said of every day.
I returned yesterday from teaching a weekend workshop called The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, based on a book I wrote by that title. Once again, I was reminded of some very interesting things about love:
1. When we say we’re looking for love, most of us mean we’re looking for safety. Loving is the opposite of safe. Then what?
2. There is only one seat of power when it comes to love, and that is as a lover.
3. Heartbreak is simply love unbound from an object.
4. It is possible to stabilize your heart in this (broken) open state.
One of the best things ever said about love comes from Zen priest and poet, John Tarrant Roshi:
“Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it, we bless and are blessed.”
Perhaps above all, as Tarrant Roshi suggests, love is about the ability (and willingness) to simply pay attention to others, to be mindful of them. Of course a meditation practice teaches this exact skill. Please sign up for The Open Heart Project to receive instruction and support.
Am putting finishing touches on the audiobook for The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. I’m really excited about it. Here is Chapter Two: “Nothing Happens” 6:16 minutes long.
Sign up for my newsletter, “The Open Heart Project,” to connect more deeply, receive messages about working with the energy of the heart, and also for notifications of when the whole audiobook is available.
Today’s question: How do I deal with strong emotions during practice? Should I try to ignore them or make them go away? If so, how?
This is a great question. Usually, when we think of meditators, we imagine impossibly calm people who are unperturbed by anything. I don’t know about you, but this does not describe me. In fact, the more I meditate, the more I laugh, cry, rage, doubt, and rejoice. What I’ve learned is that rather than turning feelings off, meditation helps you relax, expand, and accommodate the entire range of your experience. In the end, this is far more vital, courageous, and practical than trying to narrow your world into a pre-approved subset of acceptable feelings. Which, PS, is never gonna happen, so we might as well learn to meet what terrifies and enrages (and delights and tickles) us by relaxing and opening to it rather than trying to shut it down. This is what meditation teaches you to do.
I’ve enjoyed answering your questions on these little videos. What’s your question?! Shoot me an email. I’ll try to answer it.
Thrilled to have met in person with Bridget for this fun, sweet, and soulful interview about love, heartbreak, and where true wisdom comes from. It’s 32 minutes long and if you’d like to listen, click on the image.
“I talked with Susan Piver about her book and about the purpose of heartbreak. If you’re in the space of heartbreak, this interview will help you. And if you’re in a place of deep love, this interview will help you too.
I thought I’d transcribe it, but I want you to hear the tenor of Susan’s voice, and the deep compassion she brings to even a simple conversation.”
Lovely speaking with Dr. Eric Schneider today on his online radio show, “About Relationships.”
We talked about the following:
- What made you (me!) write this book?
- What IS the wisdom of a broken heart? It hurts so much and generates so much confusion…
- How can we re-envision the pain as wisdom?
- What does Buddhism have to say about heartbreak?
- What is the definition of healing?
- What can people do to begin working with these incredibly strong emotions?
- How does heartbreak make you a spiritual warrior?
- And more…
- myths about meditation
- how to begin a simple meditation practice
- the benefits of meditation in PTSD recovery
- inner growth from trauma
- benefits of creativity in healing posttraumatic stress (ever heard of the word ‘vibing’?)
- the gift of hypervigilance — and how you can use it for good!
- how writing can help release and deal with overwhelming emotion
- how to dedicate the merit — and why you need to
- how to step away from and then toward your memories
Would you like to interview me for your blog?! I’d love to talk with you and support the December paperback publication of my book, “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Just email me!
I’m very excited about this. I hope the lower price will make it easier for people to purchase, gift, make use of. The hardcover was $23. That’s a lot! (Even though on Amazon, it was like $15 or something.) The paperback is $14 $9.45. That’s a huge difference and I’m really, really happy about it.
If you have a blog and think your readers would be interested in hearing about the themes in this book (love, attachment, spirituality, letting go, forgiveness, sadness vs depression, working with super strong emotions, opening up again, and so on), please be in touch. It doesn’t matter to me whether you have 10 or 10 zillion readers, I would love to contribute an interview, excerpt (brief, or Simon & Schuster will get mad at me), or short piece to your world. We can talk for five minutes or 3 hours. Well, maybe 1. We don’t want to exhaust ourselves.
Interviews can be done via email, phone, or some kind of videochat if you are so inclined.
The blogosphere is the living embodiment of people caring for people. We write from personal passion. We write to express ourselves honestly. We write to share what has helped us. We write to comfort, incite, teach, make art, and enhappify each other–and for myriad other reasons that do not include selling cosmetics, beer, tickets, and/or snuggies: not that there’s anything wrong with these things. But because it’s so straightforward and human, my most sought-after peeps are bloggers and their audiences. So please be in touch to arrange a conversation, either via comments below or by emailing me directly. Plus it would be fun to meet you. Meeting people and talking about intense feelings is my idea of a good time.
If you think you’d like to chat, but aren’t sure what to ask or say, we can figure it out together…
Since The Wisdom of a Broken Heart came out, I’ve had the honor of speaking with many people who are meeting this incredibly difficult life passage with courage and tenderness. We talk about the endless waves of grief, fear, and rage and how one could possibly weather them. We talk about the valuable, hard-won heart opening that can arise. And invariably, we touch on the possibility of loving again. Many believe they will never be able to do so and, if the possibility arose, would never, ever be able to trust it. When you know love can be lost at any time, how on earth could you try it again?! I’ve heard this question time and again. And time and again, I’ve sat down at my desk to see if I have anything useful to say because I really, really want to help. I’ve probably made a dozen false starts, trying to come at the question from all sorts of angles. Frankly, I did not come up with one thing worth saying.
Today I told myself I was going to sit in front of the computer until I could figure out what to say—because I know that it is possible to open to love again, even if your heart has been broken under the most egregious circumstances (which usually involve some kind of betrayal). It happens everyday. It happened to me. I’ve studied Buddhist teachings on compassion and wisdom and have every confidence they can teach you how. So why haven’t I been able to put something together?
Here’s why. All this time, I have been trying to figure out some kind of advice for how to leave your broken heart behind in order to enter a new relationship with confidence.
For better or worse, those two things—a broken heart and having confidence in love—are actually interdependent.
When most of say we’re looking for love, we really mean we’re looking for safety. When your heart has been broken, you realize that love can never be made safe and, in fact, efforts to make it so are related more to self-protection than opening yourself to the unpredictable, impossible-to-mandate waves of passion, confusion, joy, and disappointment that accompany love. To love, you have to be receptive, vulnerable. In fact, it is through vulnerability alone that we come by true love. So in one sense, when your heart is broken, you are ahead of the game. It makes you permanently vulnerable and thus is actually teaching you how to love. You learn how deep your longing for love is, and how much you have to give. You realize that love is by far the most important thing in your life. Your heart is not just broken, it is broken open and so you feel everything—your own joys and sorrows, but also other’s, unquestioningly. These attributes make you uniquely, outrageously suited to love—if you can learn to stabilize your heart in this state of openness. The traditional practice of loving kindness teaches you exactly how to do this. Please try it and see how it works for you. It is the balm that soothes all wounds.
Plus, there is one thing that makes it absolutely certain that you will be able to open to love again. That thing is love itself. When it comes to you, from you, through you, it is unmistakable. It chooses you, you don’t choose it and, like it or not, you open, unquestioningly. Of course, there is no telling how it will all turn out (there never, ever is), but when love is present, it quells outer, inner, and secret obstacles and you are reminded that your heart is absolutely indestructible. Over and over, it can refill with love on the spot. It never forgets how to do this. Love is the rising tide that lifts all boats, those of despair and those of shame, of rage, of terror, and of longing—to cast them once again upon the waves, heading who knows where, you and your beloved along for the ride. This is how it works. I have no idea why..
So definitely do your work: Explore the nature of your wounds. Develop methods of extreme self-care. Extend the hand of kindness to yourself as you work though these overwhelming emotions. Please do this for yourself. And as you do, don’t worry about how you’re ever going to open to love again. Love itself will do the work for you.
In the meantime, here’s what you can do to help: Relax. Relaxing here means stepping off the self-improvement treadmill and, instead of trying to change yourself, allowing your feelings to be just as they are without attaching a narrative to them. Make room for them and what you now consider as obstacles will reveal themselves simply as facets of wisdom. The practice of meditation is exactly this act.
I created a special version of The Practice of Tranquility (the practice suggested in my book), for those times when you feel that your heartbreak will never end and you are intolerably fragile..
And here is a good rule of thumb. When in doubt, sorrow, or despair: do less. Over and over, accept yourself on the spot. From this gesture of gentleness, great space opens and your deepest wisdom arises to guide you. This is guaranteed.