Heartbreak is a universal human experience, yet having your heart break open on the spiritual path takes on a deeper meaning. It’s a wake up call to the suffering that exists not only within, but all around us.
You suddenly see the struggle everywhere, as if a light-switch has been flicked on. In the glowing light, the world looks like a different place, with previously hidden details now revealed.
This heartbreak can happen to anyone, even those not on a spiritual path. In this article, we’ll take a look at how this is a sign of progress, but also cover pitfalls to watch out for.
What is a “Heartbreak” on the Spiritual Path?
When the heart opens, and the veil drops, you see both the light and the shadow. There’s a sense of interconnectedness with all things.
You are no longer able to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. Instead, you feel everything fully, sometimes to the point of overwhelm and despair.
Yet it’s not just misery. There are days where I feel deep love for the whole of existence. Just seeing a bird fly past the window can bring up a sense of gratitude for life itself.
The Importance of Heartbreak on the Spiritual Path
At first, seeing the suffering can make you recoil, yet staying with what unfolds can be a catalyst for tremendous spiritual growth.
And what unfolds is not as it seems on the surface. While you may feel the suffering of the world, what it points to is what’s going on within.
It points to not only your fears and your mortality, but your beliefs about what the world should be like.
This doesn’t mean you don’t try to help those in need. It simply means that you look within first, wake up, and then act from a place of clarity.
Coping with Heartbreak on the Spiritual Path
While this heartbreak may at first seem terrifying, the more you sit with it, the more you begin to penetrate to the truth.
When deep sadness wells up within me, I simply take a moment. I welcome it in. I don’t try to push it, remove it, or change it.
I don’t go into my mind to distract myself. I become curious. Instead of labeling what I feel, I look deeper. What is this without a label, without judging it?
Where in the body is it? How does it move? Where does it move?
If you want to go deeper, use questions that point to the subject, such as: Who am I? Who wants to get rid of this feeling? Don’t go to the mind for answers. Stay with the sense experience, with what is here right now.
So I let the feeling do whatever it wants. It is welcome here.
What began as sadness may turn out to be the fear of death as you go deeper. Seeing the suffering of the world may on some level remind you of your own vulnerability and thwarted desires.
It may remind you of not getting what you want. Not being able to make a difference. Feeling helpless. Hopeless. Alone.
No matter what comes up, stay with it. Your mind may tell you to run, but that is precisely why you should face whatever arises.
Pitfalls to Avoid
There are quite a few pitfalls to avoid. Almost all of them have to do with distracting yourself from your direct experience.
Here are three pitfalls to keep in mind:
- Fix the world. Your first reaction may be to go outward, to fix the wrongs of the world, yet if you are willing to look within, you will see that there’s work to be done. If you have an authentic calling to help, you will find that your body naturally does so. Often the best gift you can offer the world is to wake up.
- Overwhelm. If you feel overwhelmed, there’s nothing wrong with distracting yourself for a bit. Read a book. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. You don’t have to solve this right here, right now. This will solve itself in due time. All you have to do is relax. Take it one second at a time.
- Repression. Perhaps the biggest pitfall is repressing what comes up. This whole process can be unpleasant, but the more you dive into those scary emotions, the more you see that there was nothing to be afraid of. It was only the mind that labeled the experience as unwanted.
Embracing the Gifts of Heartbreak on the Spiritual Path
The gifts of having your heart break open are a sense of interconnectedness with everything, a sense of love for even the people you used to dislike.
The pain you feel as you go through this is showing you why you aren’t feeling this way all the time.
It doesn’t mean you lose the ability to discern, nor does it mean you always feel blissful. You actually become more clear after a period of adjustment.
At first, the apparent suffering of the world overwhelmed me. I began to lose hope, yet eventually, I began to see through my own judgments of how things ought to be.
This heartbreak is constantly nudging you to look inward. Your mind will try to go outward in order to avoid the pain.
Use what surfaces to deepen your own awakening, because that’s what it is for.
This path is tough, but it’s okay. Let life guide you, and you’ll find a way through, as you’ve always done.
Everything is as it should be. Don’t worry.
You know what you signed up for, and you’re getting it, just not in the way your mind wants.
Be open to the resources life brings you in the form of techniques, meditations, books, ideas, videos, and seemingly random words from surprising sources.
In the end, this whole process happens by itself. You can let go.
All the best,