What does it mean to live with an open heart? Well, for me it means quite a few things, but ultimately an open heart leads to increased moments of joy and ease in life.

For starters, living with an open heart means sitting with discomfort rather than avoiding. Life is filled with struggles. We can try and avoid suffering and discomfort, but it will always catch up to us. When we try and ignore difficult emotions life sadness and grief they get stored in the body. They then manifest into psychical pain, anxiety, anger and/or irritability. Living with an open heart involves relaxing into those difficult experiences. Reminding ourselves that it is OK to feel those things. Yeah, it’s pretty uncomfortable, but it is temporary. We won’t always feel that way! When I am teaching yoga and I bring my students into a posture that may feel really challenging, I always remind them to notice where the discomfort is and to bring awareness there. I remind them that it is temporary. They won’t always experience that intense stretch, just like they won’t always experience intense sadness or grief.

Secondly, living with an open heart means being compassionate towards ourselves. We tend to be our own worst critic. We are SO hard on ourselves. If we are kind and compassionate towards ourselves we will be more compassionate towards others. Trust me! Next time you’re in pain, see if you can bring that loving-kindness to yourself. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.

Next, just like we relax into our own discomfort, relax into somebody else’s pain. Next time you see somebody who is suffering, take a moment to sit with their pain. If you’d like, you can even practice breathing in their pain, letting it touch you, and then exhaling out healing relief towards that person. This might be a practice to consider once you have practiced self-compassion for a bit.

How to live a more heart lead life? Here are some tips.

Reduce distraction. We tend to be so distracted that we can pretty easily lose that connection with our hearts. By reducing distraction we can be more present with ourselves, others, and our natural surroundings. We all have inherent and basic wisdom and our body keeps the score. If we quiet the mind by reducing distraction, our inherent heart-wisdom will be more apparent. Next time you go for a run or walk leave the phone at home!

Notice when you’re judging yourself and others. Then when you notice you have judged, meet yourself with compassion. It’s okay that you made a judgement, but by bringing more and more awareness to the judging you’re doing, you may notice that you judge less.

Notice when fear takes over. You don’t have to do anything different when you notice the fear. Just notice it.

Bring awareness to your heart. Bring a hand to your heart center. Stay there and breath for a few minutes. What do you notice?