Thursday, August 5, 2010

Letting the Heart Open Wide

I like to pick random Dharma talks from teachers I don't know and listen to them while I take the dog out for a walk. Last night, was an old talk from Rebecca Dixon on the 'Four Noble Attainments'. Something Rebecca said resonated profoundly with where I am these days:
"May the suffering you encounter, open your heart enough that it can let in all that is true in this moment."
This morning, talking to my mother on the phone, I let my heart open wide. 

She was lost, did not know where she was. "I am so lonely here."I noticed painful pinch in my heart, and the temptation to close it quickly so as not to feel. Instead, I let myself be with her and her pain. "Yes, it is lonely. Growing old is no fun, isn't it?" She wanted to know where she was. I explained she was in a retirement home, where she did not have to worry about cooking or anything. It was a safe place. "Is the apartment mine?" Yes, it is yours. "Where am I?" she asked again. You are in a retirement home. "What time is it?" It is time for dinner soon, and one of the helpers is going to come and take you to the dining room. " When are you coming? I am all alone here." I will come soon, and will tell you when I know an exact date. My brother is coming to see you with his family next week. Beyond the words, I could feel her distress, and the immensity of her disorientation. She asked about her old house. "When will I go there again? It is such a wonderful, big home. I am rich, you know." Yes, you are rich, maman, and yes, the house is beautiful . . . 

Keeping the heart open wide, for my pain, and her pain. 

How open is your heart, today?


  1. Poignant and powerful words...Letting the heart open wide enough to take in my own pain and the pain of others. Having an open heart to receive what is present in this moment. So often the heart is clenched, like the jaw is clenched, and I am completely unaware of it. It is the shutting of the heart that hurts.
    Thank you for this post.

  2. "It is the shutting of the heart that hurts" . Beautiful!

    I was just reflecting on that after I wrote the post. Thinking about the opposite experience, of feeling so much joy from having experienced open heart. You are absolutely right. It is that clenching in the most tender of places that creates so much of our unnecessary suffering.

  3. lovely post, both lyrical & instructive, showing us the simplicity involved in doing this. The old it's not easy but it's simple. Thank-you!

  4. Thank you ZenDot!

    The question is if it so simple, how come we don't let it happen more often? :)

  5. I am reading through some of the Alzheimer's tagged posts, am eager to read more soon. This one made me cry. I suppose my heart is especially open this week, and especially to this... It is hard, it is painful. I feel gratitude to live so close to my grandmother now (she's in a retirement home near me) and to be part of her life.

    "It is that clenching in the most tender of places that creates so much of our unnecessary suffering."

    Beautiful... Such a good reminder, that I can stopping fighting my grief about various things and just allow the tender-heartedness. So hard sometimes.

  6. Oh! thank you Jess, for sharing your tenderness.

    And much loving kindness to you and your grandmother!