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Mindful Leadership

Mindfulness Leadership in Action – Tip of the Week – When Your Heart Is Broken, Keep it Open

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As the holidays approach it is not unusual to experience greater stress and perhaps even to experience greater sensitivity. Often the holidays are a time for reflection. We may become aware of the inequities in society and that can touch us deeply or perhaps we may experience heightened emotion in dealing with family and friends.

Know that if you experience a broken heart, it is an opportunity to develop deep compassion. But this can only happen if you keep your heart open when the pain is deepest.

Here is what I mean: If you hear about children who may not have food or toys for the holidays your response may be deep sadness; you may feel broken hearted. Often the immediate response may be to shut down and turn away because it hurts too much or to immediately make a donation or run out to buy some toys. By behaving in either of those two ways you have, in the moment, potentially turned away from the pain. You shut down so it doesn’t hurt or try to “fix” the situation.

But there is an alternative strategy. Next time your heart is broken, keep it open. Stay present with the pain you are experiencing. Allow yourself to be torn apart. This will deepen your compassion. Now don’t confuse this with wallowing in the pain. You merely experience the pain and acknowledge it without resistance. No resistance means equanimity. And in that place of equanimity you will know what to do. Perhaps then you can make a donation or buy some toys, if this is possible for you. But you will be doing it from a very different place, not a place of relieving your pain, but rather from the place of relieving another’s pain.

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