The Opening of the Heart

One of the most exquisite experiences you might encounter on your spiritual path is the opening of the heart center, which is often part of a full-blown kundalini awakening.

St. Teresa of Avila, the Christian mystic, described it eloquently as the piercing of her heart at the hands of an “extremely beautiful angel.” This experience left her “on fire with love for God,” causing a spiritual pain whose sweetness was “so surpassing” that she “could not possibly wish to be rid of it.” This sublime, yet sensuous rapture is aptly rendered by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 17th century masterpiece The Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Observe the statue: the arrow pierces the mystic’s chest, yet she does not recoil; instead, her body is both fully surrendered and engulfed in delight. This is the experience of having one’s heart centered opened.

Imagine an explosion of love where the bliss the Universe is lavishing unto you is pouring out of your own heart in a vortex of pure joy; in this process, the pain inflicted by the angel’s arrow stands for the separation from Source—how could you ever live yet another day under the spell of duality? While difficult to translate into words, this opening is a most ecstatic, luminous event that is bound to etch itself into your memory.

The lesson that this experience teaches you has profound implications for how you see the world and how you conceptualize your place in it. The love that your opened heart center feels is the love of the purest kind: it is agape as both unconditional and selfless. Its realization is that the more love you pour into the Universe, the more you are bound to receive.

Just as importantly, the opening of the heart pivots on the experiential recognition of a truth of a deeper order: the truth of your own infinite nature and the realization that you are one with all that is.

The cross is an apt symbol of this opening: as the axis of the human body, its vertical line connects the center of the earth as the manifest plane with the center of the Universe as pure consciousness; the horizontal line, instead, binds the individual to her fellow sentient beings. As the vertical and horizontal arms of the cross meet at the heart center, they allow for the energy of manifestation and that of consciousness to flow in mutual recognition and loving acceptance between the higher and the lower self as well as among all sentient beings. On the experiential level, this is the prana that gushes into healers’ hearts before radiating out of their hands and being shared with their fellow human beings.

The heart center is the wellspring of compassion as conscious empathy with all sentient beings; its love is the knowledge of Source. For its transformative and healing qualities to unfold properly, however, its opening requires a fully developed and well-grounded energy body: one where the flow of prana between consciousness and manifestation is unobstructed. For more information on how to safely open the heart center, see my Inner Alchemy course.

Image: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1647–1652), via Wikimedia.