Recently, I had the honor of attending a deeply sorrowful life celebration of a 29.5 year old that was killed suddenly in a road accident. It was the first time in my adult life that I had been to a funeral of a soul that was taken suddenly. I say adult life because I remember being at the funeral of my day or two old brother who was born with a heart defect. I remember the deep sadness intermixed with anger from my parents who felt the injustice of having a child taken too quickly, without warning. But perhaps life is warning enough? The fact that we breathe is a reminder that any moment that breath could stop, and our time in this physical plane is over. The ever questioning of “Why?” so often echoes unanswered through our hearts and minds. Caroline Myss, best-selling author and speaker in the field of human consciousness and spirituality, often discusses the way humankind has been programmed to ever question in order to find that one explanation that will explain away our hurt. To help us understand “why” this dreadful act has occurred, and yet we don’t ask for the explanation in good times do we? Such as…Why is everyone so healthy? Why are all my loved ones being so kind to me? We have an expectation of wellbeing, but we are not entitled to it. It is out gift and our joy, but it does not come with a guarantee.
For this young man it was a life cut short. To be almost 30 years old, having come through the steep learning curve of childhood where so much emotional and intellectual programming has been laid, to go through the pubescent years of enormous highs and self conscious lows, to fly through the twenties with travel and career plans, great loves and great passions, and to almost reach the thirties where life purpose becomes a priority, and where your childhood becomes well and truly over as you notice the lines faintly carving around your eyes from laughter and tears, seems very unfair. It seems as though an explanation is in order, that really there should have been some kind of warning. But this is not what we agreed to when we came into physical formation at this time. We came to experience all. The worst most crushing pain and the highest most mind blowing joy. And what is at the heart of these experiences but love. Pure heartbreaking heart opening love. Through these heightened experiences and intense emotional journeys we are able to find that stream of love, that light flow of joy that comes through our creator, through our minds and hearts and flows between us, our neighbours, family, friends and strangers.
These experiences of loss and death can truly break our hearts. We feel the break. It’s both an emotional and physical pain. Tex Perkins in his band The Cruel Sea sings, “My heart is a muscle and it pumps blood like a big old black steam train.” Technically the heart is a myogenic muscular organ, (I looked it up on Wikipedia), composed of cardiac muscle and connective tissue. When I work my muscles through my Ashtanga Yoga practice, I often feel that fulfilling soreness in the muscles of my shoulder, arms, stomach and legs. I understand this to be membrane damage to the cells. That this slight tearing and ripping of the muscles strengthens me as the muscles become larger with the ability to bear more weight. I also understand that different chemical changes are going on in the muscle remodeling the soft tissue. The stronger I am, the deeper I can go into my yoga practice and reap the endless rewards of a strengthened and supple body. This helps me both on the mat and off the mat when faced with the pressures of life.
When we are in the midst of intense emotion at a funeral feeling the overwhelming burden of losing a loved one, and the deep compassion for the family and friends that the soul has left behind, our heart chakra can open up widely to allow our love to flow to that person and to give our love freely without judgment or conditions. Our love at this time is full and freely given. The pain we feel, I see as being as likened to the pain of my muscles through my yoga practice. The muscles must tear to grow, the muscles of my body breaking a little and reforming so that I can bear more weight. So that I can complete my practice with more heart, more breath and off the mat can have the energy and passion for my life. The human heart muscles can break a little and, on occasions like this funeral, entirely. Perhaps the brother, sister, father and mother, lover and friends of this man found their hearts breaking completely. The weight being too much to bear for these hearts, the tears starting in the heart, but like a fault line through the body ripping a brother/son/friend/lover shape through the core of their souls. This pain can break you or break you open. This is the decision that ultimately comes after a heartbreak. Do I dare to face that pain again? Do I shut up my heart mind and body covering myself with a metaphoric armor so that I can fool myself into believing that I can never be hurt again, or do I allow these tears to ultimately strengthen my heart? The reshaping, remodeling and rebuilding of this powerful muscle can enable me to experience more love, to feel more compassion for my self, my friends and family and all living beings, from the stranger who pushes past on the bus (or in front of me in yoga Mysore,India), to the smallest and most helpless among us.
This is the choice. To allow our heart to grow, to bear more, to receive and give more love, or to shrink, to grow hard and bitter, to swollow our pain and bury it deep within our bodies, where it will eventually resurface as something ugly either ruining a relationship or our health. Being at this life celebration of this young man, I was reminded of my own mortality and I thought about my eventual death. I hope that my funeral, may it be many many years from now, be filled with love for me, for my life and for the loved ones that I leave behind. That the (old geriatric) Freya shaped hole that I leave in another soul’s life rips through their heart, reshaping and remodeling their heart muscle. Allowing them to bear more weight, to be more compassionate, and to experience more divine love; pure, unconditional, without judgment, images or expectations. Then I will know that my life had served its purpose and I will Rest In Peace. No life is wasted no death is hollow.
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