In the Wake of Tragedy, Keep Your Heart Open

In the Wake of Tragedy, Keep Your Heart Open

“Why do bad things happen?”

It’s a question little kids ask their parents, and it’s a question adults ask themselves.

And, in light of the recent massacre in Orlando and so many tragedy’s and injustices in this world, we’ve been asking ourselves why do bad things happen in this world?

I’m not sure any of us know for sure, but I think the answer might be: to give us an opportunity to keep our hearts open.

The Course In Miracles teaches “There is no degree in difficulty.” Meaning, if I have a hangnail and it brings me pain, it’s no less important and no more important than the pain of someone losing their child. This is key to understand because when we judge pain or suffering we invalidate the person and the suffering.

All suffering sucks.

All pain is pain.

There are different degrees of pain we feel in our lives, but it’s still pain.

I’ve heard people say, “I think I’ve got problems, but when I talk to Susan, who’s battling cancer, I realize I don’t have any problems.”

I think looking at someone else’s suffering can be very helpful in getting us out of self-pity and into gratitude, but we must be careful to accept and acknowledge our own suffering or challenges first. Then we can go to gratitude for the positive in our lives. And then, we can open our heart and feel and love for ourselves and others.

It must be a three step process:

1. Accept Our Pain
2. Go to Gratitude
3. Open Our Heart and Feel Love

If we skip steps one and two in the process — we invalidate ourselves. We invalidate the pain of our hangnail, and we can’t get to step three. For most people, the most difficult is step three. Keeping our heart open can be a monumental challenge.

Let Orlando Be a Lesson For All of Us

Let’s use the recent massacre in Orlando as an example.

Most of us quickly went to compassion for the dead, the injured and the people who loved them. But what did we feel next?

Fear. Anger. Judgement.

Fear of being killed in a club, in an airplane, at the mall… anger at not feeling accepted, anger this could even happen… judgement of the gunman and everything about him.

The fear, anger and judgement is normal, but staying with the fear, anger and judgement keeps our heart closed. When our heart is closed, we are closed. We no longer accept incoming love, and we no longer give love.

This keeps us stuck with the fear, anger and judgment feelings. It’s kind of like wearing the same clothes day after day… you keep the same energy and nothing changes.

So, we have to go through the steps:

Step One: Accept what we are feeling.

This could be, “I’m feeling sad, depressed, scared, angry and very afraid.”

You can stay with this step as long as you choose.

When you’re ready, go to the next step.

Step Two: Go to anything you are grateful for.

This could be, “I’m grateful for this brand new day, I’m grateful for my friends, I’m grateful for this fabulous shirt I’m wearing.”

When you’re ready, go to the next step.

Step Three: Open your heart and feel love for the world.

This is actually a release of fear, a letting go, a forgiveness, a trust in the universe, God, spirit, that you are okay and all is well, even if you don’t totally feel okay.

I like to physically open my arms wide open toward the sky to feel my chest and heart opening. Visualize your heart with a golden geyser of light and love bursting out of it and send it to every human being on this earth: people you don’t like, people you’re afraid of, people you love. Then, cover the entire earth in this light love and send it to the universe.

I find I have to repeat this step several times a day if I’m having an especially hard time getting out of fear. And that’s okay! The benefit is enormous because when we practice opening our heart, we allow love to flow in and love to flow out; we get a fresh set of clothes. This allows us to grow our emotional muscle. And, since the heart is the largest muscle in the body, it allows our heart to get stronger… allowing more love in and more love out.

This process is not always easy… but it is worth it.

It’s not easy, and we can understand why.

We are programmed since childhood to keep our hearts closed. “Be careful. The world is a scary place. It could happen to you.” This programming is in our cellular memory – no wonder it’s hard! But, like all computers, you can change the programming. And that’s the work. That’s where miracles occur.

The next time you have a hangnail, or hear about the latest shooting, go through the steps:
1. Accept
2. Go to Gratitude
3. Open Your Heart

I remember someone in my group therapy recently asked our guru, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

Our guru replied, “Because we have to hear our spirit. We have to learn how to be divine in this human body.”

To be divine in this human body, is to keep our heart open in the face of all suffering.


Lynn Martinez is a life coach, messenger and motivational speaker who gives women the tools to change old patterns of guilt, blame and fear — and turn them into new patterns that bring about positive change. Twitter: @Advice4LifeLynn

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