The heart is perhaps the only muscle in our body that is stronger when it is soft. Firmness, strength and the ability to harden are key to core vitality throughout most of the body including our sexual organs. Hardening our heart whether it is in response to a political reality or a difficult relationship turns us into our own personal brand of fundamentalist. It is a slippery slope from the tightening in the chest to a self righteous stance about how the world should be. It happens even before we see it happening.
If our language is an extension of our soul, then how we talk about things reflects our ability to feel and know them. Rigid positions accommodate a narrowing of our language and support a limited view of the other side. It can be painful to let in the depth and nuance that allows other people act irrationally, even seemingly against their own self interest. This is another disadvantage of relating to the world with a hardened heart, it is hard to tell when you are winning, because both sides lose something when the relationship is stuck in polar positions.
A vital heart is key to a vital sex life, because polarized positions make deep intimacy impossible. The physical dive into another person is at once an abandonment of our higher reasoning and an open yawn of the heart. It is in the softest vital core of our being where the ‘other’ becomes a mystery and that we witness ourselves beyond our self-perception
Developing a vital heart is about learning to soften. It is the practice of insight and bearing witness so that in every conflict, we take a moment longer before our position is hardened, before what we believe at that moment is more true than the person in front of us. I am no exception. For all of my study, it is incredulous to me how quickly I go from open to rigid, so rigid that whether my position is correct or erroneous the battle is lost. My children look at me with fear and sometimes that is enough to come to and back track. Sometimes we can create irreparable damage without even seeing the heart slide closed
When you consider the degree to which human culture is currently divided into polar positions and that there are many people who attribute their existence to the strength of their army, it is not surprising that our ability to soften our hearts are unpracticed. The business and busyness of making a life is founded in the relationships that open your heart. In places of eternal conflict and irrational violence, giving yourself over to this purpose is revolutionary. The people we love are not given to us, they are loaned. We have the joy and agony of loving them uncertainly in a world that resorts to weaponry over conversation
Having the guts to soften and develop our capacity for love in face of the odds can take super human strength. Remind yourself often that what you love most and struggle with most are usually embodied in the same person and that ultimately the time you have to love them is brief.