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Open your heart, Part 2

[Editor's note: This is the second half of a two-part column.]

This is a continuation of my last column which ended with these words: "If you don't express yourself, you depress yourself. And to heal your heart, you have to open your heart."

"To heal your heart, you have to open your heart" is a phrase I read in a book on meditation, This is a simple yet profound truth.

Nobody is born with a heart that is closed. All of us were born with a completely open heart. Newborn babies and young children have open hearts that radiate love and innocence.

An open heart is like sunlight. It radiates love and warmth that nourishes everyone it touches. But like the sun, the heart is often closed in or obscured by clouds.

As we grow up, the bumps and bruises in life gradually train us to protect our tender and vulnerable emotions with a layer of toughness and defensiveness. Over time, this protective layer or clouds gets thicker and it gradually encloses the heart.

What are the clouds that can close our heart and keep it closed? They include fear, anger, resentment, disappointment, judgment, doubt, sadness, sorrow, grief, separation, helplessness, hopelessness, etc.

Many people experience painful and desperate situations in life. We see no way out, no hope and no future. We keep ourselves closed, isolated and chained.

When we are too overwhelmed by these negative emotions, we become depressed.

Discovering a way to express yourself and release these negative feelings is the first step in healing your broken heart.

To heal your heart, you have to work on you heart, not just on your body or your mind.

It's not enough to work on the mind by changing your thinking, or work on your body by taking some drugs.

True healing of a broken heart can only happen by working directly at the heart level.

Here are some suggestions I offered my friend suffering depression, which I mentioned in my last column.

• Open up

Instead of thinking you have problems you can't talk about and share with others, find someone to talk to, either a trusted friend or a professional counselor.

Through talking with someone, you can release a lot of negative emotions that have built up inside.

I know when we share our struggles and problems, we will not be laughed at. Quite in opposite, we will not only help ourselves, but also strengthen others in their journey of life.

When we share our struggles and problems, we help others to put their problems in proper perspectives. People can also pray for each other which provides comfort and encouragement.

• Write down

If you really don't have anyone to talk to, another way to express and release yourself is journaling to let your depressing and negative thoughts out of your mind and body.

Once you write down those negative thoughts and feelings that have occupied your mind and closed your heart, you will feel lighter and better.

• Look in

A friend can give you a shoulder to cry on, a place to pour your heart out and some comfort, but a friend can not give you everlasting peace and joy. This is something only God can do.

Search for and find God in your own way, through reading, through church, through meditation.

In our modern society, most of us are living a more outward, materialist- and ego-centered life. We really need to live a more inward, heart- and spirit-centered life.

Why do we care so much about what we wear and how we look outside than what we feel deep inside? We are not what is on our skin, but we are what is in our heart.

• Get out

Get out and do something that will take your focus away from yourself and your problems.

Meet with friends. Go to church. Help at non-profit organizations. Do some volunteer work to benefit people who are less privileged than you are.

Learn something new. Pursuit a hobby. Simply get out and do something. Just don't stay home and be isolated. It will only make your depression and health conditions worse.

• Find support

Whatever your problem is, whether it is alcohol, drug, or porno addiction, cancer or other diseases, marriage or relationship issues with your spouse, parents or kids, you can probably find self help support groups out there.

In a support group, members help each other through common problems and shared experiences.

Support groups can provide social networks, relevant information, and venues where members can share personal experiences, listen to others' experiences, and get sympathetic understanding, validation and encouragement.

• Get help

We have to understand that all human beings are imperfect and have problems in life. We need help.

It is not a weakness to say I need help. I can't do it on my own. We have to take away our ego and pride and seek help with a humble heart.

If your condition doesn't improve through self-help, then it's time to get professional help. Find people who are knowledgeable in what they are doing.

• Be creative

Expressing ourselves doesn't have to be verbal or in writing. Some people can express themselves better through singing, dancing, painting, crafting, and other art forms.

I think the important thing in opening and healing your heart is to express yourselves in whatever forms that can best suit your personality and situations. The key is not how, but just do it, in your own way that is best for you.

The good news is my friend is doing much better now.

I would like to think that the time I spent on the phone with her and the few advices I gave her was helpful in some way.