3 Practices to Come Back to Your Heart

Heather Hurlock, Executive Editor at Mindful, explores ways we can tune into our innate capacity for love and compassion.

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My heart hurts.

Watching the brutality and aggression of hardened stances on whether to wear a mask, whether climate change is real, and whether conspiracy theories are valid has me feeling deeply unsettled. I’m worried about the chaos of so much division, and its potentially detrimental impact on our communities and our society.

In order to keep pushing forward into the work of connecting with compassion, I’m holding the words of John Lewis (who will no doubt be remembered as one of the greatest, most compassionate leaders in American history) close at hand. He said: “Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.”

But sometimes it’s hard to hear the whispers.

And in those moments, I practice. And then I’m reminded of the infinite and innate capacity of the human heart to shine in the dark. I’m reminded that feeling the pain and the hurt is the practice. And then I remember that all of us are at home in our hearts and we can practice opening the door for each other. 

How to Come Back to Your Heart

1. Open yourself up to compassion. Meditation teacher Vinny Ferraro says, “When we allow ourselves to actually touch with our hearts the pain of what’s difficult—the fear, the anger, the hurt—what arises is a natural tenderness.” This is how we bear witness to our shared humanity. Here he leads you through a 10-minute meditation to show you how your heart opens when you call to mind someone you love.

2. Cultivate deep connection with yourself and others. When meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg talks about cultivating loving-kindness she’s talking about “a bone-deep sense of connection,” she says. “We’re connecting to ourselves, then we’re connecting to one another, knowing deeply that our lives have something to do with another.” She offers this simple guided meditation to connect with loving-kindness.

3. Tune into the wisdom of your body. When all else fails, tune into your body and give yourself a moment of rest and ease. Resilience expert Linda Graham says a practice called Hand on the Heart is “one of the most powerful tools we have to restore a sense of calm and equilibrium in the body-brain.”