A Practice of Softening

Posted on 11 January 2010

One of my intentions for this year is to soften.  It’s an intention inspired by my friend, Amy, who has a heart as big, wide, and deep as the ocean.  I’ve seen her heart break, heal, and break again, and I’ve witnessed a gentleness emerge out of her being that moves me.  Amy is strong.  And she is gentle.  In fact, the gentler she has become, the stronger and more resilient she is.  She’s a friend who I fully trust to be able to hold space for whatever I might bring and whoever I might be.  And when she holds that space, and embraces me, I feel her strength like a pulse.  It doesn’t falter.

A favorite author, Pema Chodron, asks us to consider “How tender can I bear to be?” I have that question posted on my fridge as a reminder.  It’s a question, that when asked, always shows me how much more I can soften into an experience – even of pain.  And, deep into that softening is where I experience what love is.

I used to have an idea that love always felt good.  I’m less concerned now with capturing a good feeling, and more interested in experiencing connection and openness.  To have that, I have to soften even the ideas I have about what my love should look like or feel like.

Recently, sitting across the table from a former love, I felt my heart break again and I noticed.  What I wanted to do was put up walls.  I wanted to create a logic that would protect me.  My mind was saying “I’m over you anyway” and my heart was working hard to find the numb place of forgetfulness.  But, I noticed that and tried a new way.  I softened and let the hurt arise.  It hovered and I felt it physically in my body, but then it passed.  And, when it did, all that was left was a great feeling of fondness for him, for me, for the us that we’d been, for who he was now, for the moment we were sharing.  It was a love without all the filters of reason and logic and pattern.  And, it’s still very real and tangible to me as I write this.

How tender can I bear to be?

That’s a question I’m willing to take on as a theme this year.  It’s going to require practice.  And, I don’t expect it to be easy to remember or to even be willing to do.  And, yet, I think it’s not as hard as my mind wants to tell me it is.  I think, actually, that it’s a practice in letting the heart work exactly as it is designed to work.

And so, I soften.  And expand.  And let you in.

4 comments to A Practice of Softening

  • Emily Schooley says:

    I really like this intention! It reminds me of what we learned at Yandara… it is definitely easier said than done, but necessary because putting up walls doesn’t allow you to move forward. I am making this my intention too 🙂

  • Donna Lanni says:

    Ahh Jessica,

    So right on. When we build walls, we lay down vertical boxes. They become something to try to see over and crawl out of or break through.

    I like the term ” semi permeable” We let it in, can feel it , process it and discard the toxins or let it flow through us and just be…like your interaction with your old love. The concept of “old love” gets redefined as “new love”….because love…is love.

    Thank you for this reminder. Your words rattled my own cage( the not so semi permeable thing I had built). Ha!

    Love always, Donna

  • Beautifully written, Jessica. You are so soft and fuzzy to me I can’t imagine you any other way 🙂 I love watching you explore and deepen, you are an inspiration and a joy in my life.

  • Alex says:

    Wow. I have your blog tagged for at least a week and finally got to reading it. Of course, it was Divine timing and the message was profound for me. In a recent situation I chose not put my walls up and the gifts I got in return were an immense heart expansion and an unforgettable experience. Today, I will have another opportunity to practice this. It will be a more challenging opportunity of which I have been so ‘in my head’ about… my filters have been hard at work! This is such a timely, beautiful reminder… thank you for your beautiful sharing, you have a gift with words!
    Love, Alex

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