In Ancient Egypt, the Goddess Maat was the weigher of souls in the underworld. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it describes how the heart of the recently dead would be placed on one side of the balance scale and the “feather of Maat”—representing truth and justice, morality and harmony—would be placed on the other. If the heart was heavier than the feather, weighed down by sin and iniquity, that soul faced the Egyptian version of hell. If the sides of the scale were in balance, the heaven realms awaited.
In the realm of your energy system, balance is an important concept, exemplified by the fourth chakra—the energy center of the spiritual heart.
The heart chakra is in the middle of the seven main energy centers in the body. The first three chakras are concerned mainly with being in a physical body: the first chakra is connected to your physical survival and grounding, the second with your emotions, and the third with your will. When the “fire in the belly” of the third chakra is sufficiently charged and you are determined to follow the call of spirit, you make the energetic leap to the heart chakra, which bridges the three lower earth-bound centers with the three non-physical centers in the throat, the “third eye,” and the crown of the head that provide you with access to the more expansive spiritual realms.
And in reverse, the heart serves as the access point for downloading divine love from above into the lower chakras and thus purifying your personal needs and desires, allowing you to come into balance within yourself and with the world around you. You can give and receive love, which is the main job of the heart chakra.
But what happens when your heart breaks—when your partner betrays you, when your pet dies, when the pain and sorrow of the world are too much to bear? What happens when you sit and sit and sit in meditation, but feel nothing but the pain of emptiness?
There are so many ways a heart can break. And when it does, the heart chakra can close down. You build a brick wall around your heart because you don’t want to feel the pain, but the wall also stops the flow of love you so desperately want to feel. And like all the chakras, when the heart center is dysfunctional for too long, it can affect your health. Chest pain, heart attack, breast cancer, lung disorders, shoulder and arm problems, shortness of breath—they all arise in the area of the heart chakra. The flow of energy between above and below is interrupted, and can lead to isolation and depression. You might feel like a helpless victim, or get cold and hard, deflecting any possibility of a loving relationship.
And what if the scale gets imbalanced in the other direction? The same heartbreak that makes one person close down their heart can instead blow it wide open. When there are no healthy boundaries between you and the other, you become the martyr—sacrificing your own sense of self. That’s co-dependency, not love and compassion.
You want to live with an open loving heart. This is love that comes from within yourself. This is looking at a flower blooming in the spring and feeling tears come to your eyes because your heart is overflowing with its beauty. This is the love you feel when you have forgiven those who have hurt you, when a newborn takes hold of your finger, when you are permeated with the bliss of the divine within.
So how do you open your heart?
If you’ve had a big loss and simply don’t trust humans too much at the moment, a pet can help you learn to love again. Caring for cats, dogs, horses, birds, even fish can heal a lot of pain and give you access to unconditional love. Singing or chanting is another wonderful way to open the fourth chakra. Volunteering some of your time to care for others who are hurting can open wells of compassion and love inside yourself.
But most of all, it’s learning to love yourself, your inner beauty, your unique gifts. By gently accepting both your human-ness and your divine self, by allowing your heart chakra to bridge the upper and lower energy centers and letting the energy flow throughout your whole being, by loving yourself, you will become a vessel for love. It’s not romantic love, dependent on another. It’s the love that is at the core of the universe, the energy of the divine spheres, the wisdom of your true heart.
What could possibly be better than that?