The art of opening your heart



rose photo for blog“When the heart opens, we forget ourselves and the world pours in:  this world, and also the invisible world of meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be.”

–Roger Housden, Ten Poems to Open Your Heart

 (Part 2 of a 2-part series) 

I know for many of us who have been in the dating world a while—and those in committed relationships or long-term marriages who are healing or strengthening their relationships—it seems cliché to continually hear that we must love ourselves first before we can genuinely extend ourselves to another.

Like the safety words uttered while flying about putting on your own oxygen mask first before trying to save another, I have used that analogy in coaching my clients by suggesting:  The more centered and grounded they become in themselves, the more love they have to give and receive.  Loving from a sense of fullness attracts and sustains healthier relationships.

Yet, acquiring an open heart goes much deeper than learning to be a romantic partner or even a better friend or parent (see related blog, part 1).

Open-heartedness is a way of living that connects us more deeply to:

  • our life’s purpose
  • our body’s wisdom
  • one another and our interconnectedness
  • our higher power, Source, God, or whatever spiritual bond you have
  • the joy and bliss of discovering our unlimited potential for loving more expansively in all areas of life—work, relationship, and leisure

To help us learn some helpful tools for opening our hearts, I interviewed a colleague of mine, Rose Russo.

A self-declared “Renaissance woman,” Rose experiences the world through many sets of eyes as a fine artist, graphic designer, yoga instructor and energy healer.   She suggests:

“It is important to invite life’s mystery into your life and to be inspired…by people, what they do and how they express themselves; by colors and how one color influences another; by the deeper meaning of words and how they can express our inner truth; by a single round stone or shell at the beach and the journey it took to get there; by the way our body opens when we open our mind to all that is. I never stop exploring with child-like enthusiasm and curiosity. That for me is key to opening my heart.

We are all unique expressions of the universe. No one sees the world the way we do. We all have a unique voice, purpose, and way of expressing our self.  We are here to explore, experience and share that uniqueness. There is no competition, only the exploration of our deeper meaning.”

Where do we begin this exploration? According to Rose, you begin by doing what you love to do and let that love direct your actions. She believes in the creative process (whether it is yoga, art, dance, writing, acting, or whatever thrills you). Creativity offers opportunities to open and explore daily.

“It takes courage to go beyond our day-to-day routine or the stuck image we created for our self, and experience something that excites and connects us daily,” she notes.  “But when we move from ‘I’m afraid to I’m enthused’ we transform.”

Roses urges us to expand into more open-hearted living by setting aside time each day for an inner exploration preferably in silence, through meditation, yoga, journaling, walking or whatever gives you joy.

She also suggests creating an altar to display items that open your heart. Then, light a candle on the altar to invite in the potential of all you will create that day. This quiet exploration is healing for the body, mind and spirit–and sets the tone for the rest of the day (one that is connected to the mystery of life).

As a yoga teacher, Rose looks for a true expression of a student’s heart. A little spark of the heart or an “aha moment” is enough to show a student that there is more to the yoga practice than just “being limber.”

When the body opens, the mind opens. When the mind opens, the body opens. The possibilities are unlimited, according to Rose, once you touch that reality–freedom from pain, a new way of being, a more stable mind, and a stronger body. What can be better than that?


 1.    I allow myself to be inspired and explore my uniqueness.

2.    I allow myself to see myself as more than I am right now in a different way. (If you hold yourself in your old story, you will see yourself in your old story, Rose advises, adding,  “You need to see yourself beyond the old story, whatever that old story is.”

3.    I allow myself to see myself as a creative being, flowing with my own creative process.


Rose Russo is shown in the photo above in the pose Ardha Chandrachapasana –also known as Half Moon Sugar Cane pose. It is one of her favorite “heart opener” poses combining a delicate balance with flexibility and an open, steady mind.

To see her work, please visit  Or, to experience her yoga, join a class or cancer workshop at the Yoga Center of Newburyport.


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  • Kim says:

    Great post! I’ve spent most of my life in survivor mode. Now, when I consciously move
    my thoughts from my head to my heart and make decisions that way, life is wonderful!
    And yes to a creative outlet! Couldn’t function without it.

    • Gail says:

      Kim: Appreciate your candor…and congrats on your shift from your head to your heart. Rose did a great job of educating us all on how to do that better:) Gail

  • Elissa says:

    Buddhaful! Xo

  • I look forward to getting back to yoga after my hip replacement recuperation. Some of my physical therapy exercises, as well as meditation, have slowed down my “monkey mind” enough to feel more composed and centered. This is necessary as I cannot do the physical chores for home or work and need this acceptance….ROSE, thanks for the reminder. GAIL, please continue to inspire us.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Ann Marie: You approached your surgery and healing with the same optimistic attitude as you do everything. I’m glad Rose and I were able to keep you lifted a bit as you continue to recuperate and embrace “acceptance.” Wishing you a speedy recovery–and lots of pampering along the way:). Gail

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