When relationships end we are propelled into a very uncertain space. We might wonder who we’ll be without the person we lost, what the future will hold, or if we will find another love. To avoid the discomfort, it can be all too tempting to live on the surface of life. Rather than process the loss, we might seek a convenient rebound, distract ourselves by working late into the night (every night), or perhaps drown our sorrows in endless amounts of chocolate (or worse).
But if yoga teaches us anything, it is that we must be present within the space of tension and uncertainty in order to allow ourselves to feel and process what is—and in this case, what was—to eventually find closure.
The following practice is a meditation for healing a broken heart, and the object of our meditation is the heart itself. Drawing awareness to this tender area can evoke a feeling of peace and calm for some people, while for others, it can overwhelm and cause anxiety. I invite you to sit with whatever arises. I also welcome you to step away from the practice if at any point you feel overly uncomfortable.
Food for Thought
The chakra associated with the heart center is the anahata chakra. Anahata translates roughly as “unstruck sound.” The rishis (seers) of the yoga tradition glimpsed that within the heart center resides the innermost self—a self that is completely whole and can never be broken.
In the following meditation, we will explore the reality that deep within the heart resides the self that is completely untouched by any sorrow we feel now.
See below for an audio version of the meditation. Teachers may refer to the written version (also below) if they wish to offer it to their students.
A Meditation for a Broken Heart
Sit either in a simple cross-legged position or in a chair with your head, neck, and trunk aligned. If you’re sitting in a chair, align your ankles right under your knees and your elbows under your shoulders. If you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor, place a blanket, meditation cushion, or bolster under your sit bones to help lengthen your spine. Rest your hands, palms up or down, on your thighs and draw them back a comfortable distance to broaden through your collarbones.
Soften or close your eyes, and then tune into sensation: the light touch of your clothing on your skin, the temperature of the room, the air on your skin. Now relax the way you hold yourself. Allow the chair, or the floor, to hold you.
Next, notice how you are breathing and observe what you are thinking, but without trying to change either. Check in with how you are feeling emotionally, and allow whatever you feel to be here. Allow your experience in this moment to be just as it is.
Now refine your breathing. Reduce the pause between each inhalation and each exhalation, creating a seamless flow of breath. As the breath becomes more calm, allow your mind to soften into that space of continuous breath.
As your breath relaxes, and your mind relaxes more deeply inside of it, imagine that this breath could flood the length of your spine. As it does, allow its effortless waves to physically align you—to lengthen your spine.
Sense the breath rising up from the sitting bones, gathering as a gentle touch at the nostrils. Notice how the inhalation feels cooler than the exhalation.
Remain here, with your awareness at the nostrils, and feel the breath pulse—inhale and exhale. Each inhalation draws in fresh energy, each exhalation releases tension and stagnation in the body and mind.
Now drop that pulse of breath awareness down, into the center of the heart. Focus your attention there and as thoughts arise, acknowledge them, but draw your awareness back, again and again, to the heart center.
Begin to visualize a minute flicker of light at the heart center. Each time that you inhale, imagine this light expanding. And as the field of the heart center grows, like the breath, let this field of awareness gradually envelope you.
Notice the continuity of this heart; the spaciousness of it; the limitlessness.
Observe how this heart is different from the physical organ that we know. And as you sense its field of energy expanding, attend to the qualities that arise from it, settling into a sense of curiosity.
Ask yourself: What is the nature of this heart? Who does this heart belong to? Does this heart feel broken?
Perhaps a feeling of compassion or love arises. Or maybe you cannot put words to what you sense here at the heart center.
Situate yourself inside this field of awareness—a place from which you can witness your story, the story of a broken, human heart—and ask yourself: Who is the one who feels their heart is broken?
As you step back from readily identifying with your thoughts and your emotions, sink deeply into this expanding heart. Ask yourself again: Does this heart, this heart of hearts, feel broken?
Rest here, inside the pulse of this light-filled field of awareness. And keep drawing your attention back into that space of curious, infinite witness.
Know that it is the nature of the mind to wander. And know that you are not the thoughts you have. As real as these thoughts and feelings are to your human heart, you are more: You are this awareness.
Stay seated as long as the pull of your practice calls you: resting, attentively.
And after some time, deepen your breathing and cover your softened or closed eyes with the palms of your hands.
Let your head become heavy into your palms—a gesture that reveals the purpose of meditation: to provide support for the mind.
Let yourself feel supported, then allow the head to grow lighter on your palms. When you are ready, open your eyes if they are closed into the darkness of your palms, and gradually release your hands away from them.
Sit and observe the effects of practice, and continue to hold whatever it revealed to you in a gentle way, deep within your being.
“The state of consciousness free from sorrow and anguish and infused with inner light also anchors the mind to sthiti, the peaceful flow free from all thought constructs.” —Yoga Sutra 1:36
This is offered in gratitude to my teachers at the Himalayan Institute, and to my teacher in Portugal, Mooji, all of whom have informed and inspired this guided meditation.