A Forgiving Heart Is a Healthy Heart

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For Heart Health Month, we spoke with four experts from different modalities to more intimately understand the qualities of a healthy heart. Mary Kemp, Soul Witness, has been working with clients for fifteen years. Specializing in issues of addiction, she allows her heart to be a safe space so others' hearts can open.
Yoga Anytime: Tell me the story of how you came to your current line of work?
Mary Kemp: From purely an inner knowing that I wanted to be aligned with those that were suffering. I do not feel like it was as much of choice as a direction and a calling. It’s what I was put here on earth to do. To witness others’ emotional pain.
What does it mean to witness others’ emotional pain?
Kemp: Witnessing means being fully present, being a clear screen, and maintaining an open heart while someone discloses their inner world.
How would you describe an open heart?
Kemp: An open heart presents itself with unconditional love with no judgement, and it exists with compassion, empathy, and a great deal of warmth.
What does an open heart feel like to you? More specifically, what are the physiological cues that your heart is open?
Kemp: It’s receptive. It’s accepting, non-judgmental. It’s inviting. It provides a great deal of safety, and it will create a sacred experience. It feels completely accessible. It feels alive. There’s an inviting quality to it. It feels connected to the other heart. It feels anchored in love. It feels giving and it's full of compassion.
What are the context and conditions that allow you to open your heart?
Kemp: An inner knowing that another heart is seeking comfort and safety. And, another heart is wanting to feel connected and experienced in a loving and safe capacity.
Can your heart be open unless there is another heart needing you?
Kemp: My heart can absolutely be open. My open heart is a reflection of my state of being. My heart does not require another heart to be open. It all starts with my position that is anchored in self-love.
Describe self-love.
Kemp: Self-love is a feeling of self-worth, self-respect, and having high regard for I am divine being and child of God.
What closes the heart?
Kemp: Judgement, and lack of safety, as well as lack of being accepted and seen.
How do you use your heart to allow another heart to open.
Kemp: Emotional safety. Safety is crucial and imperative for hearts to open and remain open and to feel a sense of safety. A heart is so precious and seeks a comfort and safety. A heart can detect when there is a lack of safety. A heart will close when the situation is unsafe or harm is detected or there is a possibility for injury or hurt.
Can you describe a hurt heart?
Kemp: A hurt heart has been wounded and betrayed by another in what turned out to be an unsafe relationship.
Can a heart be mended?
Kemp: A heart can be mended. A heart can be repaired and can be soothed. It takes considerable time and willingness. And it takes more love, the very thing we are afraid of. And it requires the open heart to want to heal. That’s completely predicated on forgiveness ... Forgiveness of whatever hurt the heart.
What are the obstacles to forgiveness?
Kemp: Pain, enormous pain. Resentment. Anger. And sometimes it actually has to do with hate. Disdain.
What are the benefits of not forgiving, or what causes us to hold onto these feelings?
Kemp:These are protections and defensives and they serve us consciously or unconsciously. And remaining a victim may be how someone identifies and may remain as that persona. But ultimately that will cause more pain for the injured heart.
What in your field is the definition of healthy heart.
Kemp: A healthy heart is one that possesses forgiveness, that remains open, that seeks to expand and experiences gratitude, and longs to share the love within. And embraces vulnerability.
What are some things we can do to assist the health of our heart?
Kemp:We have to be willing to take risks, say “what the hey.” We have to be willing to experience vulnerability. We have to be willing to allow our hearts to be experienced in a very deep and passionate (I don’t mean in a romantic way). The heart has to be accessed, not only by self, but in relationship so we can fully experience the contents of the heart. The only way for that to happen is to be witnessed and be in relationship. So that we can tap into the full depths and dimensions of the heart. We can’t do that in solitude.
So is a healthy a heart a choice?
Kemp:It is a choice. A healthy heart is a conscious choice. Heart and soul are synonymous. They are intertwined. The essence of who we are is soul. Our hearts have to be open, alive, and receptive to fully portray our essence.
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