Unbundling the Heart

by Christina Hatgis

I recently read a lovely book, “Unbinding the Heart” by Agapi Stassinopoulos.  It was sent to me by my best friend who lives in Italy, and edited by my dear friend who lives down the road. An amusing coincidence that clearly meant I had to read this book. So I did.  A flight to California for the Ashtanga confluence was the perfect opportunity.

Fast-forward eight hours, and I’m sitting in a traffic jam, in a SuperShuttle, after the long flight and inevitable flight delays. I’m tired and just want to get to the hotel. It’s past midnight New York time and I am trying to wrap my head around why it is that we’re still in traffic, despite my destination only being a 15 minute drive from the airport.

There are three other people in the shuttle, and I realize we are still here because we have to go back and collect a husband, and mounds of luggage. The wife is in the SuperShuttle. She is Texan, and talks. A LOT. And she wants to talk to me. And I don’t want to talk to her. I am mad at her and her husband. I am tired and want to get into bed. I watch carefully what I am feeling. Frustration, anger, fatigue and a heart that is shut. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to share.

So I reflect on my practice and how it helps in moments like these. I take a few deep breaths. I give myself permission not to chat, to be tired and irritated, without being rude. And I realize that this moment, and the next few days are an opportunity to watch where and why my heart shuts down.  Maybe in this moment, I can shut down and it’s okay. Maybe watching the process will help me stay open in another moment and remember that every moment is an opportunity to wake up. And in the process of breathing consciously and rhythmically, of accepting the traffic jam and the situation, I felt myself relax and soften.

“My heart slowly unbundling,” I write on my iPhone as I’m sitting in the traffic jam.  And it’s true.

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