Heartbreak, be it environmental, political, professional, financial, romantic, or familial, is one of the most intense, spiritual experiences a human can have. My first professional heartbreak sent me on an epic sojourn to understand my reason for being alive, while my more recent, soulmate heartbreak, led to my unconditional love of self and others. Heartbreak is life’s way of breaking us open to something greater than ourselves.
Most of us come into this world with our hearts wide open and slowly over time, as life happens we build up armor to protect ourselves from the ever-changing, unfolding of our lives. In our fear we unconsciously choose to strategize against the possibility of pain instead of learning how to open, feel, and harness heartbreak for good.
Alchemy is the philosophical and pre-scientific tradition of chemistry aimed at transmuting one form of energy into another. At first, we sought to transform lead into gold, taking one form of “lesser” energy and transmuting it into a “higher,” “more valuable” form. Without having to assign judgements or values to energy, (which I believe is inherently neutral), we can play with energy, use it, and harness it however we want.
Instead of allowing the latest bombing in Syria or school shooting to fling us into a righteous, intellectual defense of our position, let’s let it pierce through the illusion of separation that inspires the violence in the first place. Let it break apart the judgements we hold against ourselves and others and inspire us to love.
Sound like hippie nonsense? Try it. The space just beyond the annihilated heart is where we can find infinite creativity to play a different game in this world. Every bad guy, unless they are straight-up psychotic, has a heartbreak to point to that led to their pathology, fury, and misunderstanding of the “other.”
Some of us are called to act directly, to open our home to a refugee or heal the heartbreak of a nation, but most of us are scrolling through our Facebook feed of a thousand arrows of heartbreak, dodging and weaving.
Whatever heartbreak you are going through, whichever heartbreak you have already experienced, let it tear you open to directly experience what it means to be human.
Byron Katie places the mirror directly in front of her own face. She shows us how the war out there is also in here. She asks, “Can I just end the war in me? Can I stop raping myself and others with my abusive thoughts and actions? Otherwise I’m continuing through me the very thing I want to end in the world. I start with ending my own suffering, my own war. This is a life’s work.”
So why not try to harness our heartbreak for good; let’s be in action out there and stop raping ourselves with our own abusive thoughts and see what we can create.
Bristol Baughan is an Executive Producer of Emmy-winning and Oscar-Nominated films, author, and private coach. She is a TED Fellow and Founder of Inner Astronauts, a custom experience and private coaching company supporting people in coming more fully alive in service to the world. Bristol holds a B.A. in International Studies from the American University School of International Service and an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.