I was in a bookshop the other day, meandering through the psychology section, when I flipped through some pages and landed on a quote by Rumi (the 13th century poet):
‘Open the window of your heart’
It triggered a thousand questions. And they might be worth investigating together, just to see what they uncover and whether any answers they evoke are useful to you and your emotional life.
For although Rumi probably had some specific ideas in mind when he wrote this, in the end (as several different psychotherapeutic modalities remind us) only you are the expert on your life. Only you will truly know your own unique answers. So let’s ask a few questions and see if we can unearth some of those.
If your heart had a window, what might it look like? Just see if you can picture it for a moment…
What size do you imagine it is? What shape?
Is it made of plain glass? Cracked or broken? Stained-glass with a pictorial story?
How could you open it? Under what circumstances would you open it?
Or is it always open? (and what do you make of that?)
If it’s closed, how long has it been closed? Is it getting stuffy inside?
And what – or who – lies beyond that pane of glass?
Gestalt therapy talks about a thing called a ‘contact boundary’, the place where you and the rest of the world (and all of its people and sensations and experiences) meet. It’s a place of aliveness. Of awareness. Of life.
And perhaps this contact boundary is akin to what Rumi’s ‘heart window’ might be…
A place where we can either keep the pane (the pain?) between ourselves and others, and maintain a certain distance (which may be safe or may become stifling at times). Or a place where we can throw open the window and connect with the world. Really experience what’s there to find. To come out of our shell and live. Love.
What might it mean for you if that were possible? (And how might it feel?)
Would throwing open the window seem too rash, too sudden for you?
Would you rather open it just a crack and see what happens first?
And how might either of those approaches impact on your experience of life in that moment?
In Part 2 of this post, we’ll explore another kind of window that psychologists devised in the 1950s – another window on the self…
Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.