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  • Writer's pictureLizi Mai Wyatt

Breakups and the Unbreakable Spiritual Heart

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Most of us have been through at least one breakup and experienced the rejection, anger, despair, and depression that tend to come with it. When you and the most adored, most trusted person in your life decide to call it quits – which often happens in a way that doesn’t honor the connection you had, or make space for a new kind of connection between you – your world changes. And it usually feels like that change is for the worse.

Afterward, the pain of feeling separate and rejected is compounded by the absence of the person you’d normally turn to for support. Instead of loving you through your suffering, they seem to have caused it; and now they’re absent, and you’re left to process your loss alone. This is when the substitute comforts come out. Junk food, rebound flings, vacations, partying, overwork, and so on will likely help distract you in the short term. This can be a useful coping strategy. But unless you address the deeper wound, it will remain, following you into everything you do – certainly into your next relationship.

In Yoga, we would call this a part of karma, a little hitch in the mind that causes you suffering. The good thing about karma is that it presents lessons, and by learning to change the tendencies and habits of our consciousness, we can dissolve bits of karma so that we don’t have to suffer as much. The challenge, though, is getting into this mindset when we’re mired in suffering. So here are some ways of perceiving that might help when you’re in the middle of breakup heartbreak and in so much pain you don’t know which way is up.

First of all: know that the real heart, the spiritual heart or hridayam, can never be broken. In fact, it’s the strongest part of us and shares energy with all beings as part of an infinite Source. The heart is the middle chakra, the center point between the most gross (physical) and the most subtle (spiritual) energies. Like the biological heart, the hridayam has a rhythm and a flow which facilitate transformation. The heart is the powerful metaphysical crucible through which physical reality transmutes into spiritual truth, and spiritual truth manifests as physical reality. This transformation flows both ways, and its name is Love.

The part of you that feels broken is also real, but much smaller and less significant. This is the part that suffers loss, the part that most of us think we are. It is the individual part of you, the ego self – which includes the personality, our external characteristics, and for most of us, our relationships. It is our worldly identity, the way we’d describe ourselves on a social profile or a dating app. This is what most of us bring into our relationships of all kinds: an idea of “who we are,” a set of emotions, and a set of expectations around what’s required to keep those emotions pleasant – as well as a longing for connection and a deep desire to merge with another in order to feel complete. Eventually, inevitably, these expectations and desires will conflict. And this is when we suffer in a relationship.

Longing for connection and merging is part of our human condition; those feelings are not the problem. It’s only when we think that we’ll fulfill those desires through another person that we run into trouble! Think about it: if we can’t fix our feelings ourselves, how could someone else possibly fix them for us? Sure, we might feel better temporarily because of another person’s actions. Being on the receiving end of compassion can be a delightful and healthy thing. But if we depend on another person or people to make us feel better all the time, we’re setting ourselves up for even more pain. We’re using others' behavior to mask our own discomfort.

Take a minute to reflect on what wonderful things you believe you found and then lost in this person you’ve broken up with. What are they? Acceptance? Approval? Affection? Understanding? Permission to be yourself? To be artistic or driven? Permission to be wildly passionate? Feeling supported? Feeling comforted? Feeling safe? Whatever qualities you are mourning the loss of, understand that these are the qualities that you are looking for in yourself. You will never find them the way you need them in another person; only you can give yourself these things in a way that is unconditional and lasting.

Think of your breakup as an opportunity to find what you’re looking for in yourself. Every time you want to cry and reach outside of you for something, see if you can be it instead. How, might you ask? Simple: imagine yourself doing it. And then do it. Let your sadness about not having it be your cue to turn it around and become it right now. Don’t compromise and seek elsewhere for a quick fix; take the time to really focus on cultivating this ability. It will fortify your whole being.

See, we are all the same; there is only one of us, one of It. We just misplace our needs sometimes, that’s all. Then we do the spiritual work to get them back and learn to meet them ourselves. The end result? We grow, and because we start to see that we ourselves already are the love, we have more to offer ourselves and others.

Something else to think about is that all of this breakup pain, and even the relationship itself, is about much more than just your feelings for this person. We come into our physical forms with assignments, with lessons. Many of these involve other people. You and your former significant other had a divine contract to meet, come together, learn and teach, and drift apart; you were each other’s teacher and each other’s student. This is a profoundly personal and sacred journey. Your curriculum and their curriculum are completely different and cannot be compared; but for a contracted amount of time, you were together, because you could team up to learn and teach just the perfect lessons for each other.

These lessons do not usually stop after the “relationship” has appeared to end in the physical world. You will reflect and love and suffer and grow and change long after the final goodbyes, and this is part of your growth this go round. These are your real soul mates – yes, the difficult ones are soul mates too. Don’t hate them any longer than you have to. If you do, you haven’t learned the lesson yet, and it will return in another form. And if it does, that's okay. You'll know a little bit more about how the game works.

Remember, too, that the decision to end your romantic involvement and the decision to stop loving the person are not the same decision. You may see your former partner behave poorly; but perhaps you also see that this behavior is caused by real suffering, and that deep down they are really a darling, beautiful, special person who doesn’t deserve to suffer. The second part is the real truth. But this does not mean that we should always forget the first part. Know that in this duality, you are witnessing the great truth of our predicament. The ugliness and the beauty coexist and are interdependent. Catching sight of this dance within a person can be compelling. But don’t let it draw you closer toward them. Instead, let it draw you more toward the bigger mystery of which they are a part.

You are free to love the person forever. You may never talk to them again; that is fine and perhaps necessary. But you are free to love them as fully as you wish. In fact, if you can do this without clinging to ideas about what it should look like on the physical plane, truly without expectations, it's the absolute best thing you can do. It will give you more peace. It will teach you that you can love no matter what because you are love. You can never be broken. Love is the secret power, you see? And when you recognize this power in you, you grow to love yourself even more.

At that point, you can be in love anytime, anywhere, because love isn’t a finite resource and you're not worried about running out of it. It’s eternally abundant. It's what is. And it will take nothing more and nothing less than your conscious decision and commitment to look at it that way to ignite the invincible loving flame in you.

We are all spiritual beings, but we're also here in bodies on the physical plane. And part of our embodiment, like it or not, involves caring for our own selves, including our emotional, physical, social, and sexual selves. Many spiritually inclined people get tripped up here, thinking that we’re being selfless and giving in trying to make a harmful relationship work but regressing emotionally and mentally in the process. Sacrificing your well-being for a relationship is not spiritual. If you're doing this, it means you are stealing your own life energy from the rest of the world, which needs it.

I cannot emphasize this enough. This kind of self-sacrifice is actually ego-driven, not noble; it’s an extension of poor self-regard. It goes against the laws of Nature and is a form of karma that can be burned off only through fierce and healing self-love.

The natural way of things is service, and service is your sharing your gifts – whatever feels most free and natural and effortless for you. If, instead of doing that, you pour your energy into a black hole of effort in an attempt to “make a relationship work,” that’s not about the relationship, that’s about you choosing something destructive because you think it will give you something you need in return. Meanwhile, the rest of the world waits patiently for your special magic. Don't make the world wait.

The same is true of mourning and sadness. Yes, we must grieve; we’ve lost so much. But be honest with yourself about what you are really grieving, and notice when you are ready to let go of the sad story. It might not end up being so sad after all. But if it is, that's okay. Sadness is beautiful and necessary. And it's not the only story in the book.

Remember that all of it is good; all of it is divine; all of it is part of our cosmic curriculum. And remember, also, that you are an imperfectly perfect divine embodied being who is permitted and encouraged to play and learn in the full-spectrum experiential sandbox. You didn't screw up. You're doing what you were born to do. It ain't always pretty but it's always perfect.

I don’t write any of this lightly, having experienced quite a few years' worth of unpleasant and sometimes terrifying relationships myself. But how else was I going to learn those lessons? It was my only way. According to Sartre, "Hell is other people," and a Buddhist friend says that "relationships are the fast track to enlightenment." In my experience, both are true.

May we all embrace our karma with all of our teachers and our divine appointments with all of our soul mates; and may we remember the always-available sweetness of the eternal unbreakable hridayam. Healing is our nature!

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