I woke up this morning thinking about how overwhelming the joy can be in our lives and how deep the crevasses of sorrow can run. What a strange and fascinating dichotomy? One minute we are enjoying some peak experience and in the next a call, a comment, diagnosis, shattered dream, loss of a loved one can change our internal terrain.
How then, given these experiences of mountain tops and mud, how can they teach us something new about ourselves? I see life as a warriors journey; not in the traditional sense of the warrior, but far deeper, rich with color and texture. This is The Open–Hearted warrior.
In my last post I wrote about the power of kindness. Building on that theme I would like to introduce you to the Open-Hearted Warrior. This is the loving, generous, grateful, fierce, gentle, brilliant, true self that can bring the very best of you to your life and the lives of everyone you meet. I created this archetype as a way to become the hero in your own life.
Imagine the possibilities of discovering your warriors destiny and how right now, in the career or job you are in, you have an opportunity to fulfill that destiny? Perhaps where you are right now is just another step towards that destiny, but never the less how you choose to be the hero in your own life will invariably get you there.
An Open-Hearted Warrior is best characterized as a “way of being”. What I mean by “way of being” could be described as how you embody your life and the world around you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We can see the embodiment of The Open-Hearted Warrior in people like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi and Oskar Schindler. What these individuals all share is a divine sense that all life matters, that non-violence is the only way to true freedom and that compassion in the midst of incomprehensible suffering allows us to connect deeply with our true nature.
This way of being is achieved by the implementation of many tools but at its core is “compassionate awareness”. Compassionate awareness is our ability to be present in every moment without judging or getting hooked into the narrative of our thoughts; it is neither about ruminating over the past nor wandering into the future, an Open-Hearted Warrior is aware and attentive to the present moment, no matter what that moment brings. Life is always happening right now, not in the past or in the future. Being an Open-Hearted Warrior is also about coming home. Coming home to our most authentic, loving, and open self. How you get home is the greatest challenge you will face because many of the obstacles to coming home begin in your own mind.
Our ability to stay present in each moment is probably the greatest challenge for any Open-Hearted Warrior, and it is at the absolute core of the training. In fact, you could say that Open-Hearted Warrior is really training the mind.
The enemy we can see is far easier to disarm than those snipers that are buried deep within our consciousness. With mental conflict, it is not so easy to recognize the danger. Human beings tend to believe, without question or hesitation, the thousands of thoughts they have each day. Some are helpful and healthy while many are repetitive, negative, and counter-productive. A great part of living your professional and personal life as an Open-Hearted Warrior is learning how to understand, with great self-compassion, how your thoughts and beliefs are constantly shaping your experience.
The Great Aikido master Usehiba Morihei, described it best when he said:
“The Way of a Warrior is based on humanity, love, and sincerity; the heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship. Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.”
The Ordinary and Extraordinary
The OHW lives in all of us. In spite of the wonderful examples I have given, the true warriors walk among us everyday. Think of the things you do, large and small that embody The Open-Hearted Warrior right now. Perhaps you are raising your children without a spouse or partner, caring for your aging parents, serving others with your work (that includes every service industry from CPA’s to Screenwriters), dealing with a financial or health crisis. The Open-Hearted Warrior is not reserved for some special group of human beings doing extraordinary things. The Open-Hearted Warrior is in each of us.
The Open-Hearted Warrior Within You
Take a moment to reflect on one instance in your life in which you embodied The Open-Hearted Warrior. Perhaps you were available to a friend when they needed you, helped a child who was struggling, solved a major crisis at work; it does not matter how simple the act was or how grand. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go back to that moment. See yourself in that moment and ask yourself the following questions:
- What emotions were necessary for you to be an Open-Hearted Warrior at that moment?
- What character traits were needed in order for you to be a warrior in that moment? What values were expressed?
- What did you notice externally? How did others respond?
- Were you absorbed in thoughts about yourself or others?
While it is wonderful to have great role models like Gandhi and The Dalai Lama, the everyday moments of warrior-ship matter most. To recognize that each day holds the opportunity to live as an Open-Hearted Warrior is a gift. This way of being is not reserved for the “special” or “the gifted”. It is a part of our inherent nature.
I would invite you to think about your Open-Hearted Warrior and how you can bring that archetype to life. Here 11 steps to get you started:
11 Steps to Awaken The Open-Hearted Warrior Within You
Below is a list of action steps you can take to begin to awaken The Open-Hearted Warrior within. Just taking a few of these steps every day will make a difference.
- Create a Life Mission and Vision. It could be as simple as being the most supportive parent, spouse, or friend you can be, or ending world hunger. It does not matter what it is; only that it has heart and meaning in your life. It must compel you to take action while moving you in a very deep and personal way.
- Realize that everyone has a history. In other words, we have all suffered, and humanizing even the people who irritate you the most allows you to maintain your humanity, forgiveness and acceptance of others.
- Begin a daily practice of contemplation. Turn off all devices and reflect, and feel. Use all your senses to take life in.
- Stop blaming, complaining, accusing, and victimizing others and yourself, and most of all stop justifying your actions when you know your actions are hurting others.
- Be open. Keep your mind and heart open, especially when you find yourself judging others. Passing judgment is a surefire way to cut yourself off from those around you.
- Make your own list of Open-Hearted Warrior characteristics and read it every day. You can use the list above and add to it or create a brand new list. Perhaps on your list, a characteristic of an Open-Hearted Warrior may be “I really hear my children and I do not trivialize their concerns”. Reading the list daily and even a few times throughout the day will help keep you on track. Most of what we do is based on habits we have developed over many years. Changing the habit of blaming others or complaining is not easy. This list can help you keep your feet on the ground and focused on what is truly important to you.
- Exercise your gratitude muscle. This one “muscle” can atrophy easily. Spend a few moments before you get out of bed in the morning listing what and whom you are grateful for.
- Pay attention to your impulse to help someone. Every day we all have thoughts to help someone in need. It could be the woman who dropped her files in the hallway, and though you are late for a meeting and you decide to stop and help her, or perhaps there is a neighbor who you may not care for but their driveway needs shoveling. I know these may be trivial, but these impulses speak to your humanity and ask it to respond to others. Open-Hearted Warriors are aware of the needs of others and not consumed with their own needs.
- Stay absolutely focused-not on your goals, but on the people the outcome your goals will affect. No matter what industry you are in or what the economics are at the moment, your goals affect people. Who are they? What do they need? How can you be of service to them?
- Praise the good fortunes and successes of others. It is the insecure, fearful person who resents the success of others.
- Forgive. Without forgiveness “we drink the poison and expect the other person to die”. We suffer at the hand of our own choice when we chose to hold on to resentment, anger, feeling victimized and betrayed. Let go.
Feel free to share your experiences on this post. Open-Hearted Warriors are community minded, not lone wolves. They support and encourage.
Awaken your Open-Hearted Warrior and watch the magic happen!
Amy Green, CEC, PCC-Amy has been helping clients improve the quality of their professional and personal interactions for over 17 years. Amy brings an array of diverse experiences to her practice and a compassionate understanding of the challenges currently facing our changing world. Amy brings to her coaching an ability to delve deeply beneath the surface to explore and identify meaning, challenge and life purpose for developing leaders.
To contact Amy at Dynamic Potential Executive Coaching, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org