"The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers." - Deepak ChopraThis month of February is traditionally known as the heart month. We celebrate Valentine's Day, the "day of love" right in the middle of the month. We see hearts in storefront windows, on candy boxes, on greeting cards and sometimes on billboards. It is one of the favorite holidays for many to celebrate.Because this is the beginning of the heart month I wanted to talk about "open" hearts. I have worked with many clients who ask, "What is an open heart? What does that mean and what does it look like?" or "How do I open my heart, and when I do, how do I keep it open?"We have all had painful experiences in our lives that tend to close our hearts. We don't want to feel that pain ever again so we build a fortress around our heart so no one can penetrate it again. The problem with this reaction is that it creates a fist-like clench that holds so tight it contracts our hearts and holds in the pain, the resentment, the anger, the blame and keeps them held there like prize possessions. With this closed heart, life seems to be a struggle and not a very pleasant place to be. It is so contracted it almost hurts physically.It is a natural reaction to want to protect ourselves after we have been hurt. What we need to realize is that a closed heart doesn't allow qualities like happiness, joy, compassion and love to enter. It doesn't allow us to feel compassion for others or ourselves. It doesn't have room for opportunities and better things in our lives to manifest. In a closed heart there isn't room for anything but pain. It grips onto that pain not understanding it is perpetuating the very feeling we are trying to protect ourselves from.An open heart by contrast exposes the scars of our past without fear and with vulnerability. In an open heart there is room for healing, forgiveness, love, creativity, evolution, happiness and joy. There is room for connection with others and for growth in an open and expanded heart. There is room for new opportunities and we have the awareness to see these opportunities because we are in a more expansive consciousness when our hearts are open and full.Someone with an open heart is easy to spot. There is light in their eyes and an inviting quality about them. They are approachable and genuinely interested in others. They shine their light wherever they go. There is certain lightness in their step and usually a smile on their face. There is an air of abundance all around them and people are easily drawn to them. They radiate love. This is what an open heart looks like.So, how do you open your heart and how do you keep it open? It's a choice, bottom line. It doesn't matter what your material possessions are. There are some people who have nothing materially but choose to see life as a wonderful adventure. You've seen them. They're playing music on the streets for others to enjoy or driving the bus with a big welcoming smile as you board. People who have open hearts do so by choosing to see the beauty around them and the preciousness of life itself. You open your heart by saying a big "YES" to life. You choose love not fear, acceptance not judgment, forgiveness not blame, you choose to have a full heart not an empty one. And that is how you maintain an open heart - by your choices.I will leave you with a quote today and a request that you practice keeping your heart open this week. When it starts to feel closed down and contracted, just drop into the feeling of one of the qualities of an open heart and feel it expand again."There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond the highest, the very highest of heavens. This is the light that shines in your heart." - Chandogya UpanishadCatherine Fenske, Ph.D. (c), is the owner of Live With Intention Coaching. She is a certified life coach and spiritual counselor. She is also a Reiki Master/teacher; body-mind-spirit practitioner and evolutionary. Catherine can be reached at 505-795-7779 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.livewithintentioncoaching.com or visit her blog at http://fromblocked2bliss.wordpress.com to learn more about her.