Health Column: An open heart |

Health Column: An open heart

Catherine Fenske
Staff Photo |

On Valentine’s Day, the designated day of love in the calendar year, let’s 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?” Others ask, “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 heart. We don’t want to feel the pain, so we build a fortress around our heart so no one or nothing can penetrate it and allow that kind of hurt to be felt again. The problem with this reaction is that it creates a fist-like clench that contracts our heart and holds in the pain, the resentment, the anger, the blame (and it clutches these feelings in like prized 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.

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 also room for connection with others and for growth in an open heart. We allow for new opportunities and we have the awareness to see them because we are in a more expansive consciousness.

Someone with an open heart is easy to spot. You immediately see joy 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.

How do you open your heart and how do you keep it open? It starts with an awareness that leads into choice.

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; and happiness, not misery.

You choose to have a full heart, not an empty one, and you choose to be a warrior, not a victim.

My challenge to you this week is that you practice keeping your heart open. When it starts to feel closed down and contracted, think about the qualities of an open heart and feel it expand again.

Have a beautiful Valentine’s Day with an open heart filled with love for yourself, your loved ones, and humanity!

GJ Free Press health columnist Catherine Fenske is the owner of Live With Intention Coaching. She is spiritual counselor/teacher, certified life coach, Reiki master/teacher. Catherine can be reached at 970-640-6987 or email at Visit or her blog at

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