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5 Practices to Open Your Heart


5 Practices to Open Your Heart



Yesterday in our Yoga Class Curator Pilgrimage & Puja Community Practice, founder and teacher Susanna Barkataki led us in an inquiry around devotion.

She referenced Yoga Sutra 1:39: Meditating on that which is elevating.  

She gave us some inquiries for reflective journaling and the focus on meditating on what elevates is still unfolding within me.

I am finding in these times in order to be sustainable in healing justice work, it is necessary to saturate myself in that which elevates/opens and in doing so restores/nourishes this path of living well in an unwell world.

AND Meditation doesn’t have to be a formal seated practice. It can include the following and beyond!

I encourage you to make your own list.

So, here are 5 simple practices that serve for me, as meditations on that which elevates.

  1. Pay attention to aliveness. Do this by tapping into your own body, feeling your breath. Extend this beyond your person to listening to birdsong, observing the life teeming all around, trees, clusters of ants, the rabbits plotting to feast on the vegetables growing in our raised beds and beyond. Learn from other species. I have an ongoing experience of receiving stories about resilience from the giant white oak tree across the street from my house. Where do you notice this aliveness?
  2. Commit to the Art of Staying Inspired. Read inspirational texts that speak to the higher values of compassion, solidarity, and connection. This can be sacred texts, poetry and prose. This is part of my morning practice and right now I am revisiting  Mark Nepo’s The Book of Soul. Create or listen to music that elevates your spirits. Meditate visually on a mandala, the yantras (geometric representations of the chakras) and any other visual imagery. What comes to mind here for you?
  3. Play. Play! Play for me often involves movement, hula hooping. DANCING EVERY DAY! I also make up songs about my dog and sing them loudly to him. It also helps that I have 2 grandsons who are 5 and 4 and we play in the world of imagination as swamp monsters, lions and cheetahs as well as dancing like robots, and scream singing while playing some of the numerous instruments in my household. What might playtime look like in your life? Can you identify some potential playmates?
  4. Creating Something. Maybe for some of us baking is our love language. It is my husband’s and I get to benefit! Mine is knitting. Fibers connect me to my ancestral roots. Both of my grandmothers worked with fibers, one with crocheting, the other with knitting and hooked rugs. There is something uplifting about taking the time to make something with your own hands. When I make things like the large, colorful cotton blanket I am knitting for my grand niece Addison, I weave prayers into the work of my hands. What do you like to create? Think of it as a meditation the next time you work with your hands.
  5. Call Someone Up. This is the opposite of call out culture. Reflect to someone in your life qualities of character that you see and admire. I tell my daughter in law, who is one of the best humans I know, that she embodies caring loving presence in how she parents and how she interacts in relationships. It appears effortless yet I know she brings great intention and awareness to these experiences. It feels so tender and uplifting to recognize the presence of our better angels in the people we love and why keep that to a silent observation all the time?  I encourage you to try this!

What is on your list? Feel free to create your own!


Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen, B.A. Political Science/Sociology, is a Certified Music Practitioner, Sound Healer, Reiki Master, and Registered Yoga Teacher with a trauma informed/social justice framework. She has 20 years experience of working with some of the most amazing people on the planet; hospice patients and their families, patients in a variety of health conditions, survivors of sexual abuse, adults with mental illness and most recently, incarcerated women. Rachel is also passionate about supporting and working with caregivers to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue. Locally, Rachel teaches Creative Movement at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Regionally and nationally, she teaches and presents at conferences and retreats, weaving live music, yoga, and creative movement into themes of compassion, self acceptance, and transformation. Rachel is committed to engaging people from all walks of life in the healing arts to create healthy, diverse, and joyful communities.