The Free Motion Quilting Project: Simple Heart Opener and Reality Check

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Simple Heart Opener and Reality Check

I attended a wonderful yoga class and found this pose most beneficial this morning:

This is a simple heart opener, which means when you hold this pose you should gently stretch the muscles in front of your heart, across your ribcage. When I sat for this photo at the end of class, my instructor reminded me to clasp my hands firmly, press both palms together, and bring my elbows together as well, a step I'd been missing. Holding it, I could feel my chest open up and it was suddenly easier to breathe.

I tend to curl my body forward and around my heart, which means I really FEEL a pose like this! Another instructor always reminds me to open my heart, both literally and figuratively. Curling up is partly a habit from crafting, and might also be a reflex from being hurt in the past and wanting to curl up and protect myself from more harm.

After quilting the words "I have an open and willing heart" I'm finding myself drawn to heart opening poses and twists that stretch and move this area. Sometimes when stretching and trying to open this area, I feel waves of anger or sadness, usually accompanied with a memory I don't really want to revisit.

I'm not meaning to dredge stuff up. Seriously, I did my digging back in 2011 and found it only dug the hole deeper and deeper. That's why I set Sinkhole on fire.

But stuff still sometimes comes up. While stretching today, I suddenly began thinking about the past and why I'm struggling to let these memories, and their accompanying pain and anger, go.

While in another pose I suddenly had the thought - No one is making you angry or hurting you right now. Right now you are here in yoga class, enjoying this stretch. So why are you feeling angry and hurt? This is not real.

The "this is not real." was really interesting. It was a bit like a lightbulb in my head went off. Yes, the pain is real, yes, I was hurt in whatever painful memory, and yes, it sucks to revisit it.

But it isn't REAL because it isn't happening RIGHT NOW. I'm feeling pissed off and hurt, and that event happened YEARS ago! Drop it Leah, that pain is fake!

So I dropped it, reminded myself where I was and finished class with a single goal - next time a bad memory crops up, I'm going to give myself a reality check. Where am I? Is this happening now? Is there any benefit from getting angry or sad from this AGAIN?

Thoughts are habits and this year, I want to build a habit to open my heart, see and feel what is happening right NOW, and stop these painful memories in their tracks. You know that saying "You are what you eat?" I think another good one is "You are what you remember." Let's make good memories today!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I'm going to write down what you said about remembering the hurts from the past and it's not happening now. I think that will help and to relook at the words when it re-surfaces. Great idea and thanks for sharing:)

  2. Your burning ceremony was a brave, bold declarative statement of intent to live a positive life from that point on.

    As we age, we find we continue to peel back layers like an onion. Each layer of hurt and pain is recognized and cast aside after our inner self sees it for what it is. Ignoring those layers is the same as denying the right your inner self has to be free from oppression.

    It becomes a privilege to nurture ourselves with love and tenderness as we experience life. When an event triggers a memory, we can lovingly relate to the challenge, sooth our souls with the assurance all is well now, and that we won't let that abuse happen again. This gives our inner child a voice - something we didn't have as a youngster enduring the abuse.

    Yoga teaches us to breathe in good and let go of the bad with each exhale. Glad you are opening your heart.

  3. Очень красивая поза! Я люблю йогу.

  4. My massage therapist who also teaches gentle Yoga for seniors taught me a similar pose that I do sitting down. I hang onto my chair because there is no way my arms would go back where yours are. And I'm sitting on a chair because I can't get down on the ground. But all the rest of it is exactly the same for the same reason. To open up my chest and help me breath.

    I also am working on some very old stuff from my childhood. Letting go. Handing the problem over to
    God. Forgiving. Not easy, but very important to do.

  5. Wow. When I started following your blog it was obviously because you're a quilter that I stumbled across on Craftsy.

    But now I am glad I'm here just because you share these things. I hold on to a lot of anger and bitterness too.

    I'm glad that you are so open on your blog. Maybe I should be too. Just to stop hiding from things maybe or share more of myself.

    I hunch forward all the time and lately I've been trying to sit straight and stand straight because I can feel my chest is sore all the time and I get chest pains now {which aren't related to my heart}. I will have to try this yoga pose... I thought I just had poor posture but maybe it's like you... trying to protect myself.

  6. I can relate to what you're going through. My hurt and pain was caused by family, so-called friends, my spouse, and even ME.

    I still have to work though a lot issues, my biggest problem is to learn HOW to forgive and to completely forget.

    I find myself at times when I have thought that something was completely resolved, completely set aside and worked through, to suddenly come back with a bang. But except for feeling hurt, I get frustrated and angry. I just cant let things go. I suppose that is the one thing that I need to do most, is to LET GO of what I have no control over, to LET GO, of what is in the past, to LOOK TO THE FUTURE.

    Then FEAR hits me, fear of things repeating itself, happening all over again.

    No one is alone in the world, there are so many people out there willing to listen, willing to help, and at times it comes from the strangest of places. Your life story, your willingness to share, not only in quilting, but your personal life makes YOU real, makes what I'm going through not so 'silly' or senseless even. I can relate, and when seeing someone else too feel what they feel, when they feel it, no matter how absurd it might be at the time, gives me the courage to keep on going. Thanks for being YOU Leah.

  7. Leah ~ Thank you for sharing your post this morning. I am sorry that any of us have experienced pain from those entrusted to love us. What I know of the adult Leah through this internet, (who you are right now,) you are a very remarkable woman, and I am so glad to know you Leah!

  8. It's a good sign that you're at this point now in your journey out of your youth-trauma. :D And it keeps coming back up right now precisely *because* you're not being hurt. You're safe. You've been safe for a little while with your own family, and now your psyche can deal with the waves that still emanate. You have to do that dredging you did. But then you get to where you can see it coming and recognize it as echoes of the pain that you can control now instead of them controlling you. Happy for you that this stage is here now. :)

  9. Leah-Olga said it was a very beautiful post and that she loves yoga...and it was a beautiful post.

  10. Leah, your comments today touched my heart. May I recommend a book I've found helpful "A Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (she blogs). Many blessings to you and thanks for your generous sharing and your expertise in teaching.

  11. I tried this pose and your right it seems to open up my chest and ease breathing...just what I need as I was dx today with pneumonia :( Come on antibiotics!and work! thanks for sharing. sue

  12. My brain likes to do what I call "hamster wheeling" where it goes over something again and again, getting nowhere, but using up a whole heck of a lot of energy. I love your thought that it isn't real! I will definitely remember that one. :)

    I got a dog recently, and in training we were learning "leave it." I've found that now when I notice myself hamster wheeling, some part of my brain will say "leave it!" and it really helps me get off the hamster wheel. No idea why it works, but SO happy that it does! It's made a WORLD of difference for me. :)

  13. Beautiful post. "this is not real" is something I have to think of, I often dredge up old pain.

    I find it really coincidental the phrase you added today. Yesterday I wrote out my list, and 'I have an open and willing heart' was on the top of the list. Guess I will be using some of the same phrases as you.

    I finished assembling the top today- it is gorgeous, and can't wait to share on Wednesday.

  14. Wonderful post, thoughtful. I too lived with pain of the past for so long, so much energy went into the anger of the past. I finally was able to let it go just last year, I am 56 so I had the anger for a very long time. I found my way by reading all of Eckhart Tolle's books. He has a theory called "the pain body". He too had past hurts, was very negative to himself but he found a way out of it all and wrote books to help others. If there are others in this same way please read Eckhart's books, they can help lead you out of the pain. Best to you in 2013, Ani in NC

  15. As a fellow survivor I appreciate your determination to go past the past and make the future brighter, more positive; letting go is the only way to eagerly anticipate what is to come. blessings, marlene

  16. You are so sweet to share these thoughts with us! You are a healing friend! Thank you!

  17. You are what you remember - so true ! A reflective version of what Buddha says - As you think, so you are. Thanks for sharing Leah.

  18. What a beautiful serene picture, Leah.

    I share your love of yoga. I hope you find a teacher training course that fits.

  19. Love your picture. Leah you always have a open heart.

  20. Thankyou Leah I needed this post today. :) Muchly appreciated

  21. Wow. I just found you, your tutorials and your blog tonight, and you have a new follower! This post was so open and honest. Thank you for that. I also just watched the sinkhole burning video and was overcome with emotion... The feelings you are able to portray in your quilting are amazing, you are a phenomenal artist.


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