Four Practices to Keeping Your Heart Open, Even When It Hurts

picture-1Recently Bill Harryman blogged about chapter two in David Deida‘s book Way of The Superior Man titled “Live with an open heart, even if it hurts.” When I first read this years ago I thought to myself, “Are you nuts?”

Living with your heart open is a rich, unexplored part of the path for most men. Many men keep their heart closed their whole life, never opening up even to their spouse or intimate partner.

I was that guy until about age 30—walking around with a puffed out chest and a closed heart.  At the same time was heart was closed, I longed for a deep connection. Little did I know that it was up to me to make the first move.

So, why bother opening my heart?

First, let’s ask it this way; why not open your heart? Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” It gets broken? You get hurt again? Many of you already have had a broken heart.

For me, I had a long list of really good reasons why I was not opening up to my girlfriends and why I kept my distance from my male friends. Mostly, I would blame others. “Well, If I knew she was the one, then I would open up to her.”

Believe me, I know it’s painful and it can even sting, but try this on–feeling into your broken heart is the way back to your own aliveness and your freedom.

Then what do I do?

Here are four practices to experiment with opening your heart at home.

Practice 1: Breathing exercise. Deida has a great breathing exercise in this paragraph taken from chapter two:

“The superior man practices opening during these times of automatic closure. Open the front of your body so your chest and solar plexus are not tense. Sit or stand up straight and full, opening the front of your body, softening your chest and belly, wide and free. Breathe down through your chest and solar plexus, deep into your belly. Look directly into the eyes of whomever you are with, feeling your own pain as well as feeling the other person. Only when the front of your body is relaxed and opened, your breathe full and deep, and your gaze unguarded and directly connected with another person’s eyes, can your fullest intelligence manifest spontaneously in the situation. To act as a superior man, a samurai of relationship, you must feel the entire situation with your whole body. A closed body is unable to sense subtle cues and signals, and therefore unable to act with mastery in the situation.”

Read the rest of chapter 2 of Deida’s book here:  The masculine Heart blog post

Practice 2: Stay connected to your balls

A lot of men think that if they feel their heart or show their feelings, they are weak and less of a man. Just because you are being asked to “feel your feelings” doesn’t mean you need to lose your manliness, direction & power by cutting off your balls.  The saying in some men’s circles is “balls and heart.” The two together make you more attractive to women and trustable to other powerful men.

Practice 3: Take some space

Next time you get in a fight with your partner or spouse, take 5-10 minutes alone by saying something like, “I’m too heated right now to respond. I need some space. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Then do practice 1. Really breathe into that hurt place in you and feel it fully, rather than being in your head, justifying all the ways she’s wrong. Stay with your breath and your body sensations. This is the way out. Fights with our lovers are always opportunities to open our heart further.

Want to up the ante and really challenge yourself? Try the next one.

Practice 4: Find another man to be your practice partner and practice being witnessed

Since most men struggle to be genuinely open with another man, this might be a great edge for you to explore.

Next time you are hurt, try telling this man about your hurt. For example, let’s say you just lost your job and you it brings up feelings of worthlessness and fear. You then say to your practice partner, “I lost my job. I feel worthless and afraid right now.” As much as possible feel it and be seen.

Many men would rather keep their pain to themselves. This is a good strategy if you do not want to experience the depth of love and freedom that can come with sharing your heart with another person.

But if you want deep love and connection, sharing your pain builds trust and intimacy. Granted, sometimes when we open up, the other person wants to “fix it” or they try to make you feel better. Skip that approach. It does little to help you open your heart. Attempt to find someone who will just be there and validate your experience.

Ask yourself what kind of relationships you want? To be a revolutionary (superior) man, it is not good enough to stay shut down with a closed heart. As always, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself and see what happens.

Retweet or email this post along. The world could use more fierce, open-hearted men who can express themselves. Will you be one of them?

Report back to us below or in the facebook group


  • Scott

    Reply Reply May 25, 2009


    Great blog. Love the 4 tips, especially numbers #2 & #4. Having either (or both) a mentor and an accountability partner in the form of another man is INCREDIBLY important. In fact, I believe that it’s crucial/essential for a man to be a truly authentic man, and open up the full, rich, superior life into which each of us has been born. I’ve got one (who’s both mentor AND accountability partner), and I’ve just had a the amazing, humbling and awesome responsibility of having a friend ask me to be HIS mentor and accountability partner. HUGE. Don’t miss out on this or blow this off as some “kumbaya” exercize, men. It’ll bless your life, and your relationships especially, in ways that you can’t even imagine or envision.

    One thing I’d add to this list (of course! lol…): 5. DON’T BE “RIGHT”!!! JUST LISTEN! So often, when faced with disagreement, differing opinions and perspectives, or outright conflict, we just “know” that we’re RIGHT! DAMNED RIGHT! And, by God, we are NOT going to back down! We are going to grow some balls and stick to our guns and to our convictions, because, after all and as every man knows, THAT’S what being a MAN is all about (sic), isn’t it?!? Well, of course I’m being sarcastic, but “being right” is the biggest single factor or element to break down and failure in relationship with others – whether our spouses, our family, our friends, our business colleagues… Just do #1 (BREATHE) and then #5 (JUST LISTEN). It doesn’t mean you have to agree or adopt the other person’s perspective. But you’ll be amazed at how the other person’s perspective and attitude will change, when they “get” that you are really and truly, honestly and authentically listening, “being there” for them…

    Just my 2 cents. Thanks Jay,


  • Joshua G

    Reply Reply May 26, 2009


    Since doing this exercise with other men at our Revolutionary Men’s Training I have committed to living this way in my day to day life. I am living with an open heart more often and for longer periods of time and WOW! What a rush! Living with an open heart is scary…at times it can be a roller coaster ride and yet…it’s powerful! I see people’s energy shift right in front of me when I go from a closed heart to open in their presence. It’s almost as if I am looking in to an energetic mirror.

    I also did this practice with a couple guys I am building a local men’s team with and they loved it!

    I am not in any comitted relationship with a woman but I interact with many women and even notice a difference in the presence of women I don’t know…they feel my’s like there is instant connection, even if I don’t say anything and we never talk.

  • Erin Brandt

    Reply Reply May 26, 2009

    Wow! What a POWERFUL post. Total quality, and kudos, Jayson. Thank you!

    In reference to #2, I’d even go so far as to say that to be without EITHER your balls or your heart is UNattractive to women… certainly to women who want to go deep, be open, and have a partner able to handle/hold/meet her. Certainly to me 😉

    I have to, and WANT to, and LOVE practicing each of the above as well! I’d say that these are some of the most important keys to staying aware, staying open, BEING a partner. My “stuff” wants me to run and hide when I MOST want to stay open and loving and vulnerable. And I already know I screw up and get angry, etc… what I want is a man who can help me stay grounded and open during those times, who’ll forgive me when I mess up 😉 and come apologize, and who is totally juiced and challenged by doing his own work in that department.

    Mmmmm…. I feel totally turned on and totally connected when I read this post, and imagine relating to a man like that! Woo!!!

  • 007peter

    Reply Reply May 26, 2009

    I too read the The Way of “The Superior Man” many years ago, but only master the ART just 2 years ago. I credit David Deida for getting me in touch with my heart and male sexuality. Through his book, I realize that Superior man live with their heart open, vulnerable to pain, but also feel more alive & human. I used to be so shy around women. That book give me my BALLS back

  • JamesMoreau

    Reply Reply January 24, 2011

    This is good advice… I feel like I put more energy (lately) into preparing myself to do these things, because it's so hard for me to conjure them in the heat of the moment. My biggest challenge is not taking too much time, or saying “I'm fine” when I'm trying to process something with my mind… even though I should just open up.

    • Jayson

      Reply Reply January 25, 2011


      Yes. agreed. However, be careful about thinking you “should” open up. Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves and close. just do you best to do that consciously.

  • Jayson

    Reply Reply January 25, 2011


    Yes. agreed. However, be careful about thinking you “should” open up. Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves and close. just do you best to do that consciously.

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