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One Day My Soul Just Opened Up is the title of a fabulous book by Iyanla Vanzant that takes the reader through a 40-day process of spiritual and personal growth. I had an experience recently that gave me an understanding of how Iyanla must have felt when she came up with the title of that book.

I had gone to a Bikram Yoga class feeling drained and tired. Toward the middle of the class, during camel pose (a post in which you do a back bend that stretches your ribs apart and opens your chest), I experienced a sensation that left me feeling exposed to feelings of sadness and hurt that I had tucked away somewhere for years. It was an amazing sensation – as if a wall of defensive protection had come down, allowing me access to sadness and grief.

I was surprised at how many feelings I had walled away. When I was younger, all my emotions (except anger) were always perilously close to the surface. However, after my divorce about ten years ago, finding myself as a single mother of two children while struggling to keep a solo business alive, all the emotions that used to be so close to the surface and available to me had gone into hiding.

What had been a soft sensitive exterior had become a tough strong shell of protection from the venomous anger of my ex-husband; having to play the role of both parents; constantly feeling guilty and inadequate for not being able to parent perfectly; having to maintain a facade of strength for my children; having to serve as the target of my daughter’s anger at her father and about the divorce; and simply having no time alone to allow myself to feel.

The only emotion that was close to the surface was anger, but even this I had to suppress in my efforts to keep communication open between my ex-husband and my daughter, leaving it exploding at times when it became too much to keep in. It became harder to keep my anger in check when my son turned 19 and moved in with his father, leaving me without a buffer between my daughter and me. There was simply no space in my life for me to let go, let down my guard and feel.

Now, that my daughter is a 14-year old high school student and becoming more independent and spending more time with her friends, I’ve been left with time and space to access my feelings. After coming home from that yoga class, I did some meditation that surprisingly left me feeling happiness and joy in a deeper way. I literally felt my heart open up, allowing faith and hope and joy to enter.

What can you do to allow your heart to open up?