23 January 2022
Last Tuesday, I presented at my local Accident & Emergency Department with severe chest and arm pain and shortness of breath. The doctors suspected I was having a heart attack, and so I spent the next seven hours having tests of all kinds. Eventually, they ruled out a heart attack, and sent me home saying that I would be referred to a cardiac specialist.
This was a scary experience, as you can imagine (my husband wasn’t allowed to stay with me due to Covid restrictions). It was also very sad to experience our beloved NHS in such a state of mayhem and disarray – but that’s a different blog!
Three years ago, after fully waking up to our dire interconnected predicaments, I transformed my life entirely. I shut down the business that I’d been leading for the past 35 years, to focus exclusively on creating local community resilience and supporting individuals and groups to face reality from a place of wellbeing, resilience and courage.
Yes, I’d experienced profound grief during this time – and I knew enough from my various spiritual insights to allow myself to truly feel this, rather than to distract or self-numb.
And I really did find the “gifts on the other side of grief” that so many people talk about: an even deeper wellspring of love, compassion, deep listening and courage.
I became clearer and clearer about my unique ‘thread’ to pick up – what was ‘mine to do’. There was great joy, clarity and peace in this.
I learned so much from so many people, including many who are active in this community. I shared what I’d seen with many people, both online and also in my in-person workshops, retreats and coaching.
And then, for some reason, just as the New Year of 2022 rolled around: BAM! Another, even more profound and devastating grief, sadness and despair hit me. Nothing seemed to shift it. Nothing made sense. I considered just giving up everything I’d been focused on.
I wasn’t depressed, nor angry. Just unutterably sad.
But of course, like all of us, I had commitments in the diary. Two days after my episode, I drove my new electric car (and that’s a whole other blog too!) across the country to facilitate a workshop. It was going to be a long drive, so I decided to listen to a podcast. Quite randomly, (it’s so weird how these things happen), BBC Sounds chose for me to listen to a podcast from the series “Stronger Than you Think”, and the particular episode that came on was, you guessed it, about the human heart.
The podcast hosts started to explain about something called Takotsubo, sometimes called “Broken Heart Syndrome”. It presents identically to a heart attack, but it isn’t. It’s a proper ‘thing’, only now starting to be acknowledged by mainstream cardiac specialists.
The condition even changes the shape of the heart – the word Takotsubo comes from the name for a a pot used by Japanese fishermen to trap octopuses. When the left ventricle of the heart changes shape, it develops a narrow neck and a round bottom making it looks similar to the octopus trap. There are even Takotsubo Support Groups!
It’s caused by extreme emotions – like grief.
You can listen to the episode here:
Earlier in the week, a really old friend had re-contacted me after a gap of 20 years. She’d moved to New Zealand and we’d lost touch. Turns out, she’d re-trained as a healer and is mentored by a very gifted Maori healer. I told her about the hospital visit and the physical symptoms, but hadn’t shared anything about my emotional journey over the past few weeks. She doesn’t know (yet!) about Deep Adaptation, and is not collapse aware.
This friend offered to do a ‘remote healing’.
The ‘healing’ was nice – I felt relaxed and rather sleepy, although I can’t say I experienced any dramatic shifts. After the ‘connection’, she and I jumped on zoom and I asked her what she felt. She told me she’d sensed a blockage in my heart, and then, rather tentatively, told me that what she felt was an enormous, soul-crushing grief. And underneath that, a deep and profound love.
Later on, I participated in a chanting meditation on YouTube led by the beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn – who sadly died yesterday.
I felt my life force returning, and somehow the grief and sadness is gone (at least for now!), and been replaced by what was underneath it all along.
Today is Sunday 23rd January, and I feel completely back on track, and immensely joyful, grateful and peaceful again. The physiological symptoms have completely disappeared.
(I will still go to my appointment with the cardiac specialist next week, and follow their advice of course.)
I’m so struck by the serendipity and coincidences in my little story: the podcast, the old friend getting in touch after two decades, and the death of Thich Naht Hahn.
I just printed out a little poster – I think I got this from Shaun Chamberlin – that points to the “Both… And” nature of everything:
Yes, we are in a global Clusterfuck
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding exactly as it should (from Desiderata)
“It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its opposite is also a deep truth.” —Niels Bohr
I wanted to share this because I suspect many people are experiencing the same thing, and this Broken Heart Syndrome will doubtless become even more widespread as our predicament worsens, and as more people wake up to it.
But I’m discovering today that our Hearts are stronger than we think, and contain such an untapped store of wisdom, love and courage. The word ‘courage’, of course, comes from the French ‘corage’, or the Latin “Coeur”, the heart as the seat of emotions.
I’d love to know how this resonates with you.
Writing this in deep gratitude for Life, however short it may be, and from my Broken Heart to yours.
Kimberley Hare is a writer, a coach, a facilitator and a heart-centred community activist. After 35 years of running a successful business developing leaders in organisations around the world, she closed this down in 2018, and now does all her work in ‘the gift’. She has been certified as a Master Transformative Coach and is a qualified iheart Facilitator. iheart is a charity taking a mental resilience and well-being curriculum into schools for 10 to 18-year-olds. She co-founded a community group to create resilient local communities and runs retreats and workshops designed to re-connect people with their innate resilience, courage and well-being. She supports people who are struggling with eco-anxiety and helps people to face into the climate and ecological predicament and identify their own personal path from a place of grounded wisdom, rather than fear. Kimberley is also an active volunteer and facilitator in the Deep Adaptation Forum community.