Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Giving Somebody Your Heart

--by Anonymous (Oct 11, 2011)

In every interaction you have with another human being—doesn’t matter who—you always have two main choices.

(The keyword is choice.)

One choice usually leads to logical (boring) interaction, politeness, formalities. And, more importantly, a lack of connectivity.

The other usually leads to interesting discussion, love (yes, love), aliveness, friendship, gift giving. And connectivity.

In every interaction you are either giving somebody else your mind—your intellect, your intelligent points, the who/what/where/when/why of your existence.

This is the easy thing to do. The safe thing to do. It doesn’t require much, if any, emotional strength or really expose who you are. In this way, you can hide from others (or from your self, depending on how you look at it) and not risk rejection by not even giving somebody the chance to reject you.

Or, you are giving somebody your heart—the real you, your presence, your true attention.

This is the hard thing to do. The risky thing to do. It involves an enormous amount of emotional strength (until it doesn’t). It entails entering the present moment. And it entails pushing through the challenging and stifling fear of doing so.

Instead of thinking about what to say or do, you let your inwardly felt experience inform your words and actions toward others.

Think about how often you self-censor and hit the mute button. Why? Why not just assume that what you have to say is valuable, even if it comes out not so smooth? Then maybe you say next, “oh, that was lame” and then laugh.

It’s this kind of moment-to-moment truthfulness that is required.

It’s so easy (but frightening) to practice because you always know what to say or do in any interaction with somebody else. The problem is having the courage to act on it.

Isn’t it time to feel less anxious and less alone and less unfulfilled?

Add Your Reflection:

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Previous Reflections:

On Oct 7, 2011 Lorijo Metz wrote:

 Every night, while the bath is filling, I play fetch the ball with my dog, Henry. All I need do is start the water and no matter where Henry is, he comes running. I like to play Words With Friends, a scrabble-like game, on my iPhone. I had games going with two or three different players and I decided between throws, I would work on my moves. Well, Henry didn’t like that. I’d throw the ball. He’d fetch. But, on his way back, his little paws would slow and he’d stop. He wouldn’t bring me the ball. I admit, this wasn’t the first time this had happened. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried multitasking while playing ball with him, and it wasn’t the first time he’d reacted like this. However, it was the first time I realized Henry was trying to tell me that those few minutes—the time it took to fill the bath—were his. All his. And I needed to Be There Now for him. I put aside my phone, and played ball.

On Oct 8, 2011 Ricky wrote:

In response to a prompt of ‘have you experienced a poignant moment when you gave somebody the real you’, I can’t imagine a day going by without many of these poignant moments.  What are we here for if not to make life less difficult for someone else?  (not my quote)


I do have some most memorable moments.  Each of these moments occurred when I purposefully arranged my schedule to build in down time…allows me to be much more at ease and calm.  Walking meditation and connecting with the homeless, one at a time.  Walking across campus with an empty mind, with the only thought of maintaining eye contact with each teen who looks up, and then smile to acknowledge.  Letting go of the constant distracters in daily life like TV pundits and changing the reality of one student at a time with a moment of listening, engaging, sharing, and encouraging.  Readily picking up the ringing phone even in the midst of a deadline to connect with a colleague in a time of despair or joy.  Being open to the endless possibilities of serendipitous moments; in other words, exercising choices, one breath at a time.


This does not mean that there aren’t times of isolation, meditation, and still quiet moments during the day of work, chores, organizing, and care taking.  It just means relationships, connections, and knowing our lives have meaning help us inspire and empower those around us, or with whom we have random moments of contact with. 


Yes, it does involve a tremendous amount of risk-taking on our parts, and a determined level of confidence…especially for those of us with very little self-esteem.  However, giving somebody your heart is exactly what is necessary to practice over and over, letting go of any thought of the outcome or consequence.  It is the ultimate practice.  The Tao, #9, translated by Stephen Mitchell, ends with ‘…Do Your Work, and Step Away.  The Only Path to Serenity.’  The Gita time and time again quotes Krishna remarking to Arjuna he has no claim to the outcome.  The Sutras mention aparigraha as a yama, which can translate to non-grasping and non-attachment; non-identification.  Giving your heart away is a great place to start a practice of loving unconditionally, even if being shown unconditional love in relationships has not been your experience.


This is how to live.  Unclenching your heart and giving it away is our response to understanding that there is only Love in the universe, and that Love is the ultimate expression of who and what we really are-the jewels in Indra’s net, the finite experience of the infinite, the Divine within.  This Love is what we ‘see’ as the same in each of us, and how we show and share this Love is as diverse as our experiences reveal about ourselves and our journey.   We come to understand sharing this Love as being our responsibility and what we are accountable for during our time here, in this present state. 


One of my favorite songs I will leave you with here:  Give It Away chorus lyrics by Gaither Vocal Band-‘If you want more happy than your heart will hold, if you want to stand taller if the truth were told, take whatever you have, and give it away.  If you want less lonely and a lot more fun, and deep satisfaction when the day is done, then throw your heart wide open and give it away.’  Thank you for letting me share here.


On Oct 8, 2011 Conrad wrote:

Wow!  Few I journey articles have touched me like this one. I experience myself as often being overly intellectual with little heart. I often have a lot of quotes to say so that people will like me and what I write. Sorry for often choosing the safeway in the past and even a  bit today. I notice I don't have much to say unless it is safe.Warm and kind regards to everyone. Conrad

On Oct 8, 2011 Smile wrote:

 Beautiful passage and comments. It does need a lot of courage and is a Big- big risk not only to open your hear, be truthful but more so to continue doing this for others even after you face difficulties. It may seem foolish to outsiders to forgive someone who has been harming you but only those who have been blessed with unconditional love and open heart can think of being reallly there for others.

I have a long way to go and shall try to practise this more and more often.

I agree its more important to live a fulfilling life than securing what we already have.

On Oct 8, 2011 ~liz wrote:

 very encouraging and a simple truth worth living. Thank you!

On Oct 9, 2011 PK wrote:

 everytime, I opened my heart, I learned -- sometimes first by getting hurt but many times by becoming surprised and finding out something I had no idea. Whenver I thought I knew, in other words, depended on my brain instead of my heart, I was safe but disappointed -- nothing happened, no magic, no surprise, no fun.

I chose to love and never regretted. Loving means choosing to stay open and vulnerable for me...

On Oct 10, 2011 Rajiv wrote:

 Very insightful article and worth practicing TOTAL ENEGAGEMENT - starting with oneself through meditation. There is a huge problem to tckle today viz relationship overload....Approach/response of other participants also shapes the quality of interaction. I really like to engage fully with everyone I meet but in an active job+ social life, one fails often in this, due to priorities set by others like bosses, spouses, gurus ! One also has to suffer a lot of superficial dialogue in meetings, parties and even spiritual gatherings. I wsh that hypocracy vanishes from our lives and we can live/interact with other truthfully....sounds like an utopian idea but am trying to find practical ways to bring this in my life. 

On Oct 11, 2011 CarylMarie wrote:

 ....BEAUTIFUL...the ego CAN be contained!!

On Oct 11, 2011 Fcinek wrote:

It's less risky to give someone your heart if you realize that you won't be rejected without your consent, to paraphrase former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

After all,  a listener offers his/her response/opinion to what we have offered: nothing more, nothing less.  We, as the sharer of our heart, decide whether or not to swallow the listener's opinion whole, or whether to believe that we are already whole, we are already enough and we don't need the acceptance of others because we have already been blessed with infinite worth by virtue of being alive, despite the fact that we are fallable and imperfect. 

The higher our self-esteem, the less important become the opinions of others. Charles Swindoll said that  "Life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent how you react to it."

For me, one of the most profound insights into what Maslow calls becoming a "Self-Actualized" person is to become "independent of the good opinion of other people."  Now that is an empowering insight, I think !!  For years it has been a mantra for me. While it will never be totally attainable, I continue to strive for it and to make modest progress.

I had a painful, on-going relationship for many years with a relative who treated me rudely, critically, and dismissively.  Rather than believe her "opinion" of me, I chose to believe my own opinion: " This is a person who is deeply wounded and in a lot of pain."  She has a hard-shell exterior, but inside, I believe she is sensitive, caring, generous, smart,  loving and scared of rejection/criticism.

As time has transpired,  I continue to be of the same opinion.  She is still in my life, and my initial opinion has not wavered. I continue to love her to the best of my ability and she is now pro-actively seeking to heal her wounds.  I still make the conscious choice to love this relative and I continue to hope that she will grow in her capacity to love herself as much as I love her. My decision to love her is one I can change at any time, but choose not to.

As Oprah would say, a major life task is to turn our "wounds into wisdom," and if we seek to become the best we can be, this goal,  while painful, will be serve us well.  Ancient wisdom says, "A gem is not polished without friction, nor is a man perfected without trials."


On Oct 11, 2011 Christopher Lowman wrote:

Wow. Thank you all at iJourney for posting this piece, the cartoon, and that amazing read by Liz. I was so surprised to see it here.

Thanks also for all the shares and thoughtful comments.

Feeling much love and generosity, which keeps mine flowing as well. :)




On Oct 11, 2011 Lonnie wrote:

I'm surprised at what a new, completely new to me, idea this is! Thanks for this post.

On Oct 12, 2011 Stafford wrote:

“I am impelled, not to squeak
like a grateful and apologetic mouse,
but to roar like a lion
out of pride in my profession.”

On Oct 12, 2011 Lover wrote:

This is simply awesome and inspiring. At least am feeling much better now and am still looking forward to life. But I miss her !

God Bless Us!

On Oct 12, 2011 vijay wrote:

 Alphabet 'O' stands for 'OPPORTUNITY'
Which is absent in YESTERDAY
Available once in T'O'DAY
Thrice in T'O'M'O'RR'O'W.
Never lose hope. :)

On Oct 12, 2011 ~liz wrote:

 It can be vulnerable to share from your heart, thanks for having the courage to speak from the depth of  despair. I am glad you are feeling better, grief comes in waves. May blessings return to you....abundantly.

On Oct 12, 2011 Ganoba wrote:

 The essence of this article is dualistic (we have two choices).

In reality we have infinite options at all times, at each moment.

this realisation sets us free and in the realm of choicelessness.

On Oct 13, 2011 Mrinmayee Wankhade wrote:

 it was a very adorable story with lots of interst...........i loved it a lottttt

On Oct 13, 2011 rebecca wrote:

Yes, Ganoba! 

On Oct 14, 2011 Dinesh wrote:

Some audio clips from our circle of sharing this week ... 

On Oct 16, 2011 harmohan banga wrote:

i have this feeling or experience that if we try to give something for free for exp. a good advice, useful help without being asked and so on. most of times it is taken as negative.people dont understand the meaning of goodness .why? because they themself are not good, so according to their perspective  goodness does not exist.

                              then someone will say that atleast we have done good and leave the, things dont finish here ,with little time they (whom we helped) start competing with us not a healthy competition but their trial to explain us that we are wrong.then it will take energy to stay away from them or not to listen to them or some other way.

                             altogether it all started with some little pure hearted help.

                            what you think about it?

On Oct 17, 2011 lavita wrote:

sometimes we like to do something but the same thing is disliked by our loved ones,so we have no choice but restrict ourself from doing that thing.

On Oct 17, 2011 L wrote:

I was very moved by this one. Recently I came to a sudden and powerful realization that the heart, rather than the mind, is the seat of depth in all interaction - whether personal or professional. While I am still trying to grasp the implications of this, the only way to practice this, it seems, is through truth. By being completely true, and by loving that truth more than anything else, we free ourselves from expectation and unfulfillment. In fact, the ring of truth is enough to silence the ego,which recognizes that the truth is so much more profound. This was especially highlighted by two incidents. When I met a friend who shared his presence so completely, even though we had met for the first time, I felt immensely grateful for helping me be in that space and made me realize the power of truth. Though our conversation was about very simple things, it simply gave everyone space to be honest. The second incident was when I was reading a book - 'Infinite Vision' - about the heart driving the mind and hands, resulting in an unusual service and a powerful work culture. The same thought of the heart being the fuel for everything else came to me. Thrice in one week - now, that is a message...

On Nov 4, 2011 Navi wrote:

Thank you for this. I hesistate to reveal myself to many people under the assumption that I do not need them or they will not help me develop as a person. But you are right, I do this because I'm afraid of the rejection of my true self. This was very profound & helpful. I will reflect on myself.

On Nov 16, 2011 Truth wrote:

  In life, we often give ourselves to everything and everyone around us in a way that seems meaningful and intimate. Rarely do we realize that all that giving is a manifestation of our mind and draws us away from the truth in our hearts.Relationshiips, are life bonds that last far beyond the here and now when formend and maintained in the state of truth and love.  Share love and feel l ife.

On Nov 29, 2011 hass wrote:

 truth is like a weapon u have wit u.. it cud save you, it also cud drown u..but da only thing that matters after wot uv said is the feeling of peace after the revelation of a truth which is far more better than da uneasy feeling of guilt u feel after uv lied.. i hav had my share of lies in the and from a experiences i have found out that truth telling wud hav helped me better than lying to sav myself.. i hav a kindred spirit and he is tha most wonderful gift god has given me i beleive, i asked him y i was so special to him and his simple anwer was that "u never lied to me".. it was true.. being honest with da ones u care about is the best thing you cud give them..

On May 28, 2012 Vickie wrote:
 Make time for the quite moments as God whispers and the world is Loud

On Aug 31, 2012 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:
 I do Free Hugs all over the world and I can speak from the heart when I say, what you've written is so true. We are desperate to connect one to another. People share the most intimate details for their lives with me in the moment of embrace, it is powerful and deep. As a Storyteller, I also focus on stories of peace, love, kindness and understanding, building bridges between cultures. It is heart expanding to witness people connect to each other and realize their humanity; that we are all interconnected. I also share bottles of bubbles on subways to help people loosen up and be kind to each other. It is always fun to watch what happens when people open up to each other, even in a subway. Thank you for posting. HUG!

On Sep 1, 2012 sunil wrote:
IF we all follow this the world would be a great place  to live ,with love all over the place and smile's on everybody's face it would great.

On Sep 1, 2012 kat wrote:
 This resonated so with me.....exactly how i try to live my life! I am a flight attendant; on the plane i consciously send love, light, smiles and connection to my blesses them and it always blesses me! thanks for this nice post.

On Apr 14, 2013 madhur wrote:

Dear Kristin,

We did a little free hugs exercise recently, and it was good. However, i could not see profound impact or deep conversations. Either we needed to interact more , we were still holding back or something which could have made the experience more powerful. Need your suggestions on how to think or do to make it a moment of embrace and connectivity.


On Apr 14, 2013 Someone wrote:

Dear Harmohan ji,

What you have stated above does exist and I have experienced it myself. There are all kinds of people, some who would accept and motivate us very soon, others who would be tough to please and others who may express negativity even when you are being good.
The understanding i derived from these experiences was that i did little good and wanted something back, in terms of acceptance, acknowledgement. I was limited. The tough and negative people who create problems, actually ask you to raise the bar. o not judge them or try to correct them, that hurts. Be even more kind, more loving, more forgiving. Be there for more sacrifices and support if you truly love them and want nothing in return. It is easier said than done.
I did maintain a distance with people who were consistently bad after few attempts of being good But I forgave them. I also continued to care for their important needs though i kept myself away from day to day conversations. I was being taken for granted so that became less and I got some consideration from their end plus i freed myself from thinking and worrying about them too much.

Hope this helps in some way.

On Apr 14, 2013 someone wrote:

The passage is beautiful and a very good message indeed. I see myself few years back, saying whatever came into my mouth/mind and then saying sorry if it wasnt apt. I was truthful and i was honest. I learnt in corporate world and with outsiders that this would not do. I was punished for what i said in several ways, not getting promotion, out of the group and regular little fights.
I changed myself speaking lesser after thinking more, but ofcourse i feel less alive now. Less fulfilled and more fearful. I do think that being in an environment where you do not fit because you are just different becomes a problem. Changing yourself and constrainting your ways to less expressive and more as per social norms is a bigger problem. I am yet to find a solution which works all the time. I try to balance by being raw & expressive with few close friends now.

On Apr 15, 2013 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

I believe some of the impact & deeper conversation comes from opening your own hearts fully and being 100% present in the moment. I have a feeling I send out some sort of signal because all my life people have shared their stories with me. Can you tell me More about the exercise you did?

Update: in March I shared FREE HUGS stories in Poland at a high school, at a business meeting where I was keynote speaker, as well as at a TEDx Talk and Every Time it opened deeper conversation and even brought tears as people allowed themselves to open up more fully in that experience and moment. Conversations started, people shared their thoughts with each other. At the business meeting it was really profound, especially as Polish people are typically not huggers of people they do not know well. Many people spoke to me afterwards expressing how the stories of the hugs opened them up to sharing hugs with each other; of the 80 people in attendance, over half hugged me before they left that day and shared how they felt more open and that they would hug someone else too.

Also, After my presentation in a high school in Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland a group of high school students decided to go out into their city and offer Free Hugs on their own. They reported back that the hugs came from all ages and subcultures, that it opened up conversation and that they can't wait to do it again.

When I do Free Hugs out in a city or a town every time at least a half dozen people share details of their lives with me. If you wish to email me privately, you are most welcome to do so:

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