What the heart loves is the cure

“God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open” Hazrat Inayat Khan


How does one allow ones’ heart to crack open, without getting lost in the minutiae of attachment, heart sore, sadness, and the longing of its juicy, messy,  deep rooted, immenseness?

Children do that, invite us to be vulnerable, not only that, but to be silly and playful and mirror again and again, how we have lost the ability to play, to be wild. Tracking the heart is a practice I have been invited into in my connection with an 8 year old Xhosa boy. A mother,  son soul connection, an opportunity for heart work. Don’t get attached I have been told, why? It’s a long story. And so I realise being with him, how I have to immerse into the relationship without becoming defended but unattached.  Defended love I thought was only in adult relationships, until I understand that this child is showing me how I defend from falling in with him.

I have assumed that love for children was automatically unconditional, now I see how we project so much of our stuff onto children based on our conditioning our experience, including unfulfilled longings and dreams and how its likely a full time job to track that. Kids will act out the legacies we carry  not only from our immediate upbringing but from our ancestral legacies, if we do not resolve these issues. I did not raise him and in some ways I am able at times to step back and just observe. But I make no mistake in seeing that this is a two way relationship, where he and I are in it together. 

Finding ways to heal the ancestral legacies through divination and rituals is to assist in bringing alignment in this lifetime, going back and going forward with those who come after. If there is an opportunity that is brought to your awareness to clean these up, take it. It has powerful long term benefits.

UnDefended Love is a phrase coined by a brilliant past teacher of mine, Jett Psaris. Practicing this I thought would be easy with an 8 year old, but not having had practice with children in my life I am finding it a fascinating adventure. I see him twice a year for about 10 days. Each time, he unfolds and blossoms and reveals before my eyes his true nature. Living in the rural green hills of the Eastern Cape with few amenities no luxuries, toys or technology, this child is inspiring.

The first thing he does winter or summer when he wakes in my home in Cape Town is to ask for the door to be opened.

“Lets walk today” he says everyday, after feeling the oppression of being behind a door that he knows locks and another gate that has to be kept locked. “I feel fresh” he says smiling when we walk, what I now understand  that to mean   “I feel alive”. He grabs my hands to dance and in the living room he teaches me traditional songs in Xhosa and we dance, he dances by the ocean, with the ocean, on the mountain, he sings at breakfast, whilst waiting in the doctors office, in the bath. This is normal for him, singing, dancing, and drumming.


Another brilliant and loved teacher I was fortunate to spend time with, the late Dr Angeles Arrien, cross cultural anthropologist, said this, 

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.

Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

~ The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary

I’m going to add when did you stop playing or being enchanted by nature.

His own reality is, there are no boundaries,  having from a very early age, 2 years old been left to roam where he wanted in his rural village and still does. His life includes singing, dancing and spending at least 8 hours a day when he is not in school walking and playing in the “green hills” this is his norm.


“Whats love got to do with it?” Loving a child in an undefended way I was sure came easy twice a year, but the truth is it doesn’t. Attachment, I thought was a normal thing, except he also shows me through his own experience of past constant neglect that he can love without attachment. What he sees,  is that I give him attention,  that’s how I love him, undivided attention. He doesn’t get that at home for a variety of reasons.

Gaston Bachelard says:

“Be disciplined enough to behold what comes from them back to you, by not imposing fantasies on to people

The world seeks to be admired by you, if you sit still long enough you will really learn to praise the living world”

Defended and non attachment are two very  different things. I am very much a novice in this relationship. And its a surprise to feel honoured in his presence as I do often with animals and with nature. 

So I have to track this.  Loving this child is when I show up in my true nature,  giving him my full presence, my full, unguarded, open, strong,  heart without stifling him, over protecting and smothering him. He wouldn’t allow it anyway. I think he feels it, the love. And like big people it’s when we feel safe when we feel seen and heard. It is a crucible for healing. Imagine that for a child.

Defended I now come to see is projecting onto another and so  defending ones heart is how we think it won’t break.  Loving with ones all,  and this includes being honest and not being afraid of conflict and going in knowing my heart may get broken feels like the only way. This kind of love rarely goes down well with people who are defended they will stay in their wounds and find it hard to forgive.

It’s also possible to love without being physically close. Loving animals doesn’t mean we need to touch them, loving by listening, seeing, being present witnessing, letting go of judgments or needing to change the moment or worse still- them,  is loving without attachment, entering with the 4 chambers of the heart as Angeles used to say is liberating. It frees us to love undefended and unattached it frees us to love fully.

Check out Spirit the black Leopard,  the  story of how he met Anna Breytenbach who was able to communicate with him, or check out The Animal Communicator. www.animalspirit.org All he wanted was to be seen and heard! Animals too, profound. 

To love the natural world, is to want nothing in return, and to not trying to fix anything. I can tell this child struggles with boundaries, his way is to be unattached and I also see how one day he may struggle  to love a human with all their expectations and their projections when nature has already taught him how to love without boundaries. At 8 his heart has already in some way been broken many times, his basic rights to food, shelter, education have already been denied, he has been betrayed and yet in this dire poverty he is not a victim. He is in some way rich, as he knows how to love in ways that I am having to re learn. What a gift. Despite  this, his strength and resilience is awe inspiring and he seems strong in his core, some of his stuff, gets “played out” in the natural world. And in relationship to me, I am shown my 8 year old self,where I need more play, more dance, more song and more silence. The relationship is two way and two fold, they are the centre of our universe but not to the detriment of self neglect, then I believe we forget to love, and see and hear them and ourselves.

I was once told the only way to protect your heart is to open it fully.


Take nothing personally least of all ourselves- Oriah  Mountain Dreamer.

May all worlds bless and protect you always



5 thoughts on “What the heart loves is the cure

  1. Dearest Mbali it is always a joy to read your posts full of truth being lived, poetic, directional and inspirational. Thank you for all you bring and hold in life. All blessings. Magi

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