The Heart Expansion Experiment

Sunset view from Santa Monica, image by LeAnn for

"The Heart Expansion Experiment"
Act I: A heart warming exercise.
The Heart Expansion Experiment, image by LeAnn for

Try this today:  Send loving thoughts to as many random people as possible. Take a few seconds throughout your day, -wherever you happen to go- and imagine yourself sending love and warm wishes to each person you come across.  Do this whether you actually interact with them or should you just see them from a distance.  Focus on that person's image and imagine what you are saying to them.

The first time I did this, I decided to give it a concentrated effort for a day.  Now let me preface this by saying that I like to think I go out most days with good will towards my fellow human beings; so committing to just a single day focusing on this didn't seem too challenging.  However, what I would soon learn was that this little "heart expansion exercise," was -quite literally- exercise.

I had many opportunities with many different people at the beach that day and the little café where I had lunch and worked on my laptop. It was a very eclectic group –people from all walks of life;  including tourists from several different countries and many different "dramas" playing out all around me.

Later, as I was driving to the grocery store, a guy in a van cut in front of another car and narrowly missed causing an accident.  He sped away seemingly oblivious to the havoc he had just caused.  I sent him loving thoughts for a safe arrival at his destination and I focused on all the drivers surrounding the scene, sending each one of them the same.

The check-out woman at the store had sad eyes and seemed distracted.  I mentally gave her a hug and wished her well.

I smiled and said "hi" as I passed several different people in the store and later outside in the parking lot as I was walking to my car.  Some smiled and said "hello" back.  Others looked startled as though they were surprised someone had ventured to speak to them.  One woman eyed me rather suspiciously.

I observed people as I drove home.  At least half of the drivers I saw were frowning.  I sent good wishes out to as many people as I could including the guy sitting at the stoplight next to me who was angrily engaged in a phone conversation and the little old man in front of me who didn't stop at the four way stop, but then did stop at the next green light.

I sent good thoughts to the people walking through the crosswalks in front of my car;  some people were absorbed with their cell phone or talking to their companion.  One woman passed by on her bike happily belting out a song she was listening to on her headphones.

I saw a homeless man sitting on the corner and as I pulled up to the next stop, there was a guy selling oranges and flowers from the median.   –To each of them I sent love.

Throughout the entire day, I sent warm thoughts and wishes for peace and happiness to every person who crossed my path.

A realization I had is this:  When I have judged someone in my life...When I have either verbally or mentally labeled them  (even with just a fleeting thought of "Rude" or "Grouch")  ...In those moments I wasn't being creative.  (This realization really made me sit up and take notice!)  And the next connection I made was this:  Creativity carves a quick path to compassion.

What might this person's story be?...

Taking that moment to think that there might be more to a person's story, jolts you out of your old (default) label-making mode and from there, you can see there is more to their story.  Not only is this an effective method for getting past a negative perception of someone, it is also useful to employ when we find ourselves reducing someone to the seemingly "benign" labels we so often assign.

Our intellect is very adept at categorizing and sorting information for us as we move through this world, but it always needs collaboration with the heart.  And the moment I decide to interject that aspect, –to be a little creative and imagine a bigger picture;  then that person ceases to be the simple label I initially saw.  It is then I can have compassion and send love and good wishes to that person.  When I am able to open my heart in this way, I cross the boundaries of all labels and all preconceived notions to where I see - We are all One.

A warning though:  The love you send out comes back to you ten-fold.  And like Dr. Seuss's Grinch, I felt my heart had expanded to three times its size in one day.—I was exhausted!

It was a good tired though and as I climbed into bed that night I smiled.  I thought about all the different "characters" who had played a part in The Heart Expansion Experiment: 
". . . now starring as the "singing lady on a bike" and "man in van played by. . ." 
As I nodded off to sleep, I thanked each one of them in turn. . . And do you know what?
   Every single one of them smiled back.

Photographs by LeAnn
1-2:  Santa Monica, California 3:  Venice Beach, California

Also recommended:  Magic and the Merlin Archetype:  "Magic is just a matter of perspective." 

You might also like this previous post:  Be happy for this moment...
image by LeAnn, Venice Beach, California, for

visit our new site:


Lee said...

What a wonderful post, you have no idea how you have touched my heart today with this post and made me realise after a day of dwelling in my own "self"...that it is when we give to others that we can forget about our own troubles.

I am normally that person doing exactly what you did on that day but I have been self absorbed in my own unhappiness this weekend and a bit reclusive and realise how we can only receive the good back if we go out and give it :)

I am pleased I stumbled upon your blog.

Thank you

Lee, Auckland, New Zealand

Anonymous said...

I think my heart expanded just reading that post, so I can't wait to really put it into practice. Thank you for a lovely idea. My first "virtual hug" goes to you!


LB said...

I'm so happy you found l&l. So the Universe was nudging me on your behalf it sounds like? :)
Thank you for writing and letting me know. Welcome to linen and lavender and please keep in touch.
All the best to you ~LeAnn

LB said...

So sweet of you to write. Thank you. Hug received and sending one back to you now! ~LeAnn

Karena said...

This is such a loving poignant post. I will do exactly this, for one day, then another, It is a pay it forward project indeed! Thank you so much!


Art by Karena

I hope you will come and join my Giveaway from Interieurs!

LB said...

Hi, Karena. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment. I am heading to your site right now. Thank you for the invitation.
:) ~LeAnn

(I had technical difficulties with publishing your comment. -I apologize for the delay.)

Acquired Objects said...

While I'm a pretty happy go lucky sort of person I don't think I've ever actually done this but I will tomorrow. It's a wonderful idea and it makes perfect sense. What a thoughtful thing to do for another person even if they don't know it the karma is there! We've missed you LeAnn!

LB said...

Hi, Debra! I know! Where have I been?! :)
Glad to be back at it and looking forward to sharing some new things I've been working on.
Thank you for taking time to say hello. xo ~LeAnn

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

a few of our favorite things

a few of our favorite things
click image to view all items

Italia! per sempre

Be Love.

l&l collection no. 11

l&l collection no. 12 - It speaks to me.


. . . . . . .


.Subscribe to receive our news and exclusive content by email,, click image to go to subscription form or go here:

composition ii

Preview PreviewPreview

Fireworks from the Ponte Vecchio

Fireworks from the Ponte Vecchio
Giovanni Signorini (Firenze)



.Visit our new site:

This = Love

Search l&l:


At our house:

At our house:
{Cast iron deer plaque used as wall hook} 9.5"x8.5"x3.5" - $29.

Might I suggest?...

Might I suggest?...
Caprese salad is traditionally made with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese –burrata cheese takes it to a whole new level...

Essential Oils ~ Gifts of Nature

Essential Oils ~ Gifts of Nature
There is something at once familiar and mysterious...

Appennino by Giambologna

Appennino by Giambologna
Between 1568 and 1586 Bernardo Buontalenti built a great palace at Pratolino...

John Saladino Feature

John Saladino Feature
"Every home should be a sanctuary...

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box'll be greeted by a peaceful storehouse of colors and textures —Feng Shui Heaven!

The Heart of the Home

The Heart of the Home
In art and design, we refer to negative and positive space...

Dream Weavers - Rumi

Dream Weavers - Rumi
I found my dreams but the moon took me away...

Wind and Water

Wind and Water
A balanced living environment generates well-being and a balanced life...

"It's a mystery."

"It's a mystery."
Even when all indicators seem in opposition to what I want...

Rose Tarlow, The Private House

Rose Tarlow, The Private House
...interspersed with enchanting memories of her childhood home "Windrift" and inspiration garnered from the green fields of Ireland to antiquing jaunts in the heart of Paris.

l&l life