Here is a dialogue I had with someone on Facebook:
Q: So what would you say in your experience is the most effective and simple way to open one's heart?
A: The simplest thing is to give love. Just give love to objects, sensations, your own body, the trees, the clouds, thoughts, feelings....whatever your awareness lands on now. You can read more about this in an article entitled Love Is For Giving here.
Q: Thanks. I will look at this. The idea of giving everything love is appealing and I understand it theoretically. To actually be able to do it is another story.
A: It helps if you strip love down to its essence which is awareness and space...or noticing and allowing. You do not have to like something to give it space to be here, and to notice what it is like. And at the same time you can give space and awareness to your not liking it. You can love not liking something!
Q: That sounds so hard. Ive tried things like that before but I lose my boundaries and start accepting things I shouldn't which only leads to conflict with myself and others. So I've never quite gotten how to do it.
A: There are two keys to this possibility of loving everything in awareness. One is to love whatever is present right now. So when it is hard to love, then it is important to simply love how hard it is. Again you can just allow and be curious about the experience of how hard it is. How do you know it is hard? What is that like in your body? If you were going to teach me how to make it hard for me to love something that is hard for you to love, what would you have to teach me to do?
The other key is to include everything that arises in your experience, especially including everything that arises within yourself. The problem with boundaries often occurs when we do not include our own feelings and preferences and discrimination. When you love these as much as you love the things arising in the world and in other people, then you can naturally act in a way that takes care of yourself as well as others. It is not that you completely avoid all conflict in this way. It is more that you are very present to any conflict or difficulty that appears, and so you both respond to it appropriately, and at the same time you open your heart and love it. Since life already has plenty of conflict in it, why not experience it with open loving awareness?