The last place I planned to be on Valentines Day was at an event about love. I dreaded the notion of even going out this year. My “significant person” lives in Greece and maintaining a long distance relationship is tough enough— I didn’t need the pressure of an overly-commercial holiday to remind me that the person I should be sharing chocolate hearts with was half a world away.
But when Agapi Stassinopoulos invited me to CoCo Mat, a Soho bedding and mattress shop for a reading from her book Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity, and Unconditional Love, I couldn’t resist.
I first read Agape’s book when it was released a year or so ago and to say that it “changed my way of thinking,” would be an understatement. Coincidentally, her book— as well as that of her sister, Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive, rank as my number one and two recent reads that have had a direct positive impact on my way of living, thinking and treating others. Talk about good DNA these two women have, right?
Agapi’s book and the lessons, written so beautifully on its pages, helped me through a very dark moment in my life. Having split from a 20-year relationship and having been taken for a “ride” by someone else, while at the same time dealing with my mom’s failing health and a multitude of other issues— I needed something.
Some people turn to therapists, others to medicine. I turned to books— and Unbinding the Heart was one of them. And celebrating Valentines Day with Agapi was a great treat for me— a year after I plunged into my darkness and having come out of it with her help— to spend the evening with her, hearing her read from the book and share other stories.
Born in Greece, a country that celebrates life, Agapi learned the essential truths of happiness through the examples of wisdom, caring, playfulness, and generosity she saw all around her, starting with her own mother. She came to realize that everyone is born with an open heart, but that we quickly learn to put conditions on our happiness—comparing ourselves to others, casting judgment, doubting ourselves, allowing fear or entitlement or self-righteousness to take hold—and slowly our hearts begin to close.
We isolate ourselves, feeling alone, disconnected, and unheard; and in doing so we immobilize our spirit, stifle our authentic expression, and cut off our joy.
As she went on, Agapi, like so many of us, came under the soul-constricting influences of the larger world. In her struggle to find her place and her voice, trying to balance the acting career she dreamed of with the spiritual life she longed for, she discovered a path that was uniquely hers. In the process she published two more books– also with strong ties to her Greek heritage: Gods and Goddesses in Love: Making the Myth a Reality for You and Conversations with the Goddesses: Revealing the Divine Power Within You.
Unbinding the Heart shows how she found her way home to herself. In 32 personal, heartfelt stories full of insight and humor, Agapi takes us from her mother’s bountiful kitchen, where the seeds of fearless living were planted, to the London classical stage to an epiphany on a New York City bus—and inspires readers with the confidence to let go of the beliefs that bind them and come to a deeper understanding of life and love.