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Posted By Opening the Heart


Not a terribly inviting title for a blog post, but let's face it, Conflict, Stress and Suffering show up in most everyone's life - sometimes on a 'full time' basis.

"CSS" and the bodily tightening and negative emotions that invariably accompany this uncomfortable condition arise from the desire for 'things to be different from how they are.'

Right now in my own life I can quickly identify four (at least) instances. 1) I wish I got to spend more one on one sharing time with my daughter. 2) I would like not to have to work during my summer vacation. 3) I would like to be wealthy enough to not to have to work during my summer vacation. 4) I want my 67 year old body to function as painlessly as my 37 year old body used to do. The list could go on.

The question arises: 'How can I let go of "CSS" and fall into a happier, more peaceful, more empathic state of being?'

The answer, of course, is to let go of the desire 'for things to be different from how they are.'

"Easier said than done!" you might reply - especially if your desire is to be free of a troubling illness, depression or addiction.

My own experience tells me that the only way to free the heart of thirsting for things to be different is to look at the heart - to allow the heart to speak its own truth. When I look closely I discover the underlying feeling of loneliness behind my wanting to spend more one on one time with my daughter. If I look closer still I discover the deep sadness of disconnectedness that has colored so many of my relationships. When I open myself more deeply to the underside of my wish for an ageless body I discover fear - fear of debilitating illness, fear of death.

The sadness and the fear are emotions I am carrying. They are heavy! Unacknowledged and unexpressed they remain a constant burden that manifests as Conflict, Stress and Suffering.

Our society contains few opportunities for the safe and welcomed flow of feelings such as sadness, fear and anger, so they remain bottled up inside, frequently leading to physical disease.

I am thankful that my life has led me to teachers (Buddha, Osho, Lau Tzu, Jesus, Dalai Lama and my Opening the Heart Workshop colleagues) who have helped me understand this process. I am also enormously grateful to have found a place at Opening the Heart where I can safely access and release the scary feelings that underpin my clinging to 'how I want things to be different.'

So, whether you are a regular reader here, or someone who is visiting for the first time, I really encourage you to take advantage of what The Opening the Heart Workshop has to offer: a safe, supportive and healing environment for letting go of "CSS."

I hope to see many of you at Kripalu next weekend.

May all beings be free of Conflict, Stress and Suffering.


Posted By Opening the Heart

A number of years ago a woman in her early 30's, "Barbara" came to an Opening the Heart workshop for the first time. On Friday night, sitting in a chair facing the whole group, she told the following story in a flat, emotionless voice: She woke up one morning to find that her husband of 5 years had died in the night of a massive heart attack- 4 months before the birth of their first child. When the baby was 6 months old, he died of crib death, and Barbara entered a dark landscape of paralytic grief for almost 5 years before coming to the Heart workshop. I would like to tell you that the workshop was a deeply healing, emotionally cathartic experience but I don't know that that was true. But on Sunday, at the Closing Circle, Barbara cried one tear, the only emotion I had seen in working with her the whole weekend, and then she said she now knew what she had to do to move forward....

Two weeks ago, in Kennesumma, a small seaside town in northeastern Japan, a man, almost 70, wandered dazed through the wreckage of what had been his home. He'd been a barber. He lost his business, his wife and three children. When a reporter asked him how he was going to start over, he said "I think it's too late for me. I'm too old. I've lost too much... But I will try...."

In mid March 1959 as evening descended on Lhasa, Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, accompanied by a very few trusted protectors, disguised themselves as soldiers, slipped out of the royal palace, past the Chinese camp and onto a rough trading route headed toward India and freedom almost 100 miles away. It had been10 years of brutal repression, murder, torture and broken promises by the Chinese on the peaceful and beautiful country of Tibet. Within 24 hours of the Dalai Lama escaping, the Chinese bombed the palace, destroying the Dalai Lama's home, ancestral treasures, and killing thousands of innocent Tibetans. For 52 years His Holiness has watched from his government in exile in Dharmsala, India as the Chinese have destroyed monestaries .and tortured "imperialist reactionaries". He watches with a broken heart as his country and his culture have been "reintegrated into the Motherland". At the end of Martin Scorcese's movie "Kundun" about the Dalai Lama's life, the screen shows two written lines that read "The Dalai Lama has never been back to Tibet. He hopes to return one day". In all these years, this great man has never stopped embracing nonviolence and compassion as the only way to heal suffering in the world.

It moves me in a very deep place to witness people who seem to have been stripped of everything and yet they just don't let go of their faith and their love. Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem "Kindness" says that before you can know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.: Roger Housden wrote that when we know that sorrow "as a lived experience", then it is that very pain and suffering that connect us to what's deepest and best in every one of us.

With Love and Respect, Jon