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Posted By Opening the Heart

 (A contribution form Louise Kenny  - the organizer of our annual Opening the Heart to Grief at Avow Hospice in Naples, Florida)


The impetus for completing this writing was an encounter I had while attending a recent seminar focused on energy work such as opening chakras and seeing auras.  Such teachings I have found helpful along my own healing journey. It was at this seminar that I was reminded of my growing concerns about what has been called the “spiritual bypass”.  The spiritual bypass is that delightful and seductive path our ego finds to take us out of ourselves and into the lovely land of spiritual righteousness.
    During a break in the seminar I was expressing my concern about the devastation in Haiti. I  shared  my deep hope that the world would notice that if we all have the capacity to love effortlessly in the face of tragedy, we indeed harbor the capacity to love at any given moment.  Moments later a woman approached me and expressed the judgment: ‘But you know the Haitians just never learned to prosper….even after so much has been given to them’.  Immediately my ego flared in judgment of her!
     Before I lit off like a rocket I simply stated "there is a lot of history there"…and quietly walked away.  Later I shared with the seminar facilitator my idea: without taking a walk into and through the darker regions of ones own individual heart, one remains at risk for missing a critical spiritual point. 
       Lui Collins, folk singer and song writer wrote the verse “The only way out is through”. I first heard this as a participant in an Opening the Heart Workshop during a moment when I was encountering some deep pain in my soul. I emerged from that experience concluding that before I could transcend to greater levels of consciousness I must first fully embrace where I am and where I had been.  Our emotional hearts are not disconnected from our egos. Life’s events affect us; hurt our egos; scar our hearts. Healing these wounds requires love. Healing the wounded heart is about dissolving into the essence of our spiritual nature. As we descend into the dark regions of our heart accompanied by LOVE with the sword of Truth, we open paths to our spiritual heart. Along this newly open passageway, our actions may begin to flow increasingly from our spiritual heart.  As the spiritual light shines brighter from within us, our capacity for discernment grows as our inclination towards criticism, judgment and denial diminishes.
     While we can seek through prayer, rituals, meditation, chakras and auras for our spiritual nature it is necessary for us to consciously understand and appreciate the role of  ego in our lives. It is essential for us to see and eventually bow to the pain, the fears, the grief, the regrets, the tenderness, the hardness, the victim and the killer within. The ability to hold the sword of truth and allow it to point directly at ourselves is to genuinely grasp the spiritual point of love.
    The Opening the Heart Workshop is the only workshop I have ever taken that has granted me the gift to accept my heart’s call to encounter the light of truth. What was revealed then, and continues to be revealed to me today, goes on lovingly and gently cracking my ‘cocoon’,  liberating my spirit, urging me to be the light in the world that I was born to be.
Louise Kenny, LCSW

Posted By Opening the Heart

The Opening the Heart to Grief Workshop™ in Naples, FL last weekend reached and exceeded all the goals we have about a successful experience for everyone involved. The stories shared by participants were deeply moving. The safe expression of the many emotions that live under the 'grief umbrella' was full and unburdening. The healing and transformational learning  was profound. As facilitators we were once again priviledged to be in the presence of so much courage and compassion. Our one regret is that more of the people on the waiting list were unable to attend.

We would like to thank Avow Hospice for sponsoring what has now become an annual offering. Avow sponsorship (along with the support of other generous donors and volounteers) allows us to present Opening the Heart to Grief™ at a very modest cost to participants.

We would like to especially thank Louise Kenney for 'producing' the workshop every year. Her faultless attention to all the details of flying in four facilitators from four different locations, organizing volunteers to provide local transportation, arranging accommodation, assembling all the materials for setting up a beautiful, safe workshop space, - all this and more Louise accomplishes with grace, love and limitless good humor. Though she claims that her efforts are "just part of my job"  - she is the Grief Councellor at Avow Hospice - we know her invaluable offering goes way beyond a purely professional contribution.

We are doubly blessed in Louise because she is able to join us as an additional facilitator. She completed the same OTH training program as we did at Spring Hill before moving from New England to Florida. This has proved an invaluable  blessing for participants who are able to benefit from her deep wisdom and loving compassion.

Our gratitude also goes to our interns Kim and Jim who were serving Opening the Heart to Grief™ for the first time. Their passion for and dedication to this work is immeasurable. We are deeply grateful for their loving presence on the team as they learn this work


Posted By Opening the Heart

Coincidental with our approaching Opening the Heart to Grief Workshop, a dear friend and long time Opening the Heart Workshop colleague - Justin Freed - recently introduced me to Claudine Bing.

Claudine is a well known and respected Boston artist who has published a book documenting her mother’s death and the subsequent journey through grief to healing.


I am left here all alone

An accomplished colorist, Claudine skillfully and thoughtfully manipulates her color choices to express a range of feelings from the dark confusion of loss through the gradual process of regaining the world and its restorative hues and finding her mother’s spirit within herself. Throughout the book, pictures and text fit seamlessly together, beautifully complementing each other as they develop a narrative of the journey of grief.


Claudine Bing Image


Some more images and information about ordering the book can be seen at:


I will bring a copy with me to the workshop.

Posted By Opening the Heart

Continuing in the tradition of "world's most inconsistent blogger" I'm back again after a five month hiatus. Once again, pressures of my day job have been occupying all my time and energy. I am the first to admit that keeping things in balance is not one of my more developed skills!

The Opening the Heart Workshop has been going through an organizational transition as well. After 10 years of holding up the business end of the workshop I have been passing over some of those responsibilities to my dear workshop co-presenters Linda (Aranda) and Donna (Macomber). This comes at a time when we are developing new and exciting variations of the original workshop to present to particular target populations - such as the recently berieved.  I will continue to be the OTH "Webmaster" - and hope to do a better job of keeping this blog updated on a regular basis.

The mission and purpose of this blog is in part to stay in touch with the many participants who have taken one or more of our workshops, it is also to offer support, encouragement and hopefully some humor to anyone with the desire to open their heart to life, love and laughter.

On this occasion I would like to point you all towards one of my favorite teachers, Gil Fronsdal. He has recently begun a series of talks on the EMOTIONS - and as working with emotions forms such a core part of the OTH Workshop, I want to share his wisdom with you. The series will be added to over the next weeks but he has already given an overview introduction and a teaching about fear. They can be found at:

Posted By Opening the Heart

We of the OTH Team are very pleased to be invited back to the Avow Hospice in Naples, Florida for a second year of what promises to be an annual collaboration. This project has ben organized with the support of our dear friend Louise Kenny. Louise trained as an Opening the Heart Workshop™ facilitator when the organization was located in Ashby, Massachusetts. She is now working as a grief counsellor at the Avow Hospice.


This will be a very full one day workshop on September 20th. Full details can be obtained by following this link. A downloadable pdf brochure is available by clicking here: 'Avow to offer full day grief workshop'.


As the workshop is sponsored by Hospice and the support of generous donors, the cost is just $45. We are grateful to our friends at Avow for making this opportunity possible.