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Posted By Opening the Heart

For several months I have been following and supporting the wide ranging activities of The Elders.


The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, whose mission is to offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.


It is a priviledge for the Opening the Heart Workshop™ team to support the mission of this wise, multi-cultural and open-hearted organization.


The Elders website is at:


And here is a video about their vision:



Posted By Opening the Heart

Robert and Judith who originated the first versions of the Opening the Heart Workshop™ in the late 1970s continue to share their wisdom and love in a workshop for couples called Sharing the Path. My OTH co-leader Donna and I have had the priviledge of assisting them in many of these workshops. In this short video they talk about their work with couples.


More information about Robert and Judith's Sharing the Path Workshops can be found here:

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

Yes, I know that the title sounds really daunting and technical but I absolutely needed to alert you to this fascinating and engaging talk about the increasing scientific evidence supporting meditation as a key component of an emotionally healthy lifestyle.


Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation

Enhancing '
emotional awareness and psychological flexibility' and inducing 'well-being and emotional balance' *(see below in Abstract) have always been core goals of The Opening the Heart Workshop™ I am absolutely convinced that a regular, supported meditation practice is an important tool in maintaining and extending the positive effects of the workshop.


I particularly recommend this video fo those who like to see the scientific evidence for the benefits of various forms of 'spiritual' practice.



Mindfulness meditation, one type of meditation technique, has been shown to enhance emotional awareness and psychological flexibility as well as induce well-being and emotional balance. Scientists have also begun to examine how meditation may influence brain functions. This talk examines the effect of mindfulness meditation practice on the brain systems in which psychological functions such as attention, emotional reactivity, emotion regulation, and self-view are instantiated. We will also discuss how different forms of meditation practices are being studied using neuroscientific technologies and are being integrated into clinical practice to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.

Speaker: Philippe Goldin
Philippe is a research scientist and heads the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience group in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. He spent 6 years in India and Nepal studying various languages, Buddhist philosophy and debate at Namgyal Monastery and the Dialectic Monastic Institute, and serving as an interpreter for various Tibetan Buddhist lamas. He then returned to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University. His NIH-funded clinical research focuses on (a) functional neuroimaging investigations of cognitive-affective mechanisms in adults with anxiety disorders, (b) comparing the effects of mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy on brain-behavior correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation, and (c) training children in family and elementary school settings in mindfulness skills to reduce anxiety and enhance compassion, self-esteem and quality of family interactions.

Posted By Opening the Heart

The purpose of this occasional series is to point you toward some of the inspiring talks freely available on the web. These recommended talks have been chosen because in one way or another they relate to or amplify teachings, practices and meditations that we present in The Opening the Heart Workshop™. Our hope is that these recommendations will encourage you to continue and develop your practice of Opening the Heart.


Today's recommendation is 'Feeling feelings'


This very personal talk be Kevin Griffin addresses the issue of working with feelings and the body during meditation. Information about Kevin  - and more of his talks and guided meditations - are available at his website

Posted By Opening the Heart

One of the instructions we give most frequently at the OTH Workshop™ is "Breathe!!!!".

Becoming conscious of our breathing can immediately bring us into greater awareness of our bodies - the place where our feelings live.

There are many ways to develop a practice of "breath-noticing". One of them is called Anapanasati - a technique first taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. This technique is being brilliantly presented by Gil Fronsdal at The Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and is being made freely available at the organization's web site. Gil's guided meditations and talks are clear, easy to follow, in short very "user friendly". There are quite a few of them - but don't be intimidated, you may dive in anywhere in the series and  do not have to listen to them in the order in which they were given.

For those of us who do not live close to a meditation retreat center, AND for those of us who find it difficult to maintain a reqular practice this series is an invaluable resource.



The series is  available in Podcast format - incredibly useful for downloading to an IPod!  investigate the AudioDharma website's homepage where you will find a link to Podcasts near the bottom of the left hand side bar:


or, if you have ITunes, open ITunes Store, click on Podcasts and search for AudioDharma


Good luck - I know that many of you will find Gil's inspiring talks and gentle guided meditations as helpful as I have