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Posted By Opening the Heart

(Donna's meditation on what lies under love appears here in two parts)

 

Lately I've been pondering the question,  "What is under love? "      


I read a poem tackling this question and wasn't satisfied with the answer.
 Under love, like underbrush, or the under story of a forest.  A thousand small kindnesses, which, if you are doing your job, should go unnoticed. Earthworms, or ash.  The probable company of our final resting places.  "Each other" is under love.  You under me, and me under you.  The weight we bear and can't surrender.


 Forgiveness is under love.  Sweet, absolute forgiveness for what we did, or what we couldn't do.  The one who recognizes intent, conscious and unconscious and shines a kind light on motive.  "Ahh, you were mastering the complex art of balance.  You were hell bent on surviving."  Stretched wide.  Leg moving slowly up the muscle and tension of a neighboring thigh trying to find "tree pose."  It's all about striving for balance against the pull of solar plexus and the demands of gravity.  Trying not to fall, hard.
We try not to fall.


Ahh, but back to love at the root.  Breast and milk and the word "yes."  A mother reflexively sweeping her long hair from front to back.  This gesture she has done since childhood, but now she offers her engorged nipple to the yearning rosebud of her daughter's mouth.  This baby will suck goodness from the body of her mother and swallow satisfaction.  Time and time again, swallowing whatever goodness life pours out.  Innocent and needful.  Trusting love to stay.


Under love there are no limits.  No prisons or cages, tricks or tracks.  No preconceived notions.  We make virgin footprints of pain and of pleasure.  In time, the wind blows, the sands shift, the snow drifts high.  We let go of the binding concepts of "good and bad", and "yours and mine."  And the lonely language of right and wrong. We let go of that, too. The distance between you and me.  Maybe we unbuckle our seat belts for good.  Turn off the bossy, GPS lady.  Roll the top down on the convertible, or crank the manual windows all the way down, fully open.  We notice every single detail of the ride.  Avoid the soft brown and white body of the rabbit flirting with death.  We see her wide-eyed terror and disorientation in the glow of low beams.  We feel her, the pavement beneath her panic, her feet scrambling this way and that in search of lush green cover.  The chaos and pounding of her small heart on high alert.  All this we feel in the instant which governs life, or death, or life.  And we steer accordingly.


 
Posted By Opening the Heart

Under love there is voice.  And eyes which cannot hide, which never lie.  Sometimes our best efforts at loving are murky, but during pain, or change, or toe curling joy, there is this voice that advocates for "a love round on the house," that wants each one of us to step in this river, to taste that mouth, a perfectly seasoned fork full of food, a lemony, minty iced drink that slides down smoothly.  To be held through the dark night into the light of day. To know the heart of the universe is a loving one, wanting that all our angst be met with an open, soft palm on the exact place that hurts. Our desires met, and then some.  Our questions not answered, exactly, but respectfully regarded and understood for the cacaphony of emotions they reveal.  We are left to sort on our lonely own.


Which brings me to this.


Under love, there is lonliness.  The separation of skin.  That I am contained over here in mine, and you, over there, in yours.  How it feels to sign off, or say "goodbye" outloud, and mindful that it could be the last time.  To pull reluctantly away from a body you want to hold onto, perhaps forever.  To feel the undeniable "I want you..." and let go at the same time. To have without holding.  To love, without having.


Under love is lonliness, and the times we wonder in the privacy of our own landscapes, where we are likely to end.  A coffin.  A grave.  An ocean.  A decorative, or simple urn. In my case, flung over a sturdy branch, belly down.  Food for the winged ones.  Out of sight from children because I would never want to frighten them.  Fire, my back up plan,

because it is the element in which I am most at home.  I prefer a branch with a view, and the comfort of anticipating sun on my skin.  Fresh air.  Peepers, and star light.  Letting it all go...me, you, and the myth of separation.


Truth is, I have always been with you.  I will always be with you.  I am with you right now, in this moment.  Here.  My hand rests here.  My heart rests here. Sharing your tea, your joy, your temporary sorrow.  You will forget sometimes.  I will, too.  That's alright.  We came here not to feign courage like stoic gods and goddesses. We came to take the human ride.  So give me your soft palm.  Let me hold it awhile.  We will practise remembering.


 
Posted By Opening the Heart

The March issue of Shambala Sun magazine is devoted to "Mindful Living". In an article on The Science of Mindfulness, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D (referencing Jon Kabat Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program) speaks of:

'the cultivation of an “approach state,” in which we move toward, rather than away from, a challenging external situation or internal mental function such as a thought, feeling, or memory. Naturally, such an approach state can be seen as the neural basis for resilience.'

I am grateful to Dan Siegel for the term "approach state" because it aptly describes one of the skills we teach at the Opening the Heart Workshop™.

Think for a moment how often in life we  deliberately or unconsciously ignore unpleasant or challenging feelings and physical sensations - how often we try to put painful memories 'behind us'. The problem with this avoidance - this refusal to approach - is that our emotional range quickly becomes restricted, unable to flex in all the ways it was designed to be capable of. In shutting down to difficult feelings we automatically diminish our capability of fully experiencing pleasant ones. Our emotional life atrophies to such an extent that when new emotional challenges arise we are unprepared and ill equipped to deal with them.

As I watch the Winter Olympics and fantasize what it would be like to ski downhill at 70 mph, I remember how foolish it would be to attempt such a thing without training my body, mind and spirit to the necessary level of strength, flexibility and resilience. It is precisely the qualities of heart-strength, heart-flexibility, heart-resilience that lie at the core of the Opening the Heart work. Difficult and challenging situations will inevitably continue to arise in all our lives. Our ability to accept and deal with the associated emotions in a skillful way is completely dependent on learning and practicing the "approach state".

So, just as those Olympic Athletes work with coaches and trainers to develop their skills,  wouldn't it be great to work with some of the world's most experienced 'coaches of the heart'?

The next heart-training opportunity is at The Opening the Heart Workshop™, March 19 - 21 at Kripalu Center, Stockbridge, MA


 
Posted By Opening the Heart

Truth "must be warm, moist, incarnated, -- have been breathed on at least. A man has not seen a thing who has not felt it.”

 

How is the truth of my heart today? Warm and generous? Flowing like water? Am I "in my body", in-carnated, connected? Am I feeling all the truth that life has to offer?

 

Just checking.............. How about you?

 

Come into allighment with the truth of your heart at The Opening the Heart Workshop™ Kripalu Institute, Stockbridge MA March 19 - 21 2010


 
Posted By Opening the Heart

The Opening the Heart workshop has been home to me for the past 18 years.  I found it at a time in my life when change was happening in me, ready or not.  I was falling in love and it felt like it might do me in.  I had built an emotional fortress around my heart that was sturdy and effective. This fortress was in response to sustaining a number of major losses all in a row. I felt like I couldn't come up for air before another loss knocked the wind out of me. My fortress was an attempt to protect me from the unknown, and from the unbearable pain of losing yet another loved one. No one could get past my inner protection without permission and I liked it that way. I felt safe in my self-sufficiency and misunderstood it as independence.  At my first Opening the Heart workshop in 1990 one of the facilitators said these words to me:  "The heart is a package deal.  When it closes, it stops the flow. When your heart is closed, you are closed to all of life. Nothing can come in, and nothing can get out." Something in me stirred.  I felt busted. My cover was about to be blown from the inside out.  My fear was palpable, and right on the other side of that was the longing for and the possibility of deep connection with the beautiful, human souls an arm's reach away from me.  My heart made up its own mind, and my soft, human body followed. Out tumbled so many tears, so many years of holding in, holding on. I hadn't met myself in that place.  It was new to me to lower the drawbridge and let love in.

There are no words to express how I move through the world today.  My heart is open most of the time.  I am so in love with life, and that doesn't mean there is no suffering.  What has changed is that I am beautifully met in all facets of living and loving, and when it happens, in loss.  The lonely places in me that thirsted have been rained on with human kindness. I am full of gratitude.
And I am privileged to be a part of creating the Opening the Heart experience for others - privileged to be able to participate in such a masterful, loving and emotionally intelligent creation.

This week I decided to take flying lessons.  Since childhood, I have been mesmerized by Amelia Earhart.  I think her courageousness was like a magnet for my young, Leo heart.

Remember dreaming as a child that you could fly?  Me too!
You can!  All you need to do, in order to fly, is to be willing to be lifted.

With love,

Donna

 

Thank you Donna for this inspiring story.

Come meet Donna, Linda, Jon and Peter at the next Opening the Heart Workshop™ at Kripalu in Stockbridge Massachusetts, March 2010

 

and check the OTH Website for a full description of our workshop.