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Posted By Opening the Heart

Spring Hill Entrance Sign



Here sits the original sign that invited and welcomed the participants to enter in the sacred space of the Opening the Heart Workshop™ at Spring Hill in Ashby.  I was lucky enough to win this in the farewell raffle when Spring Hill was closing it's doors.  Now I place this in my Buddha garden at home and every day it is a reminder to me of the sacred space of my physical home and within the home of my heart. 
The workshop gave me the space to explore and rejoin with my true self; albeit a bit scratchy, dusty and frayed at times.  I was drawn to Spring Hill as I knew the directors at the time (Laury Rappaport and Neil Friedman), and yet couldn't have anticipated the doors that were to open in my heart, my community and my world. 

 I am blessed to have this sign to greet me everyday.  If one looks up the word "entrance", not only does it mean to welcome, to give admission, but as well to "carry away with delight, wonder or rapture..."  I can truly say that I was carried in delight and wonder in the workshop, and now I always know that the instruments of peace, song and love are never far if my heart is open.



Note from Peter:

Thank you Peggy for this wonderful remembrance.

Although Spring Hill closed eleven years ago, The Opening the Heart Workshop™ contiues to flourish and grow, It is hosted at Omega and Kripalu



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, 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

For as long as I can remember I have loved poetry and the power that words have to evoke deep feelings. Archibald Macleish said that a poem “should not mean, but be” and Kabir said the same thing 500 years earlier when he said that you should feel a poem in the “thump of the chest”. These poets, men and women for the past 2000 years, have written these words, this divine, or sacred poetry that pass all the evolved neuro-cerebral connections and go straight to the heart like an arrow to release the pain, sadness and ecstacy that bind us in our humanity. Through their words, they give us a glimpse of the Kingdom that they experienced.
Kabir, a 15th century Sufi poet said that when, for “fifteen seconds”, he heard the words of his master, Shams, it made him a disciple for life.
I believe that poetry, words, can open the heart instantly, heal us, open us to grief long-buried and change our very souls. Lao-Tzu, 2000 years ago tells us that “each separate being in the universe returns to the common source”. Jelaluddin Rumi wrote that “the clear bead at the center changes everything.” Kabir: “Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.”

The 17th century Zen poet Bunan wrote “Die while you’re still alive and be absolutely dead. Then do whatever you want: it’s all good.” And Kabir, again, tells us to “Wake up! Wake up! You have been sleeping for millions of years. Why not wake up this morning.”

All of these great beings on up through Walt Whitman, Rilke, Antonio Machado, Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver have been lovingly tapping us on the shoulder to remind us that beyond every wound, every doubt, every fear, that we are loved beyond measure - that we are blessed. May we open our hearts to one another and come to the knowledge of our true self.

“A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a spoon,

Then raise it
To nourish 
Your beautiful parched, holy mouth.”


With Love and Respect,



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

 (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

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

I’ve been thinking for the last several months about an experience I had many years ago when I was in a singing group called On Wings of Song.

On Wings of Song at that time was part large choir and part band.  We performed primarily in the northeastern United States.  We sang songs of peace and unity  with a catchy rock beat.  I think it is safe to say that most of the members of “the band” as it was called, were somewhat involved in alternative culture. I at least was surprised when our first tour on the East Coast landed us in the courtyard of the Pentagon giving a midday concert.  Soup kitchens, prisons and body/mind/spirit conferences – yes.  But the Pentagon?  That was something new.

Towards the end of our concert at the Pentagon, Rodney, one of our singers,  was leading a heartfelt rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.  As we sang I noticed a 5-star general listening.  Suddenly a tear escaped the corner of his eye and trickled down his cheek. 

     I was very moved by this.  After our concert I looked around at the displays in the courtyard.  There was one very big one that I noticed.  In huge letters across the top it read:  “WE BELIEVE IN PEACE and in smaller letters below it continued: “through strength. 

Something changed inside me at that moment and it has never gone back completely to where it was before.  It is something that has been reinforced over and over again these last thirty years through working at the Opening the Heart Workshop.  In Jon Berenson’s blog article he calls it “perspective.” That day my perspective changed.  That day the general and I were playing on the same team.  Yes, some of his methods of creating peace I didn’t like at all.  Perhaps he would not have liked some of my methods of trying to accomplish the same.

     But when one drops into the heart as he did, others are prompted to do the same, and that is where we find our common ground.  In the place of common ground it is easier to work together to move ahead.

     When at my best, I am in the place of common ground, moving through the world living the motto of the OTH workshop.  That motto is: “Changing the world with love one heart at a time”.  Imagine.


Come meet and work with Linda at The Opening the Heart Workshop™ Stockbridge MA March 19 - 21 2010