Join Our Mailing List

I'm listed in Life & Lifestyle

Posted By Opening the Heart

Home truths from Space

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

Posted By Opening the Heart

I live in Massachusetts, and this weekend find myself surrounded by a political hurricane as Martha Coakley tries to fend off the challenge of Scott Brown for the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy. The Tea-Party-ers and Rudi Guliani have been in town. Barack will be here this afternoon. Its a brawl of a storm, but, unlike a natural hurricane, this one doesn't have any kind of a calm center. The TV news, the newspapers, FaceBook, the blogs, the ads and the tweets are gusting and debris is flying everywhere. Its really nasty weather!

How easy it is to get caught up in this kind of a tumult. Without notice it entrains our unexamined fears and aggressions. Our politicos and media pundits are experts in recruiting these barely buried traits. Like unsecured porch furniture in a gale our fears and angers are swept up to become dangerous weapons hurtling  out of control in all directions.

What to do?

I got to thinking about those animals that, when confronted with challenging situations, adopt behaviors of fight or flight.  I wondered: should we be getting out there and joining the fracas or should we put our collective heads under the covers and hide until its all over? And then I wondered if there might be another, alternative response - something between fight and flight, something not fueled by aggression or fear.

Its a kind of koan: 'What is the space between fight and flight?'

You have to provide your own answer. The only guidance I can give is that you examine your own fears and aggressive urges - your own aversions. What scares you? What threatens you? Who is the 'you' that is scared? Who is the 'you' that is threatened? I'm not pretending that this kind of self examination is easy. But not finding answers to questions like this is ultimately what ails our world.

Are you ready to take responsibility for securing your 'porch furniture'?

Posted By Opening the Heart

My friend, Rick, produced the “This I Believe” segment for our NPR radio station in Rhode Island, where I live. Each time I hear it, I ask myself “What is it that I believe?” And each time the answer comes back the same: “I believe in perspective.”

This summer I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s amazing book A Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln, a man of deep integrity, kindness and wisdom. He not only suffered the loss of a first love and the death of a son, but nearly lost his beloved country to a brutal civil war that went on for five years and split loving families apart. I heard a story that Lincoln, in the midst of his darkest time, asked a cabinet member to compose a thought that would, somehow, comfort all: “This, too, shall pass”. Four words that might provide perspective in good times and bad….

Forgive me, but having grown up outside of Boston and gone to Fenway Park many times with my brothers and dad, I’m what you could reasonably call a ‘home boy’, a die-hard and unrepentant, raging, avid Red Sox fan. I would grimly joke with our New York relatives about getting through the New England winters by first going to our local Providence clinic for an inoculation against resignation and hopelessness setting in before April’s Opening Day. Over 80 years of Red Sox frustration and failure to win a World Series- not since 1918, when my dad was a little boy.

Then came October 16th 2003, the night Aaron Boone of the dreaded Yankees hit a home run in the 11th inning to end any chance of the Red Sox going to the World Series. It was a new and painful low in my Red Sox fan career. I called my friend, Stan, to commiserate: “How ya doin’?” “Not too good, Jon. I’m actually thinking of ending it all.” “Stan, what if, after you die, you go to a place where they keep showing the ’86 Mets-Red Sox World series- over and over and over again?” Stan still credits me with saving his life that day.

 So why am I telling you this? Because without that Aaron Boone home run in ’03, the Red Sox four game sweep of the Yankees and eventual World Series championship in 2004 - the first in 86 years!- never would have felt so incredibly amazing! Perspective.

 For the 30 years that I have been coming back to the Opening the Heart Workshop, I realized that it was primarily because of the transformative miracle that I witness in the circle of brothers and sisters, from our first circle on Friday night to our last on Sunday. On Friday night it seems to me that many faces look anxious, self conscious, maybe hopeful. On Sunday there is a dramatically different feel to the energy in the room as I slowly scan the faces. I sometimes say that when we look into another’s eyes and see difference, we experience fear; when we look into another’s eyes and see no difference, what we experience is nothing but understanding and compassion…. Perspective.

 With Love and Respect,