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Posted By Opening the Heart

Donna Pic


The Opening the Heart Workshop has always defied description.  Yet I long to put words to my experience there, these 22 years.  I realize there are no literary shortcuts.  Here is a snapshot.

It involves remembering.  It pulls me into a powerful vortex of possibility, being in that sacred, human arena.  My brain begins firing like a sparkler, burning hot and radiant, right down to the "quick" of the stick, where we hold on.

The content of Opening the Heart is  A*L*I*V*E, sometimes a rushing river that picks up stuck energy and moves it along, depositing a person on the grassy bank, panting and released, wet, glistening, and new.  Sometimes, the experience is more like being pierced by the rays of a determined sun, illuminating places inside that have never been met with kindness, or tender companionship.  There are times when the choreography of the weekend causes old pain to burn like a forest fire, moving with speed, friction and flame to demolish the "under story," or, as I've come to think of it, the "cover story."  Who among us couldn't use the chance to peel off the habit of pretense, lift the veil, remove the mask?  You might say that Opening the Heart is like being exposed to the elements, and for that reason, change is inevitable. We surrender to the current of life, allow ourselves to be taken for a ride, giving our intelligent hearts their way with us, and in so doing, we are "moved."

Participants have often told us that they do in a single weekend, what would take years in talk therapy to accomplish.  While each person "paddling the waters" of Opening the Heart has a unique experience, we facilitators admit that we aim deep, trusting the work to take each of us to the core, to the root of what wants transformation.  We are respectfully unapologetic for our exquisite aim, and deeply trusting of what arises from wisdom of the body.  Your body!

We facilitators "hold" this process with years of experience, with a skill set that weaves together the best practices of all our combined years.  We "walk the walk" in our own lives, grateful for the effectiveness of the techniques we've inherited and honed over time.  We work from a place of genuine humility, believing in the dignity and resilient nature of  humankind.  Time and time again, we witness extraordinary courage, and the capacity we embody as a species to face the task at hand.  We are all innately brilliant at showing up for life. We can meet both triumph and tragedy at the door, with a kind curiosity, allowing life to open us from the inside out.

We aspire to be loving agents of change in our facilitation, often surprising a culture accustomed to distance and self sufficiency, with disarming warmth, and the truer hues of interconnectedness.  Leading the Opening the Heart Workshop is a privilege.  It is one of our purest joys, our most beloved, human "offering."

Ron Ortner, a magnificent contemporary artist says this:
"It is already a given that life is a failure, by which I mean that we come with an expiration date.  You should seek as though your hair is on fire, and you need water."

Why wait?  We invite you to dive in, with the spirit of the loving warrior you already are.

With heart,


Posted By Opening the Heart

Two California Highway Patrol Officers were conducting speeding enforcement on I-15, just north of the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. One of the officers was using a hand held radar device to check speeding vehicles approaching the crest of a hill.  
The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 300 miles per hour. The officer attempted to reset the radar gun, but it would not reset and then turned off.
Just then a deafening roar over the treetops revealed that the radar had in fact locked on to a USMC F/A-18 Hornet (Northrop Grumman aircraft) which was engaged in a low flying exercise near the location.

Back at the CHP Headquarters the Patrol Captain fired off a complaint to the USMC Base Commander.  The reply came back in true USMC style: 


Thank you for your letter.  We can now complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the Hornet had detected the presence of, and subsequently locked on to your hostile radar equipment and automatically sent a jamming signal back to it, which is why it shut down.

Furthermore, an Air-to-Ground missile aboard the fully armed aircraft had also automatically locked on to your equipment location.
Fortunately, the Marine Pilot flying the Hornet recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile system alert status and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched to destroy the hostile radar position.
The pilot also suggests you cover your mouths when cussing at them, since the video systems on these jets are very high tech.
Sergeant Johnson, the officer holding the radar gun, should get his dentist to check his left rear molar. It appears the filling is loose. Also, the snap is broken on his holster.
Thank you for your concern.
 Semper Fi



I have no idea if this is a true story - it doesn't matter because it perfectly illustrates another aspect of what Linda wrote about in her piece yesterday.

When our 'toes have been stepped on' ("That f***er just busted my radar gun") and we 'fire off' a knee jerk response ("I'll tell that USMC base commander just what I think of him and his plane!"), we more often than not have no clue about what is going on inside the other involved party. Perhaps a better strategy might be to take time - for a couple of deep breaths, for a pause, for being open to finding out more aboout the other involved party. Confronted by opposition Linda chose to see potential friends rather than enemies to be overcome. In the kind of situation illustrated by this 'speeding' story choosing a neutral inquiry always trumps a blasting off a hostile accusation.

Posted By Opening the Heart


    This was the first summer in a long time that Ruthi and I were able to take two weeks vacation and we gratefully drove the 38 minutes from our Providence home to our favorite place on earth in Westport, Massachusetts to our tiny beach house on the east branch of the Westport River.
    Gerry, our friend and all-around handy wizard had just finished building us an outdoor shower and there was a small piece of lawn (about 6' by 4')  that needed reseeding. So I raked it up and planted some "fast-germinating" seed, sat back and waited. Not exactly waited. I watched the hummingbirds at the feeder on the deck, six feet from my chair. I watched the wind patterns on the river. I dug quohaugs with my toes at low tide. I went fishing. I read a lot (James Patterson murder mysteries and Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln). We took long walks on the beach with our dog, Fenway. We rode bikes, rode waves, picked blackberries and cooked fresh seafood.
    And then it happened. Five days after planting the seed, I went to check it in the morning and the slender silver-green threads were up. By that night they were a half inch high. Whenever I had heard the term "watching the grass grow", I think it was used in a context of implying boredom beyond words. Watching this grass grow was thrilling. In the early morning sun, through the trees, the new green beings of light were dappled, and, as some brief full sun came to them late morning, the patch turned a beautiful shade of lemon lime and it was impossible to resist running my hand over the hairs as delicate as a new baby's head. On the seventh morning I could see that the grasslings had grown a full inch from when I said good night to them.
    I looked up the word 'vacation' and read that it is a "period of rest and freedom from work". To 'vacate' is to make vacant or empty, unfilled. I felt very lucky and grateful in my life to be able to vacate busy, ordinary days in order to really experience extaordinary miracles like watching the grass grow.