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Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

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.


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

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 The Opening the Heart Workshop™

Earlier this year I accompanied a friend out of the country for a medical treatment that had not previously been done for someone with her illness.
The flight alone was a big logistical challenge. One particular airplane had to be tracked at the corporate level so that my friend could use it.  We had to carry her oxygen tank and other medical equipment on board. Our day was fraught with the possibility that I would have to have the pilot  halt the airplane on the tarmac or have the airplane diverted for an early landing if a medical emergency developed.


These logistical challenges turned out to be minor compared to the public relations challenges awaiting us on arrival in the country delivering my friend’s treatment.


Essentially, the staff at the medical clinic was afraid to treat my friend. The cutting edge medical work done there relies on a delicate relationship with the country’s government.  They had never treated her illness before and if anything were to go wrong they feared a lawsuit that might shut their program down.


As my friend was unable, the relationships with the clinic fell to my care.  This included renegotiating her custom-designed medical protocol on a daily basis along with a price tag numbering in tens of thousands of dollars.  And it had to be done while navigating cultural differences in another language.


One of the lessons I have had the opportunity to practice at the Opening the Heart Workshop is to (as Clarissa Pinkola-Estes puts it) “learn deep love over time.”  That is to say, I have tried to learn how to anchor myself in an intention of love and to not be swayed by other people’s fear. Perhaps because of this practicing I was able to find that place of love inside my heart and anchor myself there in this situation.


In any event, many things came my way while interfacing with the  clinic’s receptionist, office manager, physicians, lab technicians, hospital staff and even the anesthesiologist.


Despite the many difficult behaviors - essentially expressions of fear - I kept saying over and over again inside my head, “Friend.”  While I had to be an assertive medical advocate, I also tried to treat each person with genuine respect, friendliness and love.


In the end, love won the day.  My friend got her custom protocol at a fair price, and we left the country with the medical staff considering us to be their newly-found friends.


The Opening the Heart work is one tool that can help us to learn deep love over time.   When we are able to embody that love we can bring its power to bear in our everyday lives.


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

There are so many unlikely gems on YouYube. Following up on the popularity Kate Wolf's Give Yourself to Love at a recent Opening the Heart Workshop I did a YouTube search and discovered this beautiful version by Genesis Fermin.

Genesis is a Filipino singer living in Northern California. I love her pure and unassuming rendition of this lovely song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuehXvo28-4


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

I'd like to recommend a book for those of you who have taken or are considering taking The Opening the Heart Workshop™.

 

The Transformative Power Of Crisis by Robert M. and Jane Alter.

 

Along with Robert Gass and Judith Ansara Gass, Robert M. Alter was one of the original leaders of The Opening the Heart Workshop during its residence at Spring Hill in Ashby, Massachusetts.

 

 The Transformative Power of Crisis details the philosophical, psychological and spiritual themes underlying our work at Opening the Heart in a beautiful and accessible format. It was originally published in 2000 under the title How Long Till My Soul Gets It Right?

 

Here are some customer recommendations culled from Amazon.com:

 

After reading Robert and Jane Alter's book, cover-to-cover, I discovered a calmness, a peaceful feeling that no other book has ever given to me. In reading, I discovered that I am not alone in the many situations that life has visited upon me, and that there is a window that, when ready, anyone can climb through and find him or herself in a more tranquill place. Thank you, Robert and Jane, for a loving, spiritual, affirming and educational look at reality.

 

This is one of the most positive, nurturing and enriching books I have read on the subject of fulfilling goals, healing, strengthening relationships and boosting self-confidence. As a counsellor, I am continually searching for quality reading material to recommend, and this book will definitely be on the list.

 

While the book's title mentions 'crisis', I found that the stories and commentary applied to almost every facet of my life. I was taken aback by Alter's deep and wide understanding of the human condition in general, and I believe this book deserves to reach a broad audience. I don't often find books like this to be inspiring--usually you have to wade through chapters and chapters of muck--but almost every page of this book shone with wisdom.

 

And a recommendation from Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

 

"The Transformative Power of Crisis embodies an earthy wisdom of the mind and soul that speaks to the heart of therapy. Many times in life I have longed for teachers like Robert and Jane Alter who could gently and truly lead me to face myself, while also seeing the divine light that shines through the human predicament. Their humor, wisdom, and vision enlighten every page of this honest guide to the journey of life. "