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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

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