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Posted By Opening the Heart

At this time of Thanksgiving I am grateful for the many opportunities life gives us all to learn more deeply about the many faces of love. Life presents us constantly with situations which are crucibles where the opportunity to become as we say in the Opening the Heart Workshop the "quintessential wild lover" - one who learns deep love over time - can be learned and honed.

Over the course of my lifetime I have learned that love is not simply a feeling one has towards one's beloveds, but also an action, or series of actions. Specifically:

Kindness - learning to love "with our work boots on.”

Courage - the opportunity life gives to learn to love by "taking heart" and doing what is needed even when we are afraid.

Sacrifice - the possibility of learning to love by going beyond the self and doing what is required for the good of others even when so doing means there is less for us.

Persistence - learning love by finding endurance we never knew we had as we make conscious choices to keep moving forward and not give up on our beloveds even when doing so would be the path of least resistance.

And finally Vision - an opportunity to learn to love by imagining and aligning actions with the most loving outcome in a particular situation even if current reality appears on the surface to suggest that a loving outcome is not possible.

The gratitude for our many blessings that we open to at this time of Thanksgiving is a first cousin of it's deeper companion, which is love. Perhaps the deepest blessings we enjoy are not the many things that are right in our lives, but the many opportunities that we all have to learn how to love more deeply through every challenge that we face.

The Opening the Heart Workshop offers a profound weekend experience where one can learn and practice some of the intricacies of loving "the not beautiful" - the many places where life has inevitably wounded us as we have gone along.  Rather than running from difficulties and challenges it offers the perspective of embracing life and it's many experiences, both good and bad, with an open heart, and gives strength to practice applying the many faces of love that are needed on a daily basis by each of us when we return back home.

With love and gratitude,





Posted By Opening the Heart

What better way to celebrate the true meaning of this day than with this lovely song from Miten and Deva Premal? If you are with your beloved on this day, maybe take a moment to pause, look deeply into each other's eyes and play this song. If, for what ever reason, your beloved is no longer with you, maybe close your eyes and, as you listen to the song, find the place of gratitude in your heart for all they brought you when you were together. As a man, I find the final verse incredibly powerful in that it reminds me that being a man requires being in touch with inner feminine qualities of receptivity and openness.

Have a blessed Valentines Day, and may you receive the depth love that is so beautifully expressed in this song.



Posted By Opening the Heart

I am so grateful that we are all still here, on this breathtaking, whirling, ever changing orb we call home.
Did you all see the moon last night?  How did she make you feel inside?  For me, wild, tender, time limited and small.  And a little hungry for something I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Small in a good way, like relief.  As a child, I worried about God.  All that work to do, never enough time to rest, even on a Sunday.  So many people hurting.  So many prayers to answer. A little like Santa with too many chimneys on multiple continents.  Hard to know how to dress in the morning, what to put on, and what to take off.
It's a relief to have work that we love.  It's a relief to love.



Donna Pic

Posted By Opening the Heart

Someone recently asked why they should even consider experiencing an Opening the Heart Workshop™. Here's the list I gave them to consider:


You're living life with a 'safety first' approach.

You want to be more 'whole hearted' in your relationships.

You tend to substitute a fantasy life for the real thing.

You wish you were able to be more spontaneous.

You spend a lot of time being anxious.

You'd love to live life more gracefully.

You live a constricted existence.

You'd like to be more genuine in your interactions with others.

There's a compulsive or desperate quality to your actions.

You'd love your responses to others and to situations to be more appropriate.

Real fulfillment is absent from your life.

You long for clarity of expression.

You'd love to be more gratedul and less grouchy.

You'd like to feel that you had more choices.

You live in the past or future rather than the present.

Your responses don't match the situation.

You are hesitant or tentative in your interactions with others.

You are inhibited in living up to your potential.

You'd love to be more 'present'.


We're very confident that the workshop can help any of the above conditions. If you haven't done so already you might like to investigate further at The Opening the Heart Workshop™


Posted By Opening the Heart
I spent this past Monday with the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a beloved southern Vermont community nestled in the lap of the Green Mountains.  60 well intentioned folks dragged themselves out of early bed and scraped crusty snow off  frosty windshields to contemplate what our town would be like if all its residents felt equally valued and empowered.
We sat earnestly together, young and old, black and white, privileged and working class and pondered this possibility.  We talked about power, who has it and who can't get it.  We tried not to get stuck in the predictable pitfalls which offered themselves up like  deep grooves in dirt roads, familiar to all Vermonters during mud season.  We didn't grasp at simplistic answers or quick fixes. We didn't blame our government or our neighbors at the table.  We sat with ourselves.  It was painful in places.  Mostly, it was an honest practice of working to understand the day to day reality of individuals who have been left out in the cold.  We grappled with racism, poverty and greed.  We looked each other in the eye, point blank and tried to breathe ourselves through challenging conversations without looking at our feet.  At the end of the day we were all still there.  We sang a simple song in three languages and four part harmony.  We ate spaghetti and salad and garlic bread and went back out to the sparkle of stars and brightly lit steeples.
It was at an Opening the Heart Workshop many years ago that I learned how to stay present.  I learned to look at the people in the circle, and to take them in.  I learned how to offer myself as a loving witness to another so that the innate wisdom in the person seated across from me on a cushion could find its way to the surface.  I learned to soften my face, my breath and my judgements, making room instead for what I have come to regard as the truest expression of respect.  And I learned to stay with myself emotionally during times of confusion, regret and emptiness.  I grew to understand my own inner longing to be a loving agent for change.  I understood what aspects of healing are an "inside job", and what I might share with another trusted being for support and companionship.

I cannot say that life has become simpler as a result of my experience at Opening the Heart.  What I can say is that I have grown into my own skin  That learning the basic practice of self-responsibility has made me both humble and brave.  There is very little that frightens me anymore.  When I open my eyes at the beginning of a new day I scan the immeasurable number of opportunities there are to bring love to the world.  And I am grateful to be out of my own way enough to see clearly.  I can choose how to spend the currency of love at any given time, trusting that no recession, no earthquake, no unfortunate election or unethical Supreme Court decision can impact the balance in my love account.  This I experience as a form of pure liberation.


Donna Macomber

Posted By Opening the Heart

Witnessing the singing Haitians onTV news broadcasts prompts reflection on the nature of gratitude. In spite of everything - all the losses - these wonderful people celebrate being alive - even in appaling conditions - with songs of thanks.


Did you know that the cultivation of gratitude is possible? Not only that, it has also been proven that actively practicing gratitude contributes to a happier and healthier life. In a recently published book, 'The Compassionate Instinct - the Science of Human Goodness', Robert A. Emmons PhD describes research carried out at the University of Miami. The research model was remarkably simple. For 10 weeks participants in the program were asked to keep a daily journal. One group wrote about daily events and interactions for which they felt gratitude. A second group wrote about events and interactions which hassled and irritated them. A third group could write about anything. After 10 weeks the first group "felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than participants in either of the other groups..... Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints.......and significantly more time exercising than those in the hassles condition"

Dr Emmons' fascinating and informative article about this study is called 'Paying it Forward' and is available at the highly recommended Greater Good Magazine web site.

Reading it today and then watching the celebrating Haitians on the news are reminders for which I am grateful. In fact I'm going to begin a gratitude journal right now and report back in 10 weeks time. My entry for today will be:

Today I am grateful for

1) the city workers who shovelled snow from the sidewalk outside my door.

2) blueberries

3) the cheerful volunteers I worked with today

4) the technology that enables me to write this blog post

5) the mute button on my tv remote that silences the wall to wall campaign commercials here in Massachusetts


Please join me. Lets all try this. Just 5 thank yous every day.


Please come join us at The Opening the Heart Workshop March 19 - 21 at Kripalu Institute, Lenox MA