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Posted By Opening the Heart

The Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, a description of 112 methods of realizing full consciousness through meditation, was brought to the notice of the West by in his book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. This was one of the books that sparked widespread Western interest in Buddhist and other Eastern philosophies when it was published in 1939. I am attempting my own interpretaion of this classic, based upon Paul Reps translation, and hope to bring some of the results to the blog over the course of the next few months. Cast as a discourse between the god Shiva and his consort ,Devi, it  presents 112 methods of meditation. Here are the first three:VBTantra 1









Posted By Opening the Heart

About six weeks ago we began to notice a robin building her nest in our front porch light. She worked efficiently and was very focused on her mission, not letting our occasional coming and going interfere with what seemed like her internal clock to get something done within a magical deadline only she knew.

It seemed that within days the nest was done and we noticed she began the patient wait for three little blue eggs to hatch. We knew how many eggs because we rigged a mirror to a pole and could see the inside of the nest when mom wasn't there. We don't know exactly when they hatched but it seemed to all happen very quickly. We used our mirror when mom flew off to get food and the chicks must have hatched no more than an hour before we took a look inside the nest. We couldn't even make out chick forms. It just looked like pulsing insides of an internal surgery.

Again, within days we began to see three little beaks opening and closing over the top edge of the nest. When I walk our dog, Fenway, I often take him onto the field adjacent to our house. It's where Brown plays its rugby games so it's beautifully kept. I began to take a new interest in the many robins that were always on the field. Nine quick steps, stop, dead- still. Thirteen quick steps and, again, freeze. When it was the "right place", the robin bobbed and pulled out a worm. How did they do that? How did they know exactly where the worm was?

So I googled "How robins catch worms", and I learned something astounding: it was not a lucky guess on the part of the robin. They actually are outfitted with an exquisitely-tuned auditory system that "hears" or feels the worm moving. What perfect programming! So I began to wonder :what is it that we were "made for"?

I suppose that this question lives on the same block as 'what is the purpose of life?' I couldn't stop thinking about this question: what is it that we were "built for"? I came up with lots of answers that seemed unsatisfactory and much more complicated than a robin using a perfectly designed auditory system to find a worm.

And then one day I was listening to a Bob Franke CD. He's a great songwriter and folksinger and I heard this line: "What can you do with each moment of your life but love til you love it away- love til you love it away." And I thought maybe that's it. That's what we human beings were " built for". Not nearly as simple or elegant as bobbing for worms, but the zig-zag drift, the car bumper phenomenon of an addiction or a painful loss or a setback or losing one's way. I mean you just don't hear about a robin leaving her family for a scandalous affair with a bluejay. From that bigger perspective, all our mistakes and failures are ways of trying to get it right, to be a better human being- more loving, kinder people.... Anyway, for now, that's my working hypothesis.

With Love and Respect, Jon


jon berenson


Posted By Opening the Heart

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my friend Lynn Koerbel. She was my mentor as I began my service to the Opening the Heart Workshop many years ago. Today she posted this wonderful idea on her Facebook page and I thought it appropriate and helpful to pass it along to a wider audience.

"Maybe, instead of making a list of what I want or think I should do each day, I should just go through my day and at the end, make a list of everything I actually did. I would feel so accomplished! along with sidestepping feelings of guilt, stress, or pressure at what didn't happen"

So simple and so true. Thank you again Lynn!


Posted By Opening the Heart



At the Opening the Heart Workshop one of the therapeutic approaches we use is Gestalt. For years I have struggled to effectively and succinctly describe exactly what the Gestalt approach involves. Today I came, by chance, on the clearest and most comprehensive description I have so far seen. If you would like to check it out, you may do so  here.


I hope that you enjoy a relaxing and safe Memorial Day Weekend.



Posted By Opening the Heart

We have come to love "The Daily Om". a website/blog that posts original inspirational articles every day of the year. We hope that you like it too. (And don't forget our current $100 off tuition opportunity over on our Facebook Page)


Posted By Opening the Heart

Having survived a tumultuous April and early May involving two large scale performance productions it was clearly time to slow down and rest. However I've always had trouble sticking with such an obviously sensible strategy.

Today consisted of : a visit to the chiropractor, coffee - to speed me up - and a visit to my favorite local riverside bench - to slow me down. Instead of kicking back I take several photographs and post them - with deeply spiritual captions - to the Opening the Heart Twitter Feed - check it out!!!

Its only 10.00am - so back home to find my DSL service down again. I make lengthy phone calls to swich services and observe my inner calm disintegrate as I deal with the automatic call center menues.

Then its off to a chatty - no, garulous  - lunch with my teaching colleagues after which I get the idea that I should make preliminary inquiries at the car dealership about a new lease - (my old lease expires next month.)

Past experience has taught that car dealerships are not an easy place to maintian equanimity or to shower compassion. I surround myself with my numbness cloak and plunge in. Surprisingly, things turn out quite well. Although this was intended as a preliminary exploration of possibilities (to be followed, of course by hours of agonizing decisiion making) I am delighted to find myself, three hours later, driving away in a new vehicle with a lower down payment and a lower monthly than my previous lease. The process was painless and I really enjoyed a long, light hearted conversation with the finance guy.

Now I'm sitting down writing this at a furious pace as I try to finish before dinner time. Oh, yes - tonight I have to attend a rehearsal!

All these activities were accomplished in less than ten hours and were definitely very different from my daily routine over the last two months. Grandmother used to say 'a change is as good as a rest.' Today, at least, it seems to be true.


I'm looking forward to meeting some of you at Kripalu June 17 - 19


Posted By Opening the Heart

I am genuinely sickened by the widespread gloating that is being expressed in the news and social media over the death of Osama bin Laden. Can no one see that this kind of reponse is the ultimate antithesis of the 'values' that 'America' purports to stand for? Can no one see that such a display of vaunting swagger can only provoke more negativity, more antagonism?


"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" - Unknown Author


"By rejoicing in the death of even one person, we are sowing the seeds of intolerance, hatred and anger. You can't kill hate with more hatred. It is only through love that peace is attainable. "If you don't have enough peace and understanding and loving-kindness within yourself, your actions will not truly be for peace."--Thich Nhat Hanh


"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" - Mahatma Gandhi

Pamela Gerloff wrote a great article in The Huffington Post that exactly mirrors my views on this issue:


May we all come home to the light!