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Posted By Opening the Heart

heart logo with guns

At Kripalu last weekend, the OTH Workshop took place against the background of the horrific events that occurred in Newtown CT last Friday morning. I have spent the week being physically affected by the waves of anger, sorrow, tension and despair that have dogged my steps as I prepare for the holiday season. I have signed petitions, written letters to congress, and urged friends to become active in a movement to change the status quo about gun control and about the way we fail our young people by providing a culture that promotes violence, confrontation and acting-out instead of one that promotes loving-kindness, mindfulness and peace.

A link on my Facebook news-feed this morning brought me to this:

"Something is rotten in the United States when half of its political leaders have any reservations at all about a complete ban on assault weapons. I find it hard to imagine how they can live with themselves. Then the obvious jumps out at me: THEY DON’T LIVE WITH THEMSELVES."

The quote is from a blog by old friend and fellow teacher Alan Lowen, with whose Art of Being organization the OTH Workshop shares many common values. Alan continues:

"If you are heart-and-soul-connected with yourself, you care about other people’s hearts and souls. This is where the intention comes from and it cannot be subverted. It is not subject to manipulation by corporate lobbies, by money or political conniving and power-mongering. It is the rational and heartfelt position of anybody who is fully in touch with their whole being.."

I couldn't agree more and I urge you to read the whole article - in which Alan describes his own journey - from a heart closed in order to survive childhood trauma to "finding the courage to feel again."

We at Opening the Heart ask that you take a long look at where you stand and see if there is a way for you to actively contiribute to solutions.

Wishing you a peaceful, open-hearted holiday season.


Posted By Opening the Heart

We were honored and delighted to receive this feedback from a participant at our most recent Opening the Heart Workshop:

"If I could have designed a perfect program it would have looked exactly like what I just experienced. The workshop was very true to the description, which doesn't always occur. But good content is useless without good facilitators. You all are way beyond good. Yes, you're all skilled facilitators and listeners, but you all did so much more than that. Whether it was providing comfort and nurturing, musical talent, poetry, or weird walking/grunting/blinking exercises, you all gave yourselves so fully to the group and to the process; graciously, openly, and without hesitation. The dynamic between you all is like no other relationship I've ever seen. I think it has a great influence over the success of the workshop, and likely provides some modeling of positive adult relationships that many of us probably did not experience as kids."--OTH Participant, June 2012

Quoted with permission

There are just four places left at our workshop this weekend (Dec 14-16) at Kripalu. Perhaps this is your time to come and experience the richness of Opening the Heart. There are currently just 4 open places left.

Reservations at:

We hope to see you there.


Posted By Opening the Heart

    Very soon I'll be going back to Kripalu to help lead an Opening the Heart Workshop again. This workshop is the last weekend before the winter solstice (December 14-16). I think of this time in November and December as "The Dark Run"- a time of decreased natural light, a time of turning inward, of watching, waiting and contemplation- a time to prepare for the increased light to come back to us.

    I have often referred to the contrast in the "energy" of a Friday night at Kripalu compared to Sunday morning. Friday night, as I look around at our first circle of the workshop, I often see doubt, fear, excitement, apprehension as I look into people's faces. By Sunday morning, the transformation is very dramatic. The energy in the room is lighter, peaceful, less heavy, and in people's faces I see no hiding, only compassion and kindness.

    I find myself asking what exactly is it than enables this striking transformation to happen in about 40 hours with a group of strangers. It is true that there is a warm and welcoming atmosphere at Kripalu. It is true that the leaders of the workshop are experienced and the safety and love they help to create is sincere and real. It is true that the music helps gather us in together. But this still doesn't answer, for me, what it is that helps bring about such dramatic change so quickly.

    There is a prayer that I love that goes something like this:

      With all my heart have I gone out to seek You,

      And in going out, found You coming toward me.

    I think the deeper answer about what causes such deep change at a workshop lies in this prayer: that it is not the singing or the welcoming or the building that, in themselves, transforms. Not really. I believe it is the yearning for wholeness that each participant brings, hesitantly, cautiously, with trembling heart, into the workshop on Friday. What we have, I think, at every workshop is a kind of biased sample. These are the brothers and sisters who have come because they yearn- they want serenity, they long to see kindness in a stranger's eyes. It is in the risk of "going out", of longing, of yearning that one hears the "echo", the answer that we are not alone. The key to the dramatic change is that when we enter that workshop space, we have all suffered and we yearn to be known, seen and embraced with our past suffering: we are willing to take a chance to connect with our deeper self.

    It is the suffering that leads to the yearning, which leads to the risk to do something out of the ordinary- like coming to an experiential workshop in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts with a roomful of people we've never seen before. It is easy, I think, to confuse the change agent and to give credit to "the workshop" or to the leaders or to "the place", but I think, truly, the real agent of change is carried into the workshop by each brave, trembling heart that dares to step into the extraordinary.

    Just as the time of increased light at the start of the winter solstice would not be so yearned for without the Dark Run, so the opening of the heart would not be so powerful without the dark night of the soul that precedes it. In this time of increased light in the world, we wish you peacefulness of heart and we wish for each of us to come to the knowledge of our true selves. We are not alone- ever.

           With Love and Respect, Jon


Posted By Opening the Heart

Wellesley Winter Trees

My own daily practice is Taking in the Good as detailed in an earlier posting to this blog.

The practice is a wonderful way of feeding the soul, and it can be done pretty much anywhere at any time.

I am very fortunate - and grateful - to live in beautiful surroundings, so my regular practice of Taking in the Good often happens on my daily walk. The photograph above was taken this morning on the grounds of Wellesley College. Before taking the picture, I simply stood for a minute or two, breathed in the scene in front of me, and just noticed how it affected "my insides." While doing so, I held the intention of staying focused on the inner felt-sense prompted by the scene.

The practice is so simple - and so effective. The "scene" doesn't need to be a scene! Taking in the Good can take place in response to the aroma of coffee in a coffee shop, the sound of happy children in a playground, the feel of a warm winter sun on your face. Anything that you respond to positively can be the stimulous. The important part is actually noticing the positive event, recognizing it as positive, taking the few moments needed to 'breathe it in', and then inhabiting your inner response.

We would love to hear your stories of how you Take in the Good. Maybe you have suggestions that others have not yet explored.

Posted By Opening the Heart

Home truths from Space

Posted By Opening the Heart

This was a bumper sticker I saw this morning on a car parked at Wellesley College where I was taking a morning walk. It set me thinking.

There ARE good men. I know many of them personally and meet more every time we hold a workshop. Men who come to the Opening the Heart Workshop are committed to doing the deep emotional healing that reveals their innate goodness.

So - to those who are interested in meeting "good men" - come and participate in a workshop where they can be found.

And can disprove the implication of the bumber sticker by showing up and

"doing your work."