Open Heart Series Overview

Category: 
RMCCN Presented
Designed and conducted by RMCCN Facilitators.
View a complete description of program categories.

Open Heart Series

Transformation Through Compassion

"He who looks outside dreams; he who looks inside awakes."
- Carl Jung

The Open Heart Series explores how a compassionate spirit coupled with nonviolent communication principles can transform our lives. These experiential training have defined structures for the mind, feelings exploration for the heart, and kinesthetic activities for the body.

This integration of mind, heart, and body, held in compassionate awareness, is designed to produce a sense of wholeness where we are able to welcome who we are unconditionally and experience our totality. We then recognize our kinship with others; our relationships and quality of life deepens, and aliveness burns brightly within the present moment.

Each month delves into a different topic. Session stand alone and can be taken individually. The sessions also complement each other without repeating material so the series can be taken as a whole. Click on a topic below for a description of what is covered in that session.

Program Length: 

4 hours

Prerequisites: 

None.

Event Type: 
General Public Training
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Deep Listening:
The transformative power of empathy.

Illuminate your deepest desires and motivations.
Develop intimate connection in relationships.
Explore the power of silence.

Often we focus so deeply on our own perspective that we are blind to what others are experiencing. Sometimes we are so unaware of how we impact others, it is as if they are not even there and our relationships lack warmth and connection. We become so enmeshed in trying to figure out what to do that we live in a world of calculation instead of compassion.

Compassion evokes presence. Presence is rooted in listening, and listening resides in silence. Before we process an experience, there is silence: we must inhale before we can speak. Listening creates spaciousness in our lives by bringing our attention to the silence, by noticing the inhale. We can use this spaciousness to cultivate connection, to consider the impact our actions have, to become clear on what we want to express.

Listening invites the world in and enables us to respond to in the present rather than filtering our perception through past trauma, or fretting about future consequences. Listening invites us to be a deliberate part of the heartbeat of life. Now.

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The Storyteller and the Witness:
Befriending your inner voice.

Learn how to deliberately act rather than automatically react.
Recognize and change habits that confine you.
Tap the deep wisdom within yourself.

We human beings are storytellers. As events unfold in our lives we describe them to ourselves, assigning meaning, ascribing motives, and rendering experience coherent. We then share our stories with others and forge a common experience. We communicate. We create relationships.

Some stories highlight division, other stories promote connection. There are stories of helplessness and stories of triumph. When we become too deeply identified with our stories, we feel compelled to defend them, or to attack stories that seem foreign. We thus live in a world of strife.

When we learn to identify with the storyteller, the witness, rather than with the story itself, we learn to choose stories deliberately rather than reflexively. Foreign stories no longer threaten us and we have no need to defend our stories. They become rooted in compassionate understanding, serving us instead of confining us. We discover a world of loving intention, a world of forgiveness, a world of respect and companionship. We become free.

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Authentic Expression:
Unlocking your potential by being yourself.

Clearly and powerfully express and manifest your deepest aspirations.
Inspire people with your sincerity and honesty.
Transform setbacks into successes.

The most powerful expression we have is our presence. In order to make anything happen, we must first show up. We can not bring about transformation from a distance . We can only change what is present. We can only be who we are.

Our presence is truly all we have to offer. When we show up, what do we bring to a situation? Are we unconsciously reacting to a stimulus, and thus controlled by it? Are we expressing what is truly alive in us? Are we even aware of how we are reacting? Are we mired in confusion? Do we have the inner clarity and confidence to authentically express who we are?

When we are firmly grounded in our deepest yearnings and aspirations - authentic - we can spontaneously orchestrate our action in service to our aspirations and work actively to create what we want, rather than blindly reacting to what we don't want. Being authentic frees a tremendous amount of energy. It takes great effort to calculate who we think others want us to be, and then try to deliver on that expectation. It is much easier to simply be who we are. Authenticity is the foundation that security, courage, and freedom rest on.

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Anger and Liberation:
Redirecting the energy from anger to heal your life.

Learn how anger can help you overcome fear and find joy.
Learn how anger reveals neglected aspects of yourself.
Understand where anger comes from.

Anger is extraordinarily powerful and drives much of our behavior. From the personal to the political, from corporate to the communal, stress and hostility threaten our well-being. Why is anger part of our nature? What purpose does it serve?

Anger energizes our physiology, propelling us to action. When we hide from anger, our actions are often blind and hurtful, a bolt of lightning that causes indiscriminate damage or a cold indifference that festers as loneliness. Hence we avoid anger out of fear of the destruction and isolation it can cause. Yet, it is this very avoidance that holds us captive to its destructive tendencies.

Anger releases tremendous energy. When we are clear about the needs at the core of our anger, its energy becomes a gift, fueling the actions that serve those needs, summoning courage and determination, and enabling us to overcome fear and helplessness.

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Respect, Responsibility, Requests:
Empowerment through cooperation.

Discover the clarity and respect that arise from authentic responses.
Explore how cooperation can be more effective than confrontation.
Learn how expressing a graceful and honest "no" can build trust.

Freedom is one of the most fundamental human yearnings. In order to be free we must interact without coercion, associate freely. Yet to be effective in our world we must also get things done, attend to the necessities of life. What draws forth our willing participation? What inspires us to put forth effort? These are questions that must be addressed if we are to associate freely without coercion.

Respect is an expression of value, of understanding. It inspires our contribution. We demonstrate our respect by being responsible. Responsibility places us at the epicenter of our own experience where we can choose how we process and express, where we can respond with consciousness and deliberation. When we are inspired by respect and act responsibly, we enhance self esteem. We gain the confidence, the security, the courage to be in integrity and honor boundaries. This is the foundation that enables us to live in a world of requests, cooperation, and freedom.

Requests are where the "rubber meets the road" in relationships. They are how we negotiate the details of daily living in relationships. Have you ever kept hidden what you would dearly desire because you might hear a no? Have you ever said yes to a request when a no lived in your heart and then felt guilty about not following through with what you promised? When we learn to put our attention on what is precious, both within ourselves and others, and when we learn to act responsibly, with consciousness and deliberation, we summon the courage and inspiration to honor our own boundaries and be attentive to the boundaries of others. We learn to live in integrity, cooperation, and freedom in the midst all of the yeses and nos.

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Intimacy and Meaning:
Becoming deeply connected to your life and relationships.

Cultivate the qualities that invite satisfying, meaningful relationships.
Discover how vulnerability expresses strength and courage.
Learn how intimacy enables us to have a powerful impact.

What makes life worth living? How do we find joy and fulfillment? For me, it is through the quality of our relationships and our connection to the world. When we know that our presence matters, that what we do contributes, and when we feel touched by others, we participate in a shared reality where we are nourished by contributing to a larger whole and are seen for who we are, without pretense. Thus our lives become meaningful.

Our desire to be accepted and safe impels us to hide our inadequacies; we develop a public self, a shield between us and the world. Filtering our experiences and expressions through this public self protects us, but it also separates us from direct experience. Situations where we can drop our public selves become precious and we treasure those with whom we can be intimate.

How do we deliberately cultivate the intimate connections that bring meaning to our lives? Is there an authentic core in our depths that can feel safe while being vulnerable? Come explore these questions with me at the Intimacy and Meaning workshop.

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Cultivating Inner Peace:
Listening for the loving intention behind every action.

Resolve difficult situations respectfully.
Transform adversaries into allies.
Learn how to heal inner conflict.

When we perceive a world of winners and losers, we live in conflict. We naturally strive to dominate so we don't have to submit. We experience the conflict in our inner world as well as perceive it in the world around us.

When we learn to perceive in terms of win-win, power with, not power over, we naturally want to contribute to each other's well-being. Common ground becomes apparent, defensiveness dissolves, and we listen to each other. Often, conflict evaporates, or can at least be addressed peacefully. We experience inward calm and security.

The way we treat others is a reflection of the way we treat ourselves. When we learn to communicate compassionately with ourselves, we begin to hear the motivations and love behind our own self criticisms and destructive behaviors: we begin to make peace with who we are, transforming our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and adversaries. Peace resides at the center of our being. Radiating outward, it heals our world, revealing the loving intentions that surround us.

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Sacrifice and Sacrament:
Finding beauty and joy in surrender and service.

Discover the joy in contributing to something larger than oneself.
Learn how embracing our burdens can deepen and nourish us.
Learn how sacrifice can be an expressions of love.

Why do we willingly subject ourselves to hardship in order to ease another's situation? What motivates us to take on burdens and strive to alleviate suffering? How are we nourished when we sacrifice our personal aspirations in pursuit of a greater cause? From whence does our willingness to serve arise?

We have a natural tendency to give, to contribute. Nothing brings us happiness like contributing to someone else's happiness. When we witness pain and suffering we yearn to alleviate it. We gain great satisfaction when we contribute to our families and our communities in a way that extends beyond our individual self.

Sometimes we make sacrifices because circumstances seem to demand it, or a sense of guilt compels us. This can lead to suffering and resentment. Yet, we can step from oppression into liberation when we learn to act with deliberation, making sacrifices out of choice, and touching into the fulfillment that contributing to another's well-being brings us. We can ground our sacrifices in the joy that comes from contributing to a larger whole, transforming them from an oppressive burden to a sacred expression.

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Forgiveness and Gratitude:
Embracing your wounds with compassion.

Learn how to accept and honor yourself as you are right now.
Transform suffering into wisdom.
Learn how to relax and release.

How often do we severely criticize ourselves for things that we would be quick to forgive in others? How much time and energy do we spend reminding ourselves of times we were "wronged", and then find ourselves in the midst of an emotional storm? How would our world change if we brought tenderness to such experiences?

Wounds cry out for our attention. When we hold them in acceptance and compassion we encourage them to reveal how they are trying to protect and serve us, how they yearn to contribute to our being. As we understand and honor that contribution, we invite healing.

Once our wounds know we understand them, they are no longer wounds. They may still hold intensity, yet we experience that intensity as sacred rather than as suffering. Even in the midst of intensity, we feel whole, complete, and accepted just as we are. Gratitude becomes our steady companion and we live a joyful existence.

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