By Susan Piver //
When you can honestly say I am comfortable in myself, the world opens up in a way you could not imagine.
You take care of your home as a gesture of self-respect.
You love your body and feed it with joy and ease.
Good relationships grow stronger and difficult relationships become more workable.
You trust your instincts.
You laugh more. You also cry more. The world of emotion is revealed as a source of richness.
You go out into the world to do your work, your service, your part with confidence and resilience.
You become a source of strength for others.
The path to an open-hearted life begins with the practice of meditation. In the Open Heart Project, meditation is not a life-hack. It is not practiced for self-help or self-improvement. It is the practice of self-kindness, the very foundation of compassion, wisdom, and power.
Though there are many places you can go to learn meditation, most of them present the practice as a scientifically proven method for achieving excellence. That is great because it is true. However, it is only a small piece of what is also true about meditation. What is most often left out is that meditation also makes you strong in your vulnerability; it sharpens your mind and softens your heart in the same instant. Rather than insulating yourself in a “Zen” cocoon of hard-edged perfection and accomplishment, meditation actually removes all the walls you have built around your heart—and this is where the magic of the practice begins. This magic cannot be quantified, codified, or predicted because it is so personal.
Meditation is also presented as a vehicle for accomplishment of some sort. OK, it is. You can get into this vehicle with a particular destination, a credentialed driver behind the wheel, and a full tank of gas. All you have to do is follow the instructions and you will get where you intended. However, if you want to go somewhere beyond what you can imagine, you will need a different vehicle altogether. The destination is unknown. The driver is the wind and rain. You have no idea how much gas is in the tank. There are no instructions beyond “pay attention.” You will not even know when you have arrived, but you will have taken the exact right journey for you.
That is how we look at meditation in the Open Heart Project. It’s not one more tedious to-do on the journey to perfection. Rather, it is a gateway to what we really seek but can never be measured: Love. Wisdom. Insight. Innovation. Creativity. Connection.
So, we begin by establishing a reliable, sustainable, meditation practice. And there is no better place to do so than on retreat.
© Susan Piver 2019
About the Author
Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, and Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation. Her latest book is The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships.
Piver has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004 and was authorized to teach meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2005.
She teaches workshops and speaks all over the world on meditation, spirituality, communication styles, relationships and creativity. She wrote the relationships column for body + soul magazine, and is a frequent guest on network television, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, and CNN. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TIME, Parade, Money, and others.
In 2011, Piver launched The Open Heart Project, an online meditation community with more than 20,000 members who practice together and explore ways to bring spiritual values such as kindness, genuineness and fearlessness to everyday life.