by susann von meijenfeldt
“For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feeling and to care for one’s own welfare…Caring for others requires caring for oneself.”
“We come together in a circle because that is the best way we have found to experience connecting. It is from experiencing joining with others in a loving, sharing way that our loneliness and fears can be released and inner peace becomes our reality.” (Tom Pinkson, Centre for Attitudinal Healing)
Integrated Therapies is starting an Open-Heart-Circle. Every Thursday evening from 6.30 – 8.30, people are invited to come together to explore how to open their heart no matter what life is presenting and to find out what is in the way to do so all the time.
With the support of two facilitators – Susann and Ernst von Meijenfeldt – we will grow the ability to be aware of how we operate inside, what triggers us to close our heart and become negative. Often we are not even aware of the automatic reactivity that hijacks us away from our true open nature. Reactivity is the habitual trance for most humans to move away from what is, when we don’t like it and we need or want it to be different.
With applied mindfulness and self-compassion we will learn how to stay present with what is and to stay loving in the midst of our ego-mind being triggered, urging us to follow its negative momentum.
The key to freeing ourselves from the daily trance of negative thinking is to become fully aware of it. It all begins with the recognition of what we do in our interior to cope with life’s difficulties; how we harden, how we separate, how we become critical, how we project, how we blame, how we become righteous, how we avoid, how we ignore, how we rationalize; how we excuse; how we withdraw; how we attack; how we defend…
We use whatever we can to not feel what is; to avoid the present moment as it is. We close our heart and contract our bodies. It is a deeply engrained “highway” in the brain to instinctively fight perceived “negative” experience. Mindfulness research discovered that it is not the “negative feelings” that cause our suffering but our resistance to it and the many ways we run away from feeling it. It is the flight or fight reaction that triggers us deeper and deeper into suffering.
And then we judge ourselves for being closed and negative, not realizing that it is not our fault all this is coming up in us. We can realize however that it is an inheritance of human consciousness as it has developed over generations and generations by people feeding negative momentum and the corresponding unconscious belief system.
It can be a big relief to know that these habitual ways are not “our” own ways. The way back, out of our mind and into our body and heart is by fully being with our inner experience. The way home to our heart, is to feel life as a direct experience and not adding any story in our mind to it.
Growing and fine-tuning our awareness through mindfulness and thus strengthening our connection with our interior, will give us the space to stop going with automatic reactions. It is a huge step forward to be able to recognize the urge to follow negative momentum. Mindful awareness helps us to notice and empowers us to make a different choice. In that choice the freedom starts: we are invited to “pause”. It is that ability to pause that makes all the difference.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Victor Frankl)
Since we are all connected in the prison of fighting what we do not like, the Open Heart Circle is a place to come together on a weekly basis to empower each other to respond differently when we feel hooked.
Mindfulness has proven to be the way to be able to meet whatever we are in, with open acceptance and embodied presence. Mindfulness allows us to dare to feel what is, moment by moment; not indulging in it, nor avoiding it. It is the base from which we can be with just anything. Allowing what is will open us to feeling pain, uncomfortable sensations, sadness, grief, fear, anger or other so-called “negative emotions”.
Whatever it is we feel, we need to make the choice to allow it; to meet it; to give it space to come into the light. The process of allowing it in mindfulness frees us of the self-created suffering. In that our heart starts to move and meet us in our return home.
Besides mindfulness there is another crucial element we will introduce in the Open Heart Circle – self-compassion. Where mindfulness teaches us to allow what is actually happening in us, and to be with it, qualities of self-compassion will provide the nourishing ground to dare to feel what is going on and make sure it is met with care and tenderness. Self-compassion is the antidote to finding fault in others and us when something goes “wrong”.
Modern research as well as our own experience with clients for over 14 years shows, that one of the strongest forces that keep us from opening our heart in challenging situations has to do with the harsh judgments we inflict on ourselves. We are quickly in the loop of thinking, we did something wrong.
In being judgmental and unkind to ourselves, we are disconnecting from our deeper true beingness and its healing resources. We cover the very place that we most need to awaken in our pain: our own heart. Self-compassion helps us to open our heart.
By residing more and more deeply inside our own heart all the joy, light and love we long for are available to us.
In the safe and non-judgmental environment of our weekly Open Heart Circle, we will cultivate the ability to be mindful and become aware of our flight, fight or freeze tendencies. We will explore more about how it all works, we will share from our experience and we will practice mindfulness and self-compassion as new vital tools.
In the circle you will learn to recognize negative mental activity before it gets fueled too much. You will learn how to naturally come back to the present moment, allowing what you feel, and meet it with your heart instead of your thinking. You will feel encouraged to say good-by to any victim perspective and discover the power of consciousness, where you were unconscious before. You will enjoy increasing freedom from your conditioned reactions and by that open more and more to your heart’s qualities, your real sensitivity and your real power.
To move the energy from your heads to your heart and body we will invite you to many different explorations and exercises. We will draw on a blend of methods from Hakomi (mindfulness based body-oriented process work), RCS (Recreation of Self), Focusing, Transpersonal Coaching, Compassion focused therapy, ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy), mindful self-compassion, heart-meditations and guided visualizations and structures from mindful self-compassion training.
In the Open Heart Circle there will be room for sharing your feelings, experiences and insights. There will also be space for some individual process work, from which all will benefit as they allow for connection and inner realization. Having the support of others opening to the same, you can allow what you feel more easily. You will learn to meet it in new ways that bring love and connection, with yourself and others.
We will celebrate our successes and embrace the falling backs that are a natural ingredient of growth and healing. It will be easier to deal with the challenges along the path, as we all hold the space for a new and open way of being.
Susann and Ernst von Meijenfeldt (holistic life-coaches and transpersonal mentors) will facilitate this weekly open circle in an inviting, gentle, openhearted non-judgmental, and process oriented way.
The group is designed as an open circle, so that you can decide each week if you like to join, without any obligation. Yet to reserve a spot, it would be good to give us a quick call, a text-message, or a short email, that you wish to attend that evening.
If you would like to receive more information please call Susann at 780 914 6399 or email: email@example.com
You can also have information about the schedule and sign-in here.