Archive for November, 2015

Heal Your Heart Program 2015-16

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Heart Health

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The fifth annual Heal Your Heart program begins this week. There are many new exciting changes to the program. While we have focused primarily on an inside-out approach the last few years, the program takes a new turn this year. In addition to the inside-out approach, we have added an outside-in component. This component begins with an individual assessment of your constitution and proceeds with a lifestyle plan based on this.

Why is this important? Clearly, one size does not fit all. What seems to be the right diet and lifestyle for one isn’t right for another.

Where does this wisdom come from? The answer is Ayurveda, literally translated as “science of life”.

The program this year will consist of 18 sessions over 6 months. You will learn how your unique constitution responds to the environment, to health and to disease and how to return the body and mind to balance.

For information and to register, please contact: Ann DePetris, RN at or 248.840.8081.

It starts here

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in This and That

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The beloved City of Lights mourns. And the world mourns with her. As we watched the news last night, my family and I sat in silence. We had nothing to say to each other. Even, “Oh no!” seemed superfluous. In the aftermath of such an event, we expect anger to be the natural reaction. In fact, we expect retaliation in kind as a natural and just response.

Fortunately, my day began with a text from a dear friend. John is exceedingly wise, kind and beautiful. As we chatted, he poignantly stated, “I hope that we can all be still for a moment, reflect and pour our energy in the form of love towards France and her victims, rather than becoming immediately agitated and misdirect the same energy towards violent revenge. Yes action must, I think, be taken. But let us be still first.” His words felt like a soothing balm. 

I was reminded of a prayer verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

Lead me from the falsehood to truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.

The falsehood here is the total entrapment in the ego and of the ‘us versus them’ paradigm. It is the result of ignorance that shows up as darkness. In this model fear of death is inevitable. Violence is the result of fear. Retaliation is fear’s reaction to violence. Darkness begets darkness. 

Can we find stillness in this pain? While we mourn for the innocent victims of insanity, can we find compassion for the perpetrators? Think about it. How dark might be the hell for those living in hate merely in the hope for an imagined heaven? How depraved must one be to surrender to such perversion?

Stillness is the necessary prerequisite for illumination. When we remain still, we come to see that darkness is known by the light of awareness. Like the sun that doesn’t discriminate between the flowers and the weeds, the light of awareness allows everything to be known. Weeds are known only in comparison to the flowers – by the light of the sun. As long as we remain enchanted by the flowers and the weeds, we cannot turn our eyes toward the sun. We remain in falsehood, fearful of death. 

In the illumination of stillness, we come to see that there is no ‘other’. There is only me, no matter which way I turn. This is a peculiar light. It breaks the heart open so that it bleeds love. The love colors everything I do. Actions and responses that arise from light are surprisingly radical and ‘out of the box’. In turning to the light, I move from death to immortality.

Does this mean the world needs to sit back and condone acts of hatred and violence? Of course not! It means that we allow the light to lead our actions and not our rage or grief. We can continue to fight darkness with darkness. Or we can discover the light that expels it instantly.

Paris has stood tall through the wars and revolts that have shaped her history. She will stand tall again. We can aid her return to light – by becoming still, as John sagaciously stated.

It starts here. It always has.

Image: Jean Jullien (see here for an interview with the artist whose symbol of peace for Paris is trending everywhere).

Discipline: A Paradigm Shift

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Yoga of Parenting

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“Mommy?” The owner of the small, subdued voice peeked in. I paused in kapothasana, “Yes, baby?” She invited herself in and perched by my yoga mat. I waited patiently, noting that her hands fidgeted nervously. She cleared her throat and asked softly if she could have her phone back. This was going to be a lesson in discipline – for us both.

She had lost her device privileges a week earlier for being exceptionally sassy and disobedient. Now, I had the merciful mommy sense that this here was a big moment. I uncurled from the pose and sat on the mat as she proceeded to justify her reasons for wanting the phone back. I asked her if she recalled why she had lost access to her phone. She answered truthfully that it was because she had misbehaved. I asked her if she had learned anything from this exercise. Hesitant and unsure of what she was supposed to say, she responded, “I learned that I must listen to you.”

Here was the perfect example of parenting ridiculousness. Neither of us was really sure what she was being punished for! I had hoped that she would learn to behave in ways that promoted harmony in relationships. She saw it as a punishment for not obeying my command. As we sat quietly, I noticed that she had stopped fidgeting. In the profound stillness that had descended upon us, she and I became as one – sparks of sensations, breath and mind arising and subsiding back into stillness.

The clarity of the moment lent itself to seeing that in the default mode, discipline is a war of wills. We learn early on from our own caregivers that there is a “right” way to behave and to interact with others. That becomes the lens through which we judge ourselves and the world. Our own innate wisdom becomes veiled by the voices of our mothers, fathers, teachers and friends. We do things in certain ways just because we have been instructed to and not because we are guided by our own inner light. We foster the same dysfunctional patterns in our children when we hold them to our standards without giving them a chance to figure it out for themselves. We don’t allow them to ask questions because we were taught not to question our caregivers. We take this non-questioning to be a sort of virtue, when it is really lack of curiosity and blind acceptance of dogma. This blind devotion to dogma becomes the basis of discipline.

Behavior arising from such discipline is always forced, rooted in ignorance and not conducive to authentic, joyful living. This was very true for me. I “grew up” finally when the voices in my head belonging to parents and teachers lost fuel and died. In this radical growing up, I needed nobody to tell me what to do. In this vast inner freedom, I am fully responsible for my own thoughts and actions. I know that nobody can make me think or do anything; nobody has that power. When I surrender to the stillness within, I become invincible, authentic, joyful. I live guided solely by the guru of the heart.

As we continued to sit still, I knew that the greatest gift I can give my children is to free them from me, from my voice in their heads. I want them to discover their guiding light and let it take over their lives. I want them to wake up to true authenticity. Threats and punishments wouldn’t be useful for these goals. It had to begin with honesty on my part – I told her that I was wrong to give her the impression that she needs to obey me (or anyone else) without question. I invited her to tell me why her behavior at times may not be conducive to harmony. She thought for a minute, responding that when she acts impulsively, she feels bad later. When she argues without purpose, it causes tension and unease. I asked her to tell me what might happen if she paused before acting or speaking. She thought aloud, stating that if she didn’t act out immediately, the reaction might go away. Bingo!

We agreed on a plan of action. From her meditation practice, she knew how to bring her attention to her breath. Simply noticing the breath is a powerful way to step out of the mind with its conflicting thoughts and emotions. When we bring attention to the breath, we allow the mind to subside into stillness and for fresh, unconditioned action to arise. When the mind rests, the inner light shines through. The breath can teach us the difference between response and reaction. We become our own gurus.

We practiced this together. I asked her to bring up a thought that induced fear – a spider in her room. As she did this, she noticed that her breath had changed pace. As she continued to notice her breath, it quietened and the fear subsided. I encouraged her to find her breath before beginning a task, during a test and during anxious moments of the day. She promised that she would try, and agreed that I could remind her often. I returned her devices after we hugged for several long moments.

This change in the “discipline” paradigm will take some getting used to. It will require me to become still in the moment to see clearly that the purpose of discipline is to allow my children to be true to the goodness that already shines in them. It is not about them following my truth, but living their own.