*heart wide open* offers a variety of weekly, monthly and occasionally recurring events, which are open to everyone!
- weekly practice
- monthly kirtan evenings
- mindful walks, hikes and camping trips
- retreats (of various lengths)
- contemplative concerts
- conversation circles
- and a heart-ful writing group
The *heart wide open* project facilitates weekly 2-hour practice sessions, which include:
- gentle yoga asanas (poses) and/or qigong
- heart-opening kirtan (meditative singing/chanting of Sanskrit songs and mantras)
- reflective cool down (guided meditation, personal writing, deep listening, or silent shavasana)
- shared conversation and tea!
The intention of the weekly gatherings is to cultivate a fertile, supportive and nurturing environment for exploring the power of personal transformation — by learning to fully open our hearts to ourselves and to each other!
Currently, there are two weekly sessions in the Wolfville area: Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings. Previous experience with yoga (any style) is helpful, but not necessary. No previous experience with singing/chanting is needed. Bring a pen/pencil, notebook, water bottle, yoga mat and a blanket/cushion to sit on. Registration required.
For details of the weekly practice sessions, please join the email list.
*heart wide open* facilitates monthly kirtan evenings.
Kirtan is an ancient Indian yogic practice of singing or chanting from the heart. It’s a celebration, a meditation, a rejuvenation — and a powerful way to connect both with yourself and with community.
*heart wide open* kirtan evenings begin with a short optional physical yoga warm up, and are followed by approximately one hour of guided chanting meditation. The evenings end with casual social time for connecting with community.
There are many benefits to practicing singing meditation. Yoga instructor Sean Johnson writes, “I believe that the sonic practices can help us to be better listeners both to our own intuition as well as each other, and help us to communicate with more clarity, truth, and compassion.” According to author and meditation instructor Donna Quesada, “By combining sound, breath and rhythm, chanting meditation channels the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit, adjusting the chemical composition of our internal states and regulating brain-hemisphere imbalances, contributing to a natural abatement of fear and despair. By balancing the nervous system, chanting regulates chronic stress and tension. And by balancing the endocrine system, chanting normalizes hormone production, which balances our moods and overall sense of well-being.”
The chants presented by *heart wide open* are written in Sanskrit (the ancient language of the Indian Vedic texts) and are often invocations or celebrations. They carry messages of love, peace, and community wellness. They are typically short and cyclical, making them easy to learn, or delivered in a call-and-response style, making them easy to follow. For example:
Sarvesham svasti bhavatu
Sarvesham shanti bhavatu
Sarvesham purnam bhavatu
Sarvesham mangalam bhavatu
May all beings dwell in happiness
May all beings dwell in peace
May all beings attain oneness
May all beings attain auspiciousness
The kirtan evenings are open to everyone (and are currently held on the last Wednesday of the month). No experience with singing or meditation is required. Lyric sheets will be provided. Bring a cushion to sit on, a water bottle, and a mat if you choose to join in on the yoga warm up.
For details of the next kirtan evening, please join the email list.
mindful walks, hikes and camping trips
*heart wide open* facilitates mindful (meditative) group walks, hikes and backcountry camping experiences throughout the year. Though most of the hiking is practiced in silence to help cultivate deep “sensing”, inner stillness and integration of body, mind and spirit, there is also lots of opportunity for interpersonal connection (reflection and sharing) both before and after short hikes, and around the campfire during backcountry camping trips.
Walking meditation is a wonderful way to integrate mindfulness into everyday life and has been practiced as a meditative technique for thousands of years. It’s also a beautiful way to *fully* experience the “outside” world!
Most trips are within easy driving distance of Wolfville Nova Scotia, and carpooling is encouraged!
For details of the next walking, hiking or camping trip, please join the email list.
From time to time, *heart wide open* facilitates special retreats (one day, half day or whole weekend). Current themes include “designing a heart-ful life”, “meditative frame drumming” and “from heart to action”.
For details of workshops/retreats, please join the email list.
*heart wide open* hosts a series of contemplative concerts (meditative improvisations) in beautiful, resonant spaces — with the musicians intentionally hidden from view, in order to create a more immersive listening experience. Recent concerts have been held at Acadia University’s Manning Memorial Chapel, and usually feature a trio of musicians. Instruments have included bass flute, wooden flutes, percussion (hand drums, gongs and bells), cello, saxophone, violin, voice, harmonium and sarangi. relax – restore – revitalize
For details of upcoming concerts, please join the email list.
“All great changes begin in conversation.”
— Juanita Brown
The intention of the *heart wide open* monthly conversation circles is to create an engaged, supportive, nourishing space where we can collectively explore ways to live more “heart-ful” lives, both on a personal level and as a community. “Heart-ful” qualities may include: healthy, fulfilling, happy, mindful, meaningful, engaged, rewarding, playful, compassionate…
These focused, yet relaxed, evenings begin with the reading of an inspiring quote followed by a few minutes of reflective silence. The gently facilitated discussion may take place in pairs, in small groups, a larger group or even solo in a journal format, and probably in several formats each night. Evenings will end with an opportunity for casual conversation, shared tea and healthy snacks.
Topics may include: values, aspirations, well-being, gratitude, compassion, happiness, forgiveness, self-acceptance, inter-relatedness, community, livelihood, passions, spirituality, self-expression, communication/listening, meditation, and silence/solitude.
*heart wide open* conversation circles meet once a month (currently on the first Wednesday, from 7 – 9pm). To reserve a place in this seasons circle (September through May), please connect with us. Participants are encouraged to attend as many monthly sessions as possible within the season. Space is limited. Donations (to help with hall expenses etc.) welcome.
For details of the conversation circles, please join the email list.
heart-ful writing group
“Writing is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you.” — Natalie Goldberg
*heart wide open* facilitates a monthly creative writing group, with the intention of supporting each other in developing (or continuing) an active writing practice. In a compassionate, yet constructive way, we will explore techniques for increasing the potency, depth, and flow of our writing. There will be opportunities to share exercises, writing drafts, conversation, inspiration and more. If you’re looking for a way to sustain and/or enliven your writing practice (or if you’d like to *start* a writing practice), please join us! Let’s co-create an energizing, amazing experience! We’ll alternate bringing snacks to share (because writing is *so* much yummier with snacks)! *heart wide open* will make the tea! Pre-registration required.