Live with authenticity.
Own your power.
Bring more love into the world.
When it comes to creating a meaningful life, our usual approach is to drive harder and harder, beat ourselves up, repeat, repeat, repeat. I should be smarter. More fit. More successful. If only I was a better friend. Parent. Lover. Artist. Servant. Leader.
The path of self-aggression is littered with shame, doubt, and loathing.
Who would you be if you could step off this path? What if your inner voice was gentle, fierce, and supremely creative? Imagine how you would feel when you woke up in the morning, head out to work or school, meet your friends, exercise, cook a meal, make art, fall in love, or dream about the future…
When you start from a place of worthiness rather than self-doubt, your path unfolds in a very different way. You expect and receive love. You populate your life with people who respect you. You take smarter risks. You are not afraid to fail. You attract relationships, circumstances, and opportunities that align with who you really are. You no longer apologize for being exactly who you are. You proclaim your authentic self.
To accomplish this, you need to make just one small but exceptionally potent inner switch: To conclude without hesitation that underneath all your awesome accomplishments, total screw-ups, unique brilliance, and utter confusion, you are made of pure, luminous, and indestructible goodness.
This is the truth about meditation. It is more than a practice: It is a way to hold your mind in a state of perpetual openness. This is also known as fearlessness.
It is a way of being in the world. (Genuine.)
It is a path to discovering who you are. (Courageous.)
It teaches you to relax with the chaos of being human and then transform that chaos into power. (Creative.)
It makes you unafraid to love. (Gentle.)
In short, it is much more than stress-reduction! It is a spiritual path. This particular path is comprised of genuineness, courage, creativity, and gentleness.
I have been a meditation teacher for nearly a decade and a practitioner for more than 20 years. I came to the practice because I was confused about who I was and was feeling more and more afraid. From childhood, I knew I was never going to follow a conventional path. Not that I didn’t try! I just did not fit in and I didn’t understand what was expected of me or the world around me.
Within a very short time of learning to meditate, I noticed changes that were subtle but profound:
My mind was becoming sharper. I noticed connections between people, things, and ideas that made the world seem like a place of congruence and magic.
My heart was becoming softer. Rather than making me “all Zen” (if that means permanently imperturbable), I was becoming more sensitive; I felt more. I was able to attune to my own feelings more readily and identify them accurately. I could do the same with others: Whether friends, family, or strangers, I seemed able to pick up on their inner states. This enabled me to get closer to the people I love (or choose to establish distance from relationships that were not in my best interest).
Perhaps most surprising, I noticed a sense of easy joy. Whatever I encountered, whether pleasurable, painful, dull, or whatever, also seemed like an opportunity to play. I later learned to equate this playful energy with creativity.
Interestingly, meditation did not make me into a blissed-out sylph, not that there is anything wrong with that. Rather, it positioned me over and over again at the very edge of my comfort zone. (Whenever I see meditation portrayed as a way to get more comfortable, I wonder what practice those people are doing!) This is not for everyone, I totally get that. It is not always easy. But if you have any interest in love, creativity, innovation, or wisdom, this edge is the gateway.
where to begin
If this is your first experience with meditation (or you would rather we get to know each other first; totally understandable!) I recommend that you start by signing up for the free Open Heart Project newsletter. Every Monday, you will receive a 10-minute meditation video. Each session is fully guided and just right for complete beginners. These videos will introduce you to the practice and give you time to experiment with it. However, I don’t recommend staying with these weekly videos forever! After 4-8 weeks, I suggest that you transition to the Open Heart Project Sangha. Sitting for 10 minutes once a week is a fantastic start, but there is so much more that awaits you…
- Sangha is the Sanskrit word for community. Over the years, I’ve found that this is what makes the difference between a practice that lasts and one that peters out. Believe me, I don’t know why this is so, only that it is. If you only practice on your own, it is easy to become confused and downhearted. If you practice with others, even if just occasionally, your practice is refueled.
- It’s not easy to find community. You may live somewhere remote. You may live near five first-rate meditation centers but find that they aren’t right for you. You may have lots of kids or a super busy job or some other reason that makes it difficult for you to take time out of your schedule. In all cases, the Open Heart Project Sangha is for you. It was created to offer community and everything else that comes with a physical meditation center: classes, gatherings, guest teachers, retreats, and so on.
- In addition to the weekly meditation newsletter, Sangha members receive:
- A daily guided audio meditation delivered right to your inbox. Each session is preceded by a very short inspirational quote and then you can meditate for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or even 60 minutes! (A gong will sound at every 10 minute increment.) These audio meditations can be downloaded for use whenever and wherever you like.
- Access to our archives. At this point, there are over 1,000 videos in the OHP archives and as a Sangha member, you have access to them all.
- Membership in the Daily Dharma Gathering. This is yet another chance to practice daily. Every single day an esteemed Buddhist teacher guides a practice session that includes a short talk and a chance for discussion. This enables you to experience teachings from a variety of perspectives: Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, Insight Meditation, and more. The Daily Dharma Gathering (which is normally $20 a month) is included in Sangha membership.
- One new in-depth spiritual life lesson video per month. On the first Friday of each month, I will send you a more in-depth dharma talk such as I give when I teach in person—but instead of you having to come to me, I will come to you! I am really, really excited to offer you more of what I’ve been taught from some of the most realized and brilliant dharma teachers in the world. This longer format will allow me to do so.
- Monthly office hours. On the first Friday of the month (unless travel mandates a different day), I’ll open a browser on my computer and hang out for a few hours for anyone who has a question, wishes to share a reflection or just say hi.
- Free access to all the programs I teach online. (Except programs that are co-taught.) There will be four such programs in 2017 and each one is four weeks long.
- Access to a private forum and Facebook group.
- A free PDF Guide to Setting up a Home Meditation Practice
- You will also receive two bonus videos: What is Meditation? and Living a Mindful Life.
Join for a year and get a free OHP t-shirt, a signed copy of my newest book, Start Here Now: An Open Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation.
The Sangha was created to help you keep your practice consistent. There is NO WAY anyone can take advantage of all the classes, practices, and gatherings, so please don’t worry about that. Choose the options that work best for you. When in doubt, do less. THIS IS A GUILT-FREE ZONE.
The cost for this program is:
$270 a year.
$27 a month.
You may cancel anytime.
No partial refunds for monthly or annual memberships. Memberships renew automatically unless cancelled.
I don’t live close to a meditation center, but the OHP totally meets my needs. I have a meditation teacher, Susan; I have access to dharma teachings from monks and other teachers in the DDG as well as online courses; I can participate in the FB sangha; and I can take the refuge vows. What the OHP provides me is a way to to receive what any other meditation center would provide. I am exceedingly grateful to Susan and the OHP members for completely supporting my practice. –Shari Hunt
Many folks I know choose a word that in some way suggests an intention they have for the year. I could not come up with a single one, but have my “3 C’s” – Calm, Clarity and Community. What a wonderful place the Sangha is to support me in these intentions. –David Mynchenberg
Never have I met such a unique online community like the one that exists within The Open Heart Project Sangha. In the often harsh world that is online, the OHPS is a safe haven. A place to be heard, to listen, to learn and be supported like nowhere else. Susan Piver and her amazing team have offered such a wonderful gift to those seeking to connect in an increasingly disconnected world. The Sangha has both enhanced my knowledge and helped me to strengthen my practice. And the treasured friends I have made are absolutely priceless. –Shell Parsons – Sydney Australia
Being part of the OHPS for almost two years, has been the most important experience to me in building a Spiritual Path, all the teachings I’ve received are invaluable, the support and the warmth I get from the Sangha make me feel I’m not alone in this wonderful journey. I feel grateful for that and highly recommend it for sure! –Silvia Garcia
I was disconnected from my practice and the joy of being part of a sangha at least until I became a member of the Open Heart Project. Becoming a member has been the best-self birthday present ever! I now read, listen to and review the Monday morning talk, monthly sangha check in, courses, Susan’s as well as guest teacher’s talks at my leisure. The pièce de résistance is our virtual Shrine room. There is nothing like sitting with sangha to get your meditation juices flowing. Thank you Susan for developing such a warm, loving and safe place for us to develop and deepen our practice. –Rose Ann Mancias
Being a member of the Open Heart Project Sangha and has given me a wonderful opportunity to continue to learn and give and receive support on the path. It also brings me great joy to know that I am supporting Susan’s efforts to bring more kindness and gentleness into a world that desperately needs it. –Janet Pal, Toronto, Canada
The Open Heart Project Sangha has been a valuable tool for grounding me in daily practice. It is a space of community and solace for me. I look forward to the online gatherings as a place where I can share my observations and questions about dharma practice. Most importantly, it’s a place to learn from others’ experiences and to be reminded, on a regularly basis, that I’m not alone on the path. –Hillary Levin
Over the last six months I have been to Iceland, Norway, China, Canada and multiple business trips within the United States. Sitting with a local Sangha is challenging given my travel and the nature of my work, despite living in what could arguably be the nexus of American Buddhism. The OHP community is my Sangha — at home, in the air, on the road, in the 3rd hotel in 3 days. The OHP team has created a environment to ground my practice. The volume of quality content is mind-blowing. The monthly and weekly teaching Susan provides is a stable foundation for growing in the Dharma and the Daily Dharma Gathering is an opportunity be engaged every day. It is nothing short of transformational and what Susan has created is part of the DNA of 21st Century Western Buddhism. –Stefanie Harvey, San Francisco Bay Area
With access to media, books, and classes, my world is full of information about meditation. The Open Heart Project Sangha offered me the one thing I couldn’t find anywhere else – connection. It is an embracing, supporting, funny, human experience. The Sangha doesn’t just show me a path, it makes sure I don’t have to walk it alone. –Kellie Schorr