I’ve just returned from Austin, Texas, where I facilitated my first ever 10-day Heartwork Intensive. An Intensive is a workshop where people come because there’s something they want in their lives that they don’t have or something they have that they don’t want – or both. They come loyal to their purpose.
The first night, after I give an hour-long introduction to what the Intensive is all about and how to get the most out of it, people stand up one at a time and share their purposes with the rest of the group. They share from the place in themselves where the answers are alive, so that all the other participants can feel the source and strength of their yearning. Then, we break the large group into small groups (in Texas, we lovingly refer to them as “pods” because the group members are ponders!) of 4 or 6 people. And for the next 6 days of the Intensive, the individuals in these groups are as committed to fulfilling their own and each other’s intentions as they can possibly be.
Their loyalty to their purposes can be compared to that of people in combat situations. I know this sounds like a poor analogy, when what these people are fighting for is inner peace, freedom, aliveness, joy and wholeness, but the intensity of their commitment to their course of action and their loyalty I have only ever heard of elsewhere from people who have been in life-and-death combat situations. In both arenas, these people are fighting for their own and each other’s lives.
Many incredible things happen in such a crucible, especially the opening of hearts and the sharing of love – that which is deepest inside us all when we drop our habitual defensive postures and diligently pursue the truth together. I tell people up front that they may or may not get what they came for (that’s entirely up to them, and happens to a degree in direct proportion to their loyalty to their intentions), but I do guarantee that their lives will change just from experiencing what is possible between human beings when all are committed to honesty and openness with each other.
People left this intensive – as they usually do – saying things like:
– “My heart has been opened after 40 painful years of keeping it closed”
– “I learned about my specific blocks – the ways in which I keep myself from basic trust – isolating those, becoming so aware is the door through which I can go to freedom from my suffering over and over again”; “I found out why I have such a hard time asking for help and feel so apart”
– “This gave me hope and tools to have the life I always dreamed of and wasn’t willing to open up to”
– “I have been looking outside myself most of the time. I didn’t trust I was interesting or important enough to know. I was afraid to be honest about who I am but found out I’m really OK and it’s right and wonderful to love myself”
– “From this place called home, my heart beats in freedom. My heart is deep and grateful and pure and tender and can love all that is. For this moment I taste Heaven on Earth”
The “magic” of a Heartwork Intensive that allows individuals to achieve their deepest desires lies in a few things, but ultimately they all translate into loyalty to purpose. All participants arrive with a conscious intention for themselves – what they want to get from the Intensive – and, even more importantly, an often-unconscious deep yearning behind their intention. Everyone, myself included, commits from the outset to be 100% loyal to his or her own intention, and supportive of those of the people around them – to do whatever is necessary to get what everyone came for. What’s really in the way of each person’s attaining his or her purpose is fear, or more accurately, the fear of fear. What we all do in an Intensive is to align ourselves with the yearning (to be free, whole or loving, for example) behind those intentions and, through various exercises, increase the strength of the yearning to the point where it is stronger than the fear. That’s when the breakthroughs occur. The safety created by everyone’s commitments made to confidentiality, honesty, non-violence, and especially each other’s honoring of their commitments allow very deep individual work to take place within the group setting.
Joseph Campbell said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” This is the kind of loyalty that brings aliveness to your life. So what is your quest? And are you loyal to it? And if not, what are you going to do about it?