by Megha Nancy Buttenheim

My task at the Embodied Positive Psychology Summit was to bring SPIRE’s physical and spiritual elements into the mix, while weaving in, during morning meditations, morsels of the many lovely teachings that occurred. We’ll return now to that special time, revisiting just a little of what was said, seen, felt, and heard.

Even though you are reading with open eyes, let this be a relaxing few minutes, a time to pause and reflect. Take in some deep breaths, and begin to go deep inside the body, heart, belly.

Here are just a few tidbits of the teachings, and some lovely poems spoken at our embodied event:

Caroline Miller told us that setting goals helps us land in the life we have, increasing our sense of purpose. The happiest people, she said—those with grounded optimism—set clear-cut goals.

During her opening night keynote, Megan McDonough asked us to consider what we hoped to gain, give, and grow into during the week. She beautifully pulled back the curtain on the Summit’s theme of love, reminding us of Carol Dweck’s work with growth mindset. Megan asked us to consider that love is an attitude of a growth heartset, and that love is connection.

Neal Mayerson, in his keynote on seeing and being seen, quoted from the great Carl Sagan: “For creatures as small as we, the vastness is only bearable through love.” Neal spoke about virtuous love vs. “score card love.” And he shared a poem about his beloved wife, Donna, that brought many listeners, Neal included, to tears. His poem is called “Lucky.”

A shooting star came shimmering down
As I daydreamed on the knoll
And it by Chance anointed me
Companion of your soul.

During Tuesday night’s keynote on HearthMath and Heart Intelligence, Howard Martin gave us some to-dos for our own hearts. He said that we can…

  • —Use our heart’s intelligence and practical intuition to guide our emotional choices.
  • —Be conscious of what we are “feeding the field”
  • —Increase our personal coherence and frequency
  • —Express the qualities of the heart in daily life, by having compassion for ourselves and one another.

Following Howard’s talk, I took the group through an embodied inquiry of Heart Intelligence, using Let Your Yoga Dance to build positivity resonance through group heart connection. I ended the evening with two poems.

In the darkness of relaxation, I shared the poet Rilke’s love for the great mystery—and the night.

You, darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.

John O’Donohue, in four short lines, gives us his own heart wisdom:

May all that has been unforgiven in you be released.
May your fears yield their deepest tranquilities
May all that has been unlived in you
Blossom into a future graced with love.

Last but not least, the goddess of Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson, taught that love is an interpersonally shared experience marked by momentary increases in shared positive emotions, bio-behavioral synchrony, and mutual care, which, over time, build a social bond, as well as commitment and loyalty. She guided us through the ancient practice of metta (loving-kindness) meditation, which has been studied in her lab for quite some time now.

Returning to Megan’s question: What did we hope to gain, give, and grow into as the Embodied Positive Psychology Summit began? Now that we have a little distance from the week, the question becomes: What did we actually gain, give, and grow into during the Summit?

Breathe into the practice of loving-kindness meditation.

First send metta to yourself:

May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be at ease
May I be healthy
May I be free

Now think of loved ones, friends, family:

May you be happy
May you be peaceful
May you be at ease
May you be healthy
May you be free

Now think of a neutral person, someone you don’t know well, but see occasionally.

May you be happy
May you be peaceful
May you be at ease
May you be healthy
May you be free

Now think of a challenging person—not the toughest person in your life, but someone who has caused irritation. For now, consider not using a really tough situation. Make it a little easier for yourself. Even challenging people deserve our loving-kindness.

May you be happy
May you be peaceful
May you be at ease
May you be healthy
May you be free

Now bring to your mind’s eye all beings, not only people, but all sentient beings on the entire earth. Send loving-kindness to everyone, and into the heart of Mother Earth herself:

May all beings be happy
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be at ease
May all beings be healthy
May all beings be free

As you continue to breathe, allow this loving-kindness meditation to offer you a sense of well-wishing, friendliness, compassion, and whole-being.

Remember Mary Oliver’s wise counsel in Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair—yours—and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles
of the rain are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
and the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese high in the clean blue air are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting, wondrous, over and over,
Announcing your place in the family of things.

Megha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, M.A., E-RYT 1000, is CEO and founding director of Let Your Yoga Dance® LLC, and author of “Expanding Joy: Let Your Yoga Dance, Embodying Positive Psychology”. An expert in experiential education, Megha is a long-time teacher-trainer at Kripalu Center, where she has trained thousands of people in yoga, health, movement, and meditation.