Introduction to Open Heart
and Practice Instructions
Open Heart is a method of mind training that combines ancient knowledge and practices with modern approach. Our method aims to utilize best of both in order for the practitioners to deeply understand themselves, for the liberation of themselves and of all beings. We hold ancient yogic principles and practices in high esteem but do not wish to carry any unnecessary ritualistic or cultural baggage with us. We think that people of each culture and time need a method of mind training and enlightenment that best fits them, which they can understand and apply for actual results. We also think that 1. awakening, 2. mind purification and even 3. full enlightenment are possible to attain when the conditions are there. We think that these attainments are possible for us to attain, in this culture, in this time and in this body.
Watch a lecture about Tibetan Heart Yoga and the principles of tantric practice:
Introduction of Tibetan Heart Yoga, Guided Practice:
We wish to welcome you to try these teachings which have been specifically given to Open Heart-founders by ancient masters, true spiritual masters of the world. By teachings we refer to both verbal and practical aspects of our training system. Our method consists of few aspects that are universal to spiritual training in general. Our method includes direct pointing to generate initial awakening in the mind of a practitioner, then tantric yoga called Tibetan Heart Yoga (both before and after awakening) to generate mind purification (karmic purification), and finally advanced practices for full enlightenment or buddhahood.
"I studied the texts of buddhism, including mahayana and tantric buddhism,
and figured out that what you teach is according to the scriptures,
except that Open Heart teachings are stripped off of any baggage."
- comment from a practitioner
Open Heart-method is firmly rooted in the living blessings of spiritual masters, out of whom the main one is Padmasambhava, a well known dzogchen-master who brought buddhist- and dzogchen etachings to Tibet. Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche is our primary master. Without master's help and guidance we have very limited chances to attain freedom of the delusions of the mind. For this reason we primarily take refuge in the guru, Padmasambhava. We draw inspiration from his teachings and receive direct blessings from him and from other masters as well. Read the info about Masters and Guru Yoga.
With the help of the guru, we can thoroughly come to understand our own minds. This means that we actually come to see that our confusion and our sense of being lost is caused by our confused mind. We come to realise that the cause of our confusion is not external to us, it is deeply imprinted in our body and mind. As, through practice and study, we get insights of the biased functionings of our mind and so make our minds clearer, we also recognise ourselves as open awareness. Open awareness is our enlightened nature, or buddha nature. This nondualistic awareness is the medication to our existential confusion. For this reason, we secondly take refuge in the buddha which means our own awareness, devoid of entity.
The core of Open Heart is yogic meditation practice together with the verbal teachings of our master/s and our teachers. These teachings are based on common ethics. Teachings and practices, or dharma, is the third foundation of our method. Therefore, we thirdly take refuge in the dharma. Our main practice, Tibetan Heart Yoga, is practiced in a sitting position for 40 minutes or more every day. This method combines several yogic techniques such as mantras, breathing practices and meditation as one. When practiced regularly this has many benefits. Our primary motivation is to purify our minds but other motives like stress reduction and bettering of health are good motives to begin with as well. We are also concerned about the liberation of all living beings, not just ourselves. Our practice concerns and includes all beings.
As meditators and yogis, we do not believe in believing. We wish not to waste our time and energy with anything that cannot be studied, analysed, critisized, tested, proved and personally experienced. We consider the company and support of the fellow practitioners, or sangha, important. Sangha is important because through sharing and practicing with others we can grow as yogis and as human beings. For this reason, fourthly, we take refuge in the sangha. We consider the relationship between a spiritual teacher and a student important. Both of them should see each other as spiritual practitioners as well as human beings.
I take refuge in the Guru
I take refugre in His Pure Land*
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha
The Five Refuges are chanted after each practice.
The path of mind training is that of gaining insight and furthering understanding. This requires constant alertness, intelligent mapping, willingness to face difficulties and resilience not to give in. When seriously engaged, there will be obstacles on our path. This is natural because we are lookking at ourselves, our minds, in a way which we didn't before. Of course, there will be surprises. But no matter whatwWe should stick with the practice, be smart and moment to moment be aware of what arises, instead of quitting. That is the way only to be successful on the spiritual path. Don't worry, you receive plenty of help in your issues when you ask for it, both from your teacher, master as well as from the community.
The spiritual path is a serious but also a joyful one. Life as it is commonly experienced is filled with pain, difficulties, destructive emotions and self-created confusion. Biased mind is the root cause of that. The problem is not external to us. As said, we need to have firm motivation and stick with our efforts to overcome all obstacles but it is also true that with practice our life, as we keep at it, day in day out, becomes permeated with a sense of freedom, openness, kindness and true love that is not ego- or thought-based. This sense of being free and open like the sky is how we come to know ourselves through committed effort. Vast openness and true love, that is our true nature devoid of the self, is already there but it is hidden and obstructed by our mental and emotional conditioning, our sense of me-ness, our sense of being a separate entity.
This natural being, primordial awareness, can be glimpsed right from the first session of the practice. It, the real you without you, is always there. What a relief!
We welcome you here to familiarize yourself with the Open Heart teachings. Feel free to contact the teachers if you have any questions. We also welcome you to join our live teachings at courses and retreats which are held where ever we are asked to come. We also wish to encourage you to invite our teachers to come and teach at your location.
Instructions here are parts of Tibetan Heart Yoga.
Sitting down, relaxing and recognising open awareness
Sit down in a good relaxed posture. Keep your eyes open with a soft panoramic vision. You are seeing the whole room in front of you, not focusing on anything particular. You are seeing the ”whole forest”, not one particular ”tree”. Take a few deeper breaths if you feel like it. Then let the breath be on it's own. Scan the inside of the physical body. Be alert to notice any tentions. As you notice tensions, allow them to be released. When a tension releases, make notice what is found from the place of the released tension. Look carefully to find that out. What you find is clear open space. Good. Continue releasing other tensions by going through the whole body space. Don't hurry. Do it carefully with time and everytime a tension is released notice the open space in the place of former tension. Now as you keep doing this the small areas of open space start to feel like one unified field which is both within and without the physical body. Make notice of that, relax and marinate in that space. Rest in that with some sharpness of mind so that you don't become drowsy. Also, make notice that there is no one there in open inner space. There is no ”you” there. This takes a couple of minutes.
Jewel Visualisation Part 1: After, having taken a seat and recognised the spaciousness, visualise your physical body being made of transparent diamond or crystal stone, like an ice sculpture. After about half a minute of doing this continue to the second part of the visualisation where you extend the transparency to the whole aura around your physical body. Extend the visualisation about 1½ meters from the surface of the skin in all directions around the body.
Jewel Visualisation Part 2, Chakra Pillars: First feel your body for a moment. Then feel the general area of the pelvic floor and from there extend your attention straight downwards below your physical body to the distance of at least 6 meters or infinitely more. By doing so you activate the pillar of 7 energy centers, or chakras, below your body. Feel the effect for half a minute to a minute.
Then, to activate the pillar of centers above the head, extend your attention from the top of your head to the space above the crown, at least 6 meters. With both pillars, when you reach the centers relating to the mahasiddha bhumis, that is, the centers that actually are your own innate buddhahood, you will notice that your mind becomes utterly clear. Feel the effect for half a minute to a minute.
Next, ask a blessing from Padmasambhava, the master of Tibetan Heart Yoga. Use your own words. It can as simple as,
”Dear Padmasambhava, please flood my being with your blessings for my own benefit, and for the liberation of all beings.”
When you make the request, be attentive to receive the blessings in your own body, mind and heart. 2 minutes.
Third part of the practice is called ”guru yoga” with Padmasambhava. If you are not familiar with who he is, do some googling to find out. He is a well known master, who lived in a physical body about thousand years ago. Even though he has left his body long time ago, his awareness, energy, blessings and actual guidance are always, in any time or place, available to us. Guru yoga which means tuning into master's presence and becoming unified with him or her, is the foundation of all tantric yoga practices. This is because by being together with a master, your own mind of many confusions and impulses becomes momentarily replaced with her energy, clarity and spaciousness. This is the compassionate help of a spiritual master available to anyone, anywhere, you included. When you get a taste of this in the first couple of sessions you can already see the benefit of doing this.
Tuning into Padmasambhava's presence can be done in couple of ways. For example, simply by asking him to give his blessings to you, as in a simple prayer. What we use here is his guru mantra, which is to be repeated aloud with open mind and focus for 5-10 minutes: Namo Guru Rinpoche (click for audio). Chant it with openness and relaxation and after chanting, welcome Padmasambhava's presence into your body, mind and heart, receiving his help and blessings. When you feel his subtle energy come to your body, just relax and surrender to it. At this point, you don't need to do anything. It is like enjoying a warm bath and letting the warm water do it's thing. After some time, the energy of Padmasambhava's blessings begins to subside. You can notice how in your bodyspace the sensations of energy in movement, like flowing and bubbling begin to calm down. You can notice that the mind is calm, clear and open. When this happens, continue to Ati-meditation. This phase takes about 10-20 minutes altogether. Don't hurry.
Ati Yoga and Phet-mantra
The last part of the practice is ati yoga (dzogchen), together with Phet*-mantra. Ati means ”primordial” or ”original”. A good name for this practice could be ”relaxed openness” or ”natural openness”. Openness here does not only refer to open eyes but to openness, unobstructedness and clarity of our natural untouched awareness. It is simply ”being free” without trying, without doing, without aiming and without ”me”. It is openness. Ati-meditation is also called nonmeditation because simply means being naturally open, instead of some special meditative state.
Phet-mantra is pronounced like ”pet” as in pet dog, just add ”h”.
After the energetic sensations after tantric techniques have subsided, don't do anything in particular. Keep your eyes open in a soft and relaxed manner. You can keep your mouth slightly open, the tongue floating inside the mouth. Don't imagine anything. Don't add anything. Don't wish for anything. Don't intend anything. Don't do anything.
At first you will only able to remain in the natural state not longer than a second or two. If your mind becomes busy and you find yourself thinking of thoughts or planning stuff, shout Phet! sharply 1-2-3-4 times so that the natural state is resumed. Immediately after shouts, relax thoroughly.
Continue Ati Yoga for 5-10 minutes or more. You can also do this for a second or two during daily activities whenever you remember it.
At the end of the session, do the Embodiment Sequence, for connecting the body of plain awareness with the physical body.
First notice the open mind space together with the head, neck and heart area. Then notice the open mind space with the head, chest and the rest of the body, just by feeling the skin and insides of the physical body.
Five Refuges, Short Bodhicitta, Dedication of Merit and Bow
To finish your practice session, chant the Five Refuges (click for audio) three times in your own language.
I take refuge in the Guru
I take refuge in His Pure Land
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha
May all be-ings be free (x 3)
Dedication of Merit
May all be-ings re-ceive my ac-cu-mu-la-ted me-rit.
I de-di-cate the me-rit to the Re-fuge and to all be-ings.
Put your palms together and bow your head.
This practice takes about 30-40 minutes at one sitting. Do it every day, and prepare yourself, until you can join Tibetan Heart Yoga-course on location. You will see that doing this has great benefits right from the beginning.
Talks and articles of these practices are available online.
Guidance to Awakening: http://www.en.openheart.fi/101
Tibetan Heart Yoga: http://www.en.openheart.fi/103
Masters and Guru Yoga: http://www.en.openheart.fi/95
May all be-ings be free... (x 3)
Dedication of Merit
May all be-ings re-ceive my ac-cu-mu-la-ted me-rit... I de-di-cate the me-rit to the Re-fuge and to all be-ings...