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I created the Open Heart Project to help anyone who wanted to learn meditation from an authorized instructor but wasn’t sure where to begin.
My own meditation journey began back in the olden days of 1993. I was trying to figure out who I was and had heard that it might help. Very shortly thereafter, I realized that this was the right path for me and took formal vows to become a Buddhist. After about 10 years of practicing in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, I trained to become a meditation instructor and began to lead retreats for beginners. At the end of each program I would always say If you want to continue to meditate, please find a meditation instructor. This is not a guru, it is simply someone who has practiced for longer than you and can give you guidance as your unique path unfolds. I got a lot of blank stares in return. Most people don’t live anywhere near a meditation center or, if they do, don’t know which one is right for them or simply do not have the time to get to it.
I knew I wanted to help bridge this gap and in 2011, I created the Open Heart Project. Anyone who gave me their email address would receive a new 10-minute guided meditation every Monday, for free.
At first, about 50 people signed up. Then a hundred. Then a thousand. Then five thousand. Now, there are nearly twenty thousand people all over the world who meditate together using these weekly videos. (Which is like the best thing that ever happened.)
Naturally, people had questions once their practice got under way. “What do I do if my foot falls asleep? Am I allowed to move?” “How come I cry when I meditate?” “I want to learn more. What do you recommend?” And so on. So I began to preface each video with a short (two to ten minute) talk.
Together, this talk and the 10-minute meditation became the Open Heart Project Newsletter. It will always be free and available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
What you get
A fully guided 10-minute meditation video once a week.
Two bonus videos:
What is Meditation: What is it? What is it not? What are the 3 biggest misconceptions? What should I expect from my practice?
Living a Mindful Life
A free e-Book: How to Do a Meditation Retreat Weekend at Home.
Another free e-Book: Setting up a Home Practice
Who is Susan Piver and why should I trust her?
This is a fantastic question, truly important! You should always ask this question first when you seek to learn anything from anyone, but especially that which may impact how you think, feel, and operate in the world.
The short answer is Susan is a 20+ year meditator and graduate of a Buddhist seminary who was authorized to teach meditation in 2007. She is the New York Times best-selling author of a variety of books on meditation, spirituality, and relationships.
The long answer is here.
Is meditation hard to learn?
No, it is quite simple and you will learn the technique from the very first video you try. What is difficult, however, is keeping it going and encountering the myriad obstacles that have arisen for meditators the world over for millennia. The OHP is there to help you navigate it all.
Will Susan try to make me into a Buddhist?
Definitely not. I am a Buddhist and the training I offer comes from my practice and training as a teacher. But there is nothing particularly Buddhist about sitting down, placing attention on breath, and resting your mind. This meditation isn’t about indoctrinating you into my path, but about helping you discover your own.
What if I’m not spiritual or religious?
No need to be either one to meditate. In fact, beliefs can get in the way, so if you’re not spiritual or religious, you may have a head start.
Do I have to do it every day?
No. You can decide on a schedule that works for your particular lifestyle.
If I miss a week, can I go back and catch up?
Unfortunately, no. Each video lives on our site for a week, until the next video is published.
Will I not be able to function or get things done if I meditate everyday?
Meditation does not put you into a stupor—in fact, it sharpens your mind and your senses and generally enables you to function better.
I’ve tried to meditate before, but I can’t clear my mind of thought. Is it possible that some people simply can’t meditate?
There is no need whatsoever to clear the mind of thought, stop thinking, or think only peaceful thoughts. The idea in meditation is to rest with your mind as it is, including those times when your mind may be speedy, sleepy, or both.
How long should I use these 10-minute videos before taking the next step?
I suggest that you use these videos for 4-8 weeks or until you get the hang of the basic technique. Once you do, you will naturally want to try different things such as meditating for longer periods, developing a regular schedule, and exploring some of the principles behind the practice. This is great! Don’t hang out in the 10 minutes a week zone for too long. When it is time, move on to the Open Heart Project Sangha which provides daily support, classes, and a wonderful community to help you go deeper. You will also have access to the full archives of more than 400 videos and be able to take all my online programs for free. (Except for those that are co-taught with another teacher.)
Is meditation good for everyone?
No. It is not. Please do not begin a meditation practice without consulting with your healthcare professional if you have been diagnosed and/or are under treatment for depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other mental health condition.Sign Up
My meditation practice began quite clumsily. It was not fun to watch, as I struggled to stop moving…keep my eyes still…and quiet my mind. I read everything I could find on meditation, and that brought me to Susan Piver. How lucky I was to find such a grounded, authentic individual, who’s meditation teachings spoke to my heart. Susan’s virtual meditation guidance came to me “free” of cost; yet I felt as though I had invested my life and all it’s worth to get it. That was approximately six months ago. Meditation has given a new voice to my heart and soul, and become part of my every day love. It is no longer a “chore”…but now an “almost” effortless gift I give to myself each day! –MD
Thanks for The Open Heart Project. It came into my life at the absolute perfect time. I have been saying I want to meditate for years and never made it work. I’ve been on sabbatical with some extra time, so it has fit into my life. I’m preparing to start my own business, helping people clear clutter, both physical and mental. When I was meditating at first, I found I was so judgmental of myself. Your words to come back to breath after noticing that I’ve been thinking, and do that kindly was an “aha” moment for me. I have to let go of judgment of myself before I can do it with others. I cannot help people well if I am judgmental of them. Thanks so much for sharing your gifts with the world! –LK
Your meditation tips have been so awesome and helpful. It is refreshing to hear that you get aggravated and annoyed, just like the rest of us. Not that I want you to be aggravated and annoyed. It is just nice to know that I am not the only one. That I am not alone. –LA
It is a great comfort to learn meditation from someone who is both inspiring and down to earth. I suffer from anxiety and have found that using your meditations are enormously helpful in gently encouraging me in a healthier direction. I love meditating along with someone else in my own home. Many heartfelt thanks. –MR
I have wanted to meditate for some time. I tried different books and cds, but nothing ever felt right or clicked for me. I often wondered if I was “doing it right”, or if I was being too picky, or expecting too much, or if I just had a commitment problem, or… etc etc etc. But YOU, wonderful Susan! You have taught me to meditate! You make me LOOK FORWARD to meditating! And I no longer wonder if I’m doing it right. I sit with you and it feels good. I let go and I breathe, and it has made me feel so peaceful. Meditating is helping me to be calm, and to think before speaking, and to notice beauty in the world, and these are all things I struggle with. Thank you for your generosity with your time and your wisdom. Thank you for the Open Heart Project. –LG
I am a practicing psychotherapist in a community mental health center and most of my clients are quite wounded, and therefore quite challenging in many ways.
Since beginning daily practice with The Open Heart Project a few months ago, I have found a wonderful ability to be still and attend compassionately to my clients. My responses, free of judgment and expectation (for either of us), seem to be more on target and easier for them to hear and incorporate. On a personal level, I find that the acceptance inherent in the practice has allowed me to let go of shame, and that love has taken its place. Who would have thought that simply being present could create such a fundamental change? I cannot thank you enough. –SH
I’m not great at expressing my inner feelings, but I get quite emotional when I think of how incredibly generous you are to all of us Open Heart project people out there in the world. I really look forward to meditating with you each day. Thank you so very much, you’re making such a difference. With love, –JG
Here is what is extraordinary about the Open Heart Project: it is the most complete meditation practice I’ve found online. A complete practice includes a “tripod” of support – often called the “triple gem.” One needs (1) strong practice, (2) the support of community, and (3) a teacher who can transmit energy and insight to students through relationship. Growth takes all three: practice, community, teacher. But how can one possibly have the feel of an authentic spiritual community or a vibrant teacher relationship in this setting?
The OHP succeeds by supplying brilliantly clear instruction in a method, and supporting you to actually DO the practice.
Even more than this, the OHP benefits you through a meaningful connection with Susan. She is a real person, with a unique voice and true insight. There is no need for frequent interaction, but rather the sense of a constant presence of Susan as a very real person, and as a companion in the sitting practice. She shares her passions with the group, makes her own quirky jokes, opens up about her own suffering, and emanates great respect and love for the community. One should choose a teacher she loves, and at the OHP it is somehow possible to find this even though traditional forms of interaction are lacking.
For years, Susan’s compassionate, totally honest, insightful way of being has inspired me to practice. I want to understand what she understands. I find her presence in my life extremely edifying; and my practice is far stronger because of it. –AJ