Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Insights: Transform the Heart and Heal with Lucia Horan
Lucia Horan captured mid-dance in black and white

When things are flowing, we know it. We can feel it. Imagine if your heartbeat could find a flow state as you make your way toward healing traumas or experiences of the past that could hinder your potential in the present. 

In the practice of the 5Rhythms®, there’s something called a “Heartbeat Map.” Lucia Horan, lineage holder of Gabrielle Roth’s trademarked practice, describes it as a guide to how emotional energy moves and is transformed. 

“Flowing connects us to fear and courage,” Horan says. “Staccato connects us to anger and forgiveness. Chaos connects the release of the grieving process. Lyrical, connects us to joy and generosity. Stillness connects us to compassion.” All of it intersects to create a practice that can mark stages after an original event, guiding you to move through those stages on your way to healing. 

Horan leads regular workshops at Esalen, and her next one is August 23-27, 2021: The Path of the Wounded Healer: A 5Rhythms® Workshop. She gave us a small peek into a deep topic: how fear, anger, and love can lead to courage, forgiveness, and compassion. 

Christine Chen: You say without fear, we do not experience courage? Can you elaborate? 

Lucia Horan: Fear and courage are intimately in relationship with one another. Without one we are simply unable to experience the other. Becoming intimate with our fear means it does not stop us but instead motivates us to move forward and be our most courageous self in the world. Knowing and turning toward our fear allows us to understand that its essential spirit is here to protect us. 

CC: Without anger, we cannot experience forgiveness, you say. Do we have to get angry to heal?

LH: Sometimes, yes, we do need to get angry to heal. It may be the first stage. It is crucial to recognize you have the right to be angry when boundaries have been crossed. Anger gives us the power we need to speak the truth and be honest. But, for healing to take place, one must be able to move from anger into forgiveness. Forgiveness is complex and must be examined closely as the science of the heart. From that place, forgiveness must be embodied. 

CC: How does love lead to our true nature of compassion? Why is this critical to heal? 

LH: It is my belief that we are here to love and be loved to the fullest extent possible in this life. If we do not heal our past sorrows then it is simply not possible to love and be loved. Our love is blocked by our fear, our anger, and our sorrows. Without addressing these emotions we become jaded, shut down, cold, and isolated. There is a way to heal and transform the heart. If we turn our attention in the direction of how these energies move us, they can also be transformed. In doing this sacred work, one can turn their deepest wounds into their greatest strengths.

Flowing identifies the fear and courage of being the victim. Staccato identifies the anger and forgiveness the survivor must face. Chaos marks the process of grief and release involved with healing. Lyrical marks the transformation that results from the healing, opening up the heart to gratitude, appreciation, and joy.

The final stage of stillness completes the process and brings us into connection with compassion in the role of service. From this place, we are able to give back and serve the greater good of the world.

CC: You lead Buddhist heart practices as part of your offerings. Share more with us about how we can experience those at home. 

LH: Sit quietly and listen to the sound of silence. Rest and scan your body from the crown of your head to the bottoms of your feet, tracking tension and contraction. Soften it. Let go of the stress within one body part at a time. 

CC: What is the difference between Western Buddhism and traditional Buddhism? 

LH: Western Buddhism is made easy with what some call “mindfulness.” It is typically a lay person's practice versus a monastic practice that includes renunciation. These are teachings brought by Westerners who traveled to the East to receive direct transmissions; then, they returned to teach them here. Interpretations were made that would accommodate and meet the Western mind.

CC: How can we embrace these practices but honor their roots and culture? 

LH: Buddhist practice is not about changing religions. It is about practicing the art of peace and kindness.  

Lucia Horan leading a workshop practice in community

Join Lucia Horan at Esalen for The Path of the Wounded Healer: A 5Rhythms Workshop, August 23-27, 2021.

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Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Senior Content Producer. Christine is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, a best-selling author, California native, and yoga teacher's teacher (ERYT500, ERYT300, YACEP) on Esalen Faculty.