Hand on Heart Ceremony
A hand on heart ceremony is an amazing ceremony I learnt about via the Human Awareness Institute (HAI) and The Mankind Project, and I've been to quite a few. The most amazing one I've witnessed is when I was maid-of-honor at my friend's wedding. I had no idea it could make an entire crowd of strangers at a wedding fall in love with each other so quickly. The first one I ran was in Hawaii, and resulted in lots of incredible tears and smiles. The next one was when I was hosting a baby shower for my best friend. So what is it?
At a base level it's people standing in two concentric circles, paired up and facing each other... and eye gazing with their right hand on their heart. There is wonderful soft music playing and a facilitator that says wonderful things, and then “open your heart” (where you take your hand off your heart), “kiss the hand” (where you lightly grasp each others right hand and then kiss the back of their hand), and then “step to your left” (where move the the next partner). During covid, you probably will say “namaste hands” instead of kissing the hand, and everyone is at choice in whether they eye gaze leave the circle or not kiss a hand. That's a technical explanation.
In practice, the experience is different from one person to the next, but we so rarely stare deeply into someone's eyes and send positive sentiments their way, that there are often tears, often smiles, and sometimes even a little laughter. It can be powerful. As a full disclaimer I haven't hosted one yet, but I intend to very soon.
The Heart on Heart Ceremony
The facilitator should:
- Have the music lined up and ready to play... try this song on repeat | spotify version.
- Count the number of people... and know that if each eye gazing is 1 minute and there are 30 people then that is 30 minutes + probably the 10 minutes just to introduce the concept.
- The pivot should be prepped and know how to pivot people.
Starting the Ritual
The facilitator can't start something without first saying something very loving to everyone in the room. The room then has to form the two concentric circles with an even number of people either side. If there is a single gap, that is okay, but the pivot should be prepped. The facilitator can be in the middle if there is enough space, or off to the side.
The facilitator has two people to demonstrate what the interaction looks like:
- “hand on your heart.”
- “wait and stare into their eyes”. **
- “open the heart”.
- “namaste hands”.
- “step to the left”.
The facilitator explains that people don't have to kiss a hand or do any gesture of eye gazing they are not comfortable with. They can stare at your ear or shoulder, but the invitation is to be vulnerable and stand as close as comfortable. True eye gazing you pick a single eye to look into.
Finally the facilitator explains the pivot, and the pivot can demonstrate what it looks like to be swapped from the inside to outside. Finally the facilitator will explain that he will say loving and encouraging things during the eye gazing and give people permission to cry or do whatever they feel. To be vulnerable with their eyes, and to send love.
The HAI Script
Hand on heart is a beautiful experience that gives you an opportunity to connect briefly with each person here. In a moment, I'm going to ask you to choose a starting partner and then form a double circle with one person in the inner circle facing out and the other person in the outer circle facing in. Once we are set up I will explain the rest of the exercise. Now, please stand, choose a starting partner, and form a double circle.
If you are still looking for a partner please raise your hand and walk toward the center of the circle.
Please pass the shush. Shhh. Inner circle, please turn and face me. This exercise is about connecting heart-to-heart with another person through our eyes. We say that the eyes are the "windows to the soul", so this is an opportunity to connect with each other at a very deep level. _____ and I will demonstrate how it works.
You'll start by placing your right hand on your heart and making eye contact with your partner. You will remain in silence while I say something like, “I'm honored to share this moment with you.” Open your heart, kiss the hand, and step to the left. We'll repeat the demonstration for those who couldn't see. (Turn 90 degrees and repeat.) This time you'll notice I covered my partner's hand with my own. Feel free to do that if it feels more comfortable to you. Also if you notice a height difference between the two of you, it's really lovely for the taller person to bend his or her knees so that you can meet eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart.
__________ will be our pivot. When you get to him/her, please let her/him guide you from the inner circle to the outer circle, or vice versa. That way you'll get a chance to connect with everyone in the room.
Now inner circle please turn and face your partner. Place your right hand on your heart and look into your partner's eyes. (Start music.) Remaining in silence, send the message with your eyes, "Thank you for whatever it took for you to be here, now." Open your heart, kiss the hand, and step to the left.
The Ceremony Itself
The music starts and people start eye gazing. For the first person the gazing could be just that little bit longer and start with a deep breath. The facilitator must speak slowly. You cannot rush around. Then it loops: “hand on your heart”, *SOME SWEET MESSAGE FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS*, “open the heart”, “namaste hands”, “step the left”. In the last section, I'll put a few suggestions on what the facilitator can say for each new person. It shouldn't be all serious, or all sweet, or all chessy, or all funny. It should be a mix!
At the workshops I've been to, people have been asked to stand around in a circle after the heart to heart and then we go straight into a more serious exercise. The experience has been powerful enough for me, that I honestly forgot how they all ended, but I imagine a good decision for the facilitator is to have everyone join into a single circle (if room) and breathe together and look around the room and the smiling faces. Probably comment on the similar faces, and depending on what energy you want to set for what's happened next you could have people go straight into dance.
Hand on Heart phrases
- (easy) Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
- (easy) You and I are all part of the human family.
- (easy) The divine in me honors the divine in you.
- (easy) Look for the little kid in this person. See the innocence, the perfection.
- (easy) From my heart to your heart, I honor you.
- (easy) Notice how much can be communicated just by being with another person.
- (easy) I am honored to be sharing this breath with you.
- (easy) I know you, you're just like me. We all want to love and be loved.
- (easy) You deserve to be loved just for being you.
- (easy) And with this person, just breathe.
- (easy) Thank you for your willingness to explore love and friendship with me.
- (easy) Thank you for doing whatever it took for you to be here today.
- (easy) See if you can allow your heart to open just a little bit further.
- (easy) It's said that the eyes are the windows to the heart, the landing strip to the soul.
- (easy) Hello beautiful. When I see the beauty in you, it's easier for me to see it in myself.
- (easy) Behind our fears and insecurities, we all want the same thing: To love and be loved.
- (easy) With this person, notice if you are looking for their perfection or their neurosis. It's your choice.
- (easy) Notice what it's like to take the time to really connect with another person. Thank you for connecting with me right now.
- (easy) I am honored to have this moment to say hello to you.
My Other Questions
- (start) Hey there friend. You are special, because somehow the universe decided you'll be the first eyes I stare at deeply today. But before we really focus deeply, let's breathe in together without changing focus.... Breath in, 1, 2, 3... and hold.... Hold... and then breathe out, 1, 2, 3. One more time. Breath in, 1, 2, 3... and hold.... Hold... and then breathe out, 1, 2, 3. Fantastic, I am more present now and I will pick one of your beautiful eyes and stare into it.
- (sweet) Hello beautiful soul. Beautiful eyes, beautiful heart. When was the last time you loved somebody? When was the last time you cried?
- (sweet) Oh another person, you look different from the last person, and yet also the same.
- (sweet) In this space. I feel safe. If you or anyone else chooses not to stare into my eyes, I will not take offense. I honor you doing what feels right.
- (silly) You look familiar in some way. Maybe from another life... if you believe in that kind of thing. Maybe you stole my bike from me when I was a kid. You jerk. But you know what. I forgive you.
- (silly) Wow, I was really worried that this would be all way too serious, but we are all inner children at heart. Maybe with you I feel playful, or moved, or seen, or loved.
- (info) Eyes are the windows to the soul. If I stare deep enough into your eyes. I will be lucky enough to see your beautiful deserving soul.
- (sweet) There are so many lovely words in the English dictionary, but right now I just want to say yummy. And I don't know why. Yummy, yummy, yummy.
- (sweet) If I had long enough to stare into your magnificent eyes. I bet a univere would unfold. We all carry pain somewhere. We all carry joy... somewhere. If I stare into these eyes. A universe will unfold.
- (sweet) I know I'm ridiculously good looking, but I carry pain sometimes. I have fears like everyone else. I like it when people recognize my inner beauty. I like it when people care enough to ask me about my family, and my dreams. In your eyes, I can see you have the most of the same fears, dreams and insecurities as me, and that makes me like you more.
- (sweet) There are so many amazing people here, that if you and I never get a chance to connect one-on-one, I won't be offended. I see your inner beauty right now.
- (silly) I'm going to think of something right now I want to say to you telepathically, and that is the love I sent you for the next dozen seconds.
- (sweet) Have I ever noticed the color or the detail in your eyes before? Probably not. Right now. I see every detail. I see you..
- (sweet) I may or may not be tempted to hug you right now. Let me think about the route of hugging you, without actually hugging you.
- (sweet) How much water is in your eyes right now. Has my gazing at different eyes been hard or soft. If I tried softening my gaze would I see more deeply into your soul, or less deeply.
- (sweet) If I ever ask you for anything and you are not a hell yes, then that is a no. If someone can tell you no, it means so much more than they tell you yes.
- (sweet) Wow, you are so worthy of hugs. I hope your family is amazing. I hope they give you the love you need.
- (sweet) I love you. Maybe I don't know you, but at this moment I love you. You are worthy of love from every person in this room. You are worthy.
- (poetry) If I could speak words of water.... The room would flood... everytime I said... I love you. That's all I need to say.
- (poetry) If I was to write a poem about your eyes. What word might I start with? Marbled wonders. Shimmering. Fabulous.
- (deep) We are not lovers. But even among lovers, let's think about how often we stare this long into our lovers eyes. We are not lovers, but what if we remember this precise moment for the rest of our lives, and it inspires us to tell our actual lovers.... “I want to stare into your eyes tonight”.
- (info) They say eyes are the most expressive facial features. Right now, I am hugging you with my eyes.
- (sweet) Thank you for the gift of your energy. No seriously... the longer I stare at you, the more I can see your superpowers.
- (funny) If you ever left the island, or my life... I will love you for this moment, and for every moment ever. Maybe we haven't had enough time to bond deeply yet, but I'm kind of awesome, and you are too.
- (sweet) As I stare into your eyes, I'm also checking in with my body. I am allowed to stretch my muscles.
- (funny) So I'm staring into your eyes, but I'm also flexing my eye muscles just a little bit right now, just to show off. Don't pretend you don't notice.
Fire Circle Special
Some specific questions I threw in for my first ever hand-on-heart that I lead in May 2022.
- (sweet) What is the deal with the insanely fierce fire goddesses in the room? Where did they come from? Why are they so attractive? How did we get so lucky that we get to share fire with these warrior women? Let's just appreciate that for a second and breathe.
- (sweet) How much do we appreciate the men in this room? How lucky are we, that the men here are safe. Protectors of the goddesses in this tribe. We f**king worship these women. As it should be.
- (sweet) Holy shit friend, we get to live in Hawaii. How lucky are we?! As a bonus, I get to stare into your eyes, right now. That makes me extra grateful.
- (sweet) What is with this island and dating. Am I right? How many steps of separation between us? It's probably one less than we think, but I don't care because the people in this room are the best of people. Wait did we sleep together once and forget. Can we just laugh about that for a moment.
- (silly) Wow, hello there attractive humans. What's your favorite type of ice cream? Have you heard about the book, Ice Cream = Sex yet. I hear it's very good so we should leave it a five star review on Amazon later. But right now. Yeah, your eyes are fantastical.
- (sweet) There is something you have that I want more of. Teach me your wisdom, or happiness, or smile, or that cool fire trick you do with your elbow. Teach me, to be more vulnerable.
- (sweet) Two words. Radical honesty. What would that look like in my life and in my eyes... if you and I and everyone in this room were completely authentic with each other.
- (sweet) People clash. All the time. And I am sick of it. If we cried togther just a little more, imagine how much unity and foregiveness we would have in this community.
Baby Shower Special
Some specific questions I added for Lyuba's baby shower, that I was invited to host in Sep 2022.
- (sweet) You and I are all part of the human family. We came here to celebrate new life but be also get to celebrate new connections.
- (sweet) In this journey of life, you and I started as little embryos. Little beings who knew only the warmth of our mother's bellies. Our eyes were closed, but we felt warm and nourished. Well right now my eyes are open, and I am so happy to see your beautiful eyes are open too. Wow.
- (sweet) Staring into your eyes, I would like to think about the innocence of a baby. The happiness and simple pleasure of the unconditional love between parent and child.
- (sweet) Look deeply for the wide-eyed little kid in this person. See the innocence, the perfection.
- (sweet) Notice how much can be communicated just by being with another person. Imagine they are telling you the stories of childhood through their eyes.
- (funny) Holy shit, can you believe Lyuba is about to have another baby! She and Brian are already terrific parents and how much fun is it going to be that Mikey will have a playmate. This place is going to get crazy, and even more full of love.
- (funny) Admit it, part of you wishes your mum was like Lyuba, but there is only one Lyuba. We can all appreciate our own mother for the amazing job she did to get us here today.