Healing the Heart
Trista Thorp is a Chopra Center Vedic Master who teaches weekly classes, coordinates the teacher training programs at Chopra Center University, and co- facilitates Healing the Heart – a powerful, emotional-release workshop developed by Dr. David Simon. For four years, she apprenticed under David, helping to co-facilitate Healing the Heart workshop with his guidance. Along with Chopra Center staff physician and educator Dr. Tim Brieske, she continues to help participants at Healing the Heart find freedom from emotional pain.
This month we sat down with Trista to learn more about Healing the Heart and why emotions are vital to our health and wellbeing.
How long has the Healing the Heart workshop been at the Chopra Center?
Trista: It’s been in the works (or evolving) in various formats for well over a decade.
What is the essence of the Healing the Heart workshop?
Trista: It’s a three-day intensive emotional healing workshop developed by the Chopra Center’s co-founder, Dr. David Simon. It’s designed to gently guide you through a profound process of identifying the root of your emotional pain, integrating the experiences that led to this pain and, finally, releasing it through various exercises and rituals – so that you can move forward.
Why do you think Dr. David Simon was so passionate about Healing the Heart?
Trista: This program is really David Simon’s baby. Regardless of how much yoga, meditation, healthy eating, and restful sleep a person experiences, David believed that one cannot be fully integrated and whole without doing emotional-release work. Without emotional healing, you can only evolve to a certain point.
What inspires you about the approach David Simon developed to help people release emotional pain and conditioned belief patterns?
Trista: David Simon had one message and that message was “The goal in life is to love more and be happy.” David designed what he believed to be a comprehensive approach to identifying and releasing emotional pain. His five-step process of emotional healing is one that takes people through a journey of when, where and how it all began, into the experience of witnessing the ways it has affected our lives, to then releasing that which no longer serves them.
What truly inspires me about the program David developed is that I have witnessed thousands of peoples’ transformation through this five-step process. I have co-guided these beautiful souls on their journey into, through, and out the other side of an aspect of their lives that, had they not lovingly tended to, would have held them in a perpetual state of emotional pain for months, years, or even lifetimes.
What drew you to facilitating the Healing the Heart program?
Trista: For me, there was something beautiful and deeply profound about holding space for and guiding people through the sacred work of emotional healing. I felt an immediate connection with the people who came through the door and I vowed to hold their hearts in mine as they ventured into this vulnerable territory.
What role does emotional pain play in our physical health?
Trista: It’s been said that 90 percent of our physical toxicity is emotionally derived. Every experience we have registers a thought that generates feelings of comfort or discomfort. These “feelings” are then labeled as emotions, and if our emotions are not properly metabolized, they become what is known in Ayurveda as “ama” – a Sanskrit word that means toxic residue. This ama, in the form of undigested emotional toxicity, is then stored in the cells and tissues of our physical body as well as our psyche.
So you believe that there’s a story behind every illness?
Trista: Absolutely. Everything is energy. We take in all of our experiences through sensory perception whether its taste, sight, smell, touch or hearing. It makes perfect sense that a thought can trigger something within us that creates a vibrational frequency on a cellular level in our body. If there is a particular repetitive stress factor in a specific region of the body, it will inevitably lead to dis-ease.
David’s work helps participants identify emotional triggers and then teaches them to stop and take a deep breath when they occur . . . They learn how to tune into the area of the body where they feel the emotional trigger and develop awareness of the message their body is sending, so that they make more conscious choices for health and wellbeing. When we’re disconnected from our feelings or we unconsciously numb them, through coping mechanisms such as overeating, excessive drinking, and avoidance, we miss these important signals from our body that can help us stay balanced and healthy.
Could you describe the five-step process participants go through in Healing the Heart?
Trista: Yes, David created a beautifully designed process that helps people experience a deep level of healing in a relatively short amount of time. The first step is preparation.
We start by creating a safe space to prepare for this deep and sacred work. The next step is identification, where we start identifying the painful experiences we have endured and the limiting beliefs we have acquired throughout our lifetime.
After identifying the source of our pain, we can then take specific actions to mobilize the emotions within our physical body and our psyche. The act of dislodging and stirring up the emotions associated with the painful experience we have identified begins the process of mobilization, which is the third step.
At this point, we are now ready to use ritual to release the accumulated emotional pain. Rituals are sacred and powerful, and the ritual of release plays an integral role in our ability to heal emotionally.
After we have moved through the release process, it is important to further empower ourselves through rejuvenation and celebration. With this final step, it’s now time to fill the empty space where our pain used to reside with something sweet, something beautiful that inspires us to move forward with abandon and to unfold our highest potential.
What are some of the most common reasons why people come to Healing the Heart?
Trista: People come because they are in pain, whether it’s from an experience that happened in childhood, when they were a teenager, or as an adult. They are desperately seeking a way to let go of the past, to heal and to forgive themselves and others, so that they can move into a place of emotional freedom. Specific experiences can range from abuse (including physical, emotional and/or sexual) to loss, betrayal, or the death of a loved one.
Often times, people come to integrate other types of experiences, such as being bullied as a child, serving in active military duty overseas, or perhaps growing up in a country where they witnessed horrendous acts of terror or had to flee for their lives.
Does one have to have gone through a major tragedy, loss or breakdown to truly benefit from Healing the Heart?
Trista: I believe that everyone can benefit from this process. It’s pretty unlikely that anyone has managed to make it through life unscathed. While some people have had more trauma than others, we have all experienced some sort of emotional pain (confusion, loss, betrayal) on some level in our lives.
It has been my experience, in the five years of my work, that every one of us has limiting beliefs. This program is designed to help people identify the areas that require integration so that they can move into a place of loving more and being happy.
Who should attend this program?
Trista: Anyone in emotional pain or who feels they’re at a place in their life where they are ready to let go of past conditioning and limiting beliefs that aren’t serving them. For the most part, people who come to Healing the Heart are going through a major transition or they have gotten to a point they realize that something is not working and they need to explore alternative modalities.
People should NOT attend this program because someone else told them they should. In other words, this is not a program that you “gift” someone or that you drag your spouse to because you want to impose your ideas of what you think they should be doing. It’s been our experience that doesn’t go over well.
What tools or teachings do participants go home with after attending Healing the Heart?
Trista: The five-step process that we guide people through at Healing the Heart is the same procedure they are encouraged to put into practice upon returning home. It’s common for there to be a continuation of emotional processing after people leave the comfort and safety of the Chopra Center. While this program was designed to help people identify, dislodge, and release emotional pain from past experiences, it’s important to understand that emotional healing takes time. David’s vision was not only to help people let go of emotional pain they have been carrying with them as a result of their experiences, but to also provide them with a set of tools that they can apply on their own after they return home.
A few days after the completion of Healing the Heart, we have a follow-up webinar where guests can ask questions and/or share their experiences since returning home. In addition, there is a five-day add-on program available to attendees of Healing the Heart called Balancing the Body. While there is a continuation of emotional processing, this program also incorporates the physical aspects of emotional integration.
Have you been through the Healing the Heart process yourself?
Trista: I went through a similar program with Debbie Ford called the Shadow Process. Debbie was also trained under David Simon and she uses some of the same processes. My life was transformed in ways that I NEVER imagined possible. As a result of moving through my own emotional healing process, I was able to shift into a place of understanding and let go of the pain and grievance I had carried about my experience of childhood abandonment for so many years. After cutting off communication with my family for three decades, I was able to find forgiveness and reunite with my father and grandparents – and begin new relationships with cousins and extended family members I’d missed out on getting to know because of the issues of the past. And this was just the beginning.
I use the steps in David’s emotional healing process whenever I experience something that generates feelings of discomfort within me. It’s through the application of these techniques that I’m able to properly digest and assimilate my experiences rather than masking or repressing them.
Thanks so much for spending this time with us, Trista. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Trista: If you are suffering from emotional pain or you can identify areas in your life where you continue to repeat the same behavioral patterns as a result of a past emotional experience and/or limiting belief, I encourage you to explore emotional healing work.
People often misinterpret this type of program [Healing the Heart] as something that is only for those in emotional turmoil. Frequently, people find that they’re able to uncover a new layer of healing they weren’t previously aware existed or needed more of their attention. When you are ready to take the steps to healing your heart and your emotions, we will be here for you – ready to guide you safely and lovingly through your process.