Integral Heart Foundation

Our mission is to change culture from the inside out through person-to-person sponsoring and educational programs that include the development of mind, body, spirit and emotions. We see our work as the beginning of a multi-generational movement whose leaders are empowered to preserve cultural beauty and diversity and to embrace personal responsibility in a global context.
Feb 24, 2015

Meaningful Homework

Angelita with a copy of Love, Marriage & Evolution
Angelita with a copy of Love, Marriage & Evolution

The year has begun, the students are back to class, and we at the Integral Heart Foundation are very excited about what this New Year is going to bring.

We collected the holiday homework from our students; pages and pages of notes, questions, thoughts and inquiries on Amy Edelstein’s book Love, Marriage and Evolution.

After several calls with the author, Amy, discussing the main points of the book that were of most interest to the kids, she published a newsletter based on the student’s homework and her interpretation of the effects of this homework assignment. Please enjoy as much as we did while doing this work.

Excerpted from Amy Edelstein's newsletter Teens Get Relationship Training at Integral Heart in Guatemala.

At Integral Heart Foundation in Antigua, education is philosophical and pragmatic. Everything from shared agreements to condom use to evolutionary philosophy is on the table and up for discussion. Pictured here are teens with their homework assignment at Christmas break: eight chapters to read with exercises from Love, Marriage & Evolution.

Don’t you wish you could have learned how to create shared agreements with your first boyfriend/girlfriend at the same time as you were experiencing the fun and roller coaster of hormones gone wild? How would your relationships have turned out if you’d contemplated the possibility of enjoying intimacy in a spiritual context, one where your values and priorities were shaped by your understanding of the evolutionary unfolding of the cosmos?

These kids are doing just that. The High School students starting a new year in the “Critical Thinking Program,” run by Debora Prieto and Mick Quinn, have just handed in their homework. When I spoke with Deb last week, she laughed, saying they’re giving her a run for her money. Every student delivered a notebook filled with reflections, answers, and more questions about Love, Home, Balance, Trust, and Shared Agreements. This will be the fuel for discussions for the next few weeks in their class.

In the small villages near Antigua, Guatemala, where most of these students live, traditional gender roles define relationships. For the young fellows, considering their girlfriends as partners presented options and a value structure that was significantly different from what they see around them. Frederico (not his real name) told Deb that, since he’d never lived with a girl, he went to ask his married cousin how it all works, book in tow. His cousin (not in the program) ended up writing his own answers to the questions about balance, equality, and shared agreements, handing it in to Deb for review. Then, significantly, he spoke with his young wife, sharing new possibilities with her and making some direct changes to the rather restrictive dynamics between them.

For many of the girls, the chapters on Love and Home were their favorite, but questions like” What are the inner qualities that make us feel at home?” made them reflect afresh on what those time honored institutions could mean. “I want my independence,”

Manuela said. “My husband would have to respect me for who I am and allow me to do more than just be confined to the home.” This is a very real issue for these girls who, in spite of career aspirations, are compelled by social pressures to succumb to a restricted life in the house once they hit their late teens and marriageable age.

For handsome Juan Carlo, Love was also his favorite chapter, but not without some critiques. “Where is the passion?” he rightly challenged Deb. “I like the emotion, the feeling, the fire of Love.” When I heard this, I promised, yes, when I rewrite this book for teens, I will certainly include more on the sparkle and heat of young romance.

But the coolness and caution of my approach will also serve them well, since teen pregnancy which changes the course of a young life is not uncommon even among this inquisitive cohort. Exploring context and intentional relationships can help—but not altogether override—the heat of the moment.

The most important thing though for these kids (and I’d argue for all High School students) which Mick and Deb do such a beautiful job of cultivating, is being in an environment that encourages deep and independent thinking on issues that really matter. For these teens in Antigua, that means getting training in a subject that is central to our lives — the process of committing to intimate relationships.

As usual, we want to truly appreciate the ongoing and beautiful support of all of our donors and sponsors without whom this work would never be possible. Thank you from our hearts for being such an important part of this work.

Much love to you all,

The Integral Heart Foundation.

Student notebooks filled with reflections
Student notebooks filled with reflections
Debora with the afternoon CT Program teens
Debora with the afternoon CT Program teens

Links:

Nov 29, 2014

Home Visits and Heart Connections

Home visits make heart connections
Home visits make heart connections

As the school year ends in Guatemala and the kids are out of school from the end of October until the beginning of January, we, at the Integral Heart Foundation, are focusing our attention in visiting the families.

As part of providing the skills and training to the children and teens in our program that they will need to be successful in life, it is also important to us to nourish the connection we have with their families and to let them give us their suggestions, and to hear their worries and dreams. We want to make sure that they are listened to and that they feel an integral part of our big family.

The home visits are also important because they allow us to get to know the younger children who are not yet in our program and to encourage the parents to value eduation by sending them to our classes.

And, even though the normal school year is over for the year, our weekend study / homework class is continuing to grow. This class is led by one of our top, long-term student, Juan Carlos who just graduated as a teacher with the help of your support. This class is supervised by our social worker Marisol and, even though it's on a Saturday, what started with three youngsters earlier this year, has now grown to nine, and all are voluntarily attending.

Besides the learning environment, these ten are also are building a strong heart connection that brings them together and makes them excel at the normal schoolwork. Below you can see the whole group from last week.

During the month of November, we also have the honor of having with us a guest teacher from the United States who came, by his own expense, to reinforce our education program. We visited him some of the sponsored family homes and it was a very touching day for all of us. Below you can witness some of the moments we shared together.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you who made this possible: all our donors, advisers, staff, lecturers,  and, of course, our students. And please, have a wonderful and love-filled Holiday.

The Integral Heart Foundation.

Visiting Alvaro and his siblings.
Visiting Alvaro and his siblings.
With Gudiel and Jackie
With Gudiel and Jackie's family
Home visits make heart connections
Home visits make heart connections
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Juan Carlos and his weekend study group
Juan Carlos and his weekend study group

Links:

Nov 25, 2014

Just a Great Year with a Greater End

Meditation Day with Terry Patten in Guatemala
Meditation Day with Terry Patten in Guatemala

We would like to begin this last report of the year with deep gratitude and thankfulness. Our students are brilliant so are our donors. We have had the honor of sharing a wonderful year full of potential and great surprises, and the best part is that it is not over yet.

The official school year ends in Guatemala at the end of October. During out last class then we asked the teens to tells us what they liked the most about this Critical-Thinking/Integral Philosophy Program, to share with us those insights that were more impactful for them over the year. This is what they came up with:

What they loved the most over the year:

-          The talks on suicide

-          The four perspectives in which all reality arises

-          The use of meditation for being more calm and balanced

-          Bringing in other teachers and engaging with their points of view

-          Using the four quadrants as a tool to solve problems

-          The inter-dependence of the four quadrants

-          The power of transmitting knowledge to younger generations

As homework for their school holiday until we start up again January of 2015 we assigned our students to read the book “Love, Marriage and Evolution” by Amy Edelstein (translated by our co-founder Debora Prieto) and to write a report on their impressions. They are also reading “Integral Vision” by Ken Wiber.

This homework ensures that their potential and wisdom keeps growing over the holidays.

But as we said, the year is not over yet and the icing of the cake was the visit of Terry Patten to Guatemala. He did some home visits with us to see where our students live, participated with us in our annual meditate to educate day. And Terry also led a full day workshop with the title “Every Moment Is A Practice”.

We can summarize the whole visit in Jessica’s words (in the picture below): “On Saturday I understood the meaning of breathing to and from the heart; today I really embodied and I now know what it really means in a deeper and more integral sense”.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you who made this possible: all our donors, advisers, staff, lectures and, of course, our students. And please, have a wonderful and love-filled Holiday.

The Integral Heart Foundation.

Day-long workshop with Terry Patten and our teens
Day-long workshop with Terry Patten and our teens
Teens with Amy
Teens with Amy's book
Teens with Amy
Teens with Amy's book
Board image from what the teens liked over the yea
Board image from what the teens liked over the yea
Walking meditation
Walking meditation
One of our star students, Jessica
One of our star students, Jessica

Links:

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