Holly Payne: “Damascena” | Talks at Google

really excited to introduce
our speaker today.
I’m Rachel O’Meara.
And I’m in San Francisco
Google, and we’re here today
with author Holly Payne.
Holly Payne is a very
special person to me,
too because she’s
also my writing coach,
so I work with
her quite closely.
I’m really excited to
have her here today
to talk about technology of
the heart and her latest book,
her fourth book, “Damascena.”
So a little bit about Holly
before we get started.
So the book itself
is a story that
demonstrates the power of the
ancient practices that first
identify the technology
of the heart and hence,
that’s what we’re going
to be talking about.
We’re going to explore the
fascinating information
centers in the
heart and how they
can be utilized to optimize
communication, and even
create magic in the
workplace and beyond,
no matter where you work.
So Holly is an international
published author,
writing coach, and founder
of Skywriter Books,
an award winning
independent press.
As I said, she’s written
four novels novels.
Her latest book is “Damascena:
The Tale of Roses and Rumi.”
It’s a mystical thriller
about the wisdom of the heart.
She has served on the faculty of
the Academy of Art University,
California College of
the Arts, and Stanford.
So please welcome Holly Payne.
HOLLY PAYNE: Thanks so much
for being here today, Google
and for having me.
I was really excited to be in
front of a different audience
as a storyteller.
I’m usually talking to readers
at bookstores or in book clubs
and talking about
the writing process.
So I’m very excited that
this audience actually
inspired me to really
think outside the box
and think of how technology has
affected me as a storyteller
essentially as Google as
affected me as a storyteller.
Google has been the go to.
I couldn’t have done this
presentation without Google.
And so thank you for
giving me the opportunity
to do something I’ve
never done before.
So this is a work in progress.
And I’m definitely open
to feedback afterward
in terms of the
experiment of what
I’m about to present today.
I was thinking a lot about–
on the ride over here
today –just having a moment
to really introduce to you why
technology of the heart, why
the subject matter especially
with the novelist
and I’m literally
standing in front of you
because of a particular affinity
for technology inside my body.
I have a foot long
titanium plate
in my femur and
10 titanium screws
and they’ve been in
my body for 20 years.
And so I literally am mobilized
because of technology.
And when it comes to the
technology of the heart, one
of the ways that I
write and actually
one of the ways
that I can write is
if I have an idea that’s going
to come to me as a storyteller
and it’s coming
to my brain first,
I always have to ask questions
and know that that’s probably
not the best place
for it to come from.
I was asked the other day
where does the writing process
start for you, and
I said it starts
when there’s an anvil that
kind of drops onto my heart.
And I actually have
to write my way out
from underneath that weight.
And so that is the beginning of
this introduction to technology
of the heart, that
my heart is literally
the guide to my
career, and without it,
I question everything.
So I’m going to tell
you a little bit– we’re
going to do a little
time traveling today.
I’m going to read a few short
excerpts from “Damascena,”
and I want to bring
it kind of full circle
into the technology
of the heart and I’m
going to ask you right now to
go with me to Konya, Turkey.
How many people here have
actually been to Turkey?
A few– wow –of course
a Google audience,
international audience.
When I was– many
years ago I was
doing research for my first
novel, “The Virgin’s Knot,”
and I ended up in Konya,
Turkey doing research
with a rug merchant
and his family
and I ended up here at
the Whirling Dervish
Lodge at the
[? Teki, ?] which is
the monastery in Konya, Turkey.
And I ended up at Rumi’s tomb,
having absolutely no idea
who this person Rumi was.
And I see some glimmer in
the eyes of some of you.
You can imagine what
it would be like to be
at the tomb of this
amazing human being whose
poetry probably is unparalleled
in terms of how much he was
able to create in his
lifetime, 27,500 poems.
I’ll never get there
in my lifetime.
So it was here that I started
to receive information
to write this book.
In the story
“Damascena” is a story
of an orphan girl who ends
up receiving a transmission
to turn roses into
rose oil and she’s
mistaken as a saint for
performing miracles.
She wants nothing to
do with this gift,
and she’s sent on a
mission to meet Rumi.
And in this relationship
that she has with Rumi,
he initiates her
into this dance,
into the Whirling Dervish dance.

And the Whirling
Dervishes, I don’t
know if anyone here
has actually seen them.
They come to the Bay
Area quite frequently,
I think once a year
at least, and this
is a dance that is all
about turning inward.
So it’s a dance that goes
on for at least an hour
with these dancers that are
literally turning in circles.
So the idea of a dervish, you’re
wondering what is a dervish.
I’m sure we’ve all felt like
dervishes at some point,
spinning and spinning.
And in terms of
what the technology
of this dance, the
dervish is actually one
that is standing
on the threshold.
That’s the actual
translation of a dervish
and that threshold is meant
to be the threshold of change
and deep transformation.
So this dance is an
opportunity for these people
to turn inward toward something.
And that something that they’re
turning toward is the heart.
And when we talk about
in everyday basis,
we hear this in our language.
And we’ve been aware of
ever since we’ve been a kid,
you know listen to your heart.
What is it that we’re
listening to in our hearts
when people ask that question?
Who’s doing the
listening, right?
So I’m going to unpack
that a little bit here.
I’m also going to read
you one little excerpt so
that you can actually see in
your mind what this dance is.
This is the first time
this girl’s actually
witnessing the dance.
And it’s very odd to
her to see someone
turning around in a circle.
And the person that’s
turning in the circle
is Shams– and Shams is
at this point in this book
a very, very old man
and Shams of Tabriz
was Rumi’s most lauded
spiritual companion and probably
the inspiration for the
majority of those 27,500 poems.
And so this is
what it looks like.
“She’s watching him
from this little house.
She moved to the
front window seeing
the flicker of a small flame
burning in the fireplace
in the hooded shadow of Shams’s
twirling about the floor
with his head tilted up.
Her first instinct
was to giggle.
She did not know the
old man could dance.
He had complained
about his feet aching,
but nothing about his
movement suggested pain.
Shams wore an odd cone-shaped
hat look like an upside
down flower pot.
He moved in circles,
arms outstretched,
mouth slightly open as he
drew in breath after breath,
chanting words that
Damascena had never heard
and could not understand.
A confluence of accents
and vowels and rhythms
that sounded much
like a waterfall.
She liked the cleansing
calming effect
even if she had no idea
what the man was saying
between the thunder
and the rain.”
And this is an actual
poem from Rumi.
” ‘There is no salvation for
the soul but to fall in love.
It has to creep and crawl
among the lovers first.’ Shams
repeated the verses over
and over, faster and faster,
gaining speed in his twirling.
His left foot was clenched
with a nail, wedged
between his big toe and
the one after that, which
seemed to keep him in place
while he spun in a circle.
He reminded Damascena of
a little spinning top.
And she was surprised he did
not topple over or collapse
from dizziness.
Watching him spin
soothed her in a way
she had not felt
in a long time.”
So one of the things that you’re
hearing in this little passage
is this idea that it’s
a deep intake of breath.
So this dance is
coming from that place.
It’s a place– it’s a turning
inward toward the self
and it’s a turning
inward, and the irony
is it’s a turning and
a turning and a turning
to actually
experience stillness.
So when we talk
about this breath–
and we’re getting to the
technology of the heart
here –everything
starts with the breath.
It’s about an intake
of breath, and when
I talk about this
technology of the heart,
it’s actually all
about something
that you all are aware of.
And this is about coherence.
It’s about heart coherence.
And it’s not a
cognitive coherence.
This is literally about
a coherent heart rhythm.
And there’s an institute
here in the Bay Area
called the Institute
of HeartMath.
And it was started by Doc
Childre and Rollin McCraty
several years ago, and they’ve
actually done research now
about how heart rhythms
affect our ability to think.
And when you attain a particular
level of coherent heart
rhythms– and the
higher the amplitude,
the better it is– the
more focus you have,
the less stress you have and
the more aligned you are.
So when I saw this,
I thought that this
is what this dance is.
These Sufis were completely
dialed in to this technology
without calling it technology.
It was something rooted
in an ancient practice
that the body was
aware of that it
needed to do to actually
come into the stillness.
So being a wordsmith, I can’t
help but look at this word.
Look at– it’s a
nine letter word.
And the wild thing about
nine is that this dance
is supposed to represent
the turning of the universe
and the cosmos, as we are
turning with it every day.
And so there’s nine
letters in coherence.
And there’s nine dancers
that actually do the dance.
When you actually see
the whirling dervishes
dance in a group, it’s
only nine dancers.
So they’re there to represent
that turning of the universe.
And if you actually
break the word apart,
there’s a word “her”
and “hear” and “co.”
And to me, this is a
dialogue between the heart
and the brain.
It’s a dialogue between, in
terms of the physiology of it,
the intake of breath and the
listening for the inspiration
and intuition.
So clearly, if there’s
an opportunity for you
to increase your
heart coherence–
and you literally can tap
into this in terms of getting
hooked up to an EKG.
And they can actually know
if you have coherent heart
I’ll show you a
little bit in the top
later what it looks like to have
incoherent heart rate or heart
So this whole idea in terms
of turning and grounding
into yourself in order
to listen, when it gets
back to listen to
your heart what
is it that we’re
actually listening to.
So these Sufis
clearly were pretty
sophisticated in understanding
what this particular dance
could do and how transformative
it could be for people.
And this is what Rollin
McCraty in his research–
he’s given me permission
today to use his research.
But clearly, here
is the coherence.
And the co, it’s the
collaborative experience
between this energetic
alignment and cooperation
between the heart and
mind, body and spirit.
It’s pretty phenomenal in terms
of what these people could
achieve just by doing a dance.
But how do you do the dance
without doing the dance?
So William Blake, at the
time that this was actually
starting to be recognized that
the heart was more than just
an organ– this was in
the late 19th century.
And William Blake,
he was talking
about this in this
quote here and he’s
saying “Man’s
perceptions are not
bounded by organs of
perception (the brain).
He perceives far more than
sense (though ever so acute)
can discover.”
And I’m going to substitute
the word discover to detect.
So when William Blake
is talking about this,
I think that what he’s
actually talking about,
what’s outside of the
brain is this inspiration.
Where does the
inspiration come from?
Where does actual
innovation come from?
The brain is certainly
a part of it,
but is there a dance between
these things of inspiration
and intuition that actually
create the innovation?
And you of all
people probably know
that more than most, right?
Doctor McCraty has been able
to show us through his research
that there’s actually an
incredible heart intelligence.
And that the heart is actually
an incredible sophisticated
information encoding
and processing
center, otherwise
known as a heart brain.
So the idea, again, listen
to your heart, right?
What’s happening there?
Where are we getting
this information?

What I love about his
research– and this always blows
me away –is that the heart–
what they’ve discovered
–is the heart actually
has– generates the largest
electromagnetic field
in the whole human body.
And it’s waves– the
amplitude of these waves
are 60 times greater
than that of the brain.
And the entire magnetic
component of it
is 5,000 times greater
than that of the brain.
Is that pretty unbelievable?
So where we dismiss the
heart as just an organ that’s
pumping blood
through us, there’s
something else that’s happening.
The story of this girl,
this little girl Damascena,
who’s an orphan, she is
raised by a tyrannical monk
in this monastery.
And from the beginning, her
mother is sending her love,
telling her but she
loves her, trying
to get through and communicate.
But this tyrannical
monk will not
let the communication
be relayed,
and he completely
thwarts any attempt
the mother has to
meet up with the girl.
So the girl grows up sensing
her mom, how is that happening?
How is it that we can be
across the world from someone
and think about them, maybe
not thinking from here
but thinking from a lower
place, dropping into our heart.
How many of you have had this
experience where you actually
drop into the heart and
you think about someone
you hear– they email
you the next day.
Or they leave you a text
message, or they call.
What’s happening?
What’s happening in
that moment, right?
How is that information
being transmitted?
So this is an incredible space
that you have an opportunity
to tap into even here
in a work situation.
The best thing about
this is that when
you’re engaged with this
technology of the heart
and you’re actually coming into
coherent heart rate– wave,
so you’re basically raising that
amplitude of the heart waves,
you’re actually creating
more energy for yourself
on any given moment.
I don’t know about you,
but given all the things
we have to do every
day in our lives,
I definitely want to
increase my energy,
I want to decrease my stress.
So that means that
I need to understand
how to come into coherent
heart waves, heart rhythms.
Bring it on.
Although I don’t know if I need
to dance in a circle to do it.
So I’m going to read one other
short excerpt of Damascena
coming into this balance in
her body through the dance.
Through this technology
of the heart,
of the Sufis
turning and turning.
“Night after night
she spun and spun
and her whole body pulsed with
an energy she had never known.
She felt uplifted,
as if she were not
just remaining in a fixed place,
but traveling with each turn.
She saw flashes of pearly light,
odd colorful forms she cannot
identify, rainbow prisms,
shards of moonlight.
She felt [? Daniz–” ?]
This dervish who’s teaching
her– he’s her contemporary,
there’s a little bit of spark
between them “–watching her
closely in the dark.
He kept the rhythm each
night by whispering “hoos”
so much that she started to
call him owl by [INAUDIBLE].
He acted hurt, but his teeth
lit up the room when he smiled.
‘I’m no more an owl than you are
a rose trying to will yourself
to bloom,’ he teased, ‘but
speed will not deliver you from
what’s holding you back.’
‘And what is that?’ she asked,
meeting his eyes in the
light coming into the window.
It was the second
full moon since they
begun her training–“
And by the way girls
are not supposed
to be doing this dance at
all– totally forbidden.
[? “–Daniz ?] paused
sensing her challenge,
then walked closer
and leaned into her,
smelling the sweat on her neck.
‘Fear,’ he said.
‘Of what?’ ‘Love,’ he
said and swallowed.
‘Well what do you
know of love’ she
asked and studied his throat.
‘It is yours to claim.
Do you know why we open our
vest with our right hand after
the last turn of this dance?’
‘Why?’ ‘To let the world
into our heart.’ She leaned
away from him uncertain she had
the strength to do that when
she had not yet let her mother
dwell there.
She caught his eye before
she began to spin again.”
So one of the things
that she’s coming
into in this process–
this is an unfolding,
this is a journey for her.
The dance is just
the metaphor for her
to actually open up her
heart and claim what’s
always been around her.
So I love this picture
because it really
is the way that
we should probably
start shifting our thinking
around the heart and the brain.
And literally giving
the heart a little
bit higher valuation
than the brain.
And you’ll see in just a
moment how that actually
is now being quantified.
But we have the opportunity–
Dr.Dominique Surel actually
studies intuitive intelligence,
and she wrote a paper.
She’s actually worked with
the HeartMath Institute.
And I love what she
says about this.
It’s giving us this incredible
access to untapped potential.
And being people here
that work at Google,
I think you’re all about
getting into and tapping
into that untapped potential.
This is like the incubator
of untapped potential.
I mean this is the place–
the world is literally
looking at Google as
an innovator in terms
of untapped potential.
What can poss–
what can be, right?
No limitations.
So as far as I know,
there’s been no limitations.
A driverless car, right?
So I don’t know about
you, but I would
love to have greater balance
and self-directed control.
And if it meant that it was
all a matter of my heart
actually more than my
brain, I want to start.

So the idea behind this,
there’s a couple techniques,
and I’m going to share just one
very, very simple one, a tool
with you today.
We all know about this energy
flows where intention goes.
And one of the things in terms
of getting heart coherence
in raising those heart
waves is not just
about thinking about it.
This whole dance, and the
whole point of the dance
is literally, the dance
is about losing your mind.
And the Sufi dance
is called Sama
and it actually translates
in Persian into listening.
So the dance itself
means listening.
So when we say
listen to your heart,
this was a dance that
actually allowed people
to listen to their heart.
And deeper than that, what is
it that we’re listening for?
Are we actually
listening for words?
Are we listening for, lack
of a better word, a feeling?
Are we listening for something
that we actually tangibly
can feel.
So the idea in terms of how
do we actually engage this
and what’s one of the most
basic simple tools of technology
of heart?
It’s not about faking our
way, it’s dropping our mind
and coming into a deep
place inside ourselves.
This is one
opportunity to do it.
Appreciation is one
of those methods.
We’ve all heard about it.
A lot of you here have
been studying breath work
and you have this search inside
yourself program at Google.
This is a really
progressive audience
in terms of what you
already are understanding
about the interplay between
the physiology of the body,
the alignment of the mind
and the spirit and the body.
But when you actually
look at appreciation–
and again I can’t help but look
at the word in terms of there’s
an app in there
–and why do we not
have any apps that actually
help us to engage our hearts.
We have so many apps are
about engaging our minds.
And if there’s so much untapped
potential in our hearts
and its magnetic field
is 5,000 times greater
than that of the brain,
there’s your next project.
How can we tap into this?
So I’m going to invite you right
now to experience something,
it’ll be a little experiment.
So you can either keep
your eyes closed or open
and I want you to just take a
deep breath, and let it all go.
I need to do that myself.
And take one more
deep breath, and let
it go out of your mouth,
wherever you need to let it go.
And I want you to think
of a person in your life
right now who you have
a deep gratitude for
and a deep appreciation for
what’s something they’re
teaching you, something
they’re showing you, something
they’re giving you,
or just who they are,
how they show up in the world.

Maybe it’s someone here at work.
And I want you to
pretend– I want
you to bring a viewing
screen in front of you.
And I want you to see
their faces, their face.
And if you can, look right
into in their eye, their eyes.
And I want you to direct
a communication, not
from your head, but to direct
it literally from your heart,
from the center of your chest.
Send them a message of deep
appreciation or gratitude.
And see them
smiling back at you.

And take one more deep breath.

And let it go, just ground
that image and that experience.
And when you’re ready,
you can open up your eyes.

Did you feel even just this most
subtle shift in your own state?
I could feel it in the room.
It’s an amazing slowing down.
It’s an incredible slowing
down and a quietude inside.
And that took
probably 30 seconds.
I didn’t time it.
It’s so basic, right?
This is an amazing
directed, consciously
directed communication
from your heart.
And the experience of that
when you’re in someone’s field
literally, that can just
shift things right here,
even in a work environment.
And I’m always curious
why it hasn’t been valued.
People aren’t talking
about bringing the heart
into communications in
the business world yet.
But now all you have seen
some evidence, not a whole lot
here, but some evidence that
this heartfelt communication
is the source of a
whole lot of information
that can only actually
contribute to your well being.

So I wanted to show
you what it looks
like when your brain, the
opposite of what you just did.
What you just did, you got
into feeling these very, very
positive emotions.
You actually felt it.
You can’t think appreciation.
You can’t think gratitude.
You all know when people
are being insincere,
when they’re trying to
express the gratitude
and it doesn’t feel,
you’re not feeling it.
It’s not literally
heartfelt, right?
We say that it’s heartfelt.
That’s where that authenticity.
And when it’s coming
from that place
and it’s a true
heartfelt experience,
everyone benefits from it.
Everyone in your field
benefits from it.

So this is how the
heart activity actually
affects our ability to
think and vice versa.
So you can look at it as
this two way dialogue.
Again, that’s always going on
between the brain in the heart.
So any time you’re
feeling stressed,
look at this incredibly
incoherent heart
rate, those heart waves.
So any feelings that
are not actually
bringing you
grounding or alignment
are going to throw off
that heart coherence.
And as a result,
it’s actually going
to affect your ability to think.
You’re not going to
be focused, you’re
going to be more stressed out.
But when you go into that place
and 30 seconds, 30 seconds
you completely
shifted your thinking.
You slowed down.
And you got to
experience something
coming from here
versus always up here.
And it’s amazing and powerful.
And I’m curious who it is that
you brought into that viewing
Just going to check in your
text messages later on today.
You’ll have to let me
know– or your emails.
So this is a brain engaged in
just normal thought patterns.
And when we’re just kind
of not really having
a moment of directed, of
conscious communication,
whether it’s our
heart or our heads,
this is what the
brain looks like.
But when you actually go
into appreciation– and this
is that basic simple.
And the HeartMath Institute
teaches these techniques.
Look what happens to the brain.
There’s a 15% increase in
the activity of the brain.
So why?
And that’s what just happened.
You just got smarter by
doing some appreciation.
Things turned on
inside your brain
because you took 30
seconds to appreciate.

Pretty wild.
So why would we not bring
this into the workplace?
Think of how much
you could get done
and how much more efficient you
could be on a day-to-day basis
with your team, boss, whoever
it is that you’re working with,
when you could actually
engage in this way
and feel safe about it
because it was valued.

So Dr. Surel– when I
found this picture I
couldn’t believe it because
it was so perfect in terms
of what she’s actually
talking about.
That the heart is so much
more than just an organ
pumping blood.
She basically is saying that the
heart and cardiovascular system
are sending far more
signals to the brain
than the brain
sending to the heart.
And if you look at this,
another way to look at it
is if there’s a scale.
Here’s the brain up here
and here’s the heart.
So the heart is the heavyweight.
60 times higher amplitude than
brain waves and 5,000 times
the magnetic field.
And we talked about this
just a couple seconds ago
in terms of the actual
benefits of heart centered
appreciation, so it’s very
much the same as coherence.
Clearly, it’s going to
be beneficial to everyone
to engage in this without
dancing in a circle.

So Rollin McCraty was
talking about when
people are engaged in
this deep conversation.
And to me this turning
inward, the dance
itself of the dervishes
is about getting
into a deep conversation
with yourself.
Closing down all the
channels of chatter
and listening to that thing.
And that thing is this
encoding and processing center
called the heart brain is
giving you so much information.
And how many times has
your heart being wrong?
It might have been crushed a
couple times, I know mine has.
But how many times has
my heart ever been wrong?
Never once.
So Malcolm Gladwell
in “Blink” was
talking about this, that hit
right away, that intuition.
So the intuition is
all being informed
it’s a communication between
the heart and the brain.
And so when we have those
first instincts, when
you have that instinct
about someone you hired,
or someone you’re about to
date, or whatever it is,
have they ever been wrong?
But the voice is so subtle, we
just don’t pay attention to it.
And I don’t think that
voice will ever get louder.
You know why?
Because it’s a mechanism
for us to clear out
the chatter and the
volume of our everyday
lives and actually go into a
place of quietude to listen.
And there’s many ways to do it.
The dervishes did it by twirling
in a circle for an hour or so.
What’s your way,
what’s your technology
of the heart to get
there to listen?
So that you can start
really accessing
that amazing information
that’s coming,
that’s actually only
and always going
to benefit your well being.
You can never go wrong.
That’s the thing.
Our heads, we can definitely
go wrong, as we all know.

What this can do
in the workplace,
this subtle dance that
you’re getting into,
is a very generative and
collaborative experience
with people, versus
a competitive one.
The competitive discourse–
how does it actually
feel to be in a
competitive discourse?
You actually feel– and
you know the saying,
someone’s brought you down,
or someone’s bringing you up?
If you think about that down
and up, the heart waves.
When someone’s
bringing you up, you’ve
actually come into a place
of higher heart coherence.
When someone’s
bringing you down,
you’re going into an erratic,
incoherent heart rhythm.
So all of these phrases
of language and speech
are always telling us exactly
what we already probably know.

So how untrained are
you and your team?
And what one action can you take
today on this first day of fall
that you can direct
from your heart
a thought that you can direct
from your heart that could even
make this most subtle shift.
Maybe someone’s
been irritating you
and you have a
moment were you come
into an appreciation with them.
It’s 30 seconds, it’s
private, it’s silent,
and just see what happens.
So one of the things
I want to point out
in terms of these Sufis and what
they were doing with this dance
and what they were
already dialed into
and how this relates to the
HeartMath Institute’s research.
If you see the dance,
you will always
notice that the left
hand is pointed down
and the right hand is
always pointing up.
So for the Sufis, they’re always
reaching out for something.
And one of the things that
the HeartMath Institute has
discovered is when they’ve
done the research in our labs,
they actually found that when
people’s right hands were
engaged and they were actually
into– so in our culture,
you shake with the right hand.
I don’t know any culture you
shake with the left hand.
Not sure if there is.
We always shake
with the right hand,
and the right hand is
directly related to the heart.
So what they found is that when
the right hand was engaged,
and it was held,
the heart coherence
was actually affected.
And those waves
were actually raised
when the right hand was held.
So here you have these Sufis
and what are they doing?
They’re reaching out.
For the Sufis, they’re reaching
out to the divine– to God,
whatever you want to call it.
For us, for William Blake,
what was he reaching out to?
Probably when he was talking
about that sense of perception
beyond the brain, he was talking
about inspiration and wisdom.
And what are we, in 2014,
what are we reaching out for?
What are we holding with
our right hand– grasping
for in our right hand?
Probably innovation.
At least here,
specifically, innovation.
We’re reaching out
toward innovation.
Innovation has the highest
valuation right now,
in terms of what you can create,
an experience you can have,
it’s an innovated,
inspired, experience.
And whenever you hear that word,
you’re just like sign me up,
People want to be inspired,
and inspire literally
means to breathe in.
And so all of this is just one
big metaphor for the turning
inward and getting quiet
to listen to the heart.
And when Rumi– there
were many quotes
I could have chosen today, but
this one spoke to me personally
because I’m not sure about
you, but there’s many times
in my life where
I basically built
a huge wall against the
very thing that I wanted.
Which is love, right?
So how many times in our
own lives do we do this?
Especially in the
workplace, because it
hasn’t been made
safe yet to talk
about– let’s talk about the
love and bring in the love.
You have a friend or
colleague who’s miserable
in what they’re doing,
how could we shift that?
What can we give you to do
that you’re going to love?
Steve Jobs reaching
to innovation.
Made with his right hand,
both hands, who knows?
All feet whole body in it.
He said “The only way
to do great work is
to love what you do.
If you haven’t found
it yet, keep looking.
Don’t settle.
As with all matters
of the heart,
you’ll know when you find it.”
There’s a woman I know
that lives up in Oregon,
and she does a lot
of Vedic astrology
and she sends out in a very
inspired monthly newsletter.
And this was just,
I want to quote
where the source of all
of this information.
She basically asked
this question–
what’s standing in
the way of expressing
your true heart
with wild abandon?
I don’t know If you can
do it with wild abandon
here at Google or
anywhere else, but I
think it’s a good
question to start asking.
What’s standing in the
way of us as a group,
as a team expressing our
heart with this project
or with this client?

So I’m going to read you
the very last tiny excerpt
here where this–
hopefully this isn’t
an spoiler with what
I’m going to read.
It’s only two pages.
But I want to show you how
this girl Damascena comes
into full alignment
with her heart.
And as a result, it’s
literally transformed her
on a physiological basis.
So this is the first
time she’s actually
been permitted to dance.
So all along, she’d been trying
to do this, it’s been forbidden
and now she’s finally invited
into the lodge to dance.
“With her head lowered,
Damascena humbly entered
the circle as the ninth dancer,
completing the celestial
formation, bowing to the
dervishes and the [? day ?]
[? day. ?] They bowed to
her and to each other,
honoring each other’s souls.
Then after removing their black
capes which represented the ego
and receiving the senior
dervish’s blessing
and attentive gaze, they
spun off one by one,
counterclockwise on their left
foot unclasping their hands
and extending the right up
toward God and the spirit
and the left toward the ground
in the direction of the earth
of the material
world and mankind.
Rumi and [? Hasam ?] sat
to the left to the orbiting
dancers with their
heads bowed, long
conical hats tilted toward
the circle in deference
to Damascena who moved
like a star among stars,
a heavenly body beyond form.
They’d never seen anything
like the transformation
within this girl who had arrived
burned and unable to walk,
but dance now with
grace streaming
through her whole body
is if she had tapped
into the source of
surrender itself.
She wore a calm
smile beaming joy
from every particle
of her being.
When the other
senior dervishes had
stopped after one
full hour of spinning,
the girl continued to turn.
She did not stumble
or fall down,
but floated across the
floor of the great hall
transporting not
only herself but also
everyone who watched her.
The look on her face suggested
she was lost to another world.
She had let go completely,
she had allowed the dance
to dissolve her body.
She had become one
with the unseen.
For the first time the dancing
become a form of prayer
and inside it she felt
free and unburdened
by the limitations of form.
She had left her
body and looked down
on herself turning,
turning, arms outstretched,
chin lifted ever so slightly,
eyes fixed on the air
and nothing else while the
neigh and the drum played on.
She had lost the ability to
know where her body started
and where it ended, or where the
universe– the outside universe
And here she met Shams,
who danced with her
and did not complain
of hurting feet.
The dervishes felt ashamed
for doubting her simply
because she had no
formal training.
No one could deny her
grace and endurance
but they felt
anxious and jealous
considering how
long it taken them
to learn how to
dance for 10 minutes
without pausing, not to
mention more than an hour.
There’d been no
one in Konya known
to dance for more than
60 minutes except Shams.
No wonder so many
divershes had come
to fear him as much as
they wanted to emulate him.
Rumi wanted to get
up and join the girl
but remained transfixed,
tears streaming,
feeling a peace he
had not felt in years.
It was as if
Damascena’s dancing was
helping to heal the
parts of his heart
that had been frayed
by Shams leaving.
I could die now he
thought and be at peace,
but more words came.
The girl’s dance had triggered
a new source of poetry.
It was not the time to
leave the earth yet.
Damascena danced for
three hours straight.
At the end of her last turn, she
faced Rumi and opened her vest
with the right hand as
Denise had instructed
to let the world into her heart.
Ivan met her at the door
when she finished and walked
her back to the garden
where she collapsed and fell
into a deep sleep.
He watched over her
hearing the chatter
of dervishes who had come
to pray over the girl hoping
the dance had not killed her.
Ivan wanted to assure
them that Damascena
was alive, perhaps
more alive than ever.”
So with this understanding
that the brain is so much
more than the heart, I have
to share with you something
that literally came to
me in the mail yesterday.
I don’t know how
many people receive
or write handwritten
letters anymore.
This is from a
reader that I just
met last month in Pennsylvania.
And her daughter had
received a heart transplant,
and I cannot tell you I got
this yesterday and I burst
into tears.
I couldn’t believe it, and
I said I have to share this.
They say the heart
is just a muscle.
You and I know from
life– with an underline
on know and life –that it
is that and so much more.
I see this with my daughter’s
incredible gift of a heart.
Saying goodbye to
her birth heart
and welcoming her new heart
has been filled with gratitude
and just about every other
emotion known to man.
So how will you step into
this place in your heart
to experience an enlivening in
yourself here in the workplace,

So on this first
day of fall, I’m
going to ask you how you’re
going to lead with your heart
and I want you to
interact with me.
So send me a message and
let me know how it goes.
I’m so curious, it’s
all very subtle.
Thank you so much for having me.
RACHEL O’MEARA: Thanks, Holly.
We’ll open it up to
questions or comments
if anyone has any
in the audience.
I’m curious what
got you to Turkey,
to Konya, Turkey.
there to do research
for “The Virgin’s Knot,” which
I was researching the rug
And I happened to live with the
rug merchant and his family.
And his cousin said,
do you know Rumi?
I said no, should
I and he laughed.
Now I know why he laughed.
You silly American
girl, he said.
And every taxi cab driver
could quote from Rumi.
And I thought I need to know.
When he took me to the tomb,
it was literally electrifying.
And I had no idea who he was.
And when I came back, that
started the whole process.
And I started to read Coleman
Barks, just a really simple
It’s an extraordinary book.
But in terms of what
the West has access to,
it’s a little decimal.
Think about 27,000 poems.
We only have a tiny little bit.
And it’s not in Persian.
I wish I could read
and speak Persian
because just to hear the
musicality of the poetry
would be great.
AUDIENCE: How do you envision
connecting technology
with the heart?
HOLLY PAYNE: You mean how could
technology actually connect us
to our hearts?
AUDIENCE: Yes, that’s
a better question.
there’s many ways
that we can start
engaging with the heart.
I actually know of a woman
here in San Francisco that
has actually created a
probe that you can wear,
and you can go home
and download it.
I’m a cyclist, so I know there’s
an app for something called
Strava and you
actually can– you
know how much
mileage you’ve done,
it’s geo-coded so they
know where you are.
That’s good and bad,
sometimes you just
want to get out on the road and
have no one know where you are.
But in terms of understanding
where your heart coherence,
you can actually get feedback.
And there’s a lot
of games out there–
the HearthMath Institute
has a lot of different ways
to engage people.
I actually worked with
someone who knows Dr. McCraty.
And he had me sit down
with a video game.
And it literally was– if you
had coherent heart rhythms,
you could actually go
on around the world
in this balloon,
this hot air balloon.
And so be very
aware of my breath.
And then you get timed
for how long you’re
able to stay in
coherent heart rhythm.
So you basically travel
all over the world.
I think I got down
into the Grand Canyon
and my balloon was cruising
around the Grand Canyon.
But there’s ways that they’re
engaging this through videos.
I was just at a launch
of a new program
here in San
Francisco called Arc.
And it’s the fusion of
technology and health,
and medicine.
And there was a
researcher from UCSF,
and he literally has
created something
where you can step
inside the brain.
And they’ve talked
about how they’re
using video games to help kids
who have Attention Deficit
Disorder, depression,
and so forth.
And the video game
itself is actually
helping to change the
physiology of the body.
And it’s actually
creating healing.
And we also know the detrimental
effects of that kind of media
as well.
So it’s a great question to ask.
And so being here
and speaking, I
wanted to ask the question
so everyone else is
starting to ask
the question, too.
Because there is an
app, there should
be an app for this thing.
I mean if there’s
so much information
here, let’s tap into it.
Just tap in to the power of
that imagination and intuition
and bring it all together.
AUDIENCE: I’ve had
straight up debates
with close friends of mine on
whether to listen to your head
or to your heart.
And I have my own
answer but I just
wanted to leave that
open ended and hear
what you had to say about that
or what you would tell someone
that’s struggling on
which one to listen to
or which one it is in general.
it’s a great question
I think we all struggle with it.
I mean I don’t think there’s
one person, unless you’re
at that level of consciousness,
which I certainly am not.
I don’t know if I’ll ever
achieve that in this lifetime,
but I am certainly
humbled by the endeavour.

I think that the brain
plays an extraordinary role.
I mean without the brain, there
is a two way communication
going on here.
But I think we, in this
culture especially,
we are so overdeveloped
in this part of our brain,
in that frontal lobe.
It is so overdeveloped, where
you literally you literally
feel like you’re– it’s
like you’re burning up.
As a writer, I can
feel that because I
feel I always go forward.
And this is my writing line.
And when I go back, when
I actually shift my–
where I am inside myself,
I know that sounds crazy,
but when I come from a place
that’s not from my head,
I literally am dropping down.
So this idea of
leaning forward, I
don’t want to get
into a huge debate,
but to me, it’s about
let’s lean back.
Like lean back, lean
back, get quiet.
If that person has the
courage to listen–
a lot of times the reason
we don’t want to listen
to the heart is because it’s
going to give us information
that’s pretty much going to
require something that all
of you here– you
might be programmers.
In the world of tech, you
understand the word pivot.
Pretty much it’s going to
be an invitation to pivot.
For another word,
it just means it’s
an invitation, an opportunity
to change something.
Anytime you have a
kernel of the truth,
clearly something is not
true and it’s not aligned.
But that truth is
usually going to require
us to do something that’s not
going to be so comfortable.
That’s why I– my
own personal belief
–is why we don’t engage
the heart as much.
Because it’s going to
require a little change,
it’s going to require
a little sobering up
to the fact like where am I
out of alignment with myself.
If you think your
way through it,
pretty much nine times out
of 10, actually 10 times out
of 10, you’re not
always going to have
the best information coming.
You can use your brain
to sort it out afterward.
But it’s more of why do I
know that this relationship is
actually causing my disease.
Why do I know that?
There’s no evidence.
I can’t go to a
doctor and say I’m
feeling this way because
of this relationship.
Your body knows.
We know this kind of stuff.
The brain is a wonderful– it’s
like in the writing process,
I have to write
from the bottom up.
I always encourage people
when I work with them.
When a story comes, really
check out where it comes from.
And where does it
sit in your body?
And right from this place
up, not from this place down.
I love to engage my brain
when I have to do editing
and really looking
at story design.
But to know that the
foundation’s there,
the heart to me gives rise to
the foundation for everything.
I mean Steve Jobs
said it best, right?
The heart will always
lead you, it’ll know.
And this is the guy that we
look at as one of the smartest,
most literally brilliant,
brilliant people that
lived during our time.
And what’s that source
of the brilliance?
To me it’s like,
wow, I would love
to have seen Steve Jobs’
magnetic field in terms
of just his love for technology.
His love to develop something
that never been done before.
So it will always be a debate.
It will always be a
debate, because that’s
where the fear is.
The question was
asked to Damascena,
you’re spinning so fast,
and spinning so fast,
our minds are “pfft.”
The minds are the
whirling dervishes.
But the heart helps
to slow you down,
or you can slow down the
heart to actually allow
the communication to serve you.
If you’re willing to be
aligned with the truth,
that’s the bigger question.
You can say, what you are
afraid of, to your friend.
question about HeartMath.
I don’t know them
well, but are they–
you may not know it
either –but are they
working with companies, or is
it more just research based.
It sounds so interesting
that they’re just–
know, that’s a great
AUDIENCE: dedicated
to find that.
HOLLY PAYNE: –question.
And I can put you in
touch with Dr. McCraty.

I know that they do teach this.
So they teach something called
a freeze frame technique.
And the appreciation
one, it was kind
of a really diluted version.
But I wanted to just show
you how simple it could
be just based on, you don’t
even have to brand it.
It’s just like, let’s
actually feel an appreciation,
and just experience
physiologically what that does.
And what that did
actually, in the room,
is it actually magnified
that heart field.
All of us, our heart field
was totally untrained.
So if you can do
that on your team,
all those little rocks line up.
It’s not about loving
everything all the time,
it’s about creating
harmonious outcomes.
Harmonious outcomes
might require the brain
to think through some
things and strategize,
but if you have that
discourse from a place
of the heart versus
a competitive place,
you’re literally going to have–
the chances are –everyone
engaged in that
communication, in that moment,
is having higher heart
rhythm coherence.
Versus someone
bringing you down,
and we want to run
from those folks.
AUDIENCE: Do have a
favorite Rumi poem?
a favorite Rumi poem?
Yes, and please don’t put
me on the spot to quote it,
but I can paraphrase it.
And it’s the “Guest
House,” I think
many, many people know it.
And for me, just in terms of
my own recent personal life,
I’ve had many things showing
up and requiring change.
And requiring really
a deep listening
and getting honest with
me with what aligned
and what’s not aligned.
And so the “Guest
House” in a nutshell–
sorry Rumi, forgive
me if I butcher this,
but I’m going to paraphrase
in the best way I can.
Is basically– there’s going to
be a lot of people and things
that are going to
show up in your life.
And he says welcome them all
for they may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
So I don’t know about you,
but I’m in a place in my life
where I’m psyched to
have some new delights.
I think the world is excited
to have some new delights.
And Google as a company, you’re
in a really great position.
You’re all on a position
of power and leadership
regardless of what your
role is here in the company,
because everyone’s looking
to you, for this innovation.
And your mission is to organize
the world’s information.
So to organize the
world’s information,
and make it accessible
and useful, is that it?
The last thing I’ll
say is how do you
organize the information
of your heart
and make it
accessible and useful?
And welcome all of
those that come, right?
RACHEL O’MEARA: Well thanks
and it’s been a delight.
Thank you, Holly.
HOLLY PAYNE: Thank you, Rachel.
Thanks for having me.


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