“Am I open?” This question is not for you to answer for me, but is for my own awareness and reflection. (You can answer it for yourself if you want:) (Almost) Every class I ask folks to set an intention and I set one for myself, which is almost always the same and has been for at least a few years. (I’ll get to it in a moment.)
When my Path of Yoga group started in late October last year, and we were all sitting there together for the first time and I led everyone (including myself) in setting an intention, I did it two ways: 1. to use the mind to reflect on where they (and I) were in life and in their practice and to set an intention that made sense and would move them in the direction they were wanting to move in, and 2. to open the Heart and Mind to the Bigger Mind/True Self/God and to be receptive and to ask That, “what intention would be best for them/me” and then to wait and receive it in whatever way it came.
My intellectual answer/intention was “to challenge myself,” part of the reason I began that group in the first place, to grow past the “known” and past the “usual” in my teaching… and thus in my Life and practice and internal process and experience. The answer that came through from Spirit was “you’ll know.” That was it. At the time I thought that that wasn’t helpful, but I was willing to trust it as Guidance from the Source.
When driving back from being with Amma in Detroit a month later, the family sleeping from being up all night with Amma the previous night, and me basking in the Shakti (Energy) and devotion and openness that I always feel after being with Amma, I had an “Aha!” I have received so much from Amma over the years, a little bit of it from her actual teachings, which I do love and resonate with and try to follow, but mostly simply from being in her Presence. When I come back from Amma for some years, I do try to share some of the teachings I received there, but I felt (and feel) that that pales in comparison to what I REALLY feel that I got, and my “Aha!” was that what I was going for in my teaching and sharing was a “direct download,”… and that was the intention that “[I]’ll know” from the previous month. “Direct download,” those were the words that were there, and they were very clear to me, and they meant and mean that I want to get my (little) self out of the way and let that Bigger Thing/Energy that I feel Inside/“back there” to come through.
So the intention that I come to class and teaching is “direct download” in shorthand and “to get out of the way for That Bigger Thing to do the work” in longhand. In class, for me, it’s much easier to do that than in my worldly life, but Life is a great training ground for such an intention since I am relentlessly shown where and how exactly “I” am stuck! Why am I so attached to “my” way, “my” beliefs, “my” likes and dislikes… especially if they cause suffering for myself or the others around me? And now I live with a teenager, who I fully expect will be my payback/karma for how I was as a teenager 🙂 Sometimes I’m able to see my self-created suffering and have compassion for the one who suffers, sometimes I can actually change the thought process that ends in suffering, sometimes I can see the suffering and be consciously with it and sometimes I just suffer.
So “Am I open?” Sometimes yes and sometimes no. If you know me from yoga class, then you get to know me at my best (and I expect the reverse is true also), and mostly yes is the answer in that setting. I am still not “perfect” and I do make what feels like “mistakes”, though I do endeavor to trust the flow even of those “mistakes” and learn from them. At home, “am I open?” More and more, and way more than I was in years past, but still more to go, I think.
If I am truly willing to endeavor to be open, as far as I can tell, I am making a choice to experience ALL of what Life has to offer. It means I’m going to feel pain and self-made suffering, but also great Love and Peace and compassion and connection and disconnection, even closed-ness, and regret and fear and faith and understanding and …. (no end to this list, I think). For many years I have been of the opinion that for sanity and health (if not just for REALITY!), everyone should (and I’ll claim it and say “I should”) cry intensely every day and everyone should laugh intensely every day. If I’m open, I can’t see any way that both of those things wouldn’t happen. When I’m truly open, either experience is available to me at any given moment. Is there not intense pain to be (potentially) experienced in any moment? Is there not intense joy and bliss to be (potentially) experienced in any moment? For myself, if I answer “no” to either of those questions, I figure it says more about ME than about what’s going on (and yes, sometimes it would be un-compassionate or unloving to be experiencing one instead of the other).
Openness, then, requires a strong container (body, mind, emotions and Soul) which also requires some degree of healing the broken or damaged parts. That’s what the Yoga practices are for: to build a strong container for (eventually) ALL of the experiences Life brings to me.
So “am I open?” It’s a work in process 🙂
(I endeavored to write from the open state and not thinking and planning, just going with the moment as I do in class. May you be at peace in your own mind, relationships and world.)