There is no end to the kindness that is possible. And it starts at home with ourselves.
Right now, feel into the possibility of being infinitely kind within yourself. You resist nothing. You don’t feed mental stories that make you unhappy, which means you no longer believe self-critical thoughts or judgments of others. You welcome your feelings and befriend them rather than turning away.
Not only are you open to what is present, you are openness itself. Everything coming and going within you – thoughts, habits, needs, perceptions of yourself as a separate being – and here you are – alive, receptive, completely at peace with it all.
Happiness? Contentment? Fulfillment? So obvious when you know you are this openness that excludes nothing. Already overflowing, you realize that not one extra thing is needed.
Closing Down Denies Openness
This is our natural state. But what keeps us from expanding into openness? Fear.
We are afraid of discomfort; we fear the idea of encountering the unknown or losing control. We convince ourselves that closing down is necessary to survive, and we avoid the consequences of honest and real truth-telling like the plague.
We get so used to our habitual ways of being that we can’t let ourselves experience things differently.
When we close down, we wall ourselves off from our own experience. A difficult feeling comes up – can’t go there. Disappointment, an old grudge, an unmet need – these throw you off and leave you scrambling to try to find equilibrium once again.
All of this effort and doing saps energy. It’s what leaves us discontented, depleted, stressed, and sick.
And at the root of it, the idea of ourselves as separate entities that need to be protected stays firmly intact. It’s like constantly being at war, keeping the enemy from taking us over.
And the enemy is simply your own experience.
Yet we desperately long to relax and simply be. We yearn to drop all the effort it takes to close down and let everything in. Somehow we know that peace is possible.
How We Close
Let’s explore how we close down, how we turn away from ourselves. Let me count the ways:
- We avoid feelings
- We live in stories of regret and blame
- We think we are insufficient or lacking, which keeps us caught in the cycle of seeking attention and approval
- We believe thoughts about all the terrible things that might happen
- We focus only on thinking (living in the head), while ignoring the rest of our experience
- All compulsive, addictive, mind-numbing (and heart-numbing) behaviors
Closing down is not our natural, unconditioned state – that is openness. Closing is a habit, a well-worn path for many of us, a choice we make when we are afraid or don’t know what else to do.
It is often the product of decades of avoiding feelings and spinning stories endlessly that make us suffer. In that sense, it is understandable, but it doesn’t support awakening/happiness/peace.
So what to do with this habit of closing down? Open…open…open… In openness, you move from tunnel vision and rigidity to space and infinite possibility.
You really can put down all the efforting it takes to close down and instead flow like water.
You know, in your heart of hearts, what is asking for openness.
- A feeling that’s been buried long ago
- A story or belief that you know doesn’t serve you
- An old habit
- An identity, a way of thinking about yourself, that is limiting and painful – and untrue.
- A strong physical sensation
- Any inner experience that is masking happiness.
Being open may be scary at first. You don’t know what it will be like, and you don’t know what you will discover. But take it from me, the water’s fine in here. Simply put your toe in to start.
Instead of being scared, be curious. Recognize what you have been avoiding and turn towards it. Investigate the feeling – it won’t bite. See that the story you have been telling yourself like a broken record doesn’t serve. It’s just words – blah, blah, blah. Explore what it might be like to not hold onto your personal identities so strongly.
Openness is a love letter to yourself. It holds everything without one iota of resistance.
Inhabit openness. Live here gloriously. Feelings may come and go, but they are no problem. Simply be the openness that you are. Eternal resting as peace…
What is it like to close down, to open? What are you waiting for? I’d love to hear…