A little while ago I wrote about staying open and practicing mantras. I’ve been reading the book The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to “stay open.” I feel like that’s such an easy thing to say you should do, but how do you actually practice it? How do you stay open, and what exactly are you staying open for? This book does an incredible job of breaking down such a vague, easily misinterpreted idea into actionable steps you can implement at any time. The lesson that has stayed most with me since beginning this book (if you couldn’t already tell), and that I work to practice daily now, is staying open. Not just for the good stuff, but to things like fear as well. It all has to flow for us to be in flow. You must let fear move through you, so you can move forward.
This kind of staying open requires us to let go. When unwanted thoughts/feelings, such as judgment, jealousy or fear come up, we don’t have to follow them and mindlessly go along for the ride. The second we give attention to these thoughts/feelings, we’re sucked into their grasp and all of our focus goes there. Instead, what if we saw these emotions arise, sat back and let them come and go? Acknowledge them for what they are and let them pass through, without giving them any more energy than that?
Usually we choose to close when these feelings come up. We separate ourselves and spend all this time in our minds trying to solve all the issues we think we, or others, have. Our intent is to think our way through to the solution, when all we’re actually doing is trapping ourselves with all these negative feelings with nowhere else to go. This is what it means to close, in this context. But what if you didn’t attach to it? Or go inward with it? Just relaxed into it, and kept yourself open for the next feeling to arise?
When we relax and observe in the face of tension, we’re creating space between us and it, which is one of our greatest superpowers. To recognize that we are not the negative thoughts/feelings, and neither is reality. The moment I realized that my thoughts did not actually reflect an accurate reality, nor did they need to determine what reality was, I was able to begin managing my anxiety. But what really did it for me was when I realized that I could accept and heal from these feelings instead of fighting them, and that the more I did that, the more at peace I’d become.
For example, I used to get so anxious on Sunday’s because I knew a new week was about to begin and I didn’t know if I was ready for it. I didn’t trust that more good times would come, all I could see was the dread I felt for a Monday morning. I would ruminate on it all day, and on the Sunday’s I didn’t feel that way, I would make sure I did everything I could to keep it that way. My reality focused around my feelings of unease, instead of just moving through the day and taking in each moment for what it was; trusting the ebb and flow.
We don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Our minds can be a very busy place, but we can learn to quiet them. When fearful or negative feelings come up, relax and observe. Let them pass through. Try not to attach or identify with them; they are not you. They are created out of the very limited construct of reality you’ve used to protect yourself with. But all it’s doing is closing you off and trapping you in the negative. Stay open, and, if you start to find yourself closing with unwanted thoughts/feelings, relax and observe. No need for judgement or analysis, just watch it pass by. Practice this regularly, make it a habit, and watch your inner and outer worlds transform.
Is this something you practice? What else do you do to stay open?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Let The Bad Days Be Bad Days.