EMPTYING INTO OPENNESS
Most people like to think of themselves as being open-minded. What is often meant by this is that we are available to perspectives, points of views and ways of thinking or behaving that are different than our own. While we might not take on those ways of behaving or thinking, we don’t judge, shame or ridicule others for doing so. While this is a valuable developmental stage in becoming less egocentric, it is rather rudimentary in the larger scheme of what it is to be open. I could very simply state that to be open is not only the acceptance of all points of views, but beyond that the dissolution of all perspectives and points of view, most importantly your own. That is another level of openness, where even your own perspectives don’t interfere with what is.
For a moment feel what it is like to be empty of all things that you think you know. All things that you’ve learned and experienced up to this point. The easiest way to do this is to stop engaging with any thought that might be passing through your mind in this moment. Just let it be rather than merging your awareness with and into it. When you stop engaging with your thoughts, you are left with the clear space of being. Some people call this emptiness, awareness or the open sky. The thing about this is that there is nothing for the mind to grab onto and therefore nothing for it to identify itself with. Some minds interpret this negatively and may feel fear at this level of non-engagement with stuff. Fear of dissolving, of not mattering, of not having significance or worth, and of feeling like everything in the world will fall apart. It is not so much that everything in the external world will fall apart or that your body will dissolve into thin air, rather its simply that your mind quits interpreting everything it perceives through the lenses you’ve learned and worn.
While this may feel scary to some, my friends, this is freedom. Yes freedom can feel scary to the mind that has ever only known imprisonment. A mind that has been stuck inside of its’ perspectives and points of view that have given it a sense of the known. Perspectives that you don’t even know that you’re trapped inside of. The openness of being is stepping into the moment, which is unknown, and which unfolds itself inside of itself. It cannot be pre-known or preplanned. It can only be experienced presently. While we are hungry for this level of unbridled novelty and aliveness, we are simultaneously terrified of what happens to the sense of stability, safety and security that we get from thinking that we know stuff.
DEATH OF SELF-DELUSION
Stable ground of self
When we are without our learned perspectives for even just a few moments, we get a taste freedom. Yet letting go of what we know feels sometimes confusing and like a bunch of little micro-deaths. That belief, thought or idea about life, that we had so much conviction in just a moment ago, now no longer gets front stage, as we relinquish our grasp on it. What happens now to our sense of self, to our identity, to who we think we are and what we know? You might wonder how can we function in this space of not knowing. What I can say is that you are already functioning in this space of not knowing, it’s only that you’ve deluded yourself into believing that you know. That deluded knowledge or knowing, while comforting, is also a prison of monotonous stagnation. So it’s not so much about “how” will you function if you let go of all of your preconceived notions about everything, because you already are functioning in empirical uncertainty, but more about consciously choosing to not delude yourself anymore.
The choice to not delude yourself anymore awakens you out of your self-imposed prison. To not indulge in the stories or fantasies that your mind conjures up about what is, and not give any type of meaning to what is occurring or not occurring and rather simply experience it in its innocence, is the freedom that we all dream of. The full permission for everything, including ourselves, to just be, in every single moment. Anew. Like a child seeing the world. While we all think we want this, what we don’t realize is that we have to give up everything we think we know first. That can seem like a high stake gamble to the one that is thoroughly invested in its’ identity, what it thinks it wants and needs, it’s stories, and all of the stuff that seems so tangible that it has created.
Surrendering our thoughts can feel like death of our dreams, worth, purpose, significance and stable ground. Yet thoughts are not as stable as we like to think they are. One moment the thought “I am amazing” can arise and in the next moment “I suck” can arise. We grapple. Which is right, and which is wrong? Am I this or am I that? How stable does that feel to you? Not stable at all, which is why, underneath it all, none of us feel like we have any stability. We attempt to create stability through the ever changing sea of thoughts that run through our minds, rather than in just being. In “I am”, rather than I am this or that, we find the stability we seek. That stability is in an identity that is not fused with anything. No thought, feeling or sensation about itself, but rather simply itself being.
To live open we must untether ourselves from the false, from the points of views and perspectives that keep us seeing through dirty glasses. Tempting the emptiness is like seducing the mystery to show herself to us. It’s playful, exciting and light. It’s like falling into the abyss and discovering the net that’s been there all along. There is no real danger in the emptiness of freedom, only the imagined danger of what you think recognizing your open self might be. Emptying into openness reveals only the innocence of pure being and the rested stable ground of yourself.
Dr. Amanda Love, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado