How do you cultivate openness in your life?
“Be open” is a common catchphrase in the yoga world, but what does it really mean?
How can we open? In what ways are we closed? Each of us has our own answers to these questions. We must first be open with ourselves before we can be open with others.
I’ve identified 11 qualities that can help us cultivate a greater sense of openness in all aspects of life.
1. Be trusting.
It can be hard to trust when it seems the world only lets us down. But trust we must. Trust that life is unfolding as it should. Trust those close to you. If you don’t trust them, how can you build greater trust? If you don’t trust the universe or God, ask yourself, “What is preventing me from trusting in Life?”
Notice where you have resistance to trusting—yourself, others and/or life in general. Bringing greater awareness to where we lack trust is the first step. The next step is living with the intention of being open to whatever experiences life brings and trusting that everything will work out in the end.
“Faith is a state of openness or trust.” ~ Alan Watts
2. Be open-minded.
This means noticing when we tend to get closed minded and hooked on a particular thought, opinion, idea, belief or attitude. And when that happens. we unhook and become more open-minded.
We accept that people have the right to their own opinions, beliefs, politics and so on. “To each his or her own” is a great mantra for increasing open-mindedness.
“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.”
~ The Dalai Lama
3. Be curious.
Curiosity and openness go hand in hand. Be curious about your mind. What will happen today? What thoughts will come? What emotions will pay a visit? Seek out new experiences, new people and new ideas about which to be curious.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
~ Albert Einstein
4. Be less judgmental.
Oh, it can be really hard not to judge some people sometimes. It’s our nature. Again noticing our judgments is an important first step.
The less judgmental we can be—the more we can remember that we’re really all the same at our core—the more open we will be.
“We all have to live together, so we might as well live together happily.”
~ The Dalai Lama
5. Be more flexible.
I mean physically flexible, for which I highly recommend the consistent practice of hatha yoga. I also mean mentally or intellectually flexible, as in open-minded. Flexibility, as in willing to change our minds as new situations arise.
“The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.”~ Herbie Hancock
6. Be more present.
As often as you can, when doing an activity, let go of the past and future and focus instead on the present moment at hand. This is mindfulness.
7. Be more compassionate.
In other words, have an open heart. Notice the suffering of others. Notice how we all suffer at different times. With pleasure comes pain. Periods of ease alternate with difficulty. Compassion is key to happiness.
“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable”
~ Joseph Addison
8. Be kind.
Don’t be a closed-off grinch. Being open and kind is so much better than being isolated and mean. Make it your intention to be kind to all beings, including yourself.
9. Be grateful.
Appreciate the fact that you woke up this morning. The simple fact that you are alive and breathing. Give thanks for all that you have and are and enjoy.
Do you express yourself creatively? Open up and write, paint, sculpt, dance or act.
Express your appreciation for people. Tell someone that they look good. Tell them how wonderful they are. How much you appreciate their attitude. Give a genuine compliment. It makes both the giver and receiver feel good.
Also, smiling is a non-verbal compliment. Smile more, at friends and strangers alike.
11. Be honest.
Tell the truth. Don’t be deceptive. Be open about your needs, wants and feelings. It’s always the best policy.
“When in doubt, tell the truth.” ~ Mark Twain
Note that being open doesn’t mean we always have to be positive. It’s important to be open to our shadow sides, too. It’s okay and important to express negative emotions and experiences.
Here’s to continually becoming more open, expressive and loving people.
#reverb13 is a means to reflect on the year that has passed and set intentions for the coming year. For the first two weeks of December, I’ll post a daily writing prompt. You are invited to participate, as privately or publicly as you wish. To share what you’ve written, add a comment.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise