Being Open

   There are many tools, techniques, and texts in yoga to help us live a more peaceful life. We can read the Gita and the Sutras, study books written by various gurus, but when all the extra stuff is lifted away, the barest bone is left.

   Yoga is a science. With that, one can apply the scientific method, the “if . . . then” that we learned in school when looking at the weather or how a mouse makes his way through a maze for a piece of cheese. “If I eat an entire box of cookies for lunch every day, then I will gain weight and may not feel so well,” or “If I let go of having to be perfect all the time, then I will not be so stressed,” or “If I am open to life, then I can experience all that it has to offer.” And then we carry out the experiment and see what the truth is.

   The barest bone is to just be. Let go of attachments, of agendas, of expectations. But we’re human and so we cling to some of these. The suggestion is to release what we can. It is very difficult, in my experience, to hold on to so much, and then just be in the moment. My mind ends up spinning on what happened in the past and how I can control the future. And when I’m allowing the ego to lead the show, I miss out on so much of what I’m offered. ‘Being’ consumed with how to control events, my likes and dislikes, and the perceived duties that I think I have, keeps me from just ‘being’ open to whatever comes along.

   This doesn’t mean that I sit on my couch and not work or be involved with family and friends or partake in hobbies. What I’m suggesting is that we carry out our usual chores, but begin to notice if we’re expecting things to be a certain way. How does that make us feel? Experiment with letting go of the need to have your experiences show up in a particular way. If there is construction on your way to work and you need to take a detour, do you feel flustered, or do you enjoy the drive? Perhaps you’ll discover a new park or a yard sale where someone is getting rid of just the thing that you’ve been looking for. But you will not see it, not find it, if you are too busy fuming in your car that you’re regular route, the one you cling to, has been changed.

   It does no good to review life and make judgements and criticisms about how you should have done this or should have gone there. Begin now. That is one of the greatest gifts of yoga. Every moment, every day, we have the opportunity to practice. We can continue to hold on desperately to the ‘old ways’, to perhaps drive up onto the sidewalk and swerve around barricades because this is the way we have always gone. Or we could be open to surprises on the detour. Maybe we enjoy the detour and decide to take that route to work every day. Perhaps we meet other travels who decide to do the same thing, and then we car pool, something we never could have conceived, had we not taken the detour.

   Being in the west, I, like most of us, place some importance on the New Year. The Eve and the Day are opportunities not only for quiet reflection, but also for looking forward and anticipating all the detours, planned and not, that may present themselves in the coming year. So I ask you, are you willing to be open to what is offered, what might come around the next corner, or will you cling to the past? Which way will serve you? Try it out. “If I am open to life, then I will experience untold events. Or, if I continue to close off those possibilities, then I will live as I have.” Not that one way is better than the other, but it is a chance to see how your habits help or hinder your daily happiness.  I have composed 25 poems regarding this transformation, three of which can be viewed on my website Leave a comment as to whether or not you choose to be open. Namaste.