I was reminded this weekend, whilst walking through town, about the magic of staying open. Two strangers openly greeted me with big smiles, and I am ashamed to say I was consciously taken aback. But once I acknowledged it was me they were smiling at, I responded by grinning with appreciation at them (possibly scaring them, apols about that!).
See, after I moved here, I often found myself talking (or rather, trying to talk) to strangers in the street, or at bus stops, or as I queued to pay for groceries. Despite my best efforts, the funny looks I often received in return took their toll, as I assumed they were a negative reaction towards my behavior. This eventually led to me becoming more shy and reserved, and less likely to try to connect with those I met.
Of course this time, I was one of those “funny look” people (before the wild and manic grinning back, that is). However, I certainly didn’t feel any negative reaction to those lovely strangers. In fact, I felt warm, sweetened and connected by their effort to engage with me. And most of all, I was reminded of the importance of passing it on. Since then, I have consciously sought to extend warm smiles to other strangers who happened to make eye contact. And, lo and behold, smiles were returned. Wow! Pretty simple, but very potent.
Small gesture, big difference
Each and every one of us can make a difference with the smallest gesture, just by daring to be open. Admittedly, not everyone is going to return the pleasantry, but does that mean we should judge what that person might or might not be thinking? I realised with shame I’d done just that over the dark winter, assumed people thought I was bonkers for trying to be open to them (classic rejection tale). With this limited and negative view, I cut myself off from connecting to more people and extending more goodness. How dreadfully boring!
We have two choices in life: to be open, or to be closed. To close off ourselves is to reject not only others, but also ourselves. With openness comes possibility. When we stay open we can listen better, be conscious of guidance, trust and be trusted. Think of all the “random” meetings and situations that have occurred in your life to lead you to where you are now. It took some risk to be open to these guiding encounters, but they rewarded you in dividends, right?
Open your body and mind with yoga
The physical practice of yoga opens the body and connects us to ourselves and thus to others. It’s not always easy to “be open,” particularly if you’re in a pose that might make you feel closed off and limited or the opposite, vulnerable and exposed. But the benefits we receive when we release the pose and allow it to resonate can be truly magical. Perhaps it’s a new sense of mobility, or a release of emotion, or simply the freedom to appreciate what the body can do.
So, here’s the challenge: Can we be just a little bit more open? Keep your mind open, and watch your heart follow! You can also try some of these heart-opening yoga poses.
And now, some music to help open you up! Here’s the Spotify playlist, lovelies:
Jeff Alexander – Come Wander With Me
Nino Rota – O Venezia, Venaga, Venusia
Frank Ocean – Pink Matter
Patrick O’Hearn – Beyond This Moment
Rodriguez – Crucify Your Mind
Major Lazer – Get Free
Zero 7 – Today
Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ [Every Time You're Near]
Steve Reich – Electric Counterpoint – Fast
Jessie Ware – Something Inside
Gold Panda – Like Totally
Cat Stevens – Oh Very Young
Lenny Kravitz – Heaven Help
The Rapture – Open Up Your Heart
Emiliana Torrini – Snow
Kings Of Convenience – Scars On Land
Gonzales – Overnight – Instrumental
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – Condition Of The Heart
Burial – In McDonalds