Lately my understanding of the idea of openness has been shifting. I’ve always considered myself an ‘open’ person – I like to try new things, I laugh in the face of danger (not really, I’m full of fear but that’s a story for a different blog post). This notion is preeminent in yoga – you’re opening up, becoming a more flexible person – these are all things I think of as generally good. But there are plenty of examples where being ‘open’ has also gotten me into trouble, when being too open led to the sacrifice of my morals, when ‘throwing myself into the unknown’ was a romantic notion and a stupid idea. Again, I digress.
I’m coming to understand openness in a more subtle way. Where I used to think of it as the distinction between, maybe, not eating eggs because, “I know I don’t like them”, versus, “sure I’ll try anything once”, I’m now starting to see it as availability.
This word implies openness, yes, but it also implies space. Like when you schedule an appointment for an ‘available’ time, there’s a space for you.
And this word acts differently in my mind. I think it’s because it implies a sense of agency, of choice. Availability means I have space at my disposal and the question is – what am I going to do about it? In order to be available I don’t have to try new things, or be more out-going than I am naturally inclined to be, although these things might just be a happy result of being more available.
Yoga teaches us to create space, starting with the physical body and moving into the mental body. This space helps us to be more available to the present moment. When this happens, we are lucky enough to truly experience life unfolding following its natural path or rhythm. In this way we get to get in the groove of life, to move with the flow instead of in opposition to it – something that, I think, feels really good.