When You Open

Recently, walking in the Tennessee mountains on retreat, a grasshopper leapt across my path and I exclaimed “You’re so pretty when you open!,” dazzled by the yellow & green of its wings.

And I thought—Isn’t this true about the natural world?  

Butterflies. Birds.

A full Lion’s mane. 

Every flower ever.

A puppy’s pink tongue. 

A luminous geode (looking like a dumb ol rock before it’s cracked open). 

Lolling cats, upside down with their underbellies showing. 

The more open, the more enticing. 

It made me think about healing. About the innermost aspects of our being, opening to the outside world—and how beautiful these openings are. Every single time someone expresses from the depths, I am in awe, reverential. Laughter or tears. And, in the right context, a good angry rant! (think Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington).

Some of my favorite openness occurs in the sports world—’tough’ guys sharing their inner journeys, crying on camera and looking all-the-more handsome for it—showing the deep connection to their teammates, the passion in their hearts. Cracked open, after a whole season of internal pressure.

There are deep, hidden pools inside of us, and they contain brilliant gems.

But to find the diamond, we have to open the rock. We have to risk venturing into the cave, going into the pressure and pain inside our bodies to release these gems from their hiding places.

Long ago, we hid some (or a lot) of our light, our color. It seemed unsafe—in so many ways—to show our soft underbellies to our families, to our communities. 

We put the gems in the cave. And that cave is our body.

Perhaps your parents weren’t able to hold space for your rawness, your weirdness, your loud colors.

Or your quiet colors.

They couldn’t understand what you needed, couldn’t really see you. Because they themselves hadn’t been seen—an innocent (& tragic) heritage most of us share.

But it is safe to open right here and now, because You (as pure awareness) are perfectly safe for you (as a body-mind) to open into. You (as pure awareness) are unconditional love itself, able to welcome it all, hold space for it all. 

We are all closed up in some way—into various identities/roles/ego—attempting to keep the shape of the dulled rock, of the ‘normal’ person (or good person, smart person, ‘together’ person, busy person, successful person, empathic person, happy person). 

Alternatively, we may have formed ourselves into the rebel role, attempting to look cool, punk, badass or even laissez faire & carefree (but inwardly closed off—and therefore not truly free). 

Truly free people are open people. They say what is true. They say no or yes from their bodies (not their minds), having opened unto themselves—having accepted their deepest needs, desires & boundaries as simple truth.

There’s no hiding left in them.

We all have this capacity to open. We were born this way. When we were little, our outer expression always matched our inner experience. There was no disconnection yet.

Along the way, however, we grocked that it wasn’t safe to stay open. (“Shhhh.” “Don’t say that.” “Be polite.” “Stop yelling.” “Don’t cry.” “Be nice.” “Be strong.”)

But it is safe now, in reality. You are safe, here and now. 

And you won’t be cut off from the tribe when you open. (Or maybe you will! But then, it may not be your tribe).

Of course this does not mean opening onto other people. If you explode (or leak…if passive aggressive is more your style, like me), hijack a room to ‘speak your mind’ (i.e. not your body), or complain a lot, then you are still stuck in the pressure layer, in beliefs about yourself and others—and you haven’t gotten to the real gem of truth underneath. To the innermost layer.

What you really want.  

You’ve gotta go digging for that piece on your own. Or with safe others, who do not have an agenda in your life. And who are not interested in your persona. *

Give these deep, neglected expressions some attention. Feel into the most painful, core parts of your body. The core truths, hiding out of fear.

And feel—really feel—that you are opening from the inside out. Physically. Energetically.

Let your local bird, grasshopper, flower, or dog show you how to do it. 

Don’t be afraid. There is gold in them hills.

And it is so beautiful.

  • To learn these embodiment and inquiry tools directly, come on retreat with myself and some dear friends this Fall, in Wisconsin. We will hold a safe space for you to open into. And you will meet an amazing community of people who are doing this healing work—willing to loll on their backs right along with you. 

Some resources related to this blog’s theme:

  • Kiran Trace has a YouTube series on expressing anger, including how to safely (i.e. on your own) have a good old rant:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inP1XMhxVuw

  • My most recent inspiration for emotional expression is Regena Thomashauer. Her term for this is ‘swamping.’ Check out her new book, ‘Pussy: A Reclamation’ here: http://mamagenas.com/books/

  • The Tennessee retreat mentioned above was with Will Pye, who wrote the book ‘Blessed with a Brain Tumor’ and started the self organizing group ‘Love & Truth Party.’ Check out their lovely work & join the party here:  http://loveandtruthparty.org