5 Ways to Learn to Trust — Opening your heart is a great metaphor for living a life ‘out of your head, and in the present moment.’ Like anything else, we find a skillful means for doing this by exiting our stories in favour of living in the here and now. The living is compassionate, joyful, aware, and without a need to explain.
This week’s quote:
“If we begin to surrender to ourselves — begin to drop the story line and experience what all this messy stuff behind the story line feels like — we begin to find bodhichitta, the tenderness that’s underneath all the harshness. By being kind to ourselves, we become kind to others. By being kind to others “” if it’s done properly, with proper understanding “” we benefit as well.
“So the first point is that we are completely interrelated. What you do to others, you do to yourself. What you do to yourself, you do to others.” Pema Chodron, from her book Start Where You Are, via Heart Advice.
Openness, presence and a tender heart all go together
We’ve all heard the expression, “Once burned, twice cautious.” This expression is the justification for shutting down, exiting our bodies, and living in our heads–in our “story line.” I’ve been hurt, I don’t like feeling the pain, so I’ll just hide in my head.
The hard lesson is that our stories are fabrications made of mist and dung — phantasms that we are willing to waste our lives on. It’s the back story and the explanation for all that we perceive to be wrong with the world, with others, and with ourselves.
I was doing Bodywork with a new client the other day, and as we were talking beforehand, I commented on how rounded forward her shoulders were. In Bodywork parlance, that’s a marker for protecting one’s heart from further hurt. It’s really all about keeping others at arm’s distance.
I was working on her belly, and specifically under the lower ribs. I got to the right side, and was met with a ton of muscular resistance. She later said that as I pushed, she was nauseous, angry and scared. I replied that the diaphragm is the metaphoric gateway to the heart — it’s moving from “caught in the games and stories” to tenderness and compassion.
After Bodywork, she stood up, and her shoulders were back — no longer rolled forward
Not a fix, as she’ll likely revert to old patterns pretty quickly in the early get-go, but an indication that our bodies do want us to be whole, free, flexible and heart-ful. This is only possible if we let go of our defendedness, and open ourselves to the “messy stuff” — the pains and passions, the actual feelings and experiences, the unedited version of life.
Let me give you a five ideas for exiting the “stuck in your head, alone” dance — it’s an invitation to boogying down in the reality of the present moment
One — Play Dumb — spend six months not knowing.
As I hang out with friends, acquaintances, clients, one thing is “for sure” — if they’re stuck, they are certain. In other words, whatever their world view is percolates to the top and gets applied.
- “I was abused in childhood, so all men are abusers, and all women need protecting.”
- “My mother never loved me, so I’ll spend my life alternating between trying to win her love and hating her. In the meantime, I’ll never get on with my own life.”
- “There are so many things I want to do, but what if all the stories I have about failing come true?”
- “I want to live a passionate, charged life, but what will people think?
And on and on it goes. Stuck in the mud of their defensive stories.
The smile of never knowing
Try this: This is the situation in front of me, and I have no clue what it means, how it will come out, or whether it even needs dealing with. So, “I’ll just say, “I don’t know.” Then, I’ll have a breath, and look at each situation with naked eyes. If I choose to do something, I’ll do it, full bore, and see what happens. Then, like shampoo, I’ll wash, rinse, repeat.
Two — Do One Thing Per Day That Turns You On
I’ll do that:
- On vacation.
- When the time is right.
- Some day.
- When I retire.
- Only behind closed doors and with the lights out.
We limit ourselves. Our passions run hot and deep, are charged and gooey, and we scare ourselves. So we put them off, relegate them to holidays, or stow them completely. As our bodies rebel, wanting the be set free to feel, we tighten down, clamp down, and make ourselves sick. Pretty soon, all we feel is what’s left — a sense of helpless, depressed futility.
Give yourself a hand
Try this: one thing minimum per day that feels chargy, tempting, scary.
Open the door you’ve been keeping locked, turn on the light, and go in and play.
Then, find a playmate or two, and see what happens next. Stop stopping yourself!
Three — Sit Your Ass Down
On a cushion, that is. I am convinced that my meditation practice, sporadic as it is, is a key aspect in my finding peace in simple presence.
Yet, excuses abound.
- It hurts to sit that long.
- Who has the time?
- I can’t get my mind to shut up.
- What does this accomplish?
Wayne in hot water again
Try this: commit to 8 weeks of meditating at least 15 minutes per day.
Why? See point one. I don’t know. There is no point. Scarily enough, I don’t believe there is a point to anything, other than to experience life until you die. What’s there is what’s there, and that includes on the cushion. Watch your thoughts, let them go. Breathe. Feel your body.
Four — Compassion is as compassion does.
Open-heartedness is an action, not a contrivance. It’s not a bargaining tool, and it’s definitely not something to be reserved for “When everyone else starts behaving.” Once we get past our stories, (but not our feelings… I certainly still yell at stupid drivers, AKA “not me.” I just know it’s a story…) we find ourselves standing in awe. Here I am, here you are… how juicy, full of potential, interesting!
And a hola to the vaca, too!
Try this: reach out. With people you know, hug them, walk with them, be present with them, be interested in them. Notice the word “them.” Direct the light inside of you outward.
In Costa Rica, especially in the small towns, people make eye contact and say, “Hola,” or “Buenas dias.” There might even be chit chat. I liked it, a lot. So, I decided to do it here. I’m cracking jokes with store clerks, greeting people on the sidewalk, making verbal contact.
One store clerk said, “When you come back to the store stop in my department and say “hi!”
Then, extend the compassion and contact to people you are neutral about, and even try holding a compassionate thought for the people you judge to be unenlightened ass-hats. You’ll notice that your compassion sees to shift the cosmos just a bit toward… compassion.
Five — do a free favour, once a day
I know. This one shows up in e‑mails, and movies like “Pay it Forward.” But the trick is to do something just to do it — because the present moment requires it.
I’ve sent free copies of This Endless Moment to people I hear of who have had a loss or are in distress. There’s a little, niggling ego voice, going, “What’s in this for me?” I smile, pat this voice on it’s pointy little head, and drop the book in the mail.
Try this: get your mind into “being of service” mode. Extend yourself for others, get over your need for recognition or understanding, and just, well, “Do unto others…”
There. Five things to play with. And hey, leave a comment and let me know how this is going for you.