• Melissa Joss

Cultivating Openness

At MYSHA Women's Wellbeing Circle this term, we have each begun our personal self inquiry into our patterns of rigidity.

The questions we asked ourselves are all centred around where we feel most set in our ways....

  • What are the thoughts and beliefs I hold fast to?

  • What is my default response pattern to things that happen?

  • Do I have a certain way of seeing things that seem to be more rigid and less flexible?

When we are trying to achieve balance and equanimity in our lives, rigid thoughts, beliefs and patterns are like stones on one side of the scale. Even the so-called healthy ones.

Quite often in our spiritual practice, we can become rigid. We think we're doing so well to rise each morning at a certain hour and to perform our rituals of meditation, yoga, clean eating, journalling/reflecting and the like with regularity and commitment.

While it's most definitely beneficial to be practising regularly and essential to keep with it, a truly alive and meaningful spiritual practice, is I believe one that is constantly evolving and therefore always dynamic and changing.

When we value changeability and spontaneity, we foster within ourselves a higher level of flexibility and capacity to flow with life, rather than struggle against it. Especially since life is unpredictable and no matter how much we attempt to control things, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said,

"change is the only constant in life."

So how can we mindfully encourage ourselves towards greater flexibility and away from creating just another rigid program?

For me, the answer lies in the cultivation of openness.

At MYSHA this past week we are exploring openness and curiosity as a new possibility and way of being in the world.

This is something I have been working with since my training in arts therapy began more than 15 years ago. So it's no quick and easy thing to master. It requires practice and a constant awakened and re-awakened focus. Like any new way of being it requires application and a level of commitment and perhaps a reason.

As an arts therapist, the cultivation of openness is vital. It's very easy to make a judgement about a piece of art work based on our preconceived ideas about things. A life time of conditioning always pre-disposes us to certain ways of seeing things. We can't and never will escape that. But what we can do is flex the mindful muscle of noticing ourselves doing that!

Then in that noticing, we can decide to put that perspective to the side and allow (be more open) to the meaning emerging from the artist and flowing from the art work itself.

As we learn at MYSHA, the art maker is respected as the prime meaning maker.

While others in the sharing process may offer their perspective to co-create other possibilities and ways of seeing, the artist decides what is significant (or not) for them. So when we share, we practice curiosity and we take care to formulate our perspective/response to the art work as a mere offering; an invitation to see things a different way.

What happens as we spend this present and focused time then, is that we are co-creating meaning together. When we work together in this way, everyone benefits! So to put it in another way, cultivating openness and the ability to be aware means suspending our preconceived notions and our judgements that things have to be a certain way. (That’s the program or old pattern dictating things. That's rigidity.) Instead, we take a childlike view of the world and see things fresh and anew.

This is when the magic and the flow of openness and curiosity becomes real.

Openness paves the way for NEW and exciting possibilities.✨ Curiosity facilitates openness.💓 The practice is to watch our judgments 👀 and our rehearsed and automatic ways of seeing things. So why not take the blinkers off. Step out of the one-track mind. Notice the rigidity and the tightness within you and see if you can bring a lightness and a softening there. An opening. Much love to everyone on the journey! May our path be illumined through eyes of curiosity. Melissa 💕


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