Opening to Possibilities

One of the necessary components of the process of personal transformation or alchemy is the willingness to be open.

The idea of being open may evoke feelings of anxiety or fear due to past experiences of disappointment, betrayal or hurt as a result of having been vulnerable. Just the idea of opening may trigger a visceral impulse to contract. (Let’s all take three deep breaths!) Closing down is one of our survival instincts.  Of course we all want to survive!  The question is, do we want to live at a the level of survival. We all have been through difficulties in varying degrees, and none of us consciously want to repeat  them.  And yet, unless we are willing to be open, we close ourselves off to receiving all the wonderful possibilities that life has to offer!  Everything in the universe in which we live, including ourselves, is either expanding or contracting.  There is no hover in this universe!   We have to choose one or the other.

“When you protect yourself from pain, be sure you don’t protect yourself from love!”

-Alan Cohen

“Life is constantly supporting us and giving us gifts.  It’s a matter of opening ourselves to that.”  -Dan Millman

So let’s take the point of view, because you’re reading this, that you have chosen to expand – to open, and, like all of us, you want to avoid pain.  What to do?

If your initial inclination was an overwhelming desire to pull the covers over your head, you might want to approach this business of opening in small steps.

Small steps may include:

1) Opening your Eyes

     This requires a commitment to being aware of what’s around you, and facing the particular reality of your life. There’s a dichotomy here.  On the one hand, you can’t help but notice how Mr. Magoo, going through his cartoon life, is spared the consequences of his oblivion. On the other hand, in that oblivion, he misses so much!  How much richer his (cartoon) life would be if he opened his eyes!  With our eyes wide open we are empowered to make informed decisions.  We are informed by life’s shadows, and enriched by it’s colors and textures and nuances.

2) Opening Doors

     “We keep moving forward, opening doors, and doing new things because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths”  -Walt Disney

When we’re willing to open doors we give ourselves options.  We can put our foot in the door jam and take a peek. We’re able to explore, to sample, to taste, without being locked in.  Having checked out the possibilities we can make the choices that feel right for us without going to far off on a tangent. Rather than always wondering ‘what if’, we know what’s behind door number three!

If, on the other hand, you had a welcoming response to the idea of opening, you may be ready for a more adventuresome approach!  This suggests you might be ready for steps three and four.

Larger steps may include:

3) Opening your Mind

What’s to be gained by having an open mind?  Well, there’s the adage that tells us the definition of crazy – doing the same things over and over and expecting different results!

In other words, when our mind is closed, we not only go through life in a rut, but we also tend to blame people and circumstances for life’s disappointments and lack of opportunities. A closed mind is smug and judgmental. It builds walls between us and life.

With an open mind we’re eager to learn new things, meet all kinds of people, experience new places.  An open mind allows us to see the world through other people’s eyes and frees us to change our view as a result.  With an open mind we can find new solutions to old problems, and create new problems to solve!  After all, the only people without problems in this world are currently residing in our cemeteries  and mausoleums. What makes life interesting is having new and challenging problems to solve. With an open mind we’re ready to learn about who we are and what’s possible for us to accomplish. And there’s another benefit which leads us to the next step:

“The greatest potential we have for opening our hearts lies in the opening of our minds.”

-Vironika Tugaleva

4) Opening Your Heart

With an open heart all things are possible!  What does it take to open your heart?  It takes a willingness to be vulnerable!  Which of course also opens you to pain. Yet that same open heart also offers you  the myriad ways of healing pain.  It opens you to compassion and empathy which allows you to be deeply connected to others.  Until you can truly feel the pain of life you can neither truly heal yourself nor facilitate the healing of others. With an open heart you can love.  And once you can love others and yourself you can also experience being loved.  Therefore, opening your heart  takes a willingness to receive. When our heart is closed we cannot receive those many gifts that life wants to offer us. Before we can truly love though, we must truly forgive.  Until we can release those who have hurt us from the blame in which we have imprisoned both them and ourselves, we are trapped. Locked in a pattern of blame we experience the hurt over and over, every time we remember that hurt.  Forgiveness is a choice that we must make over and over. We must keep choosing to forgive (ourselves as well as others) every time that person or event drifts into our mind.

Here at Clay Alchemy from the Voice of Clay, we’re all about opening!  So this is a great place to come to learn and practice.  We’re open to receive the gift of your presence. We’re open to facilitating your opening!

Beginning with the vernal equinox on March 21st, our upcoming series of monthly Saturdayworkshops will empower you to open using clay, dreams, breath, and journeying. (See details here).  And we’re always ready to receive you individually or in groups with all of our tools from Astrology to the experience of Zen.

shannon Burke