I was reminded this weekend whilst walking through Bergen town in the sun, about the magic of staying open. Two strangers openly greeted me with a big smile, and I am ashamed to say I was consciously taken aback, then once i acknowledged it was me they were smiling at, responded by grinning with appreciation at them (possibly scaring them, apols about that…). See, when moving to Norway, I often found myself talking (or rather, trying) to talk to strangers in the street, or at bus stops, or as i queued to pay for groceries, etc. Somehow I became more shy over time, the funny looks took their toll, and I assumed that this was a negative reaction towards my behavior, and thus became more shy and reserved.
Calling myself out here, as this weekend, I was one of those “funny look” people (before the wild and manic grinning at the strangers). Although this flicker of “what the….?!” crossed my mind (and possibly my face), it was surprise that someone was smiling…at me? I certainly didn’t feel any negative reaction to those lovely strangers. In fact, I felt warm, sweetened and connected in their effort to engage with me. And most of all I was reminded of the importance of passing it on. So consciously sought to extend a warm smile to other strangers that happened to make eye contact. And lo and behold, a smile was returned. Wow. Pretty simple, but very potent.
We can make a difference from the smallest gesture, just by daring to be open. Admittedly, not everyone is going to return the pleasantry, but does that mean we should unfairly judge what that person might or might not be thinking? I realised with shame i’d done just that over the dark winter, assumed people thought I was bonkers (yes, appreciate that truth in part, still…) and were disapproving of me “trying” to be open to them (classic rejection tale), and in this limited and negative view, cut myself off from connecting to more people and extending more goodness. How dreadfully boring.
We have two choices in life. To be open, or closed. To close off ourselves is to reject others, but mostly ourselves. With openness comes possibility. When we stay open we can listen better, be conscious of guidance, trust and be trusted. Think of all the “random” meetings and situations that have occurred in your life which has lead you to where you are now. It took some risk, definitely effort to be open to it, but rewarded in dividends, right?
The physical practice of yoga opens the body and connects us to ourselves and thus to others. It’s not always easy to “be open”, particularly if you’re in a posture that might feel congested and limited or the opposite, vulnerable and exposed, but the value of freedom we receive when we release the pose and allow it to resonate can shift mountains of “stuff”. Perhaps it’s a new sense of mobility, or a release of emotion, or just relief to appreciate what the body can do. It’s magic.
And so, the challenge: Can we be just a little bit more open? Keep your mind open, and watch your heart follow.
Here´s the Spotify playlist lovelies!
Jeff Alexander – Come Wander With Me
Nino Rota – O Venezia, Venaga, Venusia
Frank Ocean – Pink Matter
Patrick O’Hearn – Beyond This Moment
Rodriguez – Crucify Your Mind
Major Lazer – Get Free
Zero 7 – Today
Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ [Every Time You’re Near]
Steve Reich – Electric Counterpoint – Fast
Jessie Ware – Something Inside
Gold Panda – Like Totally
Cat Stevens – Oh Very Young
Lenny Kravitz – Heaven Help
The Rapture – Open Up Your Heart
Emiliana Torrini – Snow
Kings Of Convenience – Scars On Land
Gonzales – Overnight – Instrumental
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – Condition Of The Heart (Prince cover)
Burial – In McDonalds