The idea of composing a mantra about openness has been bumping around in my brain for a while.
It’s floated in and out of my stream of consciousness and hunkered down in the corner of gray matter that pulls a work outfit together at 6:30am. I’ve never really had a relatable teaching moment where I can talk about how to be open. Until last week.
So, I had gone on a few dates with this boy. And I like him. A lot. He got my need to read incessantly and used big words that sounded impressive, yet unpretentious at the same time. I was in some pretty serious like.
But then, I started letting the vampires in. I started feeling that maybe he wasn’t in to me, or maybe I would do or say something that would make him think less of me. I felt insecure. He didn’t call, and I melted down. I closed up really hard. It hurt. My chest was really tight, and I had a nasty headache. Being closed does that. Your heart is a muscle, just like any other in your body, and when you don’t stretch it and let it breath and make room for it to grow, it gets tight and sore and makes it hard to function.
So, in a total non-Lauren move, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter, telling this boy exactly how I felt. How I am emotional and a bit insecure and perhaps even a skoch neurotic. But I was very definitely me. And then I clicked send, and exhaled after holding my breath for the fourteen minutes it took me to write that letter. Even after everyone told me not to send it. Because, if I even had to THINK about writing a letter like that, then I probably already knew the answer of whether or not this boy really liked me. It was tough to do. But I did it. I was so damn open.
In yoga, we’re always told to open our hearts toward the sky. We do hip openers and chest openers and meditation to keep our mind open. What’s with all the openness? It never really resonated with me other than the physical piece of it because, well, I was open! I tried new things! I went new places! I’m open to new stuff. Really, really open!
But once I really sat down and thought about what openness meant, it made more sense. It means admitting to yourself who exactly you are, and then living that admission all the time. It’s hard, admitting your essence. It’s hard saying “I’m emotional. And I like to go really deep into my feelings. And sometimes, when all else fails, I like to eat carrots and hummus on the couch in my underwear. But this is who I am. And all this right here is me and I am completely comfortable with it. I’d like it if you were too.” And then taking a step back, and holding your breath, and maybe even squeezing your eyes shut a little and hoping that someone else says,
“Yep. I’m okay with you.”
But even if they don’t, even if they say the opposite of that, it feels so much nicer to know that you were 100% honest with yourself.
My openness hasn’t always reaped the happy reward that I’ve hoped. But it has always made me happy that I’ve articulated the way that I feel. In the case of the boy and the email? Well, he understood. And he felt that he had been misunderstood. And so we tried it over again. There are still some kinks that need to be worked out, but the fact that I was so true to myself and so open about how I felt (without being dramatic and finger-pointing and blaming) makes me feel more comfortable around him than if I was tiptoeing around pretending to be someone who is more composed and tight-lipped and in control of her life/feelings/frizzy hair.
The moral of the story? Try saying exactly how you feel the next time someone asks. Instead of “Fine” or “Good” try “I feel a little run down and my throat is strangely sore.” Or “I feel tingly and giddy and electrified” and then don’t worry about what they think. I like to believe if just one person was more open, it would make every subsequent person they talked to open as well, and we would create a community of honest and mindful yogis and yoginis.
How do you express yourself in your communication with others? Do you clam up or are you always expressive of your feelings and needs? If you are, teach me how!