Sign Post #2 – Open Mind and Open Heart
I am honest, open and willing.
I have an open mind and an open heart.
This sign post is from “The Rooms” of Alcoholics Anonymous. The first time I walked into the rooms in was 1986 and H.O.W. was hanging on the wall. I clearly remember it. It was cross stitched hanging in a brass frame, on a wall made of paneling in the basement of a country church social hall. I was so closed and judgmental, I remember thinking, “social hall? That cross stitched H.O.W. is some shit right there that would be hanging in my Grandmother’s house.” Clearly, I wasn’t ready for honesty, openness and willingness.
When I started out on this journey, I thought honesty was not stealing and not lying.
What I am offering you is more spacious, much deeper, and becomes an unfolding for the rest of your life. This honesty that I am speaking of is compassionately becoming aware of what is in your heart. Be willing to pull back the layers and discover what is there. It is a journey and it is continual. What my truth was at age 20 is not my truth today. It is about compassionately becoming aware.
In recovery, the foundation of sobriety is built on the ability to be honest, open and willing. If we can’t get completely honest, then our foundation isn’t strong, and it is only a matter of time before our sobriety crumbles.
It is the same with life. The depth and quality of my life is determined by the depth and quality of my ability to be completely honest with myself. When we are honest, open and willing with ourselves, we are free to be honest, open and willing with others. Through complete acceptance of me and my feelings, it is here that I can be honest with you.
“Authenticity is not something we have or we don’t have. It’s a practice … a conscious choice that we make Every Day. It’s about the choice to show up and be Real. The choice to be Honest. The choice to let our True Selves be Seen.” ~ Brene Brown
The problem for me wasn’t that I didn’t know how to be honest, but that I honestly had no idea what my truth was. How could I be honest when I didn’t understand what honesty really was? Being aware and listening to the drum beat of your heart is a skill that is strengthened with repetition. This is a skill that I choose to practice for the rest of my life.
“Honesty is a complete truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”
I had an ingrained pattern of saying “yes” when my heart said “no.” This journey of honesty that I was invited into, and now that I share with others, is to open to a lifelong journey of awareness, curiosity and discovery. Compassionately meeting yourself new, again and again. It is a discipline and a practice to hear what your heart and what God is saying to you. (I believe that they say the same thing, maybe in different ways, but the same thing).
I was on automatic for so long, saying what you needed me to say and being who you needed me to be, that I was hearing the world, not my heart and not God. I was drowning by the strong undercurrent of culture, society, and people-pleasing. I so wanted to be seen and heard that I would be dishonest with myself so that I could shape myself and my spirit in who you needed me to be. I was asking others to see me and hear me, yet I wasn’t willing to see me and hear me. I was asking you to give me something that I had not been willing to give myself.
“Despite how open, peaceful and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves. ~Matt Kahn
Openness to me means God’s will, not my will be done. I am open to another way other than mine. I am willing to do my part to stay open and create space.
Where there is openness, there is space. Where there is space, there is freedom. When I am open, there is room to freely move around and explore.
Openness means that I let go of my gripping, my clinging and my attachments and open my hands to what God wants to give me. It means there is space for exploration, curiosity and not knowing. There is room for the unexpected. It means letting go of control.
I can be easily distracted when there is not an openness in my mind. I get confused and frustrated quickly, and little things become big things. If things are too close together, I get overwhelmed and start to get on the world’s rhythm. My truth becomes blurred. I resent the people I am close to. This is how profound being open affects my life and all my relationships.
Being open and being spacious gives me a gift of simplicity that I crave. It also gives time, energy, and the ability to be present for myself and others. By giving my spirit what it craves, I have so much more to give others. I don’t always get this right and when I don’t, I know it immediately. Recovery teaches me progress not perfection.
For me, I need unclenched and uncluttered, I need openness and space even in between physical things. Sometimes when there is a lot of stuff, I literally find it hard to breath. My spirit craves space. My mind craves space between my thoughts. I have learned that I need space in order to feel God’s presence deeply. This is openness for me.
When I am open, I experience what I call an “out-picturing.” Out-picturing is …what is showing up externally reflects what is going on internally. I need visuals and God gives me exactly this.
With openness, my connection with God is so deep. I feel and experience His continual presence everywhere, I am on His rhythm, and it is beyond words. This is the gift that I receive with Being Open.
“Willingness is open to the good; willfulness is closed to it. If we are not willing to concede that our way has not worked very well for us and that perhaps AA does have a better way, we don’t have the slightest chance of getting and staying sober.”
I know that the gifts of AA are not just for addicts. These principles have the power to change everyone.
For me, Willingness becomes a choice. It is a choice that includes surrendering and accepting.
I had to be willing to accept that my thinking was what caused me to be living a lie, an inauthentic life. I could no longer pretend, I was exhausted and tired of the same lesson showing up. I was willing to do whatever it took to let go of my way and surrender to another way. This was the beginning of my sobriety journey, and it continues to be a part of my life now. When I get on the world’s rhythm, Willingness to accept that I am here in this place, and willingness to ask for help from God and others helps me move back into the rhythm that feeds my soul.
“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” Brene Brown
OPEN MIND OPEN HEART
I believe my mind and heart are hinged to the same door. They both open and shut simultaneously. When my heart is open, my mind is also. When my heart is closed, my mind is also.
I know I am living from an open heart when I can ask questions and just be with the questions themselves before rushing to the answer.
This open-heart living also helps me to see when I think I have someone else’s answers, when I think I know what is best for others, rather than giving them an openness to find their way and their own answers. What I do to myself is what I do to others. The relationship I have with myself IS the relationship I will have with others. If I am closed, judgmental and critical with me … eventually I will be that way with you. If I am open, allowing, and compassionate with myself, I will be that way with others.
God’s love and guidance are always available to every single one of us at every single moment. He waits for us to surrender and ask. We have to be willing to open our hearts and our minds and open up to everything: life, love, forgiveness, and healing. God is always preparing our hearts to see anew.
My prayer for you is that you are honest about what brings you closer to God, honest about where you are, honest about what your deepest desires are, and what you soul craves. That you create some openness, openness to hear, openness to receive, openness that creates some space and that this space creates awareness. And that with this awareness you are willing to fully step into all that God created you to be.
Read, Reflect, Respond
- Describe a person that is honest and authentically living their life. What do you connect with, that you see in them?
- What are some obstacles that have gotten in your way of being honest?
- Do you think surrender and acceptance have any correlations to the ability to be willing? If so, how?
- Do you think you could be attached to false beliefs that keep you from being completely honest, open and willing? If so, can you specify these beliefs?
- What are some daily practices to developing complete honesty in your life?
- Are there areas in your life you would like to experience more openness?
- Are you willing to listen and see what lies in the bottom of your heart?
- What is there?
Get yourself into a quiet and comfortable place of stillness. Breathe deeply. Can you connect with some things that are in your heart that you have not been honest about?
Journal or draw about your experience during this meditation.