Last week I spent a couple of days in beautiful Denver, Colorado, filming my segments in the upcoming docudrama "Openings" (You can watch the trailer here).
The producers spent hours before the actual filming going through the "brutal" creative process of "teasing" out of me what they considered the golden nuggets they wanted to capture on digital celluloid. One of our discussions revolved around the whole question of how we human beings can become open enough to experience a significant shift in our lives....
The Space of Freedom
As a human being, you're only free to the extent that you can free yourself from your previous programming. And the only place you can do that is in the "space" between stimulus and response. The only way to become a truly free and therefore truly functional and happy person is to expand that space.
For example, if you have no psychological "distance" between the two, your responses will be distressingly predictable and egocentric - someone insults you and you retaliate, someone compliments you and it goes to your head, etc. At this level, you're basically a lower animal, fleeing pain, seeking pleasure and incapable of amassing enough personal integrity to follow higher principles when the going gets tough.
So, needless to say, you'll never experience personal growth of any kind without expanding the distance between stimulus and response.
The 3 Keys to Expanding the Space
The good news is there are only three things you need to do in order to cultivate and build up true internal freedom.
The first is simply that you need to make a decision to do so - you have to decide you want to grow beyond your own programming, free yourself from the emotional chains imposed on you by other people, their emotions, ideologies and delusions. And, while a simple decision on your part won't achieve deep transformation on its own, it's a step that everyone of us must take.
The second step is that we have to be willing to humble ourselves. When some jerk cuts us off in traffic, we have the opportunity to stifle that string of four-letter words, for example. And that takes guts.
The third step is simply to practice over and over again. Good thing life presents us with unending opportunities to do just that!
If you look at the three keys carefully, you'll notice that all of them have one thing in common - they contradict your ego. So opening yourself to a larger universe takes a decision to work against your ego, as well as determination and work.
The Magical Results
As you expand the distance between stimulus and response, you'll find that you become more open to and accepting of other people. Your responses to life's situations become more flexible, appropriate and successful. Your old programming no longer determines your words or actions. And, perhaps for the first time, you sense a real change in your world as you let go of old baggage.
This means your capacity to be aware of, to accept and to deal with your own emotional content will expand. So, naturally, your compassion for and empathy with other people will go way up. After all, if I can't feel my own heart, I sure can't feel yours. And all deep human communication is, in reality, a heart to heart connection between us.
This means the quality of your relationships will improve and, in fact, the quantity likely will as well, since people will be increasingly drawn to you. Another way to say this is that your interpersonal skills will improve even though, paradoxically, these aren't "skills" or "techniques" that can be taught at all.
Besides all this, your overall level of psychological and physical resistance to life's challenges (which I discussed in a previous post) will drop, thereby reducing your stress levels and improving your health.
And, by the way, don't ever think that you can grow spiritually if you haven't grown emotionally first. That's a common delusion in our culture and is plain wrong.
That then is what it means to open your heart and your mind, to expand your consciousness and acquire true inner freedom and spontaneous happiness. Sound good to you? Then you're probably asking yourself how you can do this even faster and more effectively...
Accelerating the Process
If your body is significantly uptight and inflexible, if you're storing emotional tensions throughout your body's energy system and muscular structure, then any attempts you make to become more open psychologically will likely hit the wall pretty fast. So yes...
...to open yourself emotionally, you have to open yourself physically as well. The most effective way to do this is to use some form of what I call "internal exercise", such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi or Hatha Yoga, for example.
The great emotional benefit of these exercises is that they put your mental attention inside your body and help you process emotions and traumas locked in your bodily tissues in a gentle and natural way. For instance, you cannot possibly do Hatha Yoga's sun salutation properly and stay in a bad mood, nor can you do Qi Gong's organ meditation and feel like a victim. Not going to happen!
As every teacher of any of these three methods knows from experience, the more physcially flexible you become, the more emotionally calm you become.
So if you would like to become more open to divine guidance (one of the main themes of Openings), enjoy far better relationships and improve your health on every level, then just start doing what's outlined here and enjoy the process!
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger