It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Two words: staying open, but there are times when that might be the hardest thing to accomplish. Staying open means putting on what the Zen Masters sometimes call the Beginner’s Mind. Realizing that no matter the level of ones expertise in some areas, there are always others that call for a student’s perspective, the knowledge that one always has more to learn.
When things go smoothly, we can easily find ourselves closing down, especially mentally. Mental processes are hard work, and its difficult to relax in the midst of hard work. No matter what might be going on in the present moment, there are always unresolved issues from the past, and hopes for the future that can and do interfere with ongoing daily functions. And we suddenly find ourselves side-tracked out of the present moment and whatever we may need to learn from, and in, that moment.
That in turn, can disrupt our intuitive faculties, jamming them up with past or future concerns that have little to do with what is actually going on around us. Taking a few minutes, each day, to get rid of some of that interference can go a long way toward clearing the path and enhancing ones intuitive abilities. I call it taking out the garbage and do it with daily journal writing. Others do it with a morning walk or run, but there are many other avenues that can bring about the same results.
Chatting with a good friend on a regular basis can have the same effect. Anything that regularly allows one to step outside of self, even for a few moments, is like taking a breath of fresh air, then exhaling it. Breathing in a new perspective, being inspired by it and possibly moving on it is the gist of the Beginner’s Mind. It is opening self, and especially the mind, to other possibilities.
We are creatures of habit, mentally as well as physically. In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests that we make and take a weekly Artist’s Date with ourselves. Do something different, go to a new place, explore a small piece of the world that exists outside of our usual path. That is an attempt to refuel and replenish the Creative energies inherent in being human. Without that experience, we are in danger of becoming closed and even boring. It is a means of stimulating new and different thought patterns and processes. And it works.
Not only does it open up new paths, it can lead us to heal old ones, especially those emotional habits we often get stuck inside of. Habits that can cause us to miss out on the present moments and all they have to offer us. We do have a habit of establishing comfort zones. Places we stay in because we know what to expect and how to deal with whatever arises. But, because of that, our comfort zones don’t challenge us, they just let us be comfortable. And that in turn, means they can get smaller and smaller and become terribly limiting in the process.
If we truly want to enhance our intuitive skills and abilities, we have to get outside of our comfort zones, giving ourselves new opportunities in which to make and construct new connective links. But, we also need to realize that such activity can bring on a negative response. We might easily feel resentment at the changes and what they demand of us. No one said this would be easy.
Staying open isn’t easy. It’s hard work and absolutely necessary to our continued well-being. We all want to relax and just be comfortable. The problem arises when we get too comfortable. Then nothing happens, especially growth. Finding a balance between the two is somewhat of an art form. It calls for creative energy and that needs to be continuously refueled and replenished.
How do you do that? How do you refresh and refuel on a regular basis? Do you read, write, walk, run, or something altogether different? One of my secret ways of doing that is people watching. It doesn’t cost anything and can be a wonderfully creative way of refueling. Making up stories about the strangers passing by is fun and even exciting. I sometimes even make notes of the silly stories I create and use them later for other things.
Coloring is another avenue I stumbled into just a few months ago. One I love almost as much as writing. It is an active participation and a constant challenge to come up with new ways of laying down colors and finding how they work. Sometimes they don’t, but that just means I’ve learned something new.
I recently downloaded a Paint program. It fascinates me and I can get lost inside of it for hours at a time. I am definitely a beginner, putting on a Beginner’s Mind. I know nothing about digital art, but have committed myself to learning and unraveling at least the basics. The best part is that I don’t have to get dressed or leave my own little comfort zone to do that.
All I really need is to stay open to all of the possibilities. And yes, I resent my own ignorance. Wish constantly that I knew more. The only way to resolve that is to stick with it and learn all those things I don’t know. Eventually I might even do that.
What sort of things do you do to stimulate your own mental processes? Are they challenging? Satisfying? Are there others you wish you could get into? Are there some small steps you might take now, in this moment, to move you closer to that reality? What is stopping you? Do you consciously put on a Beginner’s Mind? Do you practice being open?