Theme of the Month: Staying Open
by Kevin Sahaj
“A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace”
We are the Open Sky
Have you ever felt the feeling of complete relaxation in your body? Have you ever been content with things as they are without judging them, clinging to them, or rejecting them? Have you ever felt like your mind is as open as the sky and every possibility is there? Can you fly in the sky at each moment like a bird leaving no trace?
This openness is our natural state, it is the real “you”!
Deep relaxation and remaining open as the sky is the very nature of our being - we don’t need to attain it by any meditation method or yoga technique. It is there just like the sky behind the clouds. We just have to realise it, and then we are home. Spiritual practice helps us to go beyond the clouds, not to remove the clouds, but to see that clouds are part of the texture of the Sky. All the difficulties we have in our lives are when we are identified with the changing weather instead of the open sky. When our life is difficult and we feel our whole body contracting into a knot, our emotions are running crazy and our mind is full of fear and negativity, what can we do?
It seems to be automatic in the human mind to contract when things aren’t going according to our plans. We very quickly move into survival mode as soon as life presents challenges. Fear is there, waiting to pop up at any time and create tension in our body, disturb our emotions, and close down our minds. Deep in the base of our minds, we are wired with the 4 F´s; Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fornicate. This is part of our deep animal mind that is a survival tool that we carry in us from millions of years of evolution. This part of our mind is our protector in the right circumstances, but when unconsciously engaged, it can create many imaginary problems for us.
The whole concept of practicing Yoga is to absorb and integrate (not reject) this animal brain into our consciousness and allow our mind to become totally free of all limitations. Human beings are a bridge, somewhere between the survival mode of the animal and the freedom of the Buddha. These are the humans that have realised the real nature of their mind is open like the sky, and in this state, there is great wisdom and compassion, and the echo of fear no longer controls our being.
The awakened ones are our future and opening to our spacious being is our real life's purpose.
Life is always full of challenges, but how we meet them is always up to us. If we do not become conscious of all aspects of our being, those unconscious tendencies based on old traumas, habits, culture, likes, and dislikes will run our lives like an automatic computer program. The key to staying open is to be present, to stay in the moment, and to feel the space like reality in any circumstance. Of course, this is easier said than done!
The next time you are presented with a difficult situation you can watch the whole body, energy, and mind shut down into a painful small box. This is the very moment that we are to apply what could be called “the essential yoga” of just letting go and staying open. Although it seems difficult, it is easier than it may seem and it can be developed to become our way of being. When we are trusting in the midst of challenges and find the space in what seems to be a claustrophobic black hole, we have really become in that moment a Buddha. We are no longer giving the survival brain control over our lives and we are becoming closer to our real spacious nature. There have been a few people in the history of humanity that have realised the state of the open sky mind, but to awaken to this is our life's purpose.
Suffering is the crack in the egg from which our spirit is born
Although a life without any suffering may seem like a great idea, if we look really honestly at our lives, we can see that when we had great suffering is when we really started to become real. People usually don’t wake up from the unconscious life through an easy life, it is through our challenges and pain that we seek what is real. Suffering is not something to be afraid of or to find a quick fix for, it is there to grow. And we will either grow through it or it will make us smaller, cautious, and more afraid.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
― Nelson Mandela after decades in prison
A practice in remaining open
Here is a very practical method you can use to stay open in any circumstance, and I really do mean ANY circumstance. Whenever you feel a situation either internally or externally that makes you feel tension and contraction, do this:
1. Stop, breathe, feel. Stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and feel your body. The tension brain depends on automatic habits, so stopping your body movement, taking a breath, and feeling your body short circuits the automatic brain and gives you the opportunity to see things in a more spacious way.
2. Feel deeply how your breath, mind, and body are closing down and the space is becoming smaller. Experience the real body feelings that are arising, don’t go with thoughts just stay with body and breath. If you follow the thoughts they will lead you to the contraction, not the space. The idea is to just stay with the body and breath.
3. Take another deep breath, and then a very very long slow exhale as you imagine you are dissolving into the sky. Be totally in the present moment, look around you, connect with your senses, see how life is always open if you are available.
If you can see the open blue sky you can also look at the actual sky, but the real sky is not up or down, inside or outside. It is our essential nature.
4. Recognise that this very moment is open and free. Take a moment to acknowledge that you are free in this very moment, you can choose the tension or the sky, and actively choose the sky!
5. If there is a real problem to solve, use your clear sky mind to solve it, if there isn’t really a problem or there is nothing to be done then let go and relax.
Most of the problems we are experiencing on our planet at the moment are because people are identified with the 4 F brain. If we make a small step in small ways with our own tensions, then this open sky virus will spread through the world. It is up to us…we always have a choice.
“When you enlarge your mind and let go of it,
When you relax your vital breath and expand it,
When your body is calm and unmoving:
And you can maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances.
You will see profit and not be enticed by it,
You will see harm and not be frightened by it.
Relaxed and unwound, yet acutely sensitive,
In solitude you delight in your own person.
This is called "revolving the vital breath":
Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly”
- Tao Te Ching
Theme of the Month Special Classes
In addition to our Theme of the Month blog post, we are bringing the theme into our Monthly Satsang for Delight Sangha Special Class guided by Satya & Sahaj and our Monthly Ayurveda for Delight Sangha Special Class Guided by Victoria Raven Hyndman. A spiritual community (Sangha) is very important to feel connected and supported, particularly when we are going through more challenging times, individually and collectively.
Coming up this month:
Thursday 1 July 16:00 - 17:30 Ayurveda for Delight Sangha
Sunday 11 July 11:00 - 12:30 Satsang for Delight Sangha
Kevin Sahaj is a dedicated yoga practitioner who has been studying and practicing yoga for 30 years. His approach to teaching is eclectic and draws from many different methods and teachings to help students align their lives towards awakening.