I went through a really bad breakup a few years ago. Everyone experiences heart break at some point in their life and this one was a doozy. We were engaged, we lived together, we were planning for a future, and then all of a sudden…we weren’t. It was not pretty–there were lots of tears and hard conversations and promises to myself of ‘never again!’ It was an experience that ushered me into a new space: closed off and numb.
I fell into an emotional rut; the doors slammed shut on my heart and my mind raced with fear. I was desperate to escape the pain and the only way I knew how to deal with it was to close down. This devastation continued on for weeks until a kind friend saw how I was struggling and suggested I try yoga.
I would have become a circus clown if it promised me some sort of relief, so off to yoga I went! The first couple of classes were so uncomfortable. I had no idea what I was doing and I was sure I was being tortured. I felt awkward and clumsy but it got me thinking differently about things. It took the focus off of my sadness–the discomfort of the new practice helped open me up.
Retreats encourage it, gurus teach it and the lonely need it, but what does it actually mean to open up?
Mentally: Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” When I was trying to patch myself back together, going to those yoga classes forced me to try something new and be vulnerable. I learned I had to do something different in order to feel different. Expansion can happen in many ways–with a class or a daily mantra–the key is to try something new. Get out of your routine. Stretch your limits. If you feel a little uncomfortable doing it, you’re probably on the right track.
Physically: Opening up physically is about release; it’s about letting go. I cried a lot and then I got tired of crying, so I started talking again. I started chatting with strangers in the grocery line; I would make eye contact with everyone I encountered to try to connect. Physically taking action in a new way helps open you up. Even the clothes you wear can make a difference–avoid the tight and constricting options. Loosen up and enjoy a lighter vibe (goodbye suit, hello sundress!)
Emotionally: Opening up emotionally can feel awkward, uncomfortable but it will challenge the way you’re used to feeling. When opening up emotionally, dive in or go slow, just make some kind of move. Express your love. Ask for help. And be prepared for what comes next: we all resist change and opening up emotionally will bring change.
God knows I was digging my heels in– I had thoughts like: what if that was it? What if I never feel that way again? I learned that the relief of expressing myself far out-weighs the risk of going out on that limb. Yielding to new territory can be drastically uncomfortable but those new feelings in the body are good. They wake you up.
Courage comes after you do the scary thing.
So what is the point of opening up? Being open is the easiest way to experience life more fully, to welcome others to share experiences with and it provides the opportunities to change and grow. This is just the beginning of what can transpire. Being open is about making room in your life for what you really want.
What do you need to do, to open up more?