“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I’ve lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” –Diane Ackerman

Be open to possibility. We hear this invitation a lot – from a young age into adulthood, though the ups and downs in life, in yoga practices, and at every turn of the calendar year. But what does it mean?

When I was younger, I thought that being open to possibility meant looking for silver linings. Not letting myself get bogged down by circumstances. Rather than letting myself be down and out in fear, focusing on hope and optimism felt more comforting. I used and credited this strategy as my foundation to survive cancer in my 20’s, divorce in my 30’s and a career pivot in my 40’s.  

But I’ve since realized that truly being open to possibilities is more than just reframing your perspective. It is more than looking for the bright side. To be open to possibilities, you need certain ingredients.

You need 4 ingredients to be open to possibility

Amplify your awareness.

Being open to new possibilities necessitates awareness of the moment.

Without awareness of the present, we are wrapped up in stories from the past or expectations of the future. Awareness means being awake – to our senses, to feelings, to sounds and sensations – to the wholeness of life around us and inside of us. It means facing fears, disappointments, joy, and laughter. Awareness asks us to see all the parts that make a whole instead of hiding from what we’d rather ignore, or bury that which feels too difficult. My favorite example of awareness are the sensations that can be felt during a physical yoga practice. Different poses effect different body parts, and in some cases, generate what some might describe as discomfort. Half Pigeon pose is a typical pose where people like to talk about their hips “talking to them.” But what if we could see those sensations as messages from the body. What if we could notice without judgment – as if that body part was just a benevolent messenger to remind us that we are awake in the moment?

Vulnerability.

Ah yes. Not only does it feel scary to let yourself feel fear, it is even scarier to allow other people to see our perceived weaknesses. But vulnerability is an invitation. To let ourselves see our wholeness and be seen as we are by others – without the shackles of judgment.

Because guess what? The only way to receive love and understanding from others, is to offer it to ourselves first. Giving yourself the vulnerability to feel and experience, to see and be seen offers us the reminder that it isn’t falling down that matters. Or reaching a summit. It is about what happens when you fall down and the ease and integrity with which you stand back up, that tells the truer story.

Ease

You’ve probably noticed that things have a sneaky way of coming together when you are putting in the least effort. Ease does not exclude effort, but it does invite us to amplify our vibration, our energy, and our intention to allow for possibility.

Sometimes we force ourselves to meet deadlines, to complete projects, or to achieve dreams. And that can work. But in many cases, it is when we sift through the busy-ness and noise to make space for flow and synchronicities that the magic happens. Ease necessitates knowing your purpose, your why, so that even the smallest actions of energy match the core of what is in our heart. It is only in clarity that we can find ease, because when we are clear – we don’t need to force things to fit together. By sifting beyond force, the important things emerge.

Self-acceptance and self-compassion.

I’m lumping these two magical ingredients together, because to me, they go hand in hand.

Acceptance – of the self or of circumstances around us is not, and let me repeat – is not, the same as giving up or surrendering a white flag. It is simply an acknowledgement of the moment. Yes, it sounds a lot like awareness. But I think of it as you need awareness (and vulnerability) to practice self- acceptance and self-compassion. Acceptance offers us the possibility of noticing without the chorus of stories in our mind. With self-acceptance and self-compassion we notice the benevolent messages in our dreams, our bodies, and our lives and then we extend understanding, forgiveness, and even love to ourselves that we are exactly where we need to be in the moment.

Yes, being open to possibilities is a process. These three ingredients take effort, practice, and patience. Persistence doesn’t hurt either.

Being open to possibility takes practice.

The journey to be open to possibilities – in your life and within yourself is layered with reframing thoughts. It asks us to consider the mindset that we bring to the moment. It is call to experience life with less judgment and more willingness to see beyond our perceptions and expectations.

For many of us, standing in front of the mirror can be an excellent teacher. Will you look at yourself and notice judgment? Or can you give yourself permission to see your reflection with curiosity and willingness? Perhaps you can pause there long enough to extend the love and self-compassion that you need to get out of your own way. Maybe, just maybe – you can look at yourself and smile as you repeat the mantra, “With great love, anything is possible.”

 

 

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