Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Keeping an open mind is something I strive for. I practice it. I have to. It's amazing to me how quickly the human mind and heart close down and harden in response to so many things... probably hundreds of times a day! Part of keeping an open mind is letting go of attachments to our views and opinions. It doesn't mean that we don't have views and opinions, but that we don't lock them down and perceive them as "the way things are." It means being open to each moment of your life as it unfolds, even if you are brushing your teeth for the zillionth time in your life or some other mundane, ordinary task, that experience in that moment is different from all other moments—it is unique. We can pay attention to it and try to have the mindset that we are brushing our teeth for the first time in our lives, paying attention to everything about it that the senses can perceive. The taste, the smell, the sound, the way it looks in the mirror, the way it feels... these are all ways to stay in the present moment. Only with an open mind can we be in the present moment. Life only happens in the now. This moment is all we have. But don't take my word for it. Try to maintain an open mind as you go about your day and notice the ways your mind shuts down. Don't scold yourself for it. It's the nature of our minds to do so after years of conditioning.

Another way to keep an open mind is to listen to other people as they tell you their views and opinions and stay open to them even if they are different from yours. Our views and opinions are just that—views and opinions. They are not the way things are. They are thought forms. The other person may be very attached to his or her opinions and views, and we can just notice and be aware of that. Much suffering results from being attached and identified with our views and opinions, with our ideas of the way things should be, or whatever. This obstructs being open to what really is happening in that very moment. If we aren't present and instead of accepting the present moment the way it is we spend the energy and time lamenting about things not being as we think they should be or how we want them to be! The most unhappy people are probably the ones who have the strong mental habit of keeping the mind closed to anything that isn't what they want in that moment. It's natural, isn't it? We seek comfort and avoid discomfort? We experience frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and unhappiness when we get things we don't want and when we don't get things we do want. This leads back to attachment. We get attached to the ideas that our desires are so important. We spend time wishing things were a certain way rather than living our lives in the present moment, whatever that moment brings, especially if it's not to our liking.

Having an open mind is also a form of surrender and acceptance. If only more people could make a decision to be on a path that includes practicing mindfulness awareness, acceptance of things the way they are, nonresistance, and keeping an open mind... so much suffering could be alleviated.

May you be able to take a deep breath, slowly exhale and feel your body relax, and say to yourself, with an open mind, "I accept myself in this moment exactly as I am, and I accept everything in this moment the way it is. I surrender to this moment. I am at peace, and I wish inner peace, joy, and the end of suffering for myself and all beings everywhere. May my heart and mind stay open to whatever life brings."


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