Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Open-hearted attitude

The open-hearted one finds peace, contentment, happiness. It seems counter-intuitive because our instinct is often to shutdown, to close off the heart, to protect. But that leads to disconnections and isolation. It is the open heart, she who is vulnerable, who finds contentment in any situation. Vulnerability isn’t just about sharing ourselves with others. It is about connecting deeply with who I am, understanding myself, engaging in life authentically, with no masks, no pretending, no hiding. It is to bare one’s soul, first to self. When we thoroughly understand our own thoughts and emotions, there is no danger. All is already secure. Vulnerability is more about living true than about any danger of being hurt.

A few months ago I was in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s, looking for a space. The Nashville Trader Joe’s parking lot is an exercise in an effort to squeeze far too many vehicles into too small a space. It is frustrating on the best days. The day I visited, the parking lot was its usual chaos. I spied a space on my left and put on my blinker just as a car approached from the opposite direction. The driver approached the empty space and stopped. She didn’t put on her indicator so I gestured to her, trying to question her intention and didn’t get a response. Then I turned into the space and parked my car. When I got out, heading toward the store she pulled up beside me and said, “you took my parking space!” I spoke to her, letting her know that I didn’t understand her intention while she continued to try to argue with me in this very busy parking lot. I leaned into her window, looked her in the eye and said, “I really don’t want to argue with you here in the parking lot and I also really hope you have a lovely day.” Then I proceeded into the store.

In that moment, I felt fully present, fully myself, and my heart was open. Able to stay present with myself, I didn’t fall into blame or defensiveness, paths I have too often followed. It could have gone another way, if I’d felt defensive or taken things personally. But for some reason, on that day, I was able to remain open. This is why I practice meditation and other spiritual disciplines: to stay with myself. These practices enable me to no give myself away in the moment. I can show up under any circumstance. This is an everyday miracle, what I consider a gift of grace, one available to each of us, daily, if we can stay open-heartedly present.

© 2015 Janet Tuck