Push Away Nothing: The Art of Receptivity
I received the weekly newsletter from UPAYA Zen Centre via email. It opened with a quote from Frank Ostaseski:
“The First Precept: Welcome everything. Push away nothing… At the deepest level, we are being asked to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”
There is more to the quote and I encourage you to source the rest of it. “Push away nothing.” There was something freeing about that statement. It felt almost paradoxical. We tend to protect ourselves from the experiences and situations we deem bad, harmful, stressful, discouraging. There was a sense of liberation in his statement. I felt as though it contained a secret key. I have found over my years of spiritual seeking, that when I stumble across a paradox or a deeply contrary belief, I am usually stumbling onto something great.
“Welcome everything.” It wasn’t to say that I welcomed awful things. It was when I found myself fighting against what was happening, that I stopped and repeated the words, “Welcome everything.”
Fear keeps us from welcoming everything. There was a time I lived by the phrase, “The garbage you know is better than the garbage you don’t.” (Well, maybe I didn’t use the word garbage). What do we think is going to happen? And why do we assume it is less than what we have now? Perhaps it will be greater than we can imagine.
“Push away nothing.” I was starting a new venture with a dear friend and the timing of this new mantra was perfect. I took it into every challenge and situation that arose in the early stages of creating our vision and bringing our project to life. When conflict came, I welcomed it. When the workload grew, even though it was summer holidays and I had planned to be loafing around doing yoga in the garden and playing with the kids, I welcomed it. When I had to wait for others in order to move forward, I welcomed it. I pushed away nothing but something fell away all on its own. As I welcomed each and every circumstance, feeling and thought, struggle fell away. As I welcomed everything, everything became easier.
The new venture emerged with much work and little struggle. Finally, I made the time to enjoy an end of summer yoga class. The summer work and activity schedule had gotten the best of my back. I altered the poses. Rather than flow from up dog to down, I took an extra plank, reducing the movement in my spine. I lay on my back in a tense version of setu bhandasana, or bridge pose, mitigating back pain by squeezing my glutes tighter. I wondered why my back was in such a state after a long period pain-free. I wished the pain would go away so I could enjoy my practice.
“Push away nothing.” The mantra found me on my mat. I released my glutes and my tension. “Welcome everything.” I breathed deeply into my back and the discomfort. I moved through the remaining practice with breath and mantra, welcoming the state of my body and the opportunity to gently back off from the full expression of the poses. I took seated twist and simply allowed myself to back off. In backing off, I discovered deeper release and the ability to move further into the pose with greater ease. In welcoming the condition of my body and allowing it to guide my practice, I found more freedom and flexibility.
I woke the next morning with more mobility in my spine and my mind. Seemingly counter-intuitive, there is great freedom in Frank Ostaseski’s words. I am grateful he shared them and I adopt them with fearless receptivity.
Want to Smile More? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
A dimple, a crinkle, a twinkle, and a lightness of the spirit equals a genuine smile. A smile has the power to capture hearts around us. I notice that a genuine smile makes me feel vibrantly alive! Smiling is about fulfillment: a sense of meaning, integrity, and satisfaction that fills a moment in time.
Experiencing more genuine smiles means making decisions to support our internal satisfaction. Shaking up the status quo of our lives, if need be, to create more space. When we decide we want more meaning, integrity and satisfaction, we make the necessary changes. During those transitions we often find speed bumps in the road; what we need to genuinely smile feels impossible, bad, scary, guilty, selfish, etc… If this enters your process, don’t fret; simply keep the end result in mind.
Along the journey of life, many of us will experience an empty feeling, when smiles are few and far between; those empty gaps can feel like small ravines or big grand canyons. When we notice those gaps, often, we fill them with tangible things – when in fact what we are searching is an experience to scratch an emotional itch. A desire to feel more congruent in our lives, that we are contributing, giving, receiving, playing, expressing, and being seen for who we are in the world. To satisfy those voids, strengthen your ability to regularly choose experiences that make you feel complete.
To smile more, and bask in being vibrantly alive, try asking yourself:
Where am I selling out on myself?
What thrills me?
What makes me laugh out loud?
Notice what comes to your mind when you ask these questions. Write the answers down, and leave the judgment out. Decide on one small action, relative to above, and take it in the next seven days. Make sure the action makes you feel lighter and it’s not another to-do item. Then call anyone you enjoy sharing your smile with, or email me, and declare your right to smile more today!