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Listening Through Open-Awareness Instead of Open-Mindedness


Out of the gate, with special regard to "Open-mindedness," there's a distinct difference if being so-called "Open-minded," through our head, and what I could call Open-Awareness."


In the Just For Today section of the Narcotics Anonymous Basic-Text, there's a part that reads: “Open-mindedness leads us to the very insights that have eluded us during our lives. It is this principle that allows us to participate in a discussion without jumping to conclusions or predetermining right and wrong. We no longer need to make fools of ourselves by standing up for nonexistent values. We have learned that it is okay to not know all the answers, for then we are teachable and can learn to live our new life successfully.” Such words can only be a result of True experience, resonating deeply...beautifully. There's so much to This.

There was a "Critical" moment in my recovery when I ran into the wall of a false assumption. The false assumption was that I and everyone else naturally know how to be open-minded. It was my sponsor who pointed out, "Open-mindedness is a skill. Open-mindedness isn't something to be taken for granted. It requires mindfulness, presence, and... anonymity." I was like "What?" Anonymity? Ummmm I'm not sure how you get there!" He laughed and replied, "Anonymity means... without personality... as in we don't lay the personality that we carry with us, over top of others, because our personality... our persona... our judge-mental (hyper judging) capacity... can get in the way of seeing... (experiencing) people, places and things as they authentically are."

His teaching me this very definitely gave me a perspective the narrow-band of my dis-ease and un-ease assumptions didn't allow for. It's easy for something to elude us, when we don't know what something is or what it means. It's a reminder about one of my definitions of "Surrender." It's letting of everything and every-thing that the narrow-minded, small "i," thinks it knows about me and everyone else. We can learn to take mini-vacations from doing that, instantly having a sense of peace.


The next part... "It is this principle that allows us to participate in a discussion without jumping to conclusions or predetermining right and wrong..." Being in relation with people in such a way that the small "i" is quiet enough that it's ongoing commentary, that's more like a show-host... isn't getting in the way of the present moment. As my Zen teacher used to say... "Please put the "i," in the backseat and put it's seatbelt on, it's trying to grab the steering wheel of you!" uggghhh! That I've seen 100,000 times. And so how do the adulting "I..." non-reactive "I..." Responsive "I..." do that? There's a prayer... mantra... that I modified from an early predecessor in Narcotics Anonymous that I work to apply... Greg Pierce that goes:

Dear Universal Loving Presence,

within and all around Us,

Please protect and provide for Us,

Guide and illuminate the path of our pilgrimage.

May I experience conscious contact

with courage commitment and strength.

May I be open-hearted and minded to give

myself and others their dignity without reservation

May I recall appreciation, gratitude...

my values and principles

May I recognize their Presence within me and all around me,

and allow my actions to be a reflection of This One Love

with L.O.V.E. (Lots of Voluntary Effort).


And so this brings me to that last part... "We no longer need to make fools of ourselves by

standing up for nonexistent values. We have learned that it is okay to not know all the answers, for then we are teachable and can learn to live our new life successfully." In a cool way, the longer I'm clean, the less the small "i," knows about me, others, and everything else. Recovery and healing has a way of cleaning up our internal and external landscapes. For me foolishness comes from unrealistic expectations, idealism, and disappointments I'm toting around in my head. It can drop in like a S.W.A.T. team when people or myself aren't showing up as the small "i" expects. Idealism, coming from self-centeredness and self-obsession, is like "Pole-vaulting over fly shit," as one of my friends puts it. I've progressively learned over time to abstain from "Not standing up for non-existent values," by literally and intentionally abstaining from saying You or I should... I should have... why... that wasn't fair.... they're dead to me... blockading people with silence or ghosting. It can be some very unnecessary mental and emotional gymnastic reactiveness, as a result of practicing personality before principle. It's an unhappy-meal that gets super-sized.

And so... upgrading... evolving... or coming to a new understanding of "Open-mindedness," as Open-Presence through awareness. This has been incredibly valuable. Instead of being "Open-minded," through my head, which was really difficult, because nearly every word a person was saying, the small "i,"... was trying to dissect, analyze, interrogate, speculate... without my permission. Open-Awareness for me is close to childlike curiosity and noticing with a lot of attentiveness.


Open-Awareness for me is not just hearing with my thinking mind... my ears... my eyes... It's Open-Awareness with 360° mindful presence, not looking to litigate, spectate, evaluate, or having to make choice or decisions. There's a lot of room, like wearing baggy sweat-pants and shirts. Nothing thinks or feels constricted or constrained. It's friendly. In this way, things land and hit differently, and as a friend says... there's a lot of "Dignity, grace, without need for future amends," because being in integrity with our values is manifested through goodwill and creative action of the heart. Open awareness allows for transformation rather than transaction.


The invitation is to test-drive, the perspective of Open-Awareness, for yourself. A smart person can learn from their own mistakes. A wise person can imitate, assimilate, integrate, personalize and innovate through the experience, strength and hope from so-called others.


一We Are the Practice Itself



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