Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can have trouble getting yourself to turn your mind, and to be open. You want to do it, but your mind isn’t turning. It’s stuck. Or you want to do it, but you find yourself feeling willful. Willfullness is when we dig our heels in or throw our hands up in the air.
When this happens, you can try half-smiling and a willing open posture. This is willingness (with your body). Willingness is an opposite action to willfullness. You can cultivate willingness purposely and intentionally. This is why Buddha smiles!
To do this, relax your face and let your lips go up just slightly at the corners. It is hard to be willing when you are grimacing, pursing your lips tightly, furrowing your brows, or holding tension in your face. One way to relax your face is to take the tip of your tongue and slightly let it touch the roof of your mouth.
You can do this exercise standing or sitting. You can do it on its own or combine it with willing hands. Then, you let yourself be with this half-smile for a few moments, and observe your internal experience. Notice what shifts inside of you.
To do willing hands, sit in a relaxed posture and open your hands. It is hard to be willing with clenched fists.
The following video will guide you through putting your body in an open posture. And while you’re doing so, observe your internal experiences non-judgmentally. Try your best to stay in your body and out of your head. Let go of distractions as best as you can. See how much internal openness you can feel. Observe where there is internal space created as you move through the exercise.
Make sure you’re in a safe comfortable space. And, ensure your body is supported such as sitting or leaning against something or the wall.
The focus here is to help you get unstuck and cultivate openness. This then gives you new perspectives and choices. It can help you get out of your own way and your tunnel vision. It can help you tolerate distress and respond to life more readily.
The goal during the exercise is NOT to figure out WHY you feel what you feel. That can be done at another time.
It’s important to note that this exercise seems simple. But depending on where you are in your healing journey and readiness, it can bring up intense reactions for you. It can bring up vulnerability, tearfulness, emotional risk, or things about safety and trust. The video highlights variations for this purpose such as different positions for your hands or arms.
When we are able to practice this on an ongoing basis, we can become more open to change inside and outside ourselves, more ready to acknowledge things we’re no longer ok with, more flexible with ourselves, and more willing to find solutions to our solvable problems.