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Spiritual Practices: Openness
Empathy, Flexibility


The Basic Practice

It is important in the spiritual life to keep an open mind, open to ideas, experiences, people, the world, and the Sacred. Openness is an ability to go with the flow, as Taoism puts it, without expecting predetermined outcomes. It means being receptive to new possibilities, without prejudging them. It is an ability to make yourself available to out-of-the-ordinary opportunities. Indeed, openness to the unknown, the exotic, and the bizarre is usually seen as the mark of a free spirit.

You can increase your openness by practicing empathy. Move outside yourself into another's situation. Try to access the other's feelings and ideas. For the purposes of practice, the more eccentric your choice, the better.

Why This Practice May Be For You

Why the spiritual practice of openness may be for you:

The contrast to openness is narrow-mindedness. It is characterized by a rigidity of mind. Pessimistic people who have armored themselves against preconceived disappointments are not open. Dogmatic and stubborn people are basically unapproachable.

How available are you to others? How interested are you in people, especially those quite different from you? How flexible are you? Do you usually think you already know how things are going to come out? Are you willing to try something new? These are the questions to ask to assess your openness and to determine the benefits you might derive from this practice.


Resources on This Practice