Three weeks ago openness came to me in the form of a 10 year old 70 pound black labrador retriever named Lucy.
Many of you know Scott and I already have two big dogs, Simon and Ollie, pictured below. Simon is on the right. Ollie is on the left. That is a lot of dog. So, another one? Yes.
Coincidentally or not coincidentally, openness has been something I’ve been struggling with for a few years. I felt it. I knew it. But it is a slippery thing, this openness business. We set up boundaries to protect ourselves and to control our environments. When I met Lucy, I felt as if I was laying down a sword. It hit me at the gut level.
Lucy’s owners were no longer able to care for her. I ran into the situation, well, by accident. And how did Lucy respond? She was open to another human caring for her. In a very gentle yet assertive way, she told me she was ready for a new home. There stood openness staring me in the face. She has taught me to look at my boundaries, reconsider them, work on them, and challenge myself with turning toward rather than turning away.
Ok, if some of you are now thinking, “Really, Kelly, really ? All of this from a chance encounter with a labrador retriever? You are crazy.” I would understand. But, let me take you further into how meditation, boundaries, and openness collide.
A couple of days into informally fostering her (we’ve now adopted her), I realized the laying down of swords feeds openness. The openness we cultivate when we whittle away at boundaries that we’ve set over the course of our lives. When we decide we’ll control our environments a little less and be a little more open. We cultivate openness through practice and through meditation.
When I met Lucy, as I mentioned, I had the felt experience of laying down a sword. I didn’t think about it. That is simply what I felt. Isn’t that what a boundary is? Aren’t boundaries akin to our arsenal of swords we keep at hand to keep life and others in check?
By practicing meditation, we choose to actively engage in our lives. We turn toward rather than turning away. By practicing openness we choose to turn toward. Boundaries turn us away.
Heidi Swanson at www.101cookbooks.com has a fantastic soup on her site posted a few weeks ago. She calls it Immunity Soup. It is one of the best broths I’ve had in a long time. Spikes of garlic, ginger and pepper make it sharp while onion, carrot, and celery add mellow notes. I’d also (and will) use the broth simply as a base for other soups. It is that good.