fist vs palm


moby came to dc! he had this totally calm, quiet vibe about him.

lovely tricia at dean's backyard soiree

steve and jill got married with baxter by their side

Trust is necessary, because we can only let things happen if we believe that things will work out all right, that events and circumstances and things and situations come from a source that wants our good. We can open our hands and receive these things without the nagging fear that they are traps. The difference between this inner openness and a kind of nervous choosiness is the difference between an open hand and a clenched fist.
- David Steindl-Rast

four years ago, i had my tarot cards read. i didn't plan to do it but i was tired for a hard day at work (this was when i was figuring out that i really shouldn't be working in an office) and i had a half hour to kill before meeting a friend for dinner. i wandered into a bookstore and before i could stop myself, i was sitting across from a normal-looking lady shuffling a deck of cards. she started flipping them over and told me in no uncertain terms that i was clinging. i asked her what that meant and she had me make a fist with my hand. she told me that i was afraid of someone taking something from me so i was keeping it all closed up inside. as a result, i wasn't allowing anyone to get close to me or the good that wanted to come my way. my practice, as she explained it, was to keep my palm open, allowing things to come and go, allowing people to get to know me. i spent the rest of the night opening and closing my palm, trying to figure out if what she said had any real meaning.

as people who read this blog know, a lot has happened in these past four years. i started my own business, grounded my yoga practice, found incredible teachers and traveled around the world and in myself to learn more about how to live an more open, joyful life. for the most part it's worked beautifully. i can honestly say that i really enjoy my life and feel incredibly blessed by how many great people and opportunities come into my experience. yet there are still times i look down and find that i am gripping my palms so tightly my knuckles are turning white.

in yogic terms, we call this aparigraha. it essentially translates to non-hoarding and it usually used when referring to material possessions and i think it hits on the nerve of fear. from my experience, it seems like i least generous when i don't feel like i have enough. it's in my most fearful times that i start getting into a survivor mentality, trying to figure out how long that money i have saved will last if the shit really hits the fan.

and it also feels like a fear of my giving not be reciprocated. i learn this again and again living communally and sharing food. there are days when i feel like i am cooking and sharing way more than i receive. i'll get worked up and then have to laugh at myself the next week when i am way too busy too cook and am so grateful to eat what my roommates have cooked for dinner. again, it's my mind playing tricks on me.

i think this is all really understandable and probably has been essentially to my evolutionary successes, yet the times i have been brave enough to experiment with sharing what i have, i am always rewarded in some way. last week i was talking about the reluctance in letting go of my painting (i sold it at the art show!) and one of the other artists told me that his painting teacher always told him that he should make his work about getting as many paintings out into the world as possible. this artist had just finished a show where he had sold half of his work.

yet deeper than material possessions (although i think the material and the spiritual always connect), lately i've also been thinking about aparigraha in terms of hoarding our good emotions around each other. four years ago, i think what my card reader was referring to was my fear of sharing myself, my true joyful self, with the people around me. it was during a time when i wasn't sure that what was going on inside of me was worth sharing and as much as i didn't like feeling shy and withdrawn, i think there was a big element of self-protection in that. the problem with that is that it set up a really negative cycle. because i wasn't sharing who i was, i wasn't able to really connect with people around me and feel their positive emotions and because i couldn't connect, i even more wanted to hide my good stuff away.

the above quote really hits it for me. we have to trust enough in the complete cycle of giving and receiving in order to be brave enough to share something that feels really scary or vulnerable. once our good comes, we also have to trust enough it in to not sabotage it and actually enjoy what we are giving. it's not a perfect process and i believe that we need to start with small steps around people we care about us. trust is like a muscle, we need to use it continually to keep it strong.

once it gets going, it's so good. to me there is nothing more exciting than to feel like i am totally in the flow of my own life, giving all i have and receiving more than i ever thought possible. it's so good that when i am white-knuckled afraid and clinging that i again and again come back to my belief in the goodness i deserve and that next step toward letting go.