August 24, 2010
Hanging off a rock is an exaggerated experience of facing the unknown. It is exhilarating, scary, and completely vibrant. When we can't find a foothold, the mind falls into open stillness—the same open stillness we encounter in any situation in which we lose our familiar reference points. If we have the wherewithal to relax, we find our way. But the ordinary reactive mind panics in these moments. Our body tightens, our breath shortens, our vision narrows. All our sense perceptions and our ability to reason are stifled. After a while, muscle strain stirs our sensibilities: "I can't stay like this forever." We don't have the luxury of avoidance, so we work with our fear and slowly we soften. Now, this is the fascinating part: as we soften, we notice all kinds of new patterns and shapes emerging from the rock. We see places to balance we didn't see before. We're not doomed after all, As we soften and open, we access a special intelligence, unimpeded by habitual, reactive mind.
- Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, The Power of an Open Question