The ability to speak or perform without restriction, with an open mind, heart and body, is magnetic. Openness is a completely captivating quality shared by many exceptional speakers and performers. Cultivating our willingness and ability to be open can drastically transform our communication and performance skills.
There’s tremendous power in openness. But it requires vulnerability. It may feel uncomfortable or scary to express ourselves so openly, so freely, but such profound openness is magnetic. Like a moth to a flame, we are gripped and spellbound by openness. It beckons us to enter into what is being said or performed and lays the foundation for deep connection.
What is openness exactly? There's an element of mystery involved in openness that can't be explained or defined, but it's still valuable to look at the meaning of the word more closely. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
“1) Lack of restriction; accessibility.
2) Acceptance of or receptiveness to change or new ideas.
3) Lack of secrecy or concealment; frankness.”
We’ll explore each of these elements more deeply in turn and the countless ways we can cultivate this important quality. Let’s first prepare the soil for openness through the power of permission and decision.
Give yourself permission to open up more.
Part of being open is simply allowing yourself to. Start here. It’s a small step, but important nevertheless. Permission is a powerful ally to and catalyst for change.
Choose to be more open.
Make a conscious, intentional decision to take steps towards cultivating greater openness. Often we forget we have a choice at all. This is especially true if we’ve made a habit of closing or hardening our hearts, minds and bodies.
With a little guidance, patience and practice we can nurture new habits of openness. Like peeling back the layers an onion, little by little, we can allow ourselves to reveal more and more of our hearts.
Then can we be more fully, more deeply seen, heard and felt.
Then can heart touch heart.
And that’s where the magic happens.
Practice being more accessible by reaching out and inviting more moments of openness in everyday life with friends, family, acquaintances, even strangers (use your discretion of course). Start small. Make eye contact, smile or say hello. Strike up a conversation. Call an old friend. Ask a sincere question. Ask for advice, an opinion or for help. Give a sincere compliment. Admit a flaw or mistake. Pray. Step out of your comfort zone a bit and surf the sea of vulnerability.
Find a quiet place to be still. Bring your attention to your heart and ask it to soften. Imagine it is warm and gooey, oozing love and light. Now try radiating or beaming this sensation outwards. Listening to music during the exercise can help. Thinking of loved ones can also help get those heart juices flowing. Play around and note whatever triggers sensations of softness, warmth, and openness. Rehearse your speech or performance while cultivating and sustaining these sensations.