I was flipping through Jan Chosen Bays’ book, “How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness,” the other morning, searching for inspiration to share with my Monday night meditation group. And the chapter titled, “Say Yes” jumped out at me. As is often the case with most of the material I choose to share with the group, the title captured my attention because I probably need to be saying more of that word, myself, right now.
As I’ve shared here before, I seem to find myself continually feeling stuck these days—unable to fully expand and spread my wings. Something’s holding me back. And I’m starting to think it might have to do with the fact that I’ve been running a pattern of knee-jerk “No’s” whenever new opportunities (or new ways of being…) present themselves.
It reminds me of the cardinal rule in improv—in order to keep a scene alive, one must always respond with a form of “Yes, and…” Because, the moment “no” is uttered, all action stops. End of scene.
Looking back, I’m fairly certain my auto-No’s have been a reaction to having my boundaries repeatedly trampled on again and again while I was growing up. Somewhere down the line, I later learned how to overcompensate for not saying the word when I wanted to (or for not making sure it landed firmly with whomever I was aiming it toward). And I just automatically started saying “No” to pretty much everything new and/or unknown in a constant attempt to deflect and protect.
Jan Chozen Bays, explains it well…
“People who are stuck in aversion make major life decisions based not upon moving toward a positive goal but rather on moving away from something they perceive to be negative. They are reactive rather than proactive.”
Contemplating this, I get the vision of a ball in a pinball machine, frenetically pinging off everything it touches. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Until the ball, inevitably, falls into the little black hole.
End of game.
When I feel my internal pinball thwacking every which way, bouncing off everything with automatic “No’s”… Taking a mindful pause helps me to recalibrate, to find my balance and gather my energy so I can make a conscious choice whether or not I want to say “Yes” and move something forward—instead of just reactively ending all possibilities of forward momentum.
The image that comes to mind here is of those little plastic hand mazes—you know the ones that often show up as prizes in crackerjack boxes? “Solving” the puzzle entails making slow, incremental movements and making deliberate, mindful, moves forward, toward the end “goal.”
This latter, more deliberate way of “playing” in life feels a lot more sustainable at this point in my life—and way more conducive to fostering the expansion I’m ready to experience.