If one steps back and thinks about the big picture, the essence of activities, aspirations, practices, regimens, and even the food one prefers will come into view and an essence or overarching character will stand revealed. For instance, some people are travelers, easily bored or restless, and who enjoy a variety of people, tastes, and occupations through life. If one steps back from the specifics, activity or movement plus an engaged curiosity (thus boredom when not engaged) pervade this person’s life.
With spiritual Path practices and meditation training, there can seem to be myriad methods and techniques. For example, Patanjali’s Sutras encompass four “books” or sections, each with approximately 40-50 sutras. Are they all different? Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have given 84,000 teachings as antidotes for the myriad emotional and personality-derived afflictions that beset a human being and, included in that number are diverse practices, insights, orienting instructions, and statements that remind us what is truly true. Are they all unique unto themselves? That could be confusing!
The great masters (male and female) of the spiritual traditions of the world realized compassion and wisdom not through merely memorizing scriptures or instructions. They found Truth of Being within themselves and within all beings, circumstances, and phenomena by looking for the essence in practices, people, karmic propensities and events. Soften and open is one such essence.
Soften and open will serve when worrying about something, in relationship, when sitting for meditation practice, or doing a workout or yoga. Soften and open will help us feel that we are not hungry when a craving arises, not angry when passion fires up, not bored when there is a pause in activity. Soften and open is an essence that runs through life; it encourages us to be present through being soft and open, to feel how contracted much of our thought is, how reactive and richoceting our emotions tend to be which is due to not being soft and open.
On the cushion or anywhere through our day, if we are soft and open Awareness is in its seat. If Awareness is in its seat, then compassion, wisdom, kindness, respect, and creative truth of Being is present and forefront. Without softening and opening, none of them are. Soften and open is an essential teaching that runs through life and all practices.