Extension of mindfulness from internal to include the external; spaciousness; matures to include the relational moment; mutuality.
With Open we extend the awareness and acceptance cultivated in Pause and Relax beyond the boundaries of our own skin to encompass other people and the environment. Focused internally, mindfulness emphasizes sensing this body, these thoughts, these emotions. Expanded externally, mindfulness includes the world that is sensed and reacted to: the physical world and the appearance, words, and actions of others. Mindfulness established both internally and externally points to the relationship itself as it manifests between ourselves and others. The subject—me, and the object—you, or it, are joined in the relational moment. We are cognizant of what Martin Buber called “the between,” the incessant flux of self and others.
Open can be cultivated through a series of steps beginning with the awareness and receptivity to internal experience cultivated in Pause and Relax. This awareness is stabilized by focusing on a particular area of the body and then expanding to fill the entire body with kind awareness. To Open, we allow this awareness to extend beyond the shell of the skin, noticing a wider sense of hearing and then gently opening the eyes to include the visual field. If seated in front of a meditation partner, we are encouraged to keep the quality of seeing soft and general. As the body-mind relaxes in this relational contact, awareness can settle with the specific other that is in front of one. The same kind, accepting, mindful awareness that was offered internally to our own body-mind now encompasses the other.
The extension of mindfulness to the world outside ourselves cultivated in Open opens the door to mutuality: it is the basis for interpersonal meditation.