Monday, January 18, 2010

Accepting Not Knowing

So much tension builds up in me when I am attached to an outcome and understand that I cannot know how anything will actually come out. Elections and disasters, or risking relationships or having children are good large scale examples of this type of tense and uncertain state of mind. This can make any of us uncomfortable until we think we have defined results, though it can take a very long time to know much about these results, and understand their effects. Any kind of planning can lead to the same condition, whether it's a plane reservation, baking a cake, or teaching a yoga class. In the context of my teaching this might manifest in my desire to teach a "good class" or to "meet the needs" of a particular student. Now I know every class is itself a shape shifter, merging with the breath in the room and the shapes of the bodies, taking on a life of its own that exists only in the moment. This natural flow is the gift my students and my own energy give me, it is not something I can create out of the desire for it to be so.

I don't think it's possible, or even desirable, to give up caring what happens. What really helps me, though, is to detach from the outcome and let my energy flow more freely into the process whatever it is. If I forget something or do something unpredictable, the moment will go on. There are usually steps that can be taken, or my attention can be turned to something else if other forces are at work.

Experiencing the moment is empowering. It removes the weights and ties, anxieties and attachments that bind me to inaction or repetitive cycles, to remoteness or rigidity. Each moment holds the key to itself and opens into itself moment into moment, forever in the present.

Doing new things, teaching, in my own practice, taking care of the mundane, whatever I do, I seem to be swimming in the sea of not knowing. Much as I might want certain things to happen, I am learning more and more deeply that what happens is exactly that which is produced by the momentary combination of actions, level of awareness and conditions. Letting go of the outcome gives me freedom, to experiment and explore, to experience and cherish what is happening. Even if it is a matter of clarifying a paperwork tangle, staying in the present takes away the bitterness of frustration, and enables me to attend to the matter in that moment. I accept not knowing until the next moment. Look at the menu, pick something, enjoy the wait, and savor not knowing until something delicious comes!

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