Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not Knowing: Its All About the Inquiry

Not knowing is another one of those concepts that can cause confusion in a practice. For me, the simplest way to explain it is by using the idea of releasing the goal or the hard and fast explanation. It doesn't mean that you don't know what you are doing or that you give up on understanding and knowledge, but rather that you are free to use what you know without binding it to outcome. In essence, I give up a bit more of my attachment to the story when I look back at events or see myself getting invested in controling the what-when-who-how-why of things.

Recently my husband mentioned to me that he is always closing drawers on my dresser that I leave slightly open. I found this entirely shocking. My memory, as I scanned it, was entirely of closing my drawers. My thoughts ran through the standard patterns, denial that it just wasn't so, explanations about his character and the way he generalizes, revulsion that I could be so sloppy and simply not know it! Yet why would he say this if it wasn't true? I opened myself to the entirety of the idea: what is this? What is this? Watching the film, so to speak, I see him closing the last quarter inch of my drawer, every so often. Of course, it is true that occasionally the drawer is not flush to the dresser. I can feel his need to clean up the lines around him, to make order where there is disorder. I can feel myself getting distracted at the last moment of putting away laundry and turning my attention elsewhere. I am flooded with compassion for him. I am laughing at the odd couple we have been for so many years. I am softened by the way he is looking after me. I no longer feel threatened by this imperfection in me, nor by a potential judgment he might make of me for my behavior or the difference in my standards. I continue to wonder and observe how he interacts with my patterns, and how my patterns interact with his reactions. The whole conversation is no longer loaded with judgment, hurtfulness or confusion. I remain safe in my open minded attitude towards myself and my partnership.

Not knowing represents an attitude of wanting to know. Letting my awareness follow my breathing I find out all kinds of things about my breath. This doesn't inform me of what my breath will be in ten minutes, nor how to instruct someone else in their breathing. The curiousity and intelligence applied to observing my breath does inform my ability to be present with my students and encourage them in specific ways to explore their own breath. The outcome is unknown, and I am not witnessing my breath in order to inform my students in such and such a way. I am simply inquiring into the nature of my own breath and breath itself.

Liberating myself from the need to know has been, and continues to be, a process. As with all the aspects of yoga, this process leads in all directions, so that I find I am releasing judgment in order to inquire without predetermining the answer or even the direction of the inquiry. I may also find that I reach for my foundation for stability in order to let go of the grasping in physical, emotional, intellectual or even spiritual realms. Being open to whatever is there can inform me of truth that surprises me and removes the layers from the stories I've told myself for many years.

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