A feeling I am coming to experience and appreciate more and more these days is relief. The shoulder melting, jaw easing and eye softening kind of relief of knowing what I know and can do, and what I don't know and therefore need to give way to.
When we've been on a path of awareness for a while old thought-patterns of over-knowing, of fear and control, can morph into spiritual speak - what the Buddhists call the 'near enemies'. This is when a quality looks like something healthy but is actually the exact opposite. Compassion is actually pity, detachment is coldness, and love codependency. These qualities appear the same but the feeling tone is not life enhancing; it drains rather than gives energy, and disconnects rather than connects.
We can label anything as spiritual, healing or liberating. That's how sneaky and baffling fear is. Fear shape shifts and takes us over, and we're just so used to it that we keep on moving without really knowing what is propelling us forward. Because most institutions of the modern world are still fuelled by and promote fear it's quite difficult to remain immune to it.
This is where 'I don't know' becomes your best friend, and a torch to bring light to the shadowy corners of the fear-created crazy. When we respond to fear in a non-threatening way it disappears and healing occurs. I don't know is one of the most disarming statements there are.
I've been meditating every day for many years now, and the bulk of my meditation practice is to feel deeply into my body in a peaceful way, easing away the imbalances that manifest as pain, tension and dis-ease. I am used to facing old habits of fear, and welcome the opportunity to empty it out of my bodymind. I teach this is my classes and retreats; it's what occupies every day of my life. What I have realised recently though, is that a tiny little subtle over-knowing had crept in and was keeping me stuck.
I experienced extreme physical violence throughout childhood. My body has been through a lot, and much of these past decades has been devoted to recovery from this. As I've been meditating into the current layers of pain and tension in my lower back I've been delighted to remember the power that an attitude of 'I don't know what is going to happen next' brings to my body scanning meditations. It's like a magic spell that creates instant ease.
When we think we know what's going to happen next, when we think we've got it all figured out, either within the framework of our own bodies, in relationship, or work situations, we are vastly limiting the creative power of the present moment to bring inspiration, ease and healing. This over-knowing is a form of fear-fuelled control.
My subtle little 'been here, done this before' was keeping pain trapped in my body. It was binding me to the past. As soon as I shifted my attitude to 'I simply do not know what this is, or what is going to happen now, but I am choosing to relax into it and feel it fully', I got what I wanted: relief, and a feeling of expansion and joy.
Life presents us with moments such as this every single day. Let's meet them all with I don't know and see what happens next...