I was just browsing a blog post that my friend Toni Petrinovich of sacredspaceswa.com shared on her recent newsletter. It is entitled “Finding True Magic” and the author is Jack Elias. It is confirming for me what I am practicing right now: the art of easing into “I don’t know” when that is what is true for me. I am including the link and the online text of this marvelous post. Thank you Toni, thank you, Jack, and thank you “I don’t know!”
Speedy Mind Crazy Mind
Posted on June 6, 2012 by jackelias
In the blog A Life of Desire Vs. a Life of Appreciation, we considered how an ordinary challenge can present the opportunity to find True Magic if you shift your focus from achieving a desire to practicing appreciation. We had the example of someone assuming he had to know the right techniques to do away with feeling scattered and stressed. (Who wouldn’t desire that?) When he judged that he couldn’t do the techniques right or remember the proper procedures the frustration of his desire for relaxation caused him more pain.
I invited you to consider what would happen if, instead of using techniques to satisfy a desire, you focused on doing the techniques with appreciation for them and for yourself in relationship to them. I claimed that practicing appreciation could satisfy desire effortlessly, without direct concern to satisfy it.
Several readers shared with me that this was what they discovered. One business executive shared that appreciating his abundance and the efforts of those with whom he worked, instead of focusing exclusively on desired results, reduced his stress and made it possible to feel renewed and joyful at work.
Another business executive shared that practicing appreciation at home dramatically reduced his stress and made him more friendly, allowing his teenage child to approach him unbidden and give him a hug even though they had been estranged for a long time – how’s that for Magic!
In this edition let’s consider what the mind is like when it is pursuing desires. Is it not speedy? Thoughts go by so fast it’s hard to keep track of whether they make sense and yet the speed of thinking itself is so compelling, crazy ideas can command us, even when we know better. Have you ever said, “I knew better intellectually, but I couldn’t help myself.”?
I hear this all the time in my counseling sessions. I invite my clients and I invite you to give up this idea of “knowing intellectually.” This is the challenge for this month. I would like you to adopt the attitude that if you know something, that means you can act on the knowledge productively. If you can’t act for productive change, you don’t know what you need to know! If you indulge in the deluded thought called “knowing intellectually,” you distract yourself from the dilemma of not really knowing.
What do you think? Isn’t it kind of soothing, like a consolation prize, to think, “at least I know it intellectually.” If you give this prize up and insist on focusing on the dilemma of not knowing what you need to know, you keep your mind in contact with your dilemma. You keep your feet to the fire so to speak. This naturally inspires your mind to find creative solutions.
At this point, many say they lack self confidence. They don’t believe they will come up with a solution. This is the telltale sign that the Magic Formula has been forgotten! The forgotten Magic Formula is to stop and to relax into “not knowing.” “Not knowing” is darkness. It is also moist and fertile like soil. When you stop and rest in “not knowing,” you plant your mind like a seed in the soil of the challenge facing you. Then you wait like a farmer waits, calmly, with faith, for the sprouts to appear as you go about other business. What would happen if a farmer went out every day and dug up the seeds he planted to see how they were doing?
Most of us have been robbed of this knowledge that it is crucial to wait in the darkness of “not knowing.” Our schooling and parents convinced us we didn’t have permission to wait fearlessly and vigilantly in “not knowing.” They demanded that we know and the sooner the better! And this unnatural demand broke our connection to the organic way in which our creative intelligence meets challenges and solves problems.
Practice this month focusing on a problem with the question, “How can I relate here to produce the highest benefit?” Focus on the problem with this seed question in mind for one minute as you breathe and relax. Then let it go and go about your other business. If desire comes in the form of fearful, anxious thoughts and concern, stop, relax into “not knowing,” and plant the seed question again for one minute as you breathe and relax. Focus you energy on this practice instead of letting your energy go into anxiety that your desire may not be satisfied.
Be attentive to messages from your small inner voice. When it’s ready, like a seed beginning to sprout in the darkness of the soil, it will speak to you. Be willing to be surprised by what it may tell you or invite you to do. Before going to bed is a great time to plant such seeds. If you do, it is common to have significant educating dreams or to wake up with solutions. Let me know how it goes.