Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Power Of Not Knowing

This morning I had a 2-hour writing workshop planned with my co-author Jacqueline Harrison. We've got a book to finish and as we'd both had a busy week, today (Sunday) was the only day we were able to catch up.

I almost didn't go.

I've worked the last 14 days straight and yesterday I ran a mantra healing workshop, which pretty much took up my entire Saturday, so by the time I awoke this morning I was spent. It's cold and rainy in Sydney and I could easily have snuggled up under the covers and stayed in bed.

But I didn't.

I got up, rubbed my tired eyes, showered and dressed, and walked to Jacqueline's house for our weekly writing session. I was committed to our schedule and boy, was it worth it.

Being tired can be a physical and emotional state. Sleepiness (physical) and fatigue (emotional) can be difficult to overcome. An extra hour or two in bed, or an afternoon nap can help, but when we are committed to doing something with love, our emotional self livens up. The light that illuminates our heart flicks on and we gather energy that wasn't there before. The spark that makes us feel happy has the ability to override tiredness. Ask any new mum: the love for their child enables them to get out of bed in the middle of the night for a fifth, sixth and seventh time to tend to their crying baby, even when they can barely open their eyes.

My work is my baby. And I have a willingness and commitment to ensure its welfare, hence getting to Jacqueline's house this morning even though it meant arriving tired and soaked to the skin.

As adults we become accustomed to knowing things. By the time we reach 30, 40 and beyond we have a certain amount of life experience, which means anything new is filtered through a deep and vast memory bank. This vault of memories enables us to apply a new idea or task to a similar situation or lesson from our past. It's a useful tool. But there is a down side. Becoming complacent about having "wisdom" can mean we continually apply old patterns to new opportunities and as a result we cease to evolve.

Until recognising the above, I was definitely guilty of running new challenges through my old tape player and predominantly coming up with the same thing. For example: I would start a business, get it off the ground, get stuck, give up and start again with a new business idea.

By not not fully acknowledging my areas of naivety, I was blocking my own progress. Suffice to say, I wasn't necessarily stuck because I didn't have the skills to reach my goals: I was stuck because I didn't understand that I thought I knew everything I needed to know as opposed to recognising that maybe it's not about what I know, but how I apply that knowledge. I.e. being able to accept that although I am an intelligent and capable adult, maybe there is something about this situation that I don't understand.

As adults, we are programmed to believe that we are competent and capable – which is largely true. But by believing we "know stuff" we close ourselves off to the idea that we "don't know stuff", which ultimately leads to us missing the incredible lessons that life serves. We remain busy figuring out what we know about this or that, rather than approaching life with the wide eyes of a child.

Children lack foresight; they have limited experience which means new situations are figured out using their creative mind. As adults, we mostly call upon our logical brain to decode and analyse situations based on what has gone before.

By peeling away the need to be "right" and "knowledgeable", we actually open ourselves up to an incredible array of new experiences that propel us into a whole new world. This actually feeds the very thing we were unconsciously trying to protect – namely our intelligence!

Being open to not knowing is one of the greatest tools of expansion I have ever used. And it can be applied to seemingly ordinary tasks such as meeting a friend for coffee, visiting your in-laws when you don't feel like it, or walking in the rain to a writing workshop on a Sunday morning.

When we choose the notion of "I know nothing" we become open to new possibilities. In practical terms it means choosing a new path. If we do what we have always done, then our lives stay the same. If we cancel the coffee because we're tired, or call off the visit to the in-laws because we are too busy we miss out on having a new experience. We're coming at it from the place of "knowing". It's OK to cancel but ask yourself "Why?" Why are you not doing that thing? Had I chosen not to attend the workshop this morning because I was tired I would really have been saying "I know what is going to come from this session". But how can we possibly ever know?

I believe that coming from a place of "knowing" is sometimes an escape or coping mechanism that allows us to sit in our comfort zone. We can dress it up as a headache or exhaustion, but ask yourself: if that experience you are saying no to involved your favourite person in the world, the man or woman who makes your heart sing, or the celebrity you would do anything to meet, would you still cancel?

I doubt it.

Somewhere in you, you'd find the energy and the willingness to be open, and with that would naturally dawn an incredible sense of excitement. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe it is our "knowing" that can dull our experience. If we can relearn to apply a childlike openness to our life, then doors will open that we didn't even know existed.

And that's what happened today.

As I sat with Jacqueline, tired and shivering from the cold, my commitment to writing took precedence over my basic needs. In the past I would have probably rescheduled the session, stayed in bed an extra hour and considered that I was honouring my need to sleep. That previous attitude set a great precept for honouring my basic needs and I adhere to that as a principle.

But by stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing something that hadn't yet been created to evolve, Jacqueline and I experienced an exceptional 2-hour writing session that produced some incredible work and put a spring in both our steps.

Had I maintained my old habit of putting my physical health first – my "knowing what's best", I would have missed out on the golden nuggets that I experienced today. But by allowing myself 2 hours to "not know" and be open to whatever that delivered, both Jacqueline and myself have grown as authors and as human beings.

So the next time you hear yourself saying "no" or "I know", I invite you to consider something.

Maybe you don't.