One thing that really stuck with me from my time at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing was when one week we had the theme, “I don’t know”. We spent time leaning into how much we truly don’t “know” about life and this world and all of it’s mysteries.
As a therapist and energy healer, there is this weird conundrum of knowing and not knowing when I’m with a client. I know generally what I can do to help a person, but I have to leave a lot of space open to the unknown too. Sometimes changes can happen rapidly for a person and with great ease. Other times healing takes time and this can be incredibly frustrating. Sometimes there are tools to help with managing some things, yet most of the time it’s most beneficial to give space to feel the discomfort of being in the unknown and then clarity arises and shifts happen.
One of the big things that living with COVID and the changing rules is that there is an incredible amount of unknown. In the span of 4 days as a parent I shifted from, “my kids are going to school in person” to “my kids are going to school online”. I felt incredibly frustrated with the change. I wish I felt like Lisa Kudrow (below) about this, but I didn’t.
The Tool Three Things (AKA being in the present moment)
One practical tool that helps me, is consciously shifting to the here and now. I was lying beside my son in his bed as we chatted about the upcoming announcement from the government and I could feel all my anxiety. Being that close to bed time I knew I didn’t want to sit with it so I started naming out loud where I was and what I saw around me.
So many spiritual leaders talk about the present moment being the only one that we have and to embrace it. In some therapeutic approaches, this technique is called “Three Things” – you take time to name 3 things you see, hear, and feel on your body and then 2 things and then 1 thing in each category. I find it interesting to note that while I am shifting to “the present moment”, I question if that’s really true. I think perhaps I am shifting from having one part of myself dominate my reality to other parts that are more peaceful. Often in the spiritual world we forget that the anxious part of ourselves is real too and needs attention at some point or it will let itself be known quite loudly.
Sitting With Discomfort (AKA – sitting with “I don’t know”)
At a different time of day, I might have intentionally sat with anxiety and saw it as one part of myself and not all of myself. I can notice what it feels like in my body and what other emotions arise. Often, being present with it in a conscious and safe way helps it release. Often with anxiety, one of the most helpful ways to reduce its intensity is to become more comfortable sitting with the discomfort that arises in a safe way. In other words, it’s becoming more comfortable with “I don’t know” and the emotions that arise from this notion and leaning into it.
If you’re a person who enjoys adventure, it can be like travelling to a new place knowing you have some resources at your finger tips to provide some safety and at the same time being with the variety of unknown factors such as language, culture, or moving around a new city. Every traveller I know has a story of plans that didn’t go as planned.
When I was growing up, my parents enjoyed travelling to a destination with a general plan, but nothing booked. Most of the time we found a place to sleep and sometimes we slept in the car or on the side of the road. I felt comfortable with the unknown because I felt safe with them there. The “I don’t know” was sometimes uncomfortable and stressful and at other times provided us with new experiences we never would’ve imagined.
What ways have you found helpful to sit with “I don’t know”? Do you find that some places it easier to embrace in some areas of your life than others?