In this time of great uncertainty and our minds trying to grasp onto something, anything solid (or maybe that’s just me?), I talk about something that has helped me lately: Don’t Know Mind.
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Welcome to Love, Curvy Yoga, the podcast where we’re trying to sit with the uncertainty of these times, too. Now let’s get into it.
Hi Anna here. Okay, let’s do our check-in and I really invite you to take this pause kind of no matter what you’re doing, maybe if you’re, not if you’re driving, but even then you could maybe do it if you keep your eyes open. So here’s the first question. How are you feeling?
And what do you need in your body?
I am feeling more grounded than I have in a while and I’m experiencing that in my body as well. Really as feeling more in my body. So I feel like I’ve been pretty in my mind the past few weeks and what I need is a lot more of that. So up next in our main segment I am going to talk about Don’t Know Mind
As I mentioned in a recent podcast, we are in the process of moving. So we have now moved out of our old house — that happened last weekend and a lot of this week. And we are now in an Airbnb type house and trying to figure out where we’re headed next. And so last week I had canceled therapy because I knew we would still have a lot of packing to do and that was true, but I don’t know why I bothered to do it because it just always seems like the week that I cancel ends up being the week that I am most need a session. And that definitely turned out to be true last week. So fortunately my therapist was able to fit me in so early in the week.
Last week I was pretty much in a bit of a panic, really uncertain about if we should buy a specific house that we were interested in or not. Everything felt really unknown. I couldn’t make up my mind. I kept going back and forth. So as my therapist and I hashed out everything that was coming up for me, she offered me a phrase to take into the rest of the week. And there were still several days where we were kind of gonna be deciding what to do about this house before we saw it again. And the phrase that she gave me was Don’t Know Mind. And as soon as she said it, it just landed in my gut.
I had heard something to that effect in meditation or Buddhist circles before. It’s somewhat similar to the idea of Beginner’s Mind, if you are familiar with that. So just in a nutshell, the way that I think about at least beginner’s mind is bringing this approach to something you’re doing or relationship with the mind of a beginner and really just kind of approaching that situation or that person not as if you already know everything about it, everything is already written in stone. But when you’re a beginner at something or with a new friend or whoever, you’re more curious, and I mean, you can think about what it’s like in these situations. Yes, there’s also some trepidation, but you’re also maybe a little bit more open to change or possibility or difference. So that’s this idea of Beginner’s Mind is just bringing some of those qualities into whatever situation or interaction you’re in.
So with a Don’t Know Mind, the way that I experienced that, thought about it, it landed with me, was coming into this situation with the house, it’s a good example, not having to know ahead of time whether we were going to get it or not. And that was really what was having me spinning was trying to figure out all these different scenarios and details when really what I needed was to be back in the house, to feel it, to be in my body and to see what arose from there.
So after that session, after I got that phrase, I really started to feel all of that, to start to feel more in my body. And any time my mind would start to pick up a thread of, well what about this? Or what about that or what was the closet like in that room? I would just come back to Don’t Know Mind. And all I would do is just say that phrase to myself: Don’t Know Mind. And it would just settle me and I would remind myself that I didn’t have to know ahead of time. Kind of another way maybe of thinking about this is something we talked about a lot lately, which is being present. So the Have to Know Mind, if we want to phrase it that way, is a lot more, or Need to Know Mind, all of those things, is a lot more in the future kind of wondering what’s going to happen without really the necessary information.
It’s kind of like there was no way for me to know it except in the present. My mind was just really wanting to make the impossible possible basically. So Don’t Know Mind helped me come back to presence. And I think what has happened with this is that if I could approach that experience without having to know ahead of time what was going to happen, then worry can lesson or even drop away. So when we walked back into that house, and Nic and I had done a lot of talking about Don’t Know Mind and wanting to feel it, so when we walked back in, that was my focus was really on feeling it and being open: being open to loving it and being open to not loving it, being open to it being the right house and being open to it not being the right house.
So it turned out not to be the right house. And what was amazing about that experience is after all of that uncertainty and what ifs and dah, dah, dah, was that when we were in there with, and I brought that Don’t Know Mind, when I brought trying to feel in my body, I was completely clear. I had no uncertainty, no question. I was just like, Oh this isn’t it. And it didn’t even, it didn’t feel bad. Like, Oh I really had thought it might be and now it’s not, you know, there was none of that recrimination that can come up for me sometimes in these kinds of moments. And I think because I had spent less time worrying and working myself into a hot mess after one hundred percept, one million percent, doing that and earlier in the week, the experience there in the moment was not jumbled up. It’s kind of like, instead of trying to pre-live the experience several days in advance, which is what I had been doing, and also several days in length, I instead showed up, and then the answer was there.
I read an email newsletter from the writer Courtney Martin recently. And in it she talked about this little yellow book of quotes from the meditation teacher Pema Chodron that she has kept on her bedside for many years. And she wrote in the newsletter that anytime she felt unmoored, and I love that word and who doesn’t feel unmoored in one way or another right now, she would pick it up, just flip to any random page, open it to see what was there and find some inspiration. And she shared that recently her friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and her friend was putting together a care package for her. And so she asked Courtney if she had something to add and Courtney decided to share this little yellow book. And at first she was not sure if she could part with it because it’s been her constant companion for a long time. But then she realized just how much of it she’s absorbed and is living and it felt important to pass that book along. And then she said this line that just opened my heart up so wide. So she said: “without my little book, I am trying to become my little book.”
Ugh, isn’t that so good? These are times of such uncertainty for all of us, even though we’re definitely experiencing it to greater and lesser degrees in different ways. And as my previous example with the house has probably told you, plus everything else you know about me from his podcast, um, I hate uncertainty and try to avoid it at all costs. I think like, I do know that it’s always there, but sometimes I at least can ignore that fact or to do list over it. Or, um, what’s that from Finding Nemo? Oh, just keep swimming. Just keep swimming until you kind of sort of forget about it at least for a little bit. But this is one of those times when it’s just right there.
So as I wonder about our jobs in the future or what changes we’ve experienced as a society that are permanent or what school will look like by the time Hazel is there or where we’re going to live or, or, or on and on and on, I’m really just trying to come back again and again to Don’t Know Mind because it’s not like, Oh, I worked with Don’t Know Mind once so now I’ve got it on lock. It is a practice with a capital P and just like we’ve talked about many times here on the podcast, one of the gifts of yoga and meditation is not that you’re always present at all times, but that when you notice you have drifted away, as we all do all the time, then that noticing is a gift. It’s the time that you’re coming back to yourself and it’s easy to be like, Oh gosh, I lost being present again. What’s wrong with me? You know? And kind of go that way. But instead seeing it as this moment of awakening, of attention, of noticing, of presence, of building a relationship with yourself and of becoming your own little book.
Okay, so up next a few reminders.
Okay, so a few reminders. First, the most important ones, what’s your version of a little book? That is something that you can explore at any time. And then the very most important one: you are doing great.
Okay. A couple logistical reminders. So hey, it’s May! And this month I asked our community in our online yoga studio what they were interested in exploring and the resounding winner was inner and outer strength and flexibility. And it makes sense to me because whoa, are these times ever calling for both inner and outer strength and flexibility on basically every level. So this month we’re going to work with a variety of qualities to help cultivate inner strength and flexibility and we’ll do this with practices that help welcome it into our bodies as well. So the qualities that we’re exploring, I chose from The Yoga Sutras, which is a essential, important book in yoga. And I’m going to be sharing more about these particular Yoga Sutras throughout the month in my email newsletters that I send out. So if you’re not on that list, I’ll include the link so you can sign up for it. So what we’re going to be working with on Mondays: presence, Tuesdays: equanimity. Wednesdays: practice Thursdays: effort and ease, Fridays: letting go, Saturdays: perception and Sundays: the light within.
So if you want to see which Yoga Sutras correspond with those different qualities, then again, I’ll be talking about that in our emails. So if you are a member, you can just go right to the site. You’ll see the May 2020 category and you can just jump into the practices from there. And if you’re not a member, and this sounds like something that would be supportive for you right now, you’re welcome to join. You just go to curvyyoga.studio and use the code curvy C U R V Y to save 50% off of your first month.
Okay. If you have questions, comments, ideas for future episodes, please send them to me at email@example.com. I always love hearing from you, and let’s close here with one breath together. Inhale and exhale. The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
Stay tuned next week — I’ll be here and I hope you will be, too.