The art of not knowing ( and what to do in the space between…)
Perhaps, like me, you have found yourself in a time of transition, and perhaps the process is taking its own sweet time….
It probably began when you began to sense (in your guts or your bones or however you feel it) that what you have been doing has had its time and that it is time for something new,
But the question is..what??? Yes, you get a vague sense that ‘a whole new something’ is beckoning yet right now you find yourself with…. a whole lot of nothing, I call this place ‘the space between’.
This is the space you land in when your bridges have begun to burn and the future is totally unclear. And if this sounds at all familiar then I am here to say- congratulations! And to assure you that you have not wound up in the ‘wrong’ place, in fact you are in a very potent place indeed.
But of course it does not feel like a good place to be, it probably feels very uncertain and scary, we may feel like a failure, for we live in a world that values the kind of success and achievement that we can measure. The accumulation of merit or possessions or position can give us a sense of security and self worth. Yet in the process of re-orientating our lives we may just find ourselves HAVING TO LET GO OF ALL OF THAT! (And yes it is scary).
We may have begun to either hear or finally act on the whispers coming from deep inside, to slow down, to explore what is most important for us and create a life that is based around what really feeds us . And in the process it may well feel like we are swimming against the stream. It may well feel like we are lost in a chasm of hopelessness as we are called to let go of the structures that our identity and self worth were constructed on, as we give up ‘the known’ and begin to hang out in the unknowing.
And when we find ourselves in a no mans land with no signposts leading anywhere and no apparent mission in life to validate us, could it be that out there (or in here) in this bewildering wilderness we have the chance to encounter something so obvious that we had previously missed out on it? Something so subtle that we could not find it when we were so busy running around doing some thing and being somebody.
I think that sometimes we are not meant to ‘know’ but to get comfy in not knowing. And that when the unknowing comes that it comes cause we are in fact finally ready for it, we are ripe to digest the truth of the incredible insecurity of life. And to go on the journey of discovery to a kind of knowing that comes from deep deep inside.
When we stop clinging on to the known we have no choice but to listen inside And then we can begin to explore who we are, to learn about ourselves, to notice our patterns, to let go of what does not serve and be nourished by what does. This is a beautiful process of becoming that can only really take place there in the space between.
But in the mean time, I may hear you wonder, what the hell do I do?
Do I just hang out in the emptiness forever? What do I do when there is not even a glimmer of an intuitive hunch to guide the way?
Well from a seasoned traveller in the space between I offer you the following steps to help aid you in cultivating a juicy relationship with this potent place of not knowing, and get a little more comfortable there.
1st Step – know the not knowing.
When what is known falls away or ceases to compel or inspire us and we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory it can be all too easy to be pulled down into the whirlpools of fear-based thought.
But what about instead of being scared we could get curious? And grateful? For there is an invitation here, and that is to explore the passing terrain, to become interested and intimate with life in a way that we had not been before.
Instead of diving into ‘what if’ and ‘oh shit’ we can take the invitation to turn our awareness into the present moment and the depth of our experience of it.
If you are reading this, chances are you are a human with a body and your experience is not an abstract one but an immediate physical event.
So you can begin to enquire; what exactly is happening there, here, now, for you, in this physical event?
What does the not knowing feel like in the body?
If you do not rush back to the safe ground of having a plan and a role and a regular pay check (or what security looks like to you) what do you find? How do you feel? Right now?
As soon as we shift our perspective and direct our awareness within, and into the present moment we find …well – all sorts of things! We find that the unknown is in fact teeming with aliveness. We find a sensory reality that is changing by the second, feelings and thoughts and spontaneous actions that crumble and reform in different guises. When we are available to the possibility of insecurity we begin to experience the incredible mystery of life, warts and all.
Sure it may be painful, or it may be pleasurable, and it is unpredictable, but that is because it is radically alive, it is life speaking in us, through us, and it is literally transforming all the time.
Perhaps the wild unknowing is exactly what we deeply want and need for because It may appear uncertain and unreliable, but isn’t it ALIVE, and isn’t that what we want? To be really and truly alive? Perhaps this ability to be present and open and curious and flexible is the most reliable thing we have.
2nd step-Stay with the not knowing
Once we are open to knowing the unknowing, the next thing we have to do is STAY with it. It takes a certain kind of strength and perseverance to wait it out and stay open in the great unknown. But STAYING WITH IT is the quality of the warrior (or warrioress) and this is your training ground. So what better time to cultivate patience? To take the time to look at life and ourselves in new and fresh ways. This is time to develop faith in ourselves, to stand in the fire and let it sculpt us into new shapes.
Sure there are going to be moments of fear when we wonder what the hell we are doing here and wonder if perhaps our parents/partner/whoever was right, how will I feed myself if I let go of ‘my security’? Who will love me and what will I do now that everything I knew no longer seems relevant or important? Now that I myself do not feel relevant or important!!!!!?
But if you STAY WITH IT and say YES to the challenge then the freak out period will certainly pass.
And you will certainly grow and transform and notice that a life free from fear is calling you forward and that your job is simply to STAY with YOURSELF even when it FEELS like life is ripping you apart at the seams.
Because in the space between almost for sure there will be a lot going on under the surface that we cannot see or even feel. We are just like the worm gestating in its cocoon, and our great task is to simply BE that worm, without demanding answers, without making plans and decisions, without ‘knowing’ anything for sure.
If you stand in the fire you will eventually learn to look insecurity in the face without blinking, and you will begin to listen carefully, you will begin to sense when it is cocoon time, and also when it is time for action and also what action to take. You will develop an inner knowing, an intuitive awareness of what is needed.
And at the divinely appointed time and not before, you may well find yourself flying off with big colourful wings that you had no idea you had
3rd step.. DO the next right thing.
In the mean time here is a practical tip. I have found that one of the most useful things that I can remember (and in the space between perhaps this is the ONLY thing that we have to remember) is to do ‘ the next right thing’.
Not the next right thing that would be appropriate or safe or correct but what feels right in your body. We can do this with the small decisions and the big ones too, we can just simply check in and test it out.
Here is the simple process-
1.Speak the option in your head or in your mind.
2.Notice how your body feels.
3. If there is another option then try that one out.
4.Go with what feels more resonant, the one where your body feels more at ease or your energy feels more expansive and flowing.
5. And if you can’t tell, then just let it go for a while, tune in later and try again.
Sometimes we just cannot access the clarity we need and at that time all we can do is do what feels most practical and kind, but if you continue with this as a practice you will find that you are learning to use your inner compass and that that is a VERY handy thing to have.
Through this checking in process you learn what feels like truth to you, and you discover that the body does not lie and that you can rely on it as a source of invaluable guidance. By keeping it simple and simply doing the next right thing you learn to listen deeply to what feels right now, and act on it with your whole being. You learn to trust yourself and the call of your heart. And what a relief it is to vacate the driver’s seat and allow the natural intelligence within to hop in and take control!
So if you are currently resident in the space between, I hope this helps you to see that you have not wound up in the ‘wrong’ place, and I hope that you enjoy your stay there and drink deep of what is on offer. That you honour yourself for ‘going there’ and when you find it over to the other side I hope that you help support those other courageous beings who have dived deep and swum against the stream.
Most of all I hope that when you fly off with those beautiful wings of yours that you never lose the wild knowing which is what your stay in the space between revealed in you. That you continue to stay curious and grateful and that the new life that you create for yourself nourishes you on every level. That once you find your way on to the path of your deepest soul’s callings that you allow that path to continue to twist and turn yet always stay in connection with what really matters. And when that happens you will know without a doubt, that when you found yourself in the space between you were in the best place to find yourself.