A simple turn of the English language can travel right to heart or gut, rattle us for days. I was listening to Thich Nhat Hanh clarify why he uses the word “understand” instead of “know” when it comes to matters of the spirit. To know is a fixed perspective. You know your address. You know that two plus two equals four. To understand is an awareness fluid in nature, shifting moment by moment. To understand is to release, to let go. Of what? Preconceived notions, precious opinions, cherished attachments. Oh those.
When we let go of what we know, when we listen with our whole selves, we could open to big whatever awe, to being astonished, to wonder expansive, to being surprised by a depth of understanding we never considered possible. I’m a big fan of knowledge. Minds are amazing, couldn’t be writing this essay without one. Yet what I understand, and maybe more importantly, what I do not understand, is more intriguing to me.
I certainly know AND understand the difference between these two in movement practice. I can be on mat or dance floor, my mind going a mile a minute on the knowledge hamster wheel…that thing someone said yesterday, my so-called plans, hasty judgments, self criticism, worry…you know. Even more insipid—I’ll catch myself doing my yoga or doing my dance—following some know-it-all driver in my head.
If I’m fortunate, I wake up in this befuddled moment and simply drop what I know because, paradoxically, I know how. Attention to trusty breath, present sensation, curiosity about what is moving through me, what body and heart understand and how that finds expression. Staying, shaking out the head need be, open to wonder, to insight, to expansion, to possibility.
This is the prolonged state I found myself in with this three weeks off so, naturally this theme is woven into my teaching. In the short run, this was the basis for Sunday’s Sweat and we’ll flesh it out a bit more Wednesday night. Dancing into understanding what is moving through us.
In the long run it is all about Yoga Therapy for me right now, finally launching Tuesday June 6. I was surprised where my creative juice flowed in these three weeks, especially when I became still enough, let go of what I knew, listened with my whole self. Astonished by an expansive depth of understanding I’m truly excited to share in Yoga Therapy. One afternoon, north of Ft. Bragg, mat laid on picnic table, Bob (thank you, love) filmed 16 one-minute little snippets: essential practices for the self care geek. They are extremely spontaneous and unproduced in appearance. But they are clear and fun and essential and I’ll be posting them weekly on Body Joy Facebook on Mondays. They are the essence of what I understand in this moment and of course that understanding is fluid and continues to change over time. Here’s the first one minute video:
#1 Essential Practice for the Self Care Geek https://youtu.be/84tQW7glLPw
Because I’ve travelled this path with thousands of patients and students, here is what I know. If you come to class weekly and practice at home most days about 20 minutes you will:
- come into new relationship with body, breath, sensation
- deeply understand your particular body challenges
- work both sides of your body together to become loose, long and strong
- eventually work more on one side than the other, addressing your unique asymmetry
- apply this in your everyday life, especially standing and sitting
- feel supported in the activities you love: yoga, dance, running, biking, gardening…living!
And here’s what else I know. If you want to speed up that process, come see me for a single visit. Together we’ll discover your uniqueness, fast track your self-care geek-ness and make that 20 minute investment spot on rather quickly. In support of that I’m offering a combination of physical therapy assessment and treatment with three class follow up. Info here.
Not knowing can be a very rich state…let’s move in that territory together.