Not Knowing

Written by Sarah Burwick.

As the summer flew by, so is the fall. Trying to soak up the last bit of decent weather in New England I have turned to long walks with my pug, Gwen, down the streets of Cambridge. Just loosing my other pug, Tucker to cancer I wanted to let Gwen know she was not alone and that I too miss Tucker. We find ourselves on the quiet back roads where the sidewalks are brick, the houses are quaint, and the traffic is light. The crunching of the multicolored leaves under my sneakers acts as a buffer to clear out distractions. I tilt my head up and let the sunshine melt the tension from my face. Gwen at my heals, we keep a steady rhythm. We are in the "Zen Zone" as I like to call it or our "moving meditation."

autumn nature

I needed to step off my mat for a while because it brought up to many emotions about Tucker. Walking is helping me clear my mind without tapping into the emotions. We pass by window shops on the way home where I see our reflection in the glass and I picture Tucker's little body trotting along with us; his tail waging, nose sniffing, big eyes wandering. The sadness stings but I keep moving forward.

After several weeks of long walks I develop shin splints which bring me back to my mat. On the mat I am sore, stiff and run down from a cold, but this is not the first time I ventured on the mat feeling sick. I know from my previous experience that I always come back stronger. The heat bothers me a little when normally I love it. It gives me a mild headache but I put my head down and let the blood rush up. I am dizzy and the last portion of practice I am on the floor. It's ok though, I really don't care. I am here. I showed up. I accomplished the hard part.

"You don't know what you don't know" are the words of wisdom I took from my teacher that day. The rest of the week I pondered this phrase. First I thought what if I knew last year that Tucker would no longer be with me? What if I knew it was because of cancer? The thoughts then drift to, what if I knew as a child I would be diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 22? How would this have helped me? It wouldn't. It would destroy me. Some things are better off not knowing. If we knew our future the path would be meaningless.

Like headlights on a car the universe only allows us to see so far in front of us. If we saw too much, our fears would always get the best of us. We are provided with what we need for the present and we must choose the right action for our future. Hopefully whatever we choose will lead us into more wisdom to prepare for the events ahead. If not we will have to learn the lesson again in a different manner.

While teaching, I encourage students to find their own practice, researching the postures for themselves in order to claim them as their own. I know this is what my teacher was talking about when he spoke of not knowing what we don't know. If students just listen to their teachers and accept what they say as the truth they will never find their truth. Yoga is the connection to self. A teacher is there to guide and share their own experiences as a yoga student themselves but it is up to the individual to take their practice to the next level, delve beneath the surface and find what is hidden there under the layers. This may mean for some to drop their ego on the side of the mat and do less to achieve more. For others it's about letting go of things such as fear or laziness in order to step up to their edge.

I can not tell anyone how to do yoga. I can only share my experience. I am vulnerable, damaged, and choose wrong doing just like everyone else. However, I know when I don't know and I accept that. I am willing to continue down my path not knowing where it is heading and just be available for whatever shows up. Learning what I can on the way, open to the experience.

Take it upon yourself as a yoga student to walk into the unknown, either on your mat or off. Sit there, stay there, breathe there and find the depth within.


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