What to do after you have heard your inner voice.....
The term 'inner voice' is banded about a lot in the world of therapy, yoga and all sorts of 'alternative' practices - by which i mean practices that encourage us to step out of the waking dream of our daily lives.
What is our inner voice though? It is the truth that you absolutely know to be true, we all have an inner voice talking to us, guiding us in the wisest way to lead our lives. Most of us don't even get to the point of ignoring it though, we are so busy believing what society tells us is correct and then acting in the way that we think we should or behaving as we think we should. that we have drowned out the inner voice entirely and it is no more than a faint whisper.
So first of all, it can take a very long time for us to actually hear our inner voice again. where is it located? Certainly not in one physical spot, although our physical body may hold reflections of our inner emotional state for sure. But it can seem like our body is telling us what to do, the inner voice is also called listening to your gut and of course the gut is sometimes called the second brain of the body, but I don't think we should get carried away with pinning it to one particular location - it is much more subtle than that.
To hear the inner voice we need to be still, not physically, although that might well help, but a much deeper entire stillness. A stillness of the whole being. We all avoid this stillness, this 'doing nothing' because it is contrary to everything we believe about the world - that we should always be busy, we should be striving towards something, an imaginary destination - yet we find that destination is always shifting, ever eluding us, we chase ever more, less and less still in our frustration to find that stillness though action....its a very bizarre situation!
To listen to you inner voice is the most natural thing in the world and when we learn stillness, through meditation or any other practice we will start to hear it more clearly. The more that we listen out for it, the easier it will be to hear. After all, if you dont listen to someone speaking, eventually theylly stoop bothering - so it can take time for your inner voice to begin a dialogue with you again.
But the title of this piece is 'Not just About Listening to Your Inner Voice' and that is because it isn't that simple. With dedication we can all hear our inner voice, but to trust it and to follow its advice, against the constant anxiety and fear projected by out thinking mind is another matter altogether.
You have to trust that voice, however scary it is to do so. If yo hear the real inner voice, you will know its the truth, there will be no question, but still you have to take the next step to implement that advice.
I have had several conversations around this topic during the past month, with different people in different situations. In fact they have all pretty much told me they feel strongly that they should be doing such and such, but find themselves not following that feeling. The result is confusion and a sense of life becoming a struggle. There is resistance to the inner voice, and because the inner voice is the natural flow of life, it feels very much like trying to swim against the current when you ignore it.
You will want me now to give you a mass of advice or some tools on how to trust that inner voice, but Im afraid that there aren't any. You either trust it or you don't. you dive into the flow of life and see where it sweeps you, or you stay safely in your known boundaries and wonder 'what if...'
I haven't written a newsletter for over a month. Ive barely posted anything on social media, I stopped hosting my evening chats during lockdown. There was no specific reason for these, I hadn't thought about them long and hard, I just intuitively felt that I didn't want to do them. I even tried to write a different essay for this very newsletter several times over the past month or so, but each time I got half way and deleted it, the topic just didn't feel right. It felt clunky and like I was forcing it because I thought that I should write a newsletter.
So maybe the key is to stop doing the things that you think you should and just follow the that that you feel instead,
After all, our thoughts and the mind constructed from them are not who who really are, they are just what we just imagine ourselves to be.
Copied from my article for the Soul circus Journal here
Yoga Like Water so much more than yoga, I’ll say that for starters - or maybe less than yoga, it depends how you look at it I suppose. That isn’t entirely an accident, it is by some sort of organic design.
Right from the start we knew that we wanted to embrace as many like minded individuals as possible, and an awful lot of those don’t practice ‘yoga’ in the generally accepted - touch your toes and hum ‘OM’ - sense of the word.
Their yoga might be parkour, free diving, contemporary dance, surfing, making music or art - you name it, if they are obviously in the flow of life then that’s all we need to know. They are basically doing the same thing as us.
I think it is this openness to absolutely anyone that has allowed us to meet so many incredible humans over the years. Embracing all of these diverse sets of opinions, methods, styles and so on has been a lesson to others who might be more close minded, that essentially we are all the same. We are all on the same journey but by different routes. Absolutely everyone has something of value to share, they might just not realise it yet - that’s one of the core principles of Yoga Like Water.
I would say, our 200 hour ‘Teacher Training’ is the backbone of our community, because over the years it has bought the most people into the Yoga Like Water circle. In reality we call it "an immersion" because it certainly never feels like we are training anybody. We learn as much from the students as they do from us, and that isn’t a cheap throwaway soundbite.
We always say that the teachers in training crew guide the feel and energy of every training and that is totally true. We have never had two, year long adventures that have felt even remotely the same. It could be said that all of our immersions, the 200 hours and the ‘further’ explorations, are community run.
Even the content is constantly changing and evolving. We now have past students sharing their in depth and niche knowledge with new intakes. For example, we've had physiotherapists working with the human animal model share their experiences with real, damaged human bodies, mime artists share incredible ways in which to hold space and project yourself as a teacher, free-dive record holders sharing their wisdom about the breath, Chinese martial arts wizards opening our eyes to different ways of appreciating energy flow, posture and movement. All of these community contributions make the Yoga Like Water circle unique and ever changing.
This desire to keep changing comes from a grounding that everyone questions everything - including us. We don’t set up shop and suggest in any way that what we are sharing is ‘right’, or the ‘best’ way - it is just an opinion and a perspective on things, no more or less valid than anyone else’s. That develops a strong sense of equality, that anyone in that teacher training room might say something that blows us all away.
I don’t think we ever set out to intentionally create or nurture any sort of ‘Yoga Like Water’ community; anyone who knows us well would laugh hysterically at that idea! We never even intended to start the first teacher training, but that’s another story altogether. Gemma and I are way too disorganised, random and spontaneous to look ahead at ‘developing’ something over time. We are also inherently quiet people - quite happy with our own company, bimbling along. We are, however, open to just allowing things to unfold naturally. This is why we love how serendipity has seen this extended family grow around us entirely naturally.
From a business point of view we are pretty hopeless and happily so. We've never had a business plan, meaning we are never planning to upsell future projects or alternative agendas. We have had several opportunities to expand the Yoga Like Water ‘thing’ vastly over the years, but have never had any interest to do so. It just didn't sit right with us, perhaps because we feel like it would pollute any true sense of community right from the core.
I suppose we have a loose idea for the future and have had for some time, in which we find a space that is there to be used by any of the crew - past or future. A place where we can all be outdoors, ideally near to the sea and just do our thing in peace. Not a commune or a community (hippies that we are, we both love our quiet family life too much for that) but certainly enough space that we could hold camping weekends for free for the extended Yoga Like Water family. To offer a tranquil get away when anyone in the crew needs it or finds themselves homeless. Even now we have a constant stream of visiting teachers staying upstairs in the attic through the year of teacher training weekends. It’s lovely to have all this energy in the place and to allow that to ebb and flow as people come and go.
If anything, this is a lesson in the most anarchic and spontaneous way of simply watching a ‘community’ to develop - by allowing everyone to be who they are and accepting that as perfect. There are so many diverse characters, from all over the world who, just like us, have their odd ways: the brilliant face of their diamond and the grubby side. But that is what makes them all so memorable.
I never complain about what we do, because I genuinely feel very lucky to just be a part of it, I don’t want to run anything, or be in charge of anything. I never have - I’m way too lazy. But to be a part of something that has grown from nothing, however loose that is, is pretty cool.
When you get on a train, it would be foolish to keep the weight of your bags on your back or on your head for the journey. Of course we put the bags down and allow the train to do the work, giving us an opportunity to look out of the window and enjoy what passes. Likewise we don't try to push the train in a different direction or to stop it from getting to its destination, that would be a dreadful waste of energy.
We can imagine life to be a bit like that train, we are a passenger and are at liberty to enjoy that journey or we are at liberty to carry the baggage of our worries and concerns, then due to those, try to alter the direction of life. That is our free will, we have freedom to try and do those things, we aren't helpless bystanders.
But the important question that most of us forget to ask is: why can't we put those bags down in the first place and enjoy the mystery? Why are we always trying to force or resist what is? And how do we know when we are forcing and resisting?
Big questions indeed and no ones that are easily answered, if that is even possible!
Almost all schools talk about this, whether it is the divine will of God or the perfect flow of the Tao that cannot be stepped out of. That there is a perfect unfolding occurring with every moment of our lives and that for peace to exist within us we have to trust to this flow, to give ourselves to it fully, whether we perceive it to be positive or negative.
After all perceptions of good and bad are mental projections, that is to say thoughts, and we know from experience that our thoughts are not not be trusted. They alter at the drop of a hat. Something that I think to be bad right now can turn out to be good later on. We simply have no idea, we don't know.
So what about if we embrace the 'not knowing'? Accept 'I just don't know' - what happens then?
Well, first of all to accept the flow is a very powerful thing, As we have discussed before, acceptance is not resignation to your 'fate'. Where resignation is disempowering, acceptance is liberating. They seem to be barely different shades, but in truth they are polar opposites.
I always have total freedom to act, but the fruits of my action will be determined by whether they are in alliance with the flow of things or in opposition. If they are in accordance then things will happen very smoothly, you may have felt it at times in your life, as if everything in the universe was pushing you along and you were being swept along in a flowing river. At other times things may have felt to be in opposition to the flow, not with the Tao, not according to 'Gods' will. Then life seems sticky, you might get to where you intended by brute force, but it is unlikely that it will work in the long term.
So how do we know if we are forcing or accepting? Intuition and practice! Listening to the body, to the signs around you and to how things feel rather than how your mind thinks they should be. Trust your gut and jump int the river. The mystery of where it is going is far more fun than trying to change its course by effort!
A fantastic weekend of discussion has just passed on the joint further TT and I am just about to start with a whole new bunch of voyagers on next weeks 200hour Yoga Like Water Immersion. Most people who have taken a journey with me, know that I will happily talk subjects to death in an effort to answer every question that I get asked. I certainly advocate that we should question everything that we take for granted, above all our conditioning and very thoughts.
Over the last year or two I have trimmed my infinity of questions down to a key one or two that I come back to constantly. All other questions seem totally superficial and superfluous once I have checked in with those. I also check in with this tick box when I am asked a question by someone else because it generally guides how I answer most questions too.
That question is something like...
As you might be seeing, the conclusion I am coming to is that pretty much every question is flawed at its source because it comes from mind in the first place and every answer I might arrive at comes from exactly the same source. Mind answering mind, or, if I answer your questions, simply my mind answering your mind.
Last week I was interviewed by a very lovely lady who was writing her thesis on yoga in the Western world.
The key questions were 'Has Yoga been appropriated by the Wast?' and as an extension of this 'Is what you teach really 'yoga' because it seems to draw from so many other disciplines?'
After a while pondering over these question it was ultimately clear that again it was the question itself that was flawed. Why?
There wasn't an 'answer' that could be given to it, although plenty of other yoga teachers had apparently offered strong opinions. At the end of the day there simply is no 'yoga' to be appropriated because there isn't, never has been and never will be any fixed thing that 'is definitively yoga'.
The very question pivots on a phantom, and that phantom is not yoga but the concept of yoga that every individual has.
Those concepts of yoga will be infinite because every person will have their own concept of what 'traditional' yoga is, mine is very different to the next persons and so on. There certainly wasn't ever a 'traditional form of yoga in India or anywhere else for that matter. Do you really think that yoga is anything more than a word? That the multitude of millions of ascetics and yogis, over thousands of years, were all practising exactly the same things, some sort of 'definitive' or 'ultimate' version of yoga? Come on, stop kidding yourself that's an insane idea and it simply isn't true.
To give any answer would be to fall straight back into the muddy pit of mind and duality that yoga seeks to free us from. I suppose even that assumption is a concept in itself. I have to remember that just because I feel that liberation is the ultimate purpose of yoga, others may differ and rightly so.
You see, to try to answer the question is both impossible and ultimately pointless. I really don't care if anyone shares my concept of yoga or not. I don't want to adopt theirs and I don't want them to adopt mine. What benefit would that be to anyone? Of course, if through discussion and sharing ideas without any agenda of who is right and wrong (another imagination) I happen to add to my concept or alter it then thats all well and good. But at the end of the day I must remember that whatever I hold as 'true' is not really true, it is simply how I see things at that moment in imagined space and time, it's all another phantom. The only way to really be free of that is to see it for what it is, that is stepping outside of illusion
It is no wonder that circumnavigating solo sailors, at sea for months all alone, often find such clarity in the deep undisturbed quietness that they experience. Yes they may be fighting howling gales and the threat of death at any moment, but the quietness is always there when they start to become totally attuned to their ship and environment. At the moment I am reading The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier. Rarely will you read such simple, insightful words about the true 'self' that he discovers in the days, weeks and months alone, where he loses himself entirely to the ocean and the boat.
I suppose for many of us The Long Way is an appropriate title for our own journey in life; we spend an awful lot of time going nowhere, and like the circumnavigating sailor, returning to exactly where we began.
When you spend a lot of time just sitting quietly, walking quietly or doing anything quietly, that is to say, with total awareness, you start to notice a few things that are so obvious you cant understand how you ever missed them before. Like the solo circumnavigator, you start to 'lose yourself' entirely.
What does this losing oneself mean? We throw the phrase around, and we get a sense o what we mean but it is very hard to define. I would say that it is when the illusion of the 'self' that you imagine yourself to be, falls away to leave the only real thing that you actually are, that thing that we are all so desperately searching for; the search that caused us to take up yoga or tai chi, to travel the world, to sit and meditate, to visit ashrams or buy statues of buddha. The search.
Most of us imagine that the end of this search lies in dedicated and continued practice, such as prolonged meditation or yoga. Indeed we may have brief glimpses of 'clarity', although we cant define what that was we are sure that it has something to do with the thing we are hunting so desperately. If we are not careful this can spiral into an entirely new search to regain that magical sensation, a new distraction.
Ee imagine that maybe if we accumulate enough meditation or yoga the clarity will stay, and yet the idea of practising meditation or yoga is a fallacy itself, another trap, it suggests an action or a thing that 'we' must try to do and instantly we fall straight back into the trap of the illusory self trying to solve the problem of the illusory self. Its like a shadow chasing itself to find its true source – it isn't possible.
But simply sit quietly, with no effort to do anything, no attempt to still the mind or restrict the thoughts, simply let go of everything, completely, even 'yourself'.
Just be there with the thoughts with the pains in the body, with the boredom, the constant calls to urgently do something, anything else and ask which of these passing things is 'me'? Which if them is the 'I' that I believe I am?
Let go for long enough and you will realise that you can't find an objective source to pin this sense of 'I' upon. It transpires that 'I' is there when the thoughts come and still there when the thoughts pass away into moments of mental emptiness. The I endures when your left knee is in agony and equally when you forget all about the pain and your knee ceases to exist in awareness. I is aware of the bird singing outside, the breath slipping in and out and the silence when all sounds evaporate.
As all of these things come and go, thoughts, pains, sounds and everything else within your consciousness, the only constant through all of them is that they are known.
'I' does not think, there is simply an equal knowing of thought and knowing the absence of thought.
'I' is not in pain, it knows pain and it knows it's absence. I knows sound and I knows silence equally.
I is absolutely everything, the apparent 'existence' of everything and the apparent 'absence' of everything. It doesn't need thought or no though; sound or silence; body or no body. It is always, entirely, completely, whatever is.
How more simple could it be? The thing you were looking for, the 'you' that seemed to be missing, was already there, all of the time, it simply can't not be there.
We will be spending three days just letting go on 'Beyond Mind' in May.
With so many people feeling drawn to practice and teach in a fashion that is more intuitive, somatic and less mechanical than what we perceive as 'traditional asana' it is important to explore how this might come about. I'd say that we are by now pretty experienced in working with a foot in both camps. We have students on Teacher training who are thrown by the more self guided practices and others who feel averse to the more linear mat based asana. However they really do complement each other and there is no need to discard one or the other. As I d every year, Im currently updating and rewriting sections of the Yoga Like Water TT manual. I thought Id post the introductory passages on this balancing act in case any one wants to chew it over. AS ever Im not suggesting Im correct, its just an opinion.
Finding Freedom in Movement:
We have already discussed that most people will benefit greatly by spending some extended time exploring their bodies from the relative safety and well defined structure of ‘formal asana’ that is to say, postures that they associate with yoga - standing balances, warriors and so on.
The relative lack of movement and the connection to breath that these offer is a great opportunity for drawing practitioners focus and attention into the body. Once within this quiet space they can, with the help of intelligent questioning from the guide, start to listen and then understand a little about what their body is telling them - a voice that they have probably long disconnected from. This re acquainting themselves with the body, its patterns and oddities, its traumas and imbalances is a step that cannot be skipped over. It doesn't have to be done within the framework of asana, indeed any unhurried, introverted practice will work equally well, such as Qi Gong or Tai chi. But it simply cannot be done in a hurry, a vinyasa flow will not do.
Many of us will of course want to work in a more intuitive and organic ways too, outside of what can feel like a very rigid, mechanical and linear asana format. That may be one fo the reasons why you are here. The problem comes if we introduce these somatic type practices too suddenly without any structure or background in listening at all. The students are likely to become confused as to the purpose, unable to ‘feel’ their bodies at this stage, disconnected from the practice and will become quite likely disheartened by the fact that they don’t know what they are supposed to ‘do’. Even long term students of yoga asana can become so comfortable in the relative safety of the postures they are familiar with, that they will be reluctant to step outside of them and start moving in a completely free and intuitive way.
By using a mixture of gradually introduced games, partnerwork and solo practices we can start to get people trusting themselves in a gentle and natural way. They will end up moving much more naturally and freely without even realising it when you introduce a ‘game’ scenario where they are all laughing and relaxed. Take away the emphasis of any gain or progression in such practices, just allow the play to happen and unfold naturally.
Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain--but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. There's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind. Driving you mad. - Morpheus; The Matrix
It is this inexplicable 'knowing' that drives many of us to begin searching for another way of being. There isn't a thought as such that something is 'wrong', it's much more a 'knowing' and we somehow know that it is to do with mind but also to do with everything. That is because everything that most of us call 'reality' arises from mind.
Our exploration of all of this should be experiential. Books, teachers and other sources can be useful to trigger new avenues of investigation but ultimately it is and can only be our own experience that will reveal the truth of things to us in a lasting way. There is a saying 'It is like a finger pointing to the moon; don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the glories of the heavens'. Many of us get so overtaken by reading about matters of the mind, listening to podcasts about it and going to more and more teachers to learn additional techniques that we forget it is the practice itself that is the only way to pull up the roots of our unhappiness or mental discomfort. You cant keep running from the practice and expect to get any benefit.
The problem is that we tend to try and tackle this problem using by using our mind in an attempt to unpick a problem that is fundamentally caused by our mind, it's a bit like trying to fight a fire by setting light to more things. Of course we predominantly use our mind to solve most of the problems in our lives, or at least we imagine that we solve them, therefore it seems logical that mind will be equally useful here.
There is a simple meditation exercise that many people have tried at some time or another - we watch the thoughts as they appear and then drift away. There is often a focus on this observing and then allowing them to pass. What most of us overlook is the most obvious thing: if I assume that I am my mind, then who on earth are these thoughts appearing to and who are they passing away from?
If we are those thoughts then we would become a little bit 'less' each time the thought moved on wouldn't we? Yet we are still very much here.
There is something else, a canvas if you like, onto which these thoughts are projected. The canvas never changes, never gets coloured by the projections, it is always there regardless of if anything is projected upon it or not.
Insight meditation could be said to be an exploration of what this canvas is and to rest more and more simply as the canvas. In fact you cant actually be anything else as you already are the canvas, you have simply forgotten the fact!
I travelled down to Bristol yesterday to hangout with two of my favourite people - Ash and Jambo, we spent . a good few hours working on the Advanced TT that we are running next year and of course it ended up with some very profound questions being asked, mainly about the role of yoga teachers in modern society and what we might offer them next year.
I was saying that one of my most uncomfortable hang ups is that I am averse to people thinking of me as their 'yoga teacher' . I feel very uncomfortable when a class claps me at the end of a workshop. Regardless of what you might think, I have no issue whatsoever with self-worth, I have plenty of confidence and my ego needs no boosting I'm sad to say! What I regret is that people don't realise that I was just an instigator, a catalyst, I can't teach them anything that they don't already know. They have all of this inner wisdom and it would be even better if they stood strong in that wisdom. All that 'I' did was maybe reminded them of it. At the end of the day its not really important, that's just my own attachment & aversion shit to deal with, but it got me thinking anyway...
So my chosen topic for next year is primarily about our beliefs, or more specifically unpicking the illusion of our beliefs. As a yoga 'teacher' one of the easiest traps to fall into is perceiving yourself as a teacher at all.
On our 200hour TT we are very clear at the beginning, that anyone in this responsible role should be very wary about falling into the 'guru' trap.That is to say, it is very easy to start believing that it is 'you' that is somehow delivering something that people need.
Of course we all must believe that we have something useful to offer to the rest of the world and I would guess and certainly hope that most people that set out as yoga teachers have - underlying all else - a desire to alleviate suffering in others. Nothing could be more altruistic.
But maybe we are overlooking something obvious before we start. 'We' cant actually do anything, however much we believe that we can.
There are teachers that I just don't 'get' - they don't resonate with me and their teaching makes no sense to me - at least on a conscious level. It certainly isn't their fault and neither is it mine, it is just that what they are bringing to the table doesn't speak to the truth inside of me. There is absolutely no doubt though that what they bring might make absolute sense to someone else. I have no doubt whatsoever that in my own alter ego as a 'yoga teacher' the truth is exactly the same - some people click with how I frame things and some can't stand the sight of my scruffy barnet or my foul mouth.
Many wiser people than me have said that we can never ask a question that we don't already know the answer to - after all if we didn't know the answer in some form then the question wouldn't even occur to us to ask. However that isn't to say that we can see the answer in front of our face and that is where the teacher comes in.
We imagine that someone else, someone separate from us is 'teaching' us something, in the case of a 'guru' that they are 'removing our darkness or ignorance'. But in truth they are simply inspiring us to answer our own questions, it is as if what they are saying or doing is reminding us of something that deep down, we already know but have just forgotten. Do you see, you can't learn anything that you already know and you cant be 'taught' by anyone other than yourself.
You might get that feeling that a teaching resonates very clearly with something deep inside of you, as a very obvious truth, in fact it would probably be the most true to say that your teacher is simply your own voice speaking loudly to you.
This isn't about beliefs, it is about knowing simple truths.
If a teacher says something and you have to wonder if you believe it or not then you don't really know it as a truth. However if they say something that clicks, that makes your heart sing. then it is already an inner truth, a wisdom that you hold - there is no dilemma about whether you need to believe it or not.
It may also be the case that a teacher you normally don't 'like' suddenly says something that clicks exactly with what you ned at a given moment. Likewise, teachers that have always been your favourites can start to grate with some of your inner truth. It's not as if we are unsure about this when it happens - we know if something resonates with us or not, it is glaringly obvious, we don't have to wonder about it. Sometimes we often may not even 'like the taste' of a teaching, but somewhere inside we know whether it is fundamentally useful and true.
So what does this mean for the teachers out there? It means that you don't have to worry about whether people like what you are saying or don't like what you are saying, both are largely irrelevant. Your only duty is to be entirely honest to yourself and speak your truth. If you teach from the heart, however limited your 'knowledge', your grasp of philosophy or sanskrit or whatever, it doesn't matter. Just being there and showing up completely is enough - after all how many times have you thought 'Oh my god that was an awful class I just taught' and then someone comes up at the end and says thank you, that class just made their week?
It isn't your job to know what is useful, or second guess yourself, or worry about other peoples opinions. it is simply your job to turn up and BE YOU.
Advanced TT details here
'Words are such gross machinery, so primitive and ambiguous' - Frank Herbert
It isn't a rare thing at all for me to be sharing a concept or idea on a weekend of 'training' and to suddenly start laughing out loud because i can see that half the room have this amazing look of concentration / bafflement / total confusion about what Im trying to say. The problem is that words, not least of all being a subjective means of conveying ideas, simply don't cut the mustard when it comes down to describing the reality of how things are - which is inherently indescribable!
Most of the 'content' that we absorb and indeed deliver - in books, on courses and trainings, podcasts, discussions and exchanges, even our very thoughts are largely constructed from words. Ironically it is also our attachment to words and language, and our belief in the 'solidness of their meaning' that limits our own understanding of an existence that we are constantly trying to explain through language.
There is no doubt about it, language is a great means of communicating and processing on a gross level. It is a big step up from hand signals and gestures, it allows us to efficiently deal with the other actors in our own personal movie, permitting us to explore, describe, instruct, actions, objects, past, present and future.
However language is simply too limiting to convey more profound concepts. Often on weekends of training both myself and the other participants find ourselves searching for words to explain unexplainable concepts; tripping over our tongues in an effort not to say what we don't mean or to trap ourself into a corner that we didn't mean to construct. Using words to explain things beyond explanation is like desperately trying to untangle ourselves from the knot of duality by using another knot!
The fact is, when you begin to explore deeper truths, real understanding of how things are, language always comes up lacking - words -whether thoughts, written or spoken, can't say enough and yet they also say too much.
If language was such a great means for directing the thinker, reader or listener to awaken from the dream reality that almost all of us exist in, then by now, in some language or other there would have been a text, which simply by reading it would have the power to unlock our minds from their matrix like prison.
Instead all texts that aim towards such lofty ideals can only allude to their purpose - from the Bible, to the Tao Te Ching and innumerable self-help books - the truth is only to be found through the reader not understanding the text itself - for to understand language is to miss the point altogether - but instead to feel, sense or experience non-verbally, what is being hinted at verbally.
What is not being said is just as important if not more so than what is being said.
This assumption that words can somehow free us leads many people ever deeper and deeper into a search for the next thing, the book that will make them finally happy, the yoga teacher or style that can unlock my suffering, someone somewhere must be able to explain what this is all about. Maybe I can talk or think my way out of this cycle of suffering, if i can only find the right words to explain it, suddenly everything will make sense!
Often accredited to the Buddha, but quoted by many from zen teachers to Bruce Lee, maybe the following analogy works best:
'It is like a finger pointing to the moon, don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory!'
The finger, that is to say the words or the thought process ,has no power whatsoever to free you-it simply hints at the way, it isn't the way in itself . Become tangled in semantics of the finger at your peril and join the long line of academics in dusty rooms and lecture halls trying to unpick the ultimate meaning of words and language - a meaning that can't be unpicked. All the while wasting the real opportunity to live the 'feeling' , the 'energy' of those verbal intentions or suggestions.
Of course we can see that it is easy to fall into this trap, it is so much easier to a mind that thinks primarily in words to to imagine that it will find the answer deeply hidden within yet more words. It is only the unthinking mind that realizes that the answer lays not within the words, but in a place way beyond language , a place that can only be explored by your own light, not by your own descriptions of that light.
Of course the irony of this entire blog is not lost on me - it is an imperfect attempt to describe the indescribable; to point the way with the vaguest of gestures; to show something that can only be seen out of the corner of your eye, in a brief glimpse that vanishes if you try to focus o it too forcefully. Using words to explore the fallacy of words! Ha
I often say just allow things to simmer, try not to give them too much thought, absorb the sentiment but not the description, you will take exactly what you need from them and that will rise to the surface exactly when it is ready.