Sometimes you just know what you know.
I’ve always had a bit of a sixth sense, but that doesn’t mean I can see the future or always pave what I think might be a good path.
This heightened intuition is a knowing that is difficult to describe. The best I can do is to say that if a truth could be touched, it would feel like this. This might sound vague, but the feeling is anything but.
When I am practicing yoga, I can experience a sensation similar to this sixth sense. In a pose or after a practice, a calmness comes at me, and I feel centered and light and surprised.
It is like the feeling I get when an old favorite song comes on the radio: Oh, I know this!
I was at yoga the other night, and the instructor was all excited about the new funky music playing. I approved as I had just added Stevie Wonder to my personal Pandora playlist, and Stevie and his friends had been serenading me at home.
I was in handstand, killing time after practice while awaiting some instruction on backbends. I moved my mat near the wall and pressed into my hands, lifting first one leg and then the other. Usually, it takes a few tries, but this time, right away my legs found their hang, and I was easily upside down.
Instead of feeling my weight in my hands, though, I felt no weight at all. A calmness came at me, and I felt centered and light and surprised.
I felt such certainty in that moment, upside down.
How is it that such clarity and certainty are never the result of a conscious effort?
It’s not like I sit down and decide to come up with an answer to something that I don’t even know is on my mind. It just happens out of the blue, in the same sudden way as easily landing that handstand.
The only conclusion I’ve been able to come to is that when I am clear of concerns, an openness is created. I get a filled up feeling, and that’s when the answers come.
It’s when I know what I know. It's the time to write. It's the time to paint. It's the time to draw.
The instructor came over to help me drop to a backbend from standing. We were giving it three tries after every practice. Stevie Wonder blasted through the sound system, and I got that feeling. I placed my hands at my heart, told the instructor that Stevie had followed me here from home and dropped back with more certainty than ever before.
Of course, it goes without saying that these times of certainty can be counterbalanced by bouts of uncertainty, where I wonder if I am headed in the best direction or if tilting back is even a good idea at all.
It’s the wondering that gets in the way, the over thinking that closes the open space where the answers come in.
Before yoga, I had never exercised, and I can’t believe I missed out on all those years of using this method to make sense of myself. A lot of confusion gets worked out on my mat. The practice clears away the chaos by moving me out of my head and into my body.
I arrive home to shower, not at all surprised to turn on my music and find Stevie still with me, finishing the exact same song that took me back at yoga.
The shower has also been the source of several epiphanies. I guess hot, hard water pressing down on me does the same thing as my yoga practice. Standing there, I’ve definitely had a calmness come at me. A realization occurs, I feel centered, light and surprised, and I am certain of a new truth.
Kabbalah, the study of Jewish mysticism, teaches about something called the Certainty Principle. It exists where we can’t see, and it’s supposed to help in facing difficult situations.
According to Yehuda Berg, author of The Power of Kabbalah, the principle goes like this: "When challenges appear overwhelming, inject Certainty. The Light is always there.”
There is a lot of study behind the Kabbalistic principles, but a down and dirty broad stroke would be to say there is a lot we don’t know, and don’t need to know, in order to believe that what’s happening is as it should be.
Something is always certain, though I’m not always sure what.
It doesn’t escape me that being certain takes some kind of faith. And, even so, I have to admit that I often reach those rare times of utmost certainty only after traveling through some confusion.
Keeping up my yoga practice helps me keep the faith.
And that helps me be open for the centeredness, lightness and surprise for those times like when I reach to reference Berg’s book and somehow open right to the page on Certainty.