This was the question on my mind a few mornings ago.
I was walking my dog through the woods above Barton Creek and was mentally calculating the time it would take for us to do a quick loop around the trail, sprint back to the car, drive home, jump in the shower, gather food, drink a cup of coffee, and jet off to work. I wasn't even planning on hiking down to the water until I reached the edge of the hill where I was planning on turning back, and suddenly Luna races down to the bottom, and stares up at me, daring me to follow.
Just to the edge of the water, I think. And then I'm at the water, smiling into my reflection among the clear pools forming along the bank, and I hear my inner Knowing ask me, why not bathe here this morning?
It's that perfect time of year, when the rains have filled the aquifer and the creek is full of fresh spring water. The color of the water captures me. It's a soft opalescent blue, and is so still I can see straight to the bottom.
My inner Knowing stared at me, like my dog had done at the bottom on the hill, daring me to give in and let go of my typical, frantic morning routine.
Yes, I replied to it, with a shy grin, I was going to take a bath anyway...why not here?
I find my favorite spot a little ways down the creek, hidden behind a grove of trees. I slip out of my clothes and step out onto a rock, warm from the early morning sun. The sunlight itself feels like a bath and I let it wash over me. I feel like I am smiling through ever pore of my body. The utter naturalness of this moment embraces and renews me, and I feel the Knowing within me smoothing over the events that lay before me, letting all my obligations know that I will be there in due time, that this time I am taking for myself is serving to make everything else better that is yet to come.
Luna is in the water first, with a splash, and I dive in after her, opening my eyes under the water in the cool blue and pausing near the bottom, before the air pulls me back up towards the surface. I float and dive and let my body take over my movements while my mind floats blissfully upon the water. I am Alive. The spring and the sun and my nakedness affirm to me that yes, I am alive, and I was made for this.
I later wonder how many opportunities like this I pass up due to business or shyness or fear. I feel so grateful that I allowed this unplanned moment to flower in my day, and I carried it with me for the rest of the day like a little jewel in my pocket. Touching it when faced with an unpleasant situation, and remembering that I am Alive, that I was born to feel alive, and that life is full of unplanned moments, and that it is within the uncertainty of the unknown that the most precious treasures are hidden.
For months I had been spinning my wheels, irritated and unhappy at my job, looking for a new city to move to, a new group to join, a new technique to learn, anything to alleviate this feeling of going nowhere. Unhealthy habits had crept back into my life like opportunistic pests sensing my weakness. I just wanted to feel better. To feel like I was doing what I was meant to be doing. And in all that effort to be doing, I lost my being.
Due to the stress, the unhealthy habits, and the vicious cycle that these two factors seem to always enable, my meditation practice had tampered off to a few minutes every morning before I started my day. I clung to this like a life raft, and indeed it was, and still is, a practice that keeps me afloat during precarious times.
My short morning meditations had started to develop a common theme. Depending on when I woke up, I would sit for a while, or simply pause in my little mediation room and bow for a few minutes, but one element silently crept in and began to tie everything together as my prayers evolved from a myriad of requests to one simple plea:
Guide me. Guide me through this day.
Lead me to the people who need me and to the people I need, too.
Lead me forward towards that which my soul is longing for.
I'm here. I'm listening. Just guide me.
Something about the act of just admitting now lost I felt was a huge relief, and became the most peaceful part of my day. Surrendering control, even for a moment, and allowing myself to commit to being open to what lay ahead- without any idea about what it could be- became my morning ritual.
And so when I received an email from my yoga community announcing a four month training in India that would be personally taught by the spiritual head of Kriya Yoga International, instead of dismissing it as a opportunity that I was neither prepared for or worthy of and moving onto the next email, I paused, listened within, and quickly realized that this was a door that was standing wide open, as an answer to my inner prayer, and was mine if I chose to accept it. Everything within me shouted "yes!" And it would still take months of deliberation, being struck by flying objects (seriously) and subsequently coming into exactly enough money to pay for the program expenses before I finally committed. But the Knowing never budged, because I never stopped trusting it.
The Knowing has to be surrendered to. Every morning, if possible. Every moment, every breath- even better. The Knowing may ask you to do really scary things. Jump out of comfort zones and into the unknown. It will never push you. But will quietly wait, patiently, while you run in circles here and there, drive yourself crazy in all of your effort to figure things out and establish security, and will still be there once you have collapsed in exhaustion. It will be smiling slightly, sitting calmly and will ask you one more time, "are you ready to let go, and be led?"
I trusted that Knowing across an ocean and all over a country I had never been to. It took care of me every step of the way. And I'm still struggling to let go of wanting to control life. But my grip is much looser and my faith in the Knowing, much stronger. And whenever I find myself running in circles and collapsing again into a puddle of confusion, I remember that calm smile, and the path that is illuminated just beyond it, just bright enough for me to see where to take the next step.