Loosening Knots to Create Kindness

What knots keep you from living in kind relationship to your life?

I gave up on knitting a few years ago because I discovered that I don’t seem to have the patience or inclination for unknotting the messes I kept making.  I LOVED the camraderie of knitting with women. I was drawn to the calm repetition of the process, and I understood intellectually the “zen of knitting.” I even read a book about it.  But no matter how I tried to talk myself into the IDEA of knitting, there was no part of my essential self that was drawn to the experience, once I was ready to graduate from neck scarves.

But as I work with my own thoughts and watch my own life, and work with clients, I can now I see what knitting taught me.  You need to find space in a knot in order to unravel it.Many people learn this as a five-year old learning to tie shoes, but it took the repetitive experience I gained as a failed knitter for my stubborn mind.

There’s usually a bundle of knotted thoughts that are so tightly woven together there seems no way to undo them. When I begin to inquire into my own mind, or when I facilitate a client, we hold it to the light.  I poke and pry and try to find a source.  I don’t pull.  I learned that from knitting.  Instead, I’m kind to the knot, curious.  Simply seeking to know.  Sometimes the thread that will untangle the mess is obvious.  Sometimes it just shows up as I begin to ask some simple questions.  With kindness.

From that place, the tangles of life seem to loosen, either gradually or suddenly.  By allowing a little more space for seeing the light, for breathing, for pleasure in the simplest things. Here’s one place I noticed this process. A couple of years ago I found that I no longer had time to do everything that I thought (or someone else thought) was a good idea.  Here’s the thought: I can (or should) do everything.

I took this to inquiry and found many, many kinder and truer thoughts.  I decided to look for what gives me energy and joy in life, and to seriously question whether I should be doing what doesn’t.  I began to notice what lights me up, and I found some things dimmed me down, like paperwork and taxes. Now, I’m enough of an adult to realize that some of these things can’t be avoided.  But knitting wasn’t one of them.  I began to keep a list of optional activities that I had thought were a good idea in my life but that lacked resonance in my heart and body. This was the no-brainer list of things to eliminate.

After that, I made another list.  A list of things that fed me but kept me rushed or off-kilter.  Over the last year I’ve gradually dropped many of those activities to open space in my life. Much as untangling a knot, I began by opening it up so I could see where the tangle was. What I noticed is that opening space for the unknown has allowed for more surprises, more possibility.

In time I began to discover how many knots were in my mind.  As I work with clients now, I notice the same process.  After they deal with knots in their external world, they’re better prepared to open the knots in their thinking.  As they begin to ask powerful questions, they open space in their mind.  And it’s just a very small step to the space that emerges in their daily experience.

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