We all have an internal longing to be loved, fulfilled, and significant—a longing to create and experience a joyful, complete life. Most of us work so hard at creating it that we’re often left feeling depleted, stuck, overwhelmed and unrealized—the exact opposite of what we set out to do. I think our answer to this dilemma can be found in Step Two of Glennon Doyle’s best-selling book, Untamed: Be Still and Know.
Many of us are on auto-pilot when it comes to making decisions about our life and work. We are conditioned to look for our answers “out there,” from a counselor, a friend, a parent, a teacher, a book, the internet, a Monday Morning Stretch blog… instead of from within our own Knowing. Some of us have been led to believe that we cannot trust ourselves to know what’s best. But we can. And to tap into that flawless truth, as Glennon so beautifully describes, we must stop, sink, listen, trust, and act. And all of it can take only seconds if we become practiced at it.
Here are my favorite passages from Glennon’s chapter on Key Two: Be Still and Know…
- Be still and know. It didn’t say, “Poll your friends and know.” Or “Read books and know.” Or “Scour the internet and know.” It suggested a different approach to knowing: Just. Stop.
- If you just stop doing, you’ll start knowing.
- There, in the deep, I could sense something circulating inside me. It was a Knowing. I can know things down at this level that I can’t on the chaotic surface. Down here, when I pose a question about my life – in words or abstract images – I sense a nudge. The nudge guides me toward the next precise thing, and then, when I silently acknowledge the nudge – it fills me. The Knowing feels just like warm liquid gold filling my veins and solidifying just enough to make me feel steady, certain.
- What I learned (even though I am afraid to say it) is that God lives in the deepness inside me. When I recognize God’s presence and guidance, God celebrates by flooding me with warm liquid gold.
- The Knowing would meet me in the deep and nudge me toward the next right thing, one thing at a time. That was how I began to know what to do next. That was how I began to walk through my life more clearly, solid and steady.
Glennon told a story of being in a board room where the group had reached an impasse. They looked to her for a decision and guidance. She started to react in old ways but remembered she had a beautiful new process:
- I took a deep breath, and, with eyes wide open, I turned inward and tried to sink right there at the table. It worked. I sensed the nudge, and as soon as I acknowledged it, I was filled with warm liquid gold. I rose back to the surface, smiled, and said, “I know what to do.”
- I now take orders only from my own Knowing. Whether I’m presented with a work, personal, or family decision—a monumental or tiny decision—whenever uncertainty rises, I sink. I sink beneath the swirling surf of words, fears, expectations, conditioning, and advice—and feel for the Knowing. I sink 100 times a day. I have to, because the Knowing never reveals a five-year plan. It feels to me like a loving, playful guide, like the reason it will only reveal the next right thing is that it wants to do life together. After many years, I’m developing a relationship with this Knowing. We are learning to trust each other.
- Why do we worry about what to call the Knowing, instead of sharing with each other how to call the Knowing? I know many people who have found this level inside of them and live solely by it. Some call the Knowing God or wisdom or intuition or source or deepest self. It doesn’t matter what we call the Knowing. What matters—if we want to live our singular shooting star of life—is that we call it.
- Every life is an unprecedented experiment. This life is mine alone. So, I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been. This is no map. We are all pioneers.
- The answers are never out there. They are as close as my breath and as steady as my heartbeat. All I have to do is stop flailing, sink below the surface, and feel for the nudge and the gold. Then I have to trust it, no matter how illogical or scary the next right thing seems. Because the more consistently, bravely, and precisely I follow the inner Knowing, the more precise and beautiful my outer life becomes. The more I live by my own Knowing, the more my life becomes my own and less afraid I become.
Glennon sums up Key Two this way…
How to Know:
- Moment of Uncertainty arises.
- Breathe, turn inward, sink.
- Feel around for the Knowing.
- Do the next thing it nudges you toward.
- Let it stand (don’t explain).
- Repeat forever.
- And, for the rest of your life: Continue to shorten the gap between the Knowing and the doing.
I have had almost the exact same experience that Glennon describes over the last decade of my life with the Knowing. I would be hard-pressed to find adequate words to describe the monumental positive impact that developing a relationship with this Knowing has had on the quality of my life and work.
I, too, experienced a lack of desire to name the Knowing (though I like “the Knowing” very much!). “The Flow” is as close as I’ve come.
I, too, have had the sensation of sinking when I access it as well as a warm glow flooding through me when I acknowledge it.
I, too, have learned that it is better if I do not justify or attempt to explain it to others, nor even to myself. I’ve learned to simply trust it.
I, too, have experienced a playfulness in the Knowing. It’s a friendly, joyful ally—never demanding my attention but always wanting it.
I, too, spend my life now trying to stay conscious of it and practiced at accessing it. I agree that the game is trying my best to shorten the gap between the Knowing and the doing.
I believe that the reason my relationship with the Knowing is so similar to Glennon’s is because it is an eternal and universal experience. It has been, is, and will always be available to everyone and is the essence of what unites us as living beings. I can’t imagine doing my life, my work, or my relationships without it.
This week, consider the power of the Knowing within you. It doesn’t take hours of quiet meditation to tap into it. It’s right there. Don’t struggle with it. Play with it. Get to know it.
Next week, we’ll look at my takeaways from Keys Three and Four. Until then, feel it all and then, be still and know. Simple. Profound. Very useful in a world full of uncertainty, pain, confusion, and stress. It has helped me. I hope it helps you too.
“I have learned that if I want to rise, I must sink first.”
~ Glennon Doyle