The Practice of Asking Questions
I ask a lot of questions. As an academic trained in the scientific method and research protocols, confidence and comfort were embedded within the system of acquiring knowledge and deciphering “Truth”. Early in my Yoga study, teachers introduced me to the idea that Yoga is a science rooted in inquiry and investigation. This idea of Yoga as science endeared me to the practice of Yoga without agitating what I now see as my narrow-minded thinking (fear!) about the subtle body and the mystery of ancient philosophies and wellness modalities (the knowledge that pre-dates research protocols and modern scientific method).
I’ve always been good at asking questions.
I’ve always been good at finding questions to ask; I’ve gotten better at asking them without disrespecting my teachers and guides (usually).
What’s changed the most in my years as a Yogi is not the volume of questions or even the tact with which I ask them, but rather my relationship to the question itself. You might say I was more invested in finding the answers and being right than I was in even understanding the value of the question. Knowledge was power, and I was good at acquiring knowledge. My expectation of answers and my attachment to solving every puzzle, drove me to study and learn and prove that I was worthy.
Some how I had equated finding answers to proving my self worth. So when I couldn’t find an answer, when life didn’t make sense, it had to mean I was the problem. I was the failure.
I still go there when life is hard.
After all these years of study and practice in self-care and self-love, I still fall back into fear and doubt. I still confuse my worth as a human being as dependent on having all the answers. Can you relate?
I assumed every question had an answer, discoverable through study and diligence. I painfully learned that not all questions have answers and even more importantly, not all questions deserve to be answered. My greatest asset was NOT the knowledge I horded, but the peace of enough-ness that came from accepting myself as imperfect. This realization changed everything for me. Life was not a competition to be won, a test to be mastered, or even a dance to be performed. Life IS a practice of living with unanswered questions through mindful investigation. Life lived well means living in a state of ease, happiness and joy while paying attention to the world around me.
The capacity to learn is a gift;
The ability to learn is a skill;
The willingness to learn is a choice.
-Brian Herbert, American Author
Yoga helped me learn to be with the questions. Yoga practice teaches me how to “just be” even when the question has not been articulated or even discovered. To just be is definitely one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever embraced! To learn to be with the question, the journey to live in the inquiry resulted in more study. After all, study is my first love! And more humility (thank goodness!) as I came to recognize that I really didn’t know all that much. Turns out, what I did know was much, much less than I ever thought!
Now that I’ve been walking this yoga path for some time, I have a few questions that have been percolating of late. My questions all seem to relate to yoga, self-love and healthy living. Won’t you join me for the inquiry?
What are you consuming? What are you noticing? What are you learning? What are you practicing?
What questions do you ask?