A Different Way of Knowing


Lately I’ve been thinking about a different way of knowing. Different from the one I learned so well in school—the knowing ‘about’ things; their names, where they are located, and theories of how they work. Interestingly, this collection of data as knowledge for all these years seems to be using up my available RAM. I’ve been thinking about a different way of knowing—one reason is because I realize I’m forgetting stuff. I forget who came to my first wedding in 1996 . . . like, totally have no memory of that person being at that eventful celebration. I forget what I walked into the bedroom to do or get. I forget where I set things down. The way of knowing that is remembering names and places is not as strong as it was in younger years.

I’ve been thinking about a different way of knowing since returning from St. George last month where I led a daylong experiential workshop in Snow Canyon, holding a container for a group of folks who wanted to go deeper into their own knowing. With the help of ceremony, wild nature, a day without the 'to do' list, and a community of like mind, we dipped into this other way of knowing together.

I’ve been thinking about a different way of knowing because of my friend Kaye Whitefeather Robinson, who has been showing me petroglyphs all over the place in and around St. George. Her stories about these ancient symbols in stone come from both a passed-down knowledge of Native elders, and from her own inner sense. She trusts that sense without being attached to it, a sense that comes alive when she shares with others.

I have read, in Primal Mind by Jamake Highwater (1981), that “primal peoples come to know a thing by being it for a time.”

By being it.

When I was younger (in my 20’s), I would sit and vision into who I wanted to become next. I remember I would sit still and go deep inside and listen to what my soul really wanted. I would then feel myself being it. It tended to be fairly specific and felt quite natural, quite innocent. This was before I ‘knew’ about manifestation and the energetic dynamics of creativity; before I had names and theories for any of this process. Oddly, I seem to be less able to vision in this way than I used to.

A dear friend told me at lunch last week how, in starting his new business, that he had a very hard time believing he was worth the money he decided he should charge, based on the market. So for a year, he faked it. He just pretended that he was worth the money—for a year. Eventually,  he said, he began to believe it. This friend is a man who runs his non-profit consulting business from his heart and gut . . . from a different way of knowing. With great effort and love, he has grown into knowing his authentic self, and gives THIS authenticity to his clients. His business is going gang-busters.

About a month ago, I was very upset by a story my father told me which I immediately recognized as the influence of his younger brother, my uncle. I have felt this uncle to be of a very negative, even demonic influence for the past several years in my family and this story was the straw that broke the camels’ back. In a swirl of rage and love, I confronted my father (who has been diagnosed with dementia and is easily influenced—an important detail) and poured out all my concerns and caring. He seemed to “wake up” and we connected on a deeper level than we ever have. A break-through conversation! Later that evening, far away from my father, I drank two beers, put Led Zepplin and then Blue Man Group on the stereo really loud and danced. I danced as the Hindu goddess Durga, the mother of the universe, supreme power of the Supreme Being, the power behind the creation, preservation and destruction of the world. I WAS Durga, for a time. I whirled and swirled, yelled and sang, and let my body/mind do what it wanted, with all my might. I banished false stories, I banished ignorance, I banished demons of all kinds from myself and from the family.  I felt the joy and power of this ancient, powerful feminine coursing through me. Since that dance, my uncle’s influence has ceased (perhaps for other reasons as well, but who knows what my being Durga did?).

This different way of knowing has to do with letting myself go, like a child playing make-believe with all her heart. It has to do with listening, listening, listening. When I am deeply connected to nature, I know things from within this different way of knowing—in my body and beyond words.

I am practicing this different way of knowing daily; learning to trust it, to embody it, and to be a voice for it in this culture.

I think you also know about this different way of knowing. How does it manifest for you?