Building community in a changing world

January 10, 2021

Questioning Your Beliefs: The Power of “Not Knowing”

In this podcast about “not knowing as a spiritual practice,” Jonathan Foust explains how questioning beliefs can be  powerful. That “not knowing” can be a good thing. Is something that appears to be good news really good news from a long-term perspective? Or is it bad news? Who knows in the long run.

Jonathan explains how questioning a long-held belief about yourself is a “glimpse” practice. Just a short window, a brief sense, that what you think is true might actually not be true can create a shift. An awakening that one of your foundational beliefs perhaps is not true. That might well allow anxiety to dissipate. You might realize that a long-held belief has been living on the inside in a way that is harmful to you.

That when you tell yourself that familiar story, you’re able to recognize the story for what it is. “Wait a minute, I’ve encountered this story before – but I now see that I don’t have to believe. That I don’t need to preserve the notion that ‘I’m right.’” Powerful indeed.

Jonathan parses the four questions that you might consider asking yourself – these are questions that Byron Katie espouses – as a way to heal:

Start with bringing up – dwelling upon – something that you’re believing, a story that you’ve been telling yourself. In other words, think of something that you’ve been complaining about in your mind. Notice how crystalline you can you make that belief. Now ponder these 4 questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Do you absolutely know it to be true? You’re looking for the crack in the wall.
3. How do you react when you believe in that thought? How does it feel like on the inside? How does your nervous system hold it? Where do you feel it? This is a somatic inquiry. What “emotional” word comes to mind when you think of that belief? Consider how old that belief feels. Can you hold that in tenderness? How does it want you to be with it right now?
4. Who are you without that belief? Often, you might get a “feeling free” sense – this is the shift…