My Demanding Knot


I have this unsettling knot in my stomach that comes and goes. It dissipates when I am focused on a task, embroiled in emotions, lost in a movie, eases up when my thoughts are busy. I don’t know what the knot represents.


Maybe it’s the pandemic times.


Maybe it’s a habit of worry.


Maybe it’s my way of reminding myself I’m not in control.


Next directions, next steps are swirling around me. Expectations lay heavy as I manipulate them into expectancies. My physical wants turn over into acceptance. My need to be in control I surrender.


And yet I am left with my knot. What is it I am wanting? What is it I am feeling? I don’t have the answers. I struggle with forming the questions.


Daily I let go. Daily I bring in gentleness and warmth that holds me wherever I am. My mind wants to know where I am going, what I am doing, what will be happening. I wish I had the answers for this demanding knot. I accept.


Life Breathes Me by Danna Faulds


It sometimes feels like

leaping off a cliff simply

to stay present with

what is. Practice shifts

and shapes me, shaves

off my roughest edges,

illumines the dark places.

As my focus of awareness

shifts, life breathes me,

and energy is freed to

heal even the most

hopeless rifts.


“This is what I have to say to you. In the first stage of your journey you learned to replace harmful beliefs with helpful ones. It was such a relief to let go of negativity that it became a temptation to stay there – to make your home in those newly acquired positive thoughts. But a positive self image is still a mask. The next stage of your journey is becoming comfortable with the unknown. It involves being clear and courageous enough to rest in bare awareness without having to create another identity, without needing to tack yet another belief to the end of “I am.”’
“Experience the expansion, the spaciousness that comes from resting in the truth of unknowing. It isn’t comfortable, at least not now, but it is powerful and inherently creative. It’s what your soul longs for. Use the sense of vertigo to leave behind the known, and let go of the need to tether your soul to anything solid or definable. Let yourself go, over and over, until it is second nature to be weightless.” --Danna Faulds

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much for the reading. I have been with you since day one and that was my favorite reading. It spoke to me. It touched me very deeply. I can’t talk about it yet. I’m just feeling it. I feel like there is a journey there for me with this particular reading.

  • I really appreciated the reading. In particular, the unsettling knot image which is something I really experience on and off throughout my life. Usually I experience it at 3 or 4 AM when I wake up. My narrative is that something is scaring me. Through the years, I’ve done many things with no real awareness of what it is in me. I can relax, I can be gentle, all of those things are good, and it is still there. It comes as a way to remind me of some pieces in my life that I need to be more present with. But I don’t know. When am I going to learn? At the same time, it was freeing and hopeful that I don’t know. And it leaves me where I always am. That’s a good awareness. During the mediation, I was trying to be present with the knot and explore it, what would it be like to surrender to it? Then I would get distracted in my thinking. I was identifying in a little different way. I appreciate your expressing your experience with this. The description was powerful for me.

  • I’ve also experienced a knot in my stomach. And I’ve visualized it as a knot about the size of my fist. Associating it with the unknown makes it maybe okay to not know about that fist and what’s causing it. There are so many things that we don’t know and to become comfortable with the unknowing or not knowing is a spiritual practice. So just being aware that it is there and not knowing, that’s okay. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for your writing. Dana Faulds words are so touching. That line ‘be comfortable with the unknown.’ I’ve never been comfortable with the unknown and uncertainty. I’ve always liked to know what’s going to happen. That’s not possible. I like that line. You said ‘experience is expansion’. If I can be uncomfortable with the unknown and know that the experience is going to expand me, that supports me and helps me. It doesn’t feel as scary or frightening.

  • I was thinking about what your daughter said about drawing (see Nov 23 blog), to draw the space around the object. You are drawing the unknown. The object is what we perceive as what we know. She was suggesting that we draw what we don’t know. I think the pandemic is certainly putting all of us in a place of unknowing. It’s a grand you-better-pay-attention to the fact that there is the unknown. It doesn’t go away, we may ignore it, but it is part of the human condition.

  • I’ve spent my life dealing with fear. I am now considered an expert on dealing with fear and am asked to speak about it. On Sunday, my talk is all about dealing with fear. As I expand my consciousness in meditation and welcome my growth, I think my humanness is terrified of letting go of what I think is my reality. It is such a process, that we all go through as we grow And I’m still hanging onto my blankie with my thumb in my mouth hanging on to who I perceive I am. It’s a very challenging experience. It makes me feel vulnerable and it’s incredibly rewarding.

  • What flashed through my mind was my experience with parasailing. I was in fear for about 15 minutes as I was up and looking down. It felt so much longer. For 5 minutes of it, I was ready to let go of my narrative of what if I fall. It was hard to look because I was so scared. But for a few moments, I let go of it and I was then present with what I was seeing. I moved away from the imagery of fear and jumped into the unknown. If I go, I’m going to go, but at least I’m going to see it. I never thought about it until now in the context of being more comfortable to just explore the unknown without a narrative.

  • Being present is the key to finding comfort in the unknown.

  • Thank you also for that poem. Yesterday started out to be one of the best Thanksgivings I ever had. I started the day with all of you and the energy I took with me from that. Then I visited with friends virtually. And then on our block, about 20 people came out and we shared what we were thankful for. There was so much love and energy, it was wonderful. The best Thanksgiving ever. After that, I met virtually with my ex and my son, and it was terrible. My ex reported things that sounded reproachful. My son went on about the pandemic. I tried to change the energy but I couldn’t think of a positive topic. Finally, I started to laugh because it had become a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without the dinner table. It felt ironic. I got off the call. My energy was different and it felt sticky. I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t move. I am trying, but whatever I touch or do, I can’t seem to move.

  • In these times, it’s important to remember we can step out of it and observe it. You were bulldozed. It’s an old behavior and an old energy and it’s so seductive, it just pulls you right back in. But as you have awareness of everything else that you are experiencing, there is more reality. And you can bring that back in and cultivate it -- literally cultivate it by getting the plow out and making that row again. And plowing up the stuff that sucks you back in. Because it’s a truth and you know it’s there. I encourage you to do that, to be the witness, see the bulldozing. Some people thrive on the manipulation and the negative energy that helps them feel alive and thrive. You don’t have to. I encourage you to use that visualization, to maybe write about it or paint it, and cultivate a new row.

  • I do sometimes get a knot in my stomach. But mostly and it’s in my heart area, pretty much all the time. Knots that prevent me from feeling deep moments of love and gratitude. Tiny things I’ve noticed are happy or comforting. I realize that if one is uncomfortable with the known or portions of it, it can be more difficult to be comfortable with the unknown. Because I have a lot of work to do on myself and things I want to change and deepen, it’s harder to deal with the unknown.

  • I do know that when I get triggered, I stop deeply breathing. I breathe shallowly and freeze. Therein lies the stuck place. Being mindful of breath helps move out of the pain. Helps bring us back to the present where our breath is moving our energy.

  • That was interesting. I have felt the tension leading up to Thanksgiving. I had tension in my neck and shoulders. I couldn’t sleep the night before. But yesterday, I gave up all expectations and I had perhaps one of the most peaceful Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. I watched mind-numbing TV, stayed in my pajamas, I made a meal. In the evening, family members from all over the world called. No expectations. I actually expected the worst because it was the first Thanksgiving I was ever alone. But it turned out, when the day came, I gave in to it. I’m here, I’m in the now, I don’t have to do anything. It was peaceful without expectations.

  • We are our own self-advocates. I know I can be the worst bully to myself. I can be the person demanding that I do this and do that, and if I don’t, I beat myself up. I’m the one who can stop that. No one else is picking up that hammer except me. So I have to remember I’m in charge of what I say to myself, what I accuse myself of and demand of myself. It’s hard, as children, we were so easily swayed by what others said, that we immediately turned over and accepted the blame. As adults, we don’t need to do that. It’s even harder to embrace when we grew up around abusive relationships.

  • Reminder: Shirley is doing a Feel the Fear – Down to the Wire workshop on Sunday, November 29th. Free and virtual. Sign up here. It will be available on demand afterwards.

  • On Monday, Shirley is doing a live podcast.

  • Thanks everyone. I wish you all a gentle day.

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