The Truth About Knowledge (in an organic nutshell)
Get ready for some fascinating, brain bending information and insight. Here’s the catch: you know what you don’t think you know, and you don’t know what you think you know. <<<Please read carefully! Let it sink in. Both are true. Hear me out. Let’s start with the first part of the sentence: you know what you don’t think you know…
There is a vast universe of knowledge within you in every given moment. Have you ever walked into a room and had a gut feeling? Has someone ever just rubbed you the wrong way? Have you ever felt sadness to the extent that your heart actually ached? Have you ever had a ‘hunch’ about something? Diarrhea? Skin rashes? Weight gain? Depression? Chronic anxiety? Food allergies? These subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues are very important signals. They are manifestations of our bodies communicating with us. Some people call the hunches and feelings ‘intuition’. There is, however, also a biological imperative associated with these signals. This is obvious in the case of a physical illness and obesity. They are expressions of our bodies not being ‘at ease’, which is quite literally where the term ‘disease’ originates. The implications of our intuition tend to be more subtle unless you are an experienced meditator, but they are equally as important as physical markers of health. Neither biological nor intuitive sensations come directly from our conscious minds. No one I know would ever choose to have diarrhea or depression. From the intuitive perspective, let’s just say I don’t pre-plan my gut feelings. I can try and talk myself into doing something I feel instinctively opposed to and give myself very tempting excuses as to why I ‘should’ do it, but if it doesn’t feel right, I simply cannot combat that knowing. And if I do, I will most likely suffer in the long run to some degree. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga provide us with the tools to access our inner understanding on a deeper level. When the mind chatter subsides, or instead, when we consciously choose to watch thoughts instead of identifying with them, something magical and almost unexplainable happens. You will not need a dietician or a personal trainer or a doctor to tell you what your body and mind need to thrive anymore. You have full access to unlocking that which is stored deep within you. No book will ever be able to tell you. It is unique to you! I encourage you to set aside time for stillness and silence each day. Even five minutes will help. Stillness is the fertile ground in which answers are born. These are the answers beyond the ego and are sometimes difficult to gather using our conscious minds alone. Reasoning and logic will only get you so far. Stop trying too hard to figure things out, and let the answers come to you. You know more than you think.
So now that you know that you know, I will now discuss why you actually don’t know what you think you know (try repeating that sentence five times fast). Oh no. Here we go… Do you have goals? Do you have intentions? If I were to ask you where you see yourself in five or ten years from now, do you have an idea? Generally speaking, the people I interact with want to be happy, have financial stability, find a romantic relationship, and stay healthy. Very rarely do I meet anyone who is wishing to get sick and become poor! So YAY for positive intentions. Having a positive vision for your future is great. If you’ve transitioned form fear to love, you are on the right path. But you are only partially there. Do you know how you are going to make the money (this especially applies to small business owners and entrepreneurs)? Do you know exactly how you will manifest the relationship of your dreams? I mean, do you actually know the specific steps involved and required to create that reality for yourself? Many of us can see point ‘A’ and see (and even believe in the possibility of) point ‘B’. But what occupies the space in between? Do you know precisely what it takes to maintain a vibrant body and optimal health through to old age? Many people think they know, but they actually don’t know. For example, if I were to ask you what a toilet bowl does, you could most likely give me an answer. ‘It flushes my shit.’ Yes. But, HOW does it do that? Do you actually understand the intricate workings of a toilet? What parts are in motion? What is the driving force behind the toilet? What is actually happening? Of course you could go and study this, but if I asked most of you, you probably wouldn’t know. We can apply the same example with something as simple as a zipper. The zipper zips. DUH. But HOW does it zip? What is going on on a magnified level? How do the different parts work together? We think we know, but we actually don’t know. We know what we want, but we don’t know how to get there. We have an idea of how to get there, but in reality, we just don’t know.
According to a great friend, colleague, and former client of mine who is a cognitive scientist, the inevitable blocks we face have a name. The principle is known as IED or the ‘Illusion of Explanatory Depth’. We quite literally create the illusion that we know how to explain how things work and how to potentially advance to the next level, either professionally or in our personal lives. In the professional setting, if an innovator does not know the root cause of a work-related/product-related problem, he or she will not be able to come up with a feasible solution. In light of personal development, this is one of the main reasons, in my opinion, many people have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They are too concerned with the end goal and not necessarily paying attention to the origin of the discomfort, physical issue, poor health, depression, etc. Research from Art Markman of Harvard University Business School concludes that we must teach ourselves. Think of a teacher. Teachers explain very specifically what steps are needed to solve a problem. They provide a formula. We must ‘fill the gaps’ in our own knowledge in order to advance to the next level in our health. If we cannot teach ourselves, we must seek a teacher, mentor, or coach in order to support our journey. Research suggests that collaboration accelerates growth. Working with a team or in community or with mentors is almost a necessity in terms of advancing our health and wellness. Our brains will not do it themselves. We must make a conscious effort to better ourselves in order to avoid moving blindly through life ‘hoping’ for good things to happen. Using the example of relationships, if we want to cultivate an intimate relationship in our lives, we must do some research. Research may include reading books, asking people whose relationships we’re inspired by what their secrets are for a lasting relationship, or even experimenting in our own lives. Fairy tale relationships do not exist, and just like a zipper, they require a specific formula to keep them in tact.
Markman states, ‘When you do uncover these gaps, treat them as learning opportunities, not signs of weakness. After all, successful innovation rests on the assumption that you and the people around you have a high-quality understanding of the problem. Sometimes, uncovering the flaw in that assumption will help you find a solution.’
I taught myself everything I know about health. Yes, I received a professional education at the world’s largest nutrition school, however I did not believe anything I learned until I did my own research. I spent almost two years of my life cooped up in my parents’ house in New Jersey browsing medical journals, biology books, and spiritual texts. Not to mention, I experimented creative problem solving with my own body. Having weighed 67 pounds during an eating disorder, I took everything I knew in order to break free from the disease. It wasn’t only about adding more food but about retraining my brain. I had all of the tools. It was time to use them. And now here I am. Many people fall victim to eating disorders for a lifetime, and I can see why. When we simply ‘hope’ for a better future without acknowledging the deeper reasons our lives are feeling unfulfilled in the present, total healing is not possible. This requires immense vulnerability, investigation, curiosity, forgiveness, and lightheartedness.
It is your turn to gather and use the tools for self healing and personal transformation. They are within your reach at all times. Here’s a secret: What you actually do know (paragraph 1) is the key that will unlock what you don’t (paragraph 2). Your body is constantly sending signals as to your next step. Take the time. Be still. Be gentle. Hear. Listen.