The Power of Pondering


“A great question is one you can ask yourself, one that disturbs your status quo and scares you a little bit.” - Seth Godin

I’ve been pondering a lot, lately. As many of you know, over many years I have trained myself toward discipline, movement, and action. These past couple of months, I’ve not been doing as much as usual. This includes paring down exercise and spiritual practices to bare bones. Parts of me resist this, greatly, but I’m hoping to learn some things. This necessary shift came about because I overextended myself this year. It was a worthy experiment, a lot got done, and it proved to be a bit too much in the end. I’ve chosen to listen rather than fight the need for rest, and to take time to reassess.

One product of this hermitage time is that some things have been allowed to bubble to the surface: questions, observations, and an intriguing limbo of not knowing. My curiosity is piqued, and, since I have this self-imposed contract to not act right now, I’ve been able to ponder, to observe more deeply and more broadly.

I've been pondering things like the effects introversion has on generosity, on what actions we might take as citizens of the world to fix the messes we've created, on how to be a better friend, on what ancient Pagans have to teach us about living well and thoughtfully, about how science reveals spirit, and how to best study economics. I've pondered the Gods and Goddesses, and dipped into books from my spiritual library. I've watched the birds...

One thing I’ve been pondering is naturally giving rise to an answer, all on its own. I haven’t tried to “figure it out”, but the process of giving space to the question has also given space to at least a partial answer. I've been looking at how I work, teach, and write, and musing: "Where is the energy going? What feels effective for me and those I reach?" I will likely still launch classes, continue with the video teaching series, lead some workshops, keep up with my students and clients, make some music, even work on a new book, but… what pondering is teaching me right now is that, surprisingly, what I wish to share with the world is getting out there via blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. This wide-scatter method feels satisfying, as does the one-on-one work I'm doing with clients, and the range in between. Published books are no longer a holy grail; clear communication is what I seek. Traveling all over the world to teach? I'm barely scheduled for 2012, when the calendar is usually booked solid by year's end. In other words: the things that can look like success just don't matter. What matters is following the waves of connection.

As I said, this is only a partial answer that is arising, because there is no business plan being written, no particular deadlines, no cutting out this thing for certain... Mostly I'm staying with the observation of, "How interesting."

If I hadn’t taken this space to allow questions to surface, I would likely have just kept pushing toward the known. I still have classes coming up, and eventually plan to finish the book I’ve been slowly working on - with more than 200 pages written, and more importantly, with ideas still percolating, it feels right to do so. But it feels just as right, if not more so, to send out a tweet each morning that tries to communicate something, connect something - from my soul to the souls of thousands of people who, amazingly enough, are not part of a void, but rather, part of an interpenetrating, enveloping web of light, sound, particle, wave, and evolving motion.

There is also another lesson here to continue to ponder: sometimes discipline means taking two steps back. My status quo is disturbed, and I’m staying with it. I actually kind of like it.

When we seek to know ourselves, and seek to follow desire, when our want becomes our heartfelt wish, we can listen, we can question, we can ponder. Making space for questions allows us to risk what we think we know and enter the fecund world of not knowing.

When we have a center, we can hold space open and not collapse.

What are the questions you are willing to ask of yourself, of other people, of the world? Can you make some space to ponder?

7 Responses to “The Power of Pondering”

  1. Leanne Pemburn

    This is right in line with my desire to step back from being busy, all the time. It may take a bit of working through the backlog, but one day I will have time to sit and ponder. Though this likely means I will miss your workshop in March :(…

  2. Karen

    Thank you for your post. This echoes with me, as I have finally initiated a plan to create some space for reflection in my life. While not happening until 2013, the 6 months that I have set aside that year to step back from work and commitments are feeling like a necessity…a space for the next path to come to me, while I am sitting in the valley.

  3. Fortuna

    Interesting that so many of us had 2011 so filled to the brim…and just because we had an abundance of opportunities, and were testing our boundaries. I also ended up feeling…well, recovery has been slow!
    Stepping back from committing a whole year ahead of time, and committing to doing one thing at a time…and to considering the pleasure and the purpose of the thing I’m doing…is where I’m going now.

  4. Snooze Hamilton

    (high five) Thanx for this! We took a year off to float and reassess what we wanted to do with our local group format. I have to sleep on a lot of things to know what I really think or to be genuinely reasonable about them, and sometimes “sleeping on it” means letting it sit and percolate for more than just a night’s sleep. The idea that one must be constantly transforming is, to me, sometimes self-defeating. Forward movement for it’s own sake does not mean you’re getting somewhere you want to be.

  5. Soli

    Having just gotten my Master’s degree two weeks ago, I am just coming into the space where I can ask these questions again. Well, not even ask, but start resuming more than just a devotional practice and figure out where I might even be able to “go” next.

  6. otterdancing

    This struck me today as I was driving with the bright sunlight streaming in the windows. Suddenly, without effort, the answer to a problem I had been struggling with for almost a year came gliding into my center. And I pondered how I had just allowed time and space to happen so that the answer arrived without force. I thought of Brigid’s cauldron and how I had simply laid that issue in that place to work without my exterior action. This year of silence has been a gift of learning about just this thing. Thanks for the reminder and observations.


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