Before I went to teacher training, I hadn't even decided what I would do with myself when I got my certificate. I knew that I wanted to teach full-time, but when, where, and how? Should I stay in Santa Barbara and try to make it work as a California yogi, driving up and down the coast to different studios, popping in to see Bikram on Saturday mornings, trying to convince other teachers in Santa Barbara that they really ought to have a look at that dialogue? Should I go overseas? Should I pull up roots and make a fresh start? What should I do?
And then one day, I woke up and realized that I knew the answer. Of course I was going to move. I was going to find a studio owner who I trusted and move to wherever she happened to live. Of course. There was never a question.
Three months later, Baltimore. Decide what to be, and go be it.
Since then, I haven't really had trouble making big decisions.
You know how, when you are trying to make a tough decision, people tell you that you should "sleep on it"? That's pretty great advice. When you sleep, your subconscious does its best thinking. With your conscious mind out of the way, your brain pulls apart strands of information, rewires the data, and makes new connections. If you ever take a look at the science of sleep and dreams, it's incredible how much activity your brain accomplishes when you are drooling onto your pillow. Your subconscious is smart as hell and it can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you if you give it a chance.
But when I'm trying to make a decision these days, I don't sleep on it. I practice on it.
Sometimes, the best way to find an answer just this: get in a hot room, listen to someone else's voice for 90 minutes, sweat your brains out, balance, stretch, and twist. Do this until you've completely forgotten the question. By the time you remember what your question was, you'll already know the answer.
In the yoga room, the right way is the hard way. In life, not always. I think that the "right way" is usually just the way that feels right. The right decision is the one that makes you feel peaceful and happy. When you can get your mind to settle down and step out of the way, it's simple to notice how you feel and figure out what that tells you.
It also helps to understand that there are no mistakes, not really. Even if there are two roads diverging in a wood, who can say that they won't come back to the same place? Maybe one of them is just the scenic route.
Or as it says in my beloved little Zen cookbook:
Everything is leading you, pushing you,
instructing you, bugging you to supreme,
perfect enlightenment. This means
there are no mistakes. You might do it
differently next time, but that's because
you did it this way this time.
I paraphrased from this in my yoga class this morning, because I really love it. It reminds me of that bit in How Yoga Works when the girl teacher says that, in order to do a yoga pose right, you first have to do it a thousand times slightly wrong (though not if your teacher has already corrected you). It's all part of - dare I say it? - the process. Doubt has nothing to do with it.
You already know what to do.