April 13, 2020

As we navigate through life, we are met with situations and circumstances that are beyond our control. Although most of us have, at times, tried to ignore or deny this simple truth, life experience necessitates that we eventually accept uncertainty as an undeniable certainty. This acceptance can spur feelings of hopelessness and despair, but it also has the power to encourage a simple beam of light, illuminating that which we do have control over.

RESPONDING TO UNCERTAINTY

The way in which we answer to uncertainty is, for the vast majority of us, entirely within our control. We can choose to react from a place of emotional distress and fear, or to respond from a place of inner reflection and calm. This is not always easy. Developing the ability to respond (versus react) may be extremely difficult, but, in my experience, it holds the key to inner freedom and collective peace.

There are many ways to develop one’s capacity to respond. The following is one suggestion:

  • When faced with uncertainty, carve out some time to be alone. Find a quiet space, free from distractions, where you feel safe.
  • Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and begin to notice your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your chest, notice the sensations on your upper lip.
  • Intentionally slow down your breathing by counting to 4 as you inhale and 4 as you exhale. Do this for as many rounds as needed, then allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm.

  • Without judgement, scan your body and notice if there are any areas of tightness or tension. Rest your attention on these parts, one at a time, allowing your breath to wash over them. Relax.
  • Now bring to mind an uncertain situation in your life and notice the feelings that arise. Maybe a tightness in your chest, or a sinking feeling in your stomach. Whatever the sensation, sense the possibility of embracing this area with genuine love and caring. It may help to bring to mind someone who you love and care for deeply, then transfer the love you feel for them toward yourself.
  • After some time, simply rest in the space that has been created. Allow a calm to settle over your body and mind. From here, consider the options you have for responding to your uncertain situation, reflecting on how each one may impact yourself, others, and our mother earth.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Viktor Frankl

ENCOURAGING GRATITUDE

During times of uncertainty it is very easy to lose touch with the things we are thankful for. It is helpful, even vital, to reconnect with our appreciation by cultivating a daily gratitude practice. This could consist of writing a list, or bringing to mind, all that we are grateful for. Maybe it is as simple as: “I am grateful to have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a mother who loves me”. Once your list is made, maintain the connection by coming back to it every morning upon rising and every evening before falling asleep.

REDUCING NOISE

In today’s world, our lives can easily become inundated with grisly news headlines, incessant social media rants, opinionated personality types, and unrelenting external negativity. As such, I think it is prudent to remind ourselves that, to a large extent, we can control the noise level within our own lives. For example:

Consider limiting or eliminating social media usage during times when you are faced with uncertainty.

Watch enough news to remain informed, then turn it off.

Balance negative news stories with positive ones (you may need to search through a few channels, but the positive stories are out there).

If possible, limit your time with aggressive or overly negative people.

CARING FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS

You are a beautiful part of this intricate web of life and are deserving of all the love in the world. To remind ourselves of this is always within our control; so is the choice to develop self-care routines. Especially during times of uncertainty, choose to slow down both physically and mentally by taking a warm bubble bath or going for a nature walk, eating something that will make you feel good or finding solace in a connection with a higher power. From this place of self-love, we can choose to extend our kindness toward others. Maybe by reminding someone that they too are loved, or reaching out to a person in need through an act of kindness.

Developing calm amidst uncertainty is something we are all confronted with, regardless of social standing, race, gender, or age. The strength to see the light beyond the darkness is ultimately a personal journey, but remember we are in this together. As such, I leave you with a question:

“What if rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, we accepted it and relaxed into it?” - Pema Chödrön

Written By: Zoë Tomichich


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