How are you?
Things are still strange, aren’t they? There are many unknowns in our current world.
Many of us are waiting to hear from government leaders to determine if/when/how we will return to work.
Many are stressed when they see others in public not engaging with safety practices (stressed may be a mild word to use).
Many of us are stressed trying to keep our children occupied.
Many are stressed trying to keep our elders and vulnerable folks safe.
We are stressed because we don’t know. So many unanswered questions. There is no denying we are living in a world of ambiguity, and I wanted to talk about that for a bit.
Not only is ambiguity “doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention,” we can feel that the future is uncertain.
When I began to consider writing to you about ambiguity I realized this:
Even without a pandemic, we live in ambiguity all the time.
Think about it for a minute… We don’t know what will happen in the next hour, yet we feel confident about it. Overall, we are pretty confident we know what will happen from one day to the next in a non-pandemic world.
So, why is this more difficult today? Just to name a few things – our jobs depend on certainty, childcare depends on certainty, our health and safety depend on certainty – I don’t disagree at all: it is more difficult to live with ambiguity today because of the pandemic.
What if there was a way to release some of the unknowing? Would you try it?
Ambiguity can manifest as an endless loop in your mind of all the unanswered questions. Endlessly going in circles. I hope this month’s message gives you something to consider, something to try, something to help quiet your mind.
For starters, let me ask you this: What do you have control over?
Honestly, you don’t have much, really, when it comes right down to it. We humans like to feel that we have control, so our ego makes up stories to protect us from pain and suffering (that is if not knowing what will happen tomorrow causes you suffering in the spiritual sense).
What if I asked you to practice being truly present in the only moment in which you have any control?
That moment is this one.
Not the one when you began reading; not the one when you close your email and go do something else.
Just this one.
Granted, this is not an easy process for many people – it’s a practice.
Presence takes practice.
But if one moment of presence – right now – released you from the stress of unknowing and ambiguity, would you try it?
If you wanted to play the piano, would you sit down on the bench and just play a beautiful melody? Likely not. You’d start with the basics, right? Learn the keys, learn the notes. Practice.
Practicing presence is like that. Learn what the present moment feels like. Learn to hear the stories that are in your mind. Learn to recognize them when they pop up – and then learn to release them.
The more you practice, the more you will want to practice.
I’m not perfect at this, I have triggering moments that cause anxiety, especially right now when I need to go out to public spaces. I may be asked to return to a workspace which I believe will not be safe, and my top priority is keeping my father healthy.
I don’t know what will happen. But, when I focus on right now, this present moment, I can let the unknowing go. I can practice saying “I don’t need to know right now because there isn’t anything I can do about it in this moment.”
Would you be willing to give that a try?
This is absolutely not about hiding your head in the sand. This is not about denial
You will still be waiting for answers to your questions, but the questions won’t be as demanding. You will find the patience to wait. And when have answers, then you’ll know what to do. Only then can you truly know.
Practice RAIN in the Moment
When something arises for you – questions, anxiety, the stressed need to know the answers, try this exercise to connect to the present moment.
Recognize it. “Oh, there it is again!” Recognize the thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors that are affecting you in this moment.
Allow it. Just let the experience be, without trying to make it go away or fix it. “This is what it feels like when I feel I have no control over the future and I don’t know what to expect.”
Investigate it. What are you feeling physically; what are your specific thoughts? “I feel tension here; I feel hot; in particular I’m thinking about…[insert the concern]”
Nurture it. Be compassionate. Talk to your inner self, remind yourself that it’s okay, everything in this moment is just as it can only be. Remind yourself that you are not in control and cannot simply make up answers. You may want to simply put your hand on your heart and say “I am okay.”
This RAIN method comes from Tara Brach whom I mentioned in the June letter. Learn more about RAIN.
Practice Affirmations in the Moment
As a reminder, in April’s InnerVision Minute I included these affirmations; when used to connect to the present, they can be powerful:
I am safe; all is well.
My mind is still and smooth, like a lake at dawn.
Inside me lies a great reservoir of calmness.
All I need to do right now is breathe.
Give up your need to know the future; live and respond appropriately in the present.
I truly hope this message helps. If so, please do let me know – I love hearing your feedback.
What I’m Reading Now
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose ~ Eckhart Tolle
When you learn about your ego and how it rules your life, you learn that you’re not truly living as your true self – you’re living the life of your ego. A thought-provoking read that leads me to discover how to break free and really let go of the false stories my ego has told me over and over again.