Holding uncertainty is an art.
Not having a clear yes or no can be unsettling. When I was younger, I used to say, “I don’t care what the plan is, I just want to know what the plan is.”
Begging, however, never got me what I wanted and not knowing became a way of life - a way of being - for most of my formative years.
I remember a summer when I didn’t know in which country I’d be starting the coming school year. Often, I wouldn’t know my new classmates before the first day and several times I didn’t even speak their language. I never knew what would be cool at that particular school, never mind pop-culture references.
As a teenager it was maybe easier to surrender my little bit of power and go along in “blissful ignorance,” no matter how panicked I felt on the inside. Now, as an adult who has learned (more or less) to navigate life and achieve predictable results with given actions… now, dwelling in uncertainty feels a lot more annoying, but kinda still familiar.
At this moment, early November 2020, the pandemic plus the suspense of the U.S. election are putting many of us to the test of sitting with uncertainty.
So I’d like to share a few games I've learned to ease the pressure of not-knowing. I start with asking myself, “What do I know for sure?”
Sometimes, I have to go all the way back to the basics: I know that morning comes after night and that the sun rises in the East. I am certain inhale follows exhale and I can trust the body to breathe, even in sleep.
When I calm myself down enough, I entertain the next level: I can be sure that I am dealing with uncertainty, I know that I don’t know, I am certain that I am not in control.
Can I find a way to be with the not-knowing that feels like a form of knowing?
Gathering up the things I do know for sure feels bolstering, edifying. At times, this is plenty and enough. But at others, the mind can spin uncomfortably in uncertainty. Which is when a little more help is needed. My first go-to is yoga nidra. (No surprise.)
Whether done live in zoom class, privately by phone or by recording, the practice of yoga nidra helps train the mind and body in several key ways that mitigate the unease of uncertainty. Firstly, the practice helps get present. Often, just pausing enough to release memories of the past and worries for the future takes off a layer of discomfort.
Next, the opportunity to explore opposites in yoga nidra can help the body access and amplify the feelings associated with knowing and certainty, the types of soothing feelings we crave. It is a matter of attention and focus - so tapping into that can be very healing.
The yoga nidra experience can further serve as a workshop to try-on the potential outcomes or scenarios, to explore the options and possibilities, including ones that might feel scary or undesired, allowing the body to have the experience in the safe container of your loving awareness.
Practicing this way can yield to clarity, which is often all the medicine we need.
Still, there are times that yoga nidra is not enough. If uncertainty gets consuming, I reach out for support. I also keep a few regular habits like a one-on-one session with an audio-bodyworker every two weeks who helps me reset my energies and get focused on what I do have control over so that I can fully hold space for you, my beloved clients, in a more authentic and powerful way.
Thanks to the chaotic childhood I won in the lottery of life, I am now an expert in confusion and here at your service, to help you manage yours.
I know not-knowing: from future plans to social circles, from customs to outcomes, from the distant future to the next moment. I have learned to hold space for the mystery and find a home in the unknown.
So if you are struggling with the uncertainty, please reach out - I’d love to hang out (on the phone) with you, and hold your Mystery while we call in your Clarity. One breath at a time.