We’re living in unprecedented times, certainly in living memory. And with unprecedented times comes uncertainty and a big step into the unknown. There’s no blueprint to follow. No way forward that can be relied on and measured against. No absolute solutions and answers. We are left flailing in the open-ended unknowingness of the moment, searching for a new ‘norm’, and whether we like it or not we’re called to stay nimble, stay fresh, and change with the moment.
So can we find peace and contentment in the midst of this, in the midst of uncertainty?
I would argue that this is much of what the spiritual awakening journey shows us and a lot can be learnt and mirrored from it for these current times.
Much of what characterises the spiritual quest is the breaking down of what you thought to be true and the emergence of a fresh perspective, often conception free and open with a lack of grasping at life – at least if you’ve really got down to the bottom of the quest. Or if you like – a spontaneous lived in the moment, unconditioned view of life. This requires a radical unknowingness and uncertainty because certainty is born of held beliefs based on, or built on, previous concepts of the conditioned mind.
When these conceptions begin to crack and fall apart we are left in a space of groundlessness with nothing to hold on to. A step into the wonder of this moment, like a small child without knowledge and ‘shoulds’ of how the world is.
The stability IS the uncertainty and unknowingness. Life becomes a playful exploration of whatever is showing up. No past or future are referenced, just an intimate and raw relationship with NOW.
And so I would argue our current state of affairs is similar. We can’t rely on past, because there is nothing of comparison on this scale that can be directly applied to right now. And we can’t rely on the future because we don’t know what that will bring. So what we are left with, not as a booby prize, but what is uncovered as the previously unseen gem, is this present moment.
Let this moment be known not by measurement and comparison, but by its direct felt and lived experience. The wind on your face, the sound of the birds, the person in the next room moving about, your beating heart and your breath as it moves through your lungs. Hold no reference point other than your direct experience of this moment. Hold no ideas in the mind of how this moment should go or shouldn’t go. Let this moment BE as it IS.
This is peace. This is contentment.
When there is no conception of what should be happening, you’re left with what IS happening. And if there is no should, there is no judgment.
A space opens up around this experience. The cage of the mind dissolves and you’re left with the wide open space of NOW.
But the other big piece to this puzzle for me is in the form of love. When you allow yourself to just simply BE in this unknowingness, this nowness, you’re placing no blinds on yourself or this moment. You are acting in the most loving way possible. You are not placing a limit where there is none. The loving acceptance of the full expression of life as it intimately unfolds.
With this peace quickly becomes joy. Joy is the loving expression of when peace is known in the heart.
Boy oh boy it’s been an intense year so far! I’ve noticed a massively heightened presence of energy in myself and had others report the same since around the end of January, before the covid-19 situation really took hold in much of the world. But I had no idea what was coming and it’s become the new norm, the energetic intensity and the ground shifting beneath the feet, only time will tell where or if it will settle.
Overall I feel there’s also a beautiful opportunity right now to face the things that are being forced to the surface of experience, many of which were always already lurking in the shadows, with compassion and kindness – both on an individual level and a collective or global level. I’ve actually been blown away by the kindness and love I’m seeing on both small and large scales, it’s incredibly heart opening and beautiful to see that our nature of love shines through in times like these.
The ground is shifting quickly beneath our feet and that mirrors the process of awakening in a way. It’s the dissolution of the certainty and assumptions of stability that were being falsely held on to, falsey nurtured, lent on and relied on. I’ve noticed that those that tend to fair better overall are the ones that can handle living in the unknown and uncertainty, better still those that learn to fully live in the trust and joy of life… this could be said for both awakening AND the current global situation.
There many right now needing to self-isolate and step back from the busy day-to-days of life and this gifts the opportunity to look inwards for comfort and solace rather than outward to the changing content of life. Gifting the opportunity to find that which IS stable in you – your Self, thereby allowing all else to move and shift and change as it inevitably does, all the while not holding on to anything.
There are many parallels with awakening I feel right now and while I don’t want to hang my hat on any bold claims or anything like that as I feel time will tell… it seems like many are being to be asked by life to take a leap of faith and step more and more into the unknown and into trust, and let the old or false certainties fall away. If we let that happen for ourselves life opens up into a different space, a space where what we once relied on doesn’t serve anymore, a space where we have to look to a deeper truth.
For me, trust has been my biggest friend through all this. Letting myself surrender even deeper into trust and love rather than non-trust and fear has brought the most solace and comfort, even… dare I say it… joy and peace.
Some Practical Advice
(take whatever’s useful… leave the rest)
On a practical level I’m aware of both my own and many others creeping fear and uncertainty due to the current pandemic unfolding before our eyes. I don’t think much of the world is exempt from being affected in some way and I’ve had many people reach out to me in the past weeks looking for help with coping or just to simply connect. I just want to say my heart goes out to all those affected with this in anyway, big or small, there’s no doubt we are experiencing extremely choppy waters right now.
But I thought I’d share some (I’m sure they’re others) of the more practical things that I’m implementing or bring increased awareness to right now, as well as advising others to do that ask this question of me. They’re easier to qualify and get your hands on in terms of feeling like you’re ‘doing’ something useful…
• Stay present – Going into thoughts of future is where 99% of our fears and worries come from. Every time the mind wanders into the future… even tomorrow, come back to now. Feel your feet on the ground, your breath as it moves your chest, your heart as it beats. Let yourself ride the wave of what you’re going through in this moment without going to the mind where it’s all about the future, what ifs and judgment of the situation. Focus on the felt experience of this present moment. Come back and keep coming back, out of the future or past, out of the mind and into NOW – now is always about the felt experience of now.
• No labelling – Keep the attention away from labelling in the mind and on the direct felt experience – no labels or judgements necessary here… No rights or wrongs even, just another wave in the ocean. Just feeling into anything that’s arising, allow what is there to be there but don’t invite it for lunch, let it pass through. Allow your attention to rest on the physical and energetic sensations of the body rather than the mind. If you’re having trouble, start with the focus on the breath, don’t control it or judge it, just notice it.
• Separate practical and emotional – Deal with emotional/energetic first, once centered and calmer, less charged or triggered, less overwhelmed then you are clearer and freer to deal with actual practical as it comes up… again not living in the future and what ifs, just one foot in front of another. If there’s a decision to be made that you’re having difficulty with… keep quiet, focus on the emotional and energetics of what you’re experiencing, let that pass or at least acclimatise into your experience and then you will be quieter to hear life’s answers and solutions as and when they come up, not pushing for when that ‘should’ be. It’s not reaction then, it’s what needs to be done without the emotional overlay and charge.
• Minimise TV news consumption (and tv generally if that helps) – I never normally watch tv but have been tuning into news this past week. My gosh I’m shocked at the energetic imprint it leaves! I can feel the collective energy of fear so powerfully and it definitely amplifies my own. So if you can stop, or at least minimise your exposure. And if you do choose to watch be aware of the potential effects on your already overactive physiology. Reading the news for me is a better and less impactful way of staying informed, just sticking to the briefings of the government rather than the media’s inflamed opinion pieces. This also applies to social media too…
• Find the positives – Find things that are real and true in your life in THIS moment – like: I am safe and healthy, my kids are safe and healthy, I have a full belly of food, I have a roof over my head, I don’t need to do anything or go anywhere right this minute. In this moment everything is fine.
• Self love – Taking time for yourself, even if you feel you don’t have time… do it – even 10 minutes of meditation, or 10 minutes in the bathroom giving yourself a foot rub or a massage of your face or shoulders! Meditation, satsang, calming music, a walk in nature, quiet time with a book, whatever that looks like to you. It’s so important for us to be able to take care of others to be first in a good place ourselves. It’s not selfish, it’s 100% necessary.
• Talk it out – Find someone who will allow you to voice your fears and feelings without inflaming, judging or trying to fix. Someone who you feel safe with to take off your mask of ‘okayness’, a compassionate ear that lets you process what you’re going through out loud. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming to sit with our emotions and energies, if this applies to you… talking it out can help, just choose very wisely who that’s with.
• Be kind and patient with yourself and others. It’s a difficult time for many, emotions and energies are very high. Be aware of this, let anything that happens wash over you, don’t hold on if possible. We are all dealing with things best we can, yes you included, yes them included. Sometimes that looks messy, but that’s still the best that it can be in that moment. So be forgiving of yourself and others.
Stay safe out there and I’m here if you feel to reach out.
“Can you give up the comfort of the mind needing to know, in favour of the great unknowing that resides at the heart of your experiencing?”