The ever-changing circumstances of COVID-19 are certainly testing us at the moment. So it's completely normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, unsettled, or even fearful. What would it be like, though, to drop into a place of acceptance? Acceptance that this is how things might be for a while and that maybe our world as we know it is about to get worse before it gets better? Negative thinking, I know, but also a possibility. The truth is, we have zero control over what happens outside of us but complete control over how we respond to it all!
So for transparency's sake, let's name some of our worries. Who is curious about job security, business stability, or the economy, for that matter? Who's worried about the health and wellbeing of our whānau, whom we can't be with, face-to-face, outside of our bubble? What about not knowing how long we may be in lockdown? Or how long will this pandemic hold the world hostage? The struggle is genuine for some of us. There may, however, be some simple things that you and I can do to stave off uncertainty. Hope is here, right now.
I'm Jase Te Patu, co-owner of Awhi Yoga and Founder of M3 Mindfulness. Anxiety (bought on by uncertainty) and I have been frenemies throughout my life. Through the practice of Mindfulness, however, I've learned how to be with uncertainty like it's an old friend. The thing too about old friends is that they leave after they come to visit.
Eckhart Tolle, author of 'Power of Now,' says, "If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity. When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life."
Our suffering comes from not knowing. When we have certainty, we feel grounded, clear, decisive, and holistically well in body, mind, and spirit. So why does this all shift when our outside circumstances suddenly change? Panic buying is a huge mass reaction to uncertainty. We better stock up on toilet paper and pasta because we don't know how long this lockdown will last. The truth is though, is that there is always enough.
So what's the solution to this mass hysteria?
Let's flip the narrative first and focus on what is certain. Right NOW is all we have available to us, yet so many of us spend our energy focusing on the future. The future is the very thing causing our overwhelm, anxiety, unsettledness, and fear. The first step towards dealing with uncertainty is to 'be present' with it all - the good, the bad, and the neutral. Learning to accept our current situation, as Eckhart mentioned, brings in hope, aliveness, alertness, and possibility. Uncertainty breeds the opposite.
A simple way to practice being present is to take one moment at a time. If NOW is all that matters, then why not eat up every moment of this delicious life rather than missing out by projecting too far into the uncertain future.
TEN PRACTICES TO OVERCOME UNCERTAINTY
There's no doubt that we all experience uncertainty in many different ways. The easiest way to find healing in uncertain times is to focus on the present moment.
I want to share a 90-second Mindfulness breathing exercise. It's simple, and you can do it anywhere. Please join me.
Mindfulness practice for uncertainty - Find a seated posture that allows your back to be straight but your belly soft. It's not compulsory to close your eyes, so maybe you look down, eyes half-open. Acknowledge what you are sitting with right now - e.g., anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, all of the emotions that uncertainty brings in. Rather than push it away, acknowledge the emotions like they are a friend, paying a visit. Invite them in for a cup of tea, but instead, your breath is what you will be sipping on. A focused mind becomes a calm mind with practice. Start to focus on your breath. No need to change the rhythm; just let it come and go, like the waves of the ocean. Now refine the focus. Become aware of the sensations of the breath; the belly rising and falling, the chest inflating and deflating, or the air coming in and out of the nose or mouth. Choose one - the belly, the chest, or the air. Once you have a steady rhythm, follow 5 more breaths (in and out is one), uninterrupted, non-distracted. When you have finished, sit quietly for one moment longer, acknowledging if there has been a shift.
This simple Mindfulness practice is a beautiful way to bring us all into the present moment. Something I'm still not fantastic at, but something that allows me to be here, entirely in the NOW. And here and now is the only thing of which we can be completely certain! Here's to finding more and more moments of certainty!
Here and NOW is the only way to really be with uncertainty. Kia haumaru te noho ki tō kāinga,ā, ka ora tonu. – Be safe and well at home!
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