Pema Chodron wrote a book that is destined to be a classic, "Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion."
Are we not more anxious in uncertain times?
“Our habitual patterns are, of course, well established, seductive, and comforting. Just wishing for them to be ventilated isn’t enough. Mindfulness and awareness are key. Do we see the stories that we’re telling ourselves and question their validity? When we are distracted by a strong emotion, do we remember that it is part of our path? Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else? If we can remember to experiment like this even occasionally, we are training as a warrior. And when we can’t practice when distracted but know that we can’t, we are still training well. Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on.”
― Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compass
I have never felt more uncertain in my life, at least not that I can remember. Big questions loom about the direction of the United States. Smaller questions loom for me such as to whether or not I should move from hometown of 25 years.
The questions come easily. The answers do not.
I spend time in meditation. I see a yellow house on a hill in a town north. But, I have yet to find that house. I feel an opportunity to create a sacred place. But, I do not know exactly where. I start to get agitated at the thought of all of the changes. I start to get annoyed at the pressure I am putting on myself. I start to feel uncomfortable with the uncertainty.
I decide the best thing I can do is take a giant step backward--into the observer's state.
I show myself compassion. Instead of living my every day in the future--trying to determine the right locale, the right career, the right relationship, I sink into fully expanding my life in the now by going deeper into who I am, what I am and how I serve.
My decision to be in the now, seems to be reinforced by a broadcast I hear on NPR. It says that the most difficult thing that Americans have trouble finding is contentment in the now, we are always looking forward.
Is it our addiction to productivity and success that makes us choose to focus on the exterior? Does our drive to find our next "fix" mean changing our work, our house, our locale, our relationships?
Is it more important that we look for change within than without?