How to be comfortable with uncertainty
Two vital reflections for these times
By Cristina Raquel
- “How to be comfortable with uncertainty”
- “And Now What?
First and foremost, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to life and to you who are reading this article. We are a privileged minority at this time and I am grateful for that.
Beyond understanding the origin of the events we are facing, and beyond our interpretation of them, something that does have relevance and priority is our WELL-BEING and the well-being of those around us. My invitation is that you keep paying attention to your integral health.
I present two questions for reflection, because this has been my process since I was 13 years old and reflecting about life and my place in it. In my professional life I generate self-discovery and exploration for individuals, teams and organisations.
Let’s review the first question by sharing a bit of a story of how this process has made an impact in my life and how I bring it to my life. In 2013 my daughter, who lives in New York (at the time was 27 years old) was diagnosed with breast cancer. Given today’s unpredictable state of being for most humans, I entered a similar uncertain and unknown territory.
Not knowing is not what we are taught in school. Not knowing can even be a reason to feel ashamed or guilty. We are trained to know, to think, to have a plan, and to make sure all is organised and ready to be implemented. Just as my March-April-May calendar was organised to travel and deliver leadership programs in Mexico and New Jersey.
None of those verbs of action and predictability are really congruent with the naturally unpredictable course of life and its secrets. Our trained behaviour seems to work pretty well until something collapses, and we fall into the unknown, which, with no training for it, can be terrifying.
I keep thinking that those best prepared and equipped for this time, have a practice and/or understanding of the Buddhist philosophy, since the first thing they teach is IMPERMANENCE.
Comfortable with Uncertainty
That is what Pema Chodron’s book “Comfortable with Uncertainty” provided for me during those 10 months of anguish, despair and navigation through a daily “unknown” while my daughter was in treatment.
Reading and reflecting on those teachings, expanded my cognition of reality, provided new mental spaces for resting; giving me comfort and solace. The book provides 108 Teachings on cultivating fearlessness and compassion.
It has become my reference book for moments of anxiety and uncertainty. I share my top three reminders:
- This Very Moment Is the Perfect Teacher
- Nothing to Hold On to
- “Be grateful to everyone”
I will comment on the second reflection: In the last 3 or 4 months we have all been living in a “And Now What?” moment. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a book with that same title for the last 3 years, and made it available to the public the first week of December 2019.
In the process of writing, recognising relevant topics, and editing the ebook, which is written in spanish – “Y AHORA QUE?, (Your self-coaching tool for moments of transition)” – I made sure to include possible issues of change, disruptive events and transitions that could have an impact on human life.
Never could I imagine that less than 4 months later I should have included topics like:
- And now what about my health: how do I strengthen it?
- What do I do with this time of quarantine? With no income, with no certainty of the future?
- And now what do I do with this crowded house?, or with this confusion, with this loneliness, with my thoughts?
I share some reflections for this And now what? moment.
I choose to pay attention and care about:
- My emotional, mental and physical needs within these walls
- My morning thoughts (Anxiety? Joy? Action? Sadness?)
- Pending issues to solve at home (material and non-material)
- Necessary conversations with friends and family
- Sorting out my belongings: things that do not serve me anymore
- Papers that may have accumulated in a corner for more than 3 years
- Stuff under the car seats (or in the trunk)
- To learn new things: technology, cooking, meditation
- Pending dreams and projects on hold
The Power of Writing
Natalie Goldberg, after many years of sitting, was told by her meditation teacher that writing is a form of meditation. For me, writing is more than a meditation. It is a washing machine for my mind. It allows me to recognise and acknowledge what is important here and now. It brings clarity to my priorities, opening my creativity and plenty of doors that would otherwise remain closed. After I self-published “Del Silencio a la Voz” 2015, (from Silence to voice), I started self-exploration and creative writing workshops. Today those are “Reconstructive Writing” sessions.
We write by hand, connecting from heart to hand, pouring all that comes onto the paper, without classifying or judging. No need of a perfect content. We welcome Mrs. Imagination for she is the muse of our wonderful future.
Four weeks ago, I began offering this session via Zoom, with the hope that people could share a safe space for self exploration and gain some clarity. I share the assignment for today.
- Use your imagination to pack a suitcase of your priority items for a magical journey that will become available very soon. In addition to carrying the basics (including clothing and shoes) you are allowed 4 items of transcendental importance to you. Select those 4 items.
- You are going to write the specific details of your suitcase, the contents, and a crystal clear description of those 4 items and why they are important to you. Make sure your narrative has no less than 12 lines.
- When you are ready, make sure to share with a new person in the group. Enjoy the wonders of the world of possibilities, all available in your imagination.
Taking care of the SELF; taking care of your soul. It’s time to listen to the soul.