Practicing with Uncertainty Can Be Powerful

Practicing with Uncertainty Can Be Powerful

We will all experience times when our personal emotional distress is particularly powerful. As
the saying goes, we’re all just one doctor’s visit away from falling through the thin ice. When we’re
struck with serious illness, chronic pain, a relationship crisis, or financial and work reversals, it can
seem as if meditation techniques like observing the mind, or feeling the spaciousness of the breath,
aren’t quite enough to deal with the churning anxiety that we’re experiencing.

When it seems as if the future is dissolving right in front of us, we need to know how to practice with the experience of uncertainty, or we’ll remain confused and anxious. As well, we’ll continue to detour away from genuine equanimity into the artificial comfort of distractions, busyness, or efforts to control our world. Look at our Healing Modalities.


When we experience the discomfort of uncertainty, and especially when we have the feeling of
panic when things go really awry, our little mind will naturally resist. It will tell us to fix it right now, or
to find a sense of ground or some escape. But practice asks us to see the discomfort, even the panic,
with a curiosity that’s willing to explore exactly what we’re feeling in the present moment. Practice
asks us to reframe our viewpoint so that we can see, and perhaps even welcome, the discomfort as
our path to becoming free. This is what it means to say Yes – to simply want to know what our life is,
whether it’s interesting or boring, pleasant or unpleasant, joyful or painful.

What helps us open to, or more precisely, to surrender to, the experience of a life that no
longer fits our expectations – where safety, security, and certainty are no longer givens – where what
we counted on is gone, and where there may be little left for us to hold on to? To surrender means to
cease fighting – to give up our resistance, including our constant effort to avoid discomfort. Surrender
also requires that we give up our stories – such as our stories about how life should be comfortable, or
within our control, or our stories about how awful things are. Surrender ultimately means to give
ourselves up completely to what is. But the fact is we can’t force ourselves to surrender. We can’t just
drop our resistance and our stories simply because we want to.

What we can do, however, is experience the totality of what we are in this very moment. We
can focus all of our attention on the exact truth of our own mental, emotional and physical
experience, which includes our resistance. The practice of surrender begins with feeling the totality of
this with an unwavering intensity, allowing the cocoon that protects us, the hard shell that covers the
heart, to begin to break open. When we can enter into this dark place fully, something else emerges.
The grace that can flow from consciously experiencing our pain becomes a gift that transcends our
imagined helplessness. Look at our Healing Modalities.

Ezra Bayda -The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free From Complacency and Fear