3 self-care practices in an uncertain world

Esther Ekhart addresses the myth of control and shares three self-care practices to help us relax into this uncertainty.

The myth of control Esther Ekhart

The myth of control

We all long to know what happens next in our lives, to have some certainty. But the truth of existence is that we know nothing about what comes next, and we never did. All we know is this moment, and that everything changes constantly.

So yes, we may believe we are in control over our thoughts, situations, other people or how we might feel 5 seconds from now. But deep down we know we are not. Because if we did have some sort of real control, we would only ever have positive thoughts, others would only ever be kind to us, and everything that happens would be wonderful. This is obviously not the case.

The question then is how do we choose to relate to this uncertainty?
When considering this question, we may even experience a sense of relief and certainty. Because, even though we cannot change what is happening around us, we still have a choice as to how we respond to it.  

Choosing to respond consciously and wisely and regularly committing to practicing techniques that we know work to keep us relaxed, builds both our character and resilience.

Spirituality begins when we can relax into uncertainty and not knowing. Out of that space we have a chance to find stillness and to reconnect with life as it is, as it presents itself to us.

Not knowing can be a quiet and peaceful place. We only become anxious when we think things should be different than they are.

So be willing to not know, allow yourself to feel uncertain, and see if you can relax into that space. Who knows – what happens then might surprise you! As a result, you may experience clarity or a deep connection to the moment, feeling peaceful and free.

3 self-care practices to help you relax into uncertainty:

1. The sacred pause

Intentionally stop your rushing around and your mental activities. Take a deep, conscious breath in and out, and for a minute or two, just pause and notice your inner experience. Recognise your inner experience of what is going on right now, and allow it. Ask yourself the questions: “can I be with it?”, or “can I let it be?” Do this several times a day, whenever you think about it.

When we pause, we disrupt our habitual behaviours, and instead, have the opportunity to open up to new ways of responding to our often-unconscious wants and fears. Also, when we pause we turn towards our experience, instead of running away from what we feel. The degree with which we can be with what is determines our ability to be at peace with the reality of the moment.

2. Acknowledge your fear

Distracting yourself is not going to work long term, we know that, we tried it most of our lives.  Acknowledging fear (or any emotion for that matter)  and being with the feeling of fear has the ability to bring you powerfully into the moment. When you turn up you are able to enter into the feeling you are experiencing. 

When you know what you feel (fear), you are in the same ground where you are able to feel love. So you become vulnerable to feel love, which as a result will disarm fear. The mechanism by which we feel love is the same mechanism by which we feel fear. Feeling love is the antidote to feeling fear.

The felt experience of love has the power to dismantle fear and cut right through it. It is not always easy to find that individually, but the knowledge that more people are facing their fears, if we do it together, we can lean on each other, and lean on feelings held by a community. 

Just say to yourself, I feel a little afraid right now, acknowledging, recognising as well you are not alone, that more people are feeling fearful right now, our shared humanity, and that we are all connected that way. This is how you feel love. Love is the refuge of fear. You can feel the fear and turn it into love. But you first have to feel it.

3. Be ok with not knowing

When I seem to be invested in an outcome or think something needs to go a certain way, I have the sentence “maybe yes, maybe no” ready to apply to the situation. Basically we just don’t know what is the right outcome or way, and It can be very liberating to acknowledge that we don’t know. Regularly say to yourself “I don’t know”. This way you keep your mind and heart open to all possibilities and you allow your life to unfold as it may, lead by a wisdom that goes beyond your mind.

I hope these tips may be of help to you during uncertain times. 

With love from me to you,

Esther Ekhart

This article original appeared on Elephant Journal Aug 26 2020

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Esther Ekhart
Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.