(ORIGINAL PUBLISH DATE: August 21st through my newsletter)
“I don’t know” can feel agonizing… or liberating. Depending on where you’re thinking from.
Imagine life as you know it is an island. You‘re familiar with every inch of this island – the roads, the houses, the woods, the beaches… but on one side of the island there is a great cliff.
One day you are exploring and you come to that cliff and look out past the edge.
Imagine that you can’t see anything, there’s just mist – you don’t know what’s beyond.
A part of you wants to turn back to the island – to get back to what you know. But a part of you is curious, what’s beyond the familiar? What’s out there?
This is a point of great potential.
The potential to step out of the ill-fitting choices of the past.
The potential to step into a new version of you.
Now that I’m settled into the new home in Los Angeles, I’ve burrowed back into my studies – geeking out hard on all things trauma resolution.
Earlier this week I was watching a video talk with Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He was teaching about “The Wheel of Awareness” which is a tool he designed that can support trauma recovery.
The wheel is essentially a way to differentiate the field of awareness (which he calls the “hub” of the wheel), from the information and input of the senses (which reside at the periphery – the outer rim).
Given my history studying yoga philosophy and spiritual awakening practices (which spans over 20 years), the topic of awareness is not new to me.
I am fully on board with the strange alchemical power of being here now. As opposed to perpetually entertaining the past/future thoughts and projections of the mind.
But the intersection of awareness and trauma resolution isn’t always explicitly shown in trauma training settings. Especially when awareness practices are so easily co-opted as a form of spiritual bypass to avoid completing trauma processing.
However, Dr. Dan came to a place that thrilled Ariel! Beautifully merging the power of awareness with the possibility of transforming trauma.
Ultimately, the talk arrived at the topic of uncertainty. The power of uncertainty!
“The synonym for uncertainty is freedom,” he said.
If you stay with uncertainty, something new can happen – something that isn’t a repetition of the maladaptive thoughts and behaviors of the past.
There is this moment when I’m working with clients processing trauma, where we arrive at an edge.
Like my metaphor of the island cliff, it’s the edge of the known. On the other side of that edge is a great, wide open space – the unknown.
The qualities of the unknown are undefined, unclear, and yes, uncertain.
Yet it is only in the midst (mist) of that uncertainty that a new You is born, that you can finally leave the island and discover new land.
As I said at the beginning of this note, “I don’t know” can feel agonizing… or liberating. Depending on where you’re thinking from.
Building your capacity to be with uncertainty is one of the most potent things you can do if you want to shed the stuff of yester-year…
…sitting at that edge, looking out into no-thing-ness, and waiting, patiently, for something new to appear.
Try this: Next time you’re anxious or uncertain, next time you don’t know what’s going on, or what to do, take a solid seat, feel your breath (the seat and the breath will help anchor you), then allow the unknown.
Sit with uncertainty.
Notice the energy of uncertainty and think of it as good, as the energy of potential. Then wait for something new to be revealed, out of the mist.
Don’t doubt yourself.
Of course you’re ready.
Or else you wouldn’t have made it to the end of this note.
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