“These are unprecedented times of great uncertainty.” We’ve heard this line so many times lately that it has become cliché.
Unprecedented. Uncertain. These two words are the quintessential media descriptors of the year 2020. Add to those the words tense, anxious and polarized, and an image of modern American zeitgeist begins to emerge.
What can we do when are thoughts and emotions are trapped in the fear-based downward spiral of the collective conscious?
You’re reading an article on a site dedicated to the practice of meditation, so the answer you’ll find here is pretty much what you would expect…. Take a deep breath. Let go of your tensions. Come back to the present moment where you are aware of what is actually happening rather that what you are being told is happening.
No matter how stressed you might feel after reading the news headlines, scrolling through Facebook, or after wearing a face-mask all day, there is always a deeper part of you that remains unaffected by surface turbulence. Spiritual practice gives you access to that dimension of Being.
It’s the ego-mind that gets enmeshed in the trending anxieties. Want out of those tensions? Rise above that level of mind. Beyond the ego-mind is the stillness of Awareness. Awareness is changeless and ever-present. It is untouched by all the desperate, neurotic fears of the ego because it sees the Big Picture. The vast time-line of the cosmos is stretched out before It, and It knows that this current time of distress that seems to drag on and on will pass faster than the next news cycle.
And then you’ll be in the next unprecedented moment of uncertainty. And that will be alright too, because each moment in time is unlike the one that preceded it. Each new day is unprecedented and uncertain.
The question is this: How do you navigate through unfamiliar territory without getting lost?
Yes, the answer is still essentially the same. Take a deep breath. Rise above the mind. Abide in Awareness and allow It to guide you.
At any point in time, no matter what external events are unfolding or what thoughts, moods and emotions dominate your attention, you always have two choices: Listen to the guidance of Awareness, or listen to the voice of the ego.
Awareness always knows the next best move. It’s like an internal GPS system that directs us toward our highest good.
But how do you tune-in to that finer wavelength? In one word: Trust.
Trust Awareness and the ego-mind grows quiet. Trust Awareness in the way you trust gravity and your tensions will give way to ease, your anxieties to peace.
What this requires is that you surrender your sense of control. You, or rather the ego-mind you have come to identify as, has never had control anyways. The wheel you’ve been white-knuckling — it’s a prop. Let go of it and you will discover that your life doesn’t go off the rails as you feared. Let go of the illusion of control and you will rise out of your state of fear.
LEARNING TO TRUST
Trust doesn’t come about by a sheer act of will. It’s not a mood that can be invoked and sustained. It’s not the result of strong convictions or beliefs. It’s a natural, spontaneous state that unfolds as you begin to experience higher planes of consciousness.
You access those levels through spiritual practice. Through meditation, Self-inquiry and mindfulness you become steeped in an experience of Awareness. As your practice progresses you begin to notice that everything you perceive is taking place within that field of Awareness. It’s all happening of its own accord, in its own way, on its own time.
Knowing this, you begin to relax into a natural state, to trust in the way things are, and allow each moment to unfold as it will.
Trust is natural for children. Their wide-eyed innocence allows them to relax into the moment and play in the world. They are free to explore both their environment and imaginations without any inhibitions or fears. But while there is much to be learned from observing the spontaneity of children, their state of natural trust isn’t that of an awakened yogi. It’s a naive and fickle state that is quickly overshadowed as the inevitable traumas of human existence present themselves.
Once a child tastes the bitterness of abandonment and neglect, or feels the repeated stings of “no” and realize they can’t have everything they want, the trust begins to break down. Seen another way, once they’ve formed a strong enough self-identity they want full control of the types of experiences they have and the precise time in which they will have them… which usually means right now.
We all eventually leave the playground in pursuit of our desires, or out of fear of not knowing what will come next. At that point the heavy drama of life sets in.
A mature spiritual trust blossoms out of a state of Self-awareness. You become aware of your own Awareness and see that everything you experience is an unfolding out of that Awareness. You see that you (the ego-mind) are not the doer, that any sense of control you thought you had was just and illusion. The mind, by itself, can do nothing. It has never done anything. It is the inner Spirit, Awareness, from which all the power of action springs forth.
Grass grows on its own. Without any effort, the earth turns on its axis. Flowers bloom, ocean tides rise and fall, and rivers flow toward the sea.
Blood courses through your body, the breath rises and falls, brain neurons fire, food is digested and assimilated, cells fight off foreign invaders. All of this happens without the slightest struggle or exertion from your conscious mind.
This same innate Intelligence that animates all of nature is much better equipped at running your life than the part of you that has a hard time deciding on what to have for dinner.
THE END OF STRUGGLE
When you see yourself as a separate, independent entity you have something to defend. You see life as an epic battle. You perceive countless enemies so you prepare for the imminent attack that could come from any direction. In order to capture ground (achieve success in life) you have to fight with tremendous effort. It’s you against the world.
The only way out of this struggle is to lay down your sword. The evil you are fighting is a self-generated illusion projected within your mind. There is no malicious force that seeks to destroy you. There’s no sinister being holding you down. There’s only the simple unfoldment of Life Itself.
One Power animates, sustains, and dissolves the universe. In some yoga traditions this Power is known as Shakti. The All-Mother. The great Goddess that gave birth to the entire universe by manifesting as all form. She is the Power inherent within Awareness itself, the Creative Force that is one with Shiva (Awareness). Being all that is, what could oppose Her?
That Power is within you. It didn’t create you and then send you off into a treacherous battleground to fend for yourself without fur, fangs, or venom. It is alive at the core of your being, pulsing with creativity, filling you with inspiration, and guiding your every action. She is not an outside force working with or against you… she is alive as you.
When an opening takes place within that reveals this truth, you will look down at the sword in your hand and wonder why it is there. When you realize that there is nothing outside of your Self what is there to fight against? What is there to fear? As this realization dawns, trust is regained.
Seeing there is nothing to defend, and no one to defend it from, you can shed your heavy armor and let go into Shakti’s embrace. Free of fear, you can embrace the Mystery. The Unprecedented. The Uncertain. You can trust-fall into the arms of the Great Void and discover it to be the ever-supportive, overflowing Source of your existence.