Embracing Uncertainty


The title of this latest blog is also the title to our meditation this Friday. I chose this theme, together with my partner, Jeremy Stillman as it's a subject I've struggled with especially as of late. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a beautiful trip to find only one of our two cats at home. Due to miscommunication our other cat was let out and after two weeks has not returned. The uneasiness of uncertainty is palpable and felt throughout my being. Uncertainty can be felt in many different forms. Perhaps it's feeling uncertain of the future, uncertain whether you got the job you just interviewed for, uncertain if the first date you just had will call you back. The list goes on and on yet will affect us all very similarly.

Often the first emotion felt is fear. In Chinese Medicine fear is related to the kidneys and can affect our adrenals, which are located right on top of the kidneys. We may feel anxious, unable to sleep yet always tired. Perhaps you notice acne, especially on your chin area. All of these are related to the adrenals and trigger the fight or flight response.

Afterwards, we may find ourselves overthinking the situation, obsessing or doubting ourselves. In this case, the earth element is affected, which relates to the spleen and stomach. We therefore may feel that pitting feeling in our "gut". We may be unable to eat, or eat too much or eat the wrong things. It may cause of feeling of bloating or indigestion and fatigue.

This may be followed by a sense of sadness and/or grief. We may grieve what we're not sure we've even lost. We may feel sad that we don't know the answer. These emotions relate to the lung. When the lungs are affected we may find it difficult to breathe or feel a tightening sensation in our chest. I've had some patients lose their voice. Many people have a weakened immune system, during this time and easily catch virus' and bacteria when faced with uncertainty. In Chinese Medicine we understand the first organ in line to protect the body from pathogens is our lungs so when they're weak due to sadness and grief, they're unable to perform their job function.

Lastly, our hearts are affected. Our hearts are related to feelings of joy, being able to get a good night sleep and feel rested. When the heart is affected we may experience insomnia, bad dreams and/or nightmares, anxiety and along with the lungs, a tightening of the chest.

So how do we resolve these feelings? How do we learn or embrace uncertainty or even just accept it? The first step is just that - acceptance. We accept that we don't know and that's ok. One of the key components of mindfulness is accepting what is. The more you practice the easier it gets. Meditation is a great way to start. Begin by focusing on your breath. It brings your awareness away for your current state of uncertainty and back into your body. Plus, each time you breath deeply you're working on healing your lungs and calming your mind and body.

Ok, so the second step is not beating yourself up when you can't accept it. Accepting uncertainty is hard and that's ok. But if we feel bad or obsess with trying to be accepting we're hurting ourselves even more. Since the spleen and stomach organs are affected here it's crucial we take care of our bodies by eating well. While it may be tempting to eat mac and cheese and ice cream, replenish your body with healthful and fresh foods. Doing so will also help to create more balance and therefore give you the energy you need to bring you closer to accepting the uncertainty or the steps necessary to bring you more clarity.

If you still find yourself feeling angst do something to release that energy. Perhaps try journalling or getting yourself outside to connect with the natural world or both! Touch the ground to feel that sense of wholeness and balance. Find people you can talk to. Share your feelings. Don't keep them bottled up. That only creates more pain and imbalance within you. Lastly, accept yourself. You may not accept the situation but accept who you are and where you are as you're going through this.

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