Tag Archives: Pema Chodron

U is for Unknown

Garden Nebula copyright Debra Myers Woodward
Garden Nebula
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I like the writings of Pema Chodron.  She taught me how to stop judging others, to just allow people to make mistakes and be human. And she taught me how to be with myself without judging too. This has been particularly helpful.

One of the concepts she teaches about is groundlessness–another word for the unknown.  Many spiritual teachers encourage their students to relax with what is unknown, to stop trying to outline or control the future, to stop pushing away what we are uncomfortable with, and to stay.  After years of practice, I can say that this has been one of the best lessons for me to learn–stillness.

When we are faced with things we can’t control, when faced with the unknown, we often grope for something familiar, something to hold onto to steady us.  And usually, we end up doing the same things over and over and over again. We react in predictable ways. We run away,  we numb ourselves with addictive substances (alcohol, drugs, sex, food, tv, Facebook), we shut down, or we act out (anger, temper tantrums, depression, tears, sarcasm).  No matter how you slice it, it ain’t pretty.

But learning to sit with the discomfort and just to stay, even to move in closer to learn what it is really about, is to learn to be still.  And when we are still, we can see things more clearly than ever before. What seemed so terrifyingly unknown is actually very simple. We may not know what the next moment will bring, but it doesn’t matter, because we aren’t afraid to sit with it. Whether it is light or dark, we know we won’t run. Because we have learned to be still, we aren’t afraid of our reactions.  Even if we choose to react, we soon see it in the reflection of stillness.

Then the unknown becomes a friend and an adventure. Everything is an opportunity to learn more about this amazing Life and our place in it.