Mindfulness: living with the Un-known…

by Rosalie Dores on 11th August 2015

There is something about mindfulness meditation, and it’s invitation to remain in the present moment that brings one face to face with the unknown. Residing in the moment, the experience of breath expressed though bodily movement, the pressure and sensations of contact between ones body and the particular place one is in, the life around one manifesting in sounds and changes in temperature, all of this directly experienced phenomena and then, there are thoughts and emotions. The thoughts and emotions arise, spontaneously, observed they pass like clouds through the sky, followed, we like a fish hooked, create worlds that aren’t actually present.

Even if the thought is about a sound we just heard, which is actually present, it is a layer added to direct experience.

There is no doubt, for me, that thoughts and emotions can be beautiful creative expressions of ones humanity and yet my experience is also that they can be distractions from staying fully present with what is, and ultimately the uncertainty of my life. In meditation there is this pulsing, breathing, hearing, feeling body, a hovering on the edge, of what? And it is the question, ‘Of what?’ that takes me into thinking, planning, re-evaluating, fundamentally investing in the illusion of control, ‘cos I don’t know ‘what’. Residing in the moment I see the illusion of ‘what’s next’ because if I am truly HERE then what’s next will unfold in its own time without my necessarily needing to control it. Of course there are times for planning and taking care of the future however in meditation that’s not what I’m there to do and it becomes an opportunity to see the compulsive tendency of my mind to do just that.

Recently I went through a major life change. This was scary for me, all that I’d built up to that point was going to radically change, I was going to willingly experience loss and grief. This period of not knowing, of uncertainty was very difficult, my mind spun, webs, fears around the future. Martine Batchelor calls this ‘forecasting’ and I find this word very useful, my mind forecast dramatic weather changes, all kinds of possible storms and natural disasters, none of which happened. Sitting here writing this with hindsight I realize that forecasting caused me a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish.
Meditation brings one face on with oneself and with uncertainty because in being present we let go of what’s next and reside in the timeless – no future, no past, just here.

David Whyte says it beautifully:

I know this house,
and this horizon,
and this world I have made.
I know this silence
and the particular terrors
of this belonging
but I cannot know the world
to which I am going.

I have only this breath
and this presence
for my wings
and they carry me
in my body
whatever I do
from one hushed moment
to another.

David Whyte