How Mindfulness can Help You Cope with Uncertainty
Sometimes in life it feels like everything is uncertain. You don't know what the future holds. Dreams have shattered, leaving broken pieces lying everywhere. You don't have a clear vision yet of what should come next. You don't know how to make a plan for the circumstances that you are facing.
The uncertainty can feel overwhelming, and frightening even. But the truth is, life is always uncertain. We just don't always realize it. We think that we have a perfect plan laid out, and know where we are going in life. But unexpected bumps in the road can always occur, no matter how well laid our plans are.
If you feel like you have lost your dream life, or that the goals you are reaching towards are suddenly unachievable, you may be feeling especially uncertain. You may have reached the end of a relationship that you thought would last, or lost a job that you thought you would retire with.
When circumstances change drastically this way, it can be deeply unsettling, and shake you to your core. You may feel like everything you thought to be true about yourself and about life has suddenly come into question.
Feeling this way is perfectly normal when we are dealing with difficult or unexpected circumstances.
It is during times like this that Mindfulness becomes extremely important. It can help to ground us back to our present circumstances, and our current day. We don't constantly have to be upset by an unknown future. In truth, the future is always unknown.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice that teaches us to be grounded in the present moment. This teaching has become popular today and is recommended by mental health and medical professionals as a way to still your mind.
According to Healthline,
Mindfulness is the practice of gently focusing your awareness on the present moment over and over again.
It often involves focusing on sensations to root yourself in your body in the here and now. It can be practiced during formal meditation or during everyday activities, like cooking, cleaning, or walking.
When we practice mindfulness in our daily lives, it allows us to be present right where we are. It allows us to appreciate the beauty of small moments, even in the darkest of days.
Mindfulness also helps us to release judgements: of our thoughts, of ourselves, and of others. When we stop judging ourselves and our situations, it allows us the freedom to be kind and gentle with ourselves. It allows us to release blame for the situations that we find ourselves in.
Returning to a mindful state and a mindful breath can be quite grounding when our life situation is feeling out of control.
According to The Mayo Clinic, some ways to practice Mindfulness are:
Pay attention. It's hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.
Live in the moment. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
Accept yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
When you ground yourself in the present moment through mindfulness, it allows you to calm your racing thoughts. It can help you to disconnect from worries about the future, and regrets about the past.
If you are in a situation where you feel like everything is too difficult and uncertain to handle, trying to practice mindfulness can help. It makes you become present in the moment, with your body, your mind, and your breath. Your breath connects your mind and body and allows you to feel a sense of peacefulness, even in tumultuous times.
Learning to practice mindfulness throughout your day can go a long way towards teaching to calm your fears, and to accept the uncertainty of daily life.
You can learn more about practicing mindfulness, as well as meditation and yoga which have similar calming effects, in my ebook: Practicing Buddhism in Everyday Life.