Holding Space in Uncertainty. Treating Anxiety and Depression.

All of us can relate to the feeling of waking up in a world different from the one we thought we knew. It’s easy for us to become attached to the way things are; there’s a security in that feeling. The world, however, is never fixed. The Buddhists talk about anicca, the doctrine of impermanence, as a primary phenomena of our existence. That concept is an easy one to understand, but experiencing impermanence is something different altogether.

How can we move forward with purpose when our routines have become interrupted? How do we adapt to new conditions in a time where the certainty of work, resources, and normalcy has evaporated? We hold a lot of fear around the unknown. There’s nothing for us to grab on to, dictate, or control. When we practice acceptance, however, this anxiety can be transformed into a keen awareness of our inner potential.

Serenity in Acceptance

In a time of crisis, there’s nothing wrong with feeling upset or distressed. It’s okay to not feel okay. The principle of acceptance is centered around being aware of your feelings and embracing them as part of your experience. In a situation of strangeness and ambiguity, for which there don’t seem to be answers, this means allowing yourself to integrate emotions you haven’t felt before. What is this “not-knowing” creating space for in your life?

With uncertainty often come feelings of unworthiness. We may feel as though we aren’t strong enough to face up to something so dark, so ominous as the unknown. The flames of fear often lick closest to the sanctuary of our self-esteem. It’s important to show compassion and gentleness for ourselves. Instead of being in the energy of self-judgment, allow negative thoughts to rise and fall on their own. Treat your fear with tenderness, not reproach.

Going With the Flow

When we stop to think about it, many of our relations with the world are characterized by anxiety. We are constantly doing, doing, doing. If we aren’t exerting this energy, we tell ourselves, the proverbial rug will be pulled out from under us. Is there a way that we can operate from a place of centeredness rather than clinging and fear?

The Taoists have a concept known as wu-wei, roughly translated as “non-doing.” In ancient China, this became a way of describing how people could play their role in society without relinquishing their Buddha-nature. Wu-wei is a quality of being wherein you interact naturally with your environment without imposing or trying to force yourself upon it. It requires us to leave our ego framework behind in order to attune ourselves with the cosmos, and guide our actions accordingly.

Embracing the Mystery

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “Do not now seek the answers…live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” We are living in the absence of certainty, but there is wisdom in this experience. It does not have to be something we rationally understand in the moment. The key for all of us is to be present, compassionate, and open to the changes within and without. Something delicate and essential, without our knowing it, is slowly raising its leaves to the sun.
Learn more about taking a healthy approach to your relationship with fear in our video on Treating Anxiety and Depression.

If you’re struggling with anxiety in these uncertain times, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at info@sanctuary.net to learn how we can help.