The Challenge of Finding Stability In Times Of Change & Uncertainty
Change is hard, even when it’s expected. In times of great uncertainty, stress and anxiety increase as we attempt to ground ourselves to anything stable or permanent, but find very little we can hold on to. Meditation for uncertain and difficult times reduces stress and provides calm by guiding us toward acceptance of change.
Understandably, each of us only wants to be happy and free from our pain. When times are good, we want them to last forever. When we’re surrounded by people who make us happy, we hope they’ll never change. We often go to great lengths to ensure our circumstances and relationships remain stable, just as they are.
Unfortunately, the bi-products of our attachment to what’s working include stress, anxiety and fear. Nothing lasts forever. Circumstances and people are forever changing. Our attempt to keep everything solid, stable and stagnant is a no-win situation. And because it’s at odds with the natural flow of things, it causes great stress and fatigue.
How Meditation Keeps us Grounded in Uncertain Times
Meditation helps us through uncertain and difficult times by calming our stress and anxiety, but also, by reminding us things are always uncertain. There is a natural ebb and flow to life. When we embrace this, we live in greater ease.
Close your eyes and observe your breath, and you’ll notice continual movement. Breath comes and goes and at no point is unchanging. This continual movement is observed in our thoughts, and even our strongest emotions. Try to observe your stress or sadness, for example, and you’ll see it changing too.
At first, the realization that all is in flux can feel scary. If things are always changing, what if they change for the worse? The truth is, they could. By accepting the reality that people, places and things are impermanent, we develop a deeper gratitude for the things we do have, and learn to make the most of the present moment.
In addition, we’re reminded the impermanent things outside can never be guaranteed, stable sources of happiness. To connect with a joy that is unchanging, we’re better off looking within.
Meditation for Uncertain Times
Try the following meditations for coping with uncertainty to explore the nature of change and your relationship to it:
- Contemplate the change of seasons. Each season is part of a cycle with no beginning and no end – this is the natural, normal flow of things. Observing the changes in the natural world around us is a great introduction to meditation on impermanence.
- Get curious about where in your daily life you expect things to be permanent. Should your car start each time you turn the key, forever? Do you expect the people in your life to always be here and never change? What about your own body? Your thoughts and opinions?
- Note how things have already changed for you. Have you ever met a stranger who later became a best friend? When have you been pleasantly surprised? Have you ever gone through a challenging time, but later looked back on it as something positive?
- When experiencing anxiety, fear or panic about uncertainty, get curious. What does this emotion feel like? Where in the body does it live? Does it have a temperature, a shape? As you look closer, is this also changing?
- Send self-compassion to the parts of you that desire control. It’s normal and human to crave stability, but fighting against the natural flow of things only causes us suffering. Offer yourself loving kindness while you practice letting go of needing things to exist in a certain way.
We can never be sure of the future, but staying grounded in uncertain times is possible with meditation. A daily practice connects us to the awe, joy and happiness that’s available right now in the present, regardless of what may or may not come next.