Welcome the Paradox

“The root of suffering is resisting the certainty that no matter what the circumstances, uncertainty is all we truly have.”

Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion

I used to have this quote taped somewhere important, on the fridge surrounded by alphabet magnets or in my ever revolving journal collection, I can’t remember now. It seemed so essential at that time, this remembering that the only certainty I have is uncertainty itself. I was drawn to Chodron’s words, which seemed like a loud clap, a mental rug pulling of sorts for when I began to forget the true nature of my human situation. 

This quote and Pema Chodron’s work has been resurfacing for me lately as we are all taking a cold plunge into the black waters of deep uncertainty. I am feeling the intense duality of our circumstances, the way headlines mix and mingle and confuse our sense of hope:

  • Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimated to Fall by 8% in 2020—the Largest Recorded Drop in History”
  •  “All time high of unemployment- 14.70 percent in April of 2020” 
  • “California Doctor Claims He Has seen More Deaths by Suicide than Coronavirus”
  • “Nike Donates Tens of Thousands of Shoes They Designed Exclusively for Healthcare Workers”

As a global community we are passionately coming together but then being pulled apart again. In this dark hour of doorknobs and droplets, roped off playgrounds and boarded up hoops, masked personalities and gloved grocery shopping, it is unclear if we should feel safely relieved or disturbed and disheartened. 

Held in the paradox, present with the contradictions, we are feeling so much. There is suffering and goodness, grief and beauty, heart-break and grace all merging. Any and all of our past training that we can only feel one thing at a time is going out the window. We can feel all of this and more. I am reminded that:

I can go to bed with a wet pillow and still wake up bright-eyed and refreshed in the morning.

I can feel bored, grateful, frustrated, merciful, pissed and awe-inspired all in the same day.

I can know all forms of beauty: creative beauty, sorrowful beauty, excited beauty, aching beauty.

Even my body can know a chest swelling, a stomach knot, and a beginner’s mind all at the same time.

We are being asked to let it all be okay. This is not the surging roller coaster of wild, negative thinking but an ever widening expansiveness, a willingness to stop the near constant strategizing in our lives and to find a new level of presence. We can make room for all of this.

Nature reminds us to expand outward like a great ocean that has the space to hold all of the salt of life. Diluted thousands-fold, swimming and supported in the mystery of the cosmos, we can open ourselves wider. We will become more trustworthy, more grateful, more spirited in this lithe emotionality.

It is my hope (wish, prayer, aspiration) that these words come to support you in some way. And I wanted to share a Flower Essence that could be particularly useful on this theme of expansion, also related to water. 

If you are not familiar with Flower Essences you could think of them as subtle liquid extracts taken in oral form that address profound issues of emotional well-being and soul development. So if you feel like you would like more expansiveness, flexibility, tolerance, a flowing with all of life, my favorite Flower Essence is Rock Water.

Rock Water is one of the original English remedies and unusually, it is not made from a plant but from the essence of a sacred, underground spring, where the forces of the Earth concentrate. This remedy reminds us to feel the living, pulsing currents of our emotional lives, and to broaden our schedules and life patterns when we become too restrictive and mechanical. When we become too stuck in rigid attitudes and duties, it can dull our ability to genuinely enjoy our lives.

Let this be nutritive to you. It is my intention to continue blending my writing world (finding the intersection of our human experience and the natural world) with my healing world (my last two decades of alchemical acupuncture and healing work) together in a way that is regenerative and interesting to both of us. Let us continue to explore what brings us life, breath, vitality, wind, energy, strength, ALIVENESS!

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