personal, Wellbeing
Comments 13

Grappling with the spaciousness of uncertainty, by Yoda herself (Part 3)

Glasses, books and meditating are good for me now that I'm over 50

Always trying to learn and improve my wellbeing

Having finished our first 30 minute meditation from Part 2, and admitted any latecomers we’d locked out in a boundary-setting exercise in Part 1, the lesson began.

Uncertainty is one of the 3 main characteristics of human existence,’ Yoda Carol said, sitting her 70+ self on a floor cushion like the rest of us. ‘It’s difficult to endure, so we all cling to certainty. Yet clinging creates further suffering, doesn’t it?’

Well I know I’m clinging to my meditation aspirations as a way to calm anxiety, channel greater creativity, and nurture more peaceful personal relationships, that’s for sure. Is it not going to work?

‘We always want to make the “right decision”, weighing pros and cons, grasping for certainty. But we are just creating more attachment, and more eventual suffering.’

Damn. I thought my pros/cons list-making was a fabulous strategy.

‘There is more ease and wellbeing in letting go, so that we can focus on our actual needs in the situation as it unfolds in real time…’

Would that work for astronauts? Or brain surgeons? What about students in an exam?

‘If we practice our meditation and acceptance of uncertainty, we can create internal resilience for dealing with unpredictable circumstances, like environmental disasters such as bushfires, or divorce.’

Hmm, OK, she could have a point there.

Meditation bowls make the practice easier

I brought this back from my trek in Nepal- it makes the loveliest hum

‘Buddhist Dharma practice is about respecting a process that is larger and longer than ourselves; we just gather & share wisdom along the way; we NEED each other; we can reduce our stress through community.’

She definitely has a point there.

‘Relationships and connection are so powerful, when we truly show up, and be ourselves- we become transparent, and feel supported.’

Now I’m getting teary: she’s so right. Yet I spent almost 50 years running away and trying to do the opposite…

‘People can dare to rest in Uncertainty when they are in solidarity with one another; we need to lean into relationships, because they cultivate support, even when they’re not easy.’

How did she get so smart?? Almost 40 years of living on a Buddhist community, meditating daily, and sharing group dinner 5 nights a week, that’s how. Plus lots and lots of reading. I’ll never catch up with her, I know, but I can certainly follow her lead.

Or uncertainly, if that’s going to be better for my evolution 🙂

What do you think? Do her wisdoms resonate for you? Are you feeling inspired to meditate more? Readers have told me about different apps available, or even just trying to do it twice a week rather than daily. [Another reader started sidetracking me with tales of slightly-intoxicating brownies, but that’s a whole other post!]

In gratitude for the portal of spacious uncertainty, as named by Yoda Carol, G xO


    • Letting your family know that you’re going to try to meditate for 10 mins a day is a good way to start; my cousin’s husband goes to sit in the car in the garage to find his space!
      There’s lots of resources on YouTube or phone apps etc- find something that resonates with you, and good luck, you can do it (& blog about it)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonder if I should do it in the middle of my dog walk. Tie him to a nearby tree, sit beside the shores of the lake, and just do my thing. Then resume our walk…

        Hm…thanks for the inspiration!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Slightly-intoxicating brownies?!? The nerve of some people!

    My therapist recently told me I was very comfortable with uncertainty. I think I know why.

    Just bear with me while I briefly discuss epidemiology.

    My biggest takeaway from years studying and applying epidemiology, whose mathematical underpinnings imply absolute certainty, is that it is fundamentally about managing *uncertainty*.

    The goal of epidemiology is to estimate, as precisely and accurately as possible, what impact a certain exposure has on a certain outcome in a given population. That is, does the exposure make you more, or less, likely to get the outcome over some period of time? And how *much* more or less likely?

    The question is so simple, and the answer is so complex.

    Every element of your study affects how close your final estimate is to a Platonic-ideal “true” estimate, from how you define exposure and outcome, to whether you inadvertantly misclassified someone on exposure or outcome or both, to other possible explanations of the association (in our terms, “confounding”), to data entry error, and so forth.

    Still, we calculate the best estimate we can, transparently observing every possible source of bias (hoping the “true” association is really stronger than measured). But we don’t really know.

    Multiple independent assessments of the same association (broadly speaking) certainly help get you closer to that Platonic ideal, but we never get all the way there. There is always some uncertainty.

    To tangent off the tangent, this is why I disdain statistical significance testing–it imposes a false precision upon a process that is inherently noisy.

    The universe is far more stochastic that we like to admit, although we do a reasonably good job of, as Nate Silver would say, separating the signal from the noise. But often that signal is imposed by us upon the noise when it really is just noise.

    Anyway, immersion in epidemiologic methods (as the three copies of my doctoral thesis gathering dust on a shelf to my life remind me) forces you to accept uncertainty.

    When I saw the 1950s remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, I swore that if Doris Day sang “Que Sera Sera” one more time, I was going to lose it (she did not, and I did not).

    But “Whatever will be, will be” is not a bad first approximation to accepting uncertainty.

    I’m sorry…what was the question again? Something about the Punic Wars?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the early days I sat with a commitment that would’ve impressed a Spartan, and absorbed everything I could … until I realised that even sponges fill up. 🙂 … these days, because my Spiritual Practice is indivisibly interconnected with my everyday thinking/feeling/living, I do a structured meditation when the mood takes me. She’s right there anyway, smiling in encouragement or ready to kick me in the butt, sometimes both at the same time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve found I can’t formally meditate but I MUST have at least 15 minutes quiet reading a day or I become the Cranky Menopausal Maniac Mum…….If that means shutting the door and lying on the bed with a book, then so shall it be.

    Great post as usual!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve always been a bit like that: ‘I need some quiet time’. The sign of an Introvert I believe (even though I’m pretty extroverted too). Thank you for reading & commenting as usual 😊


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s