ReMindful - The Wisdom of Not Knowing (4:11 mins)
One of the more pervasive factors that stops us from being truly present with our moment to moment experience is the tendency to place expectation on how things ought to unfold.
- If you take some time to meditate, surely you ought to feel more peaceful by the time you finish.
- If you treat people fairly, they ought to return the favour.
- If you do your best to stay healthy, you ought not to get sick.
- If you plan for every eventuality, things ought to go smoothly.
And yet we all know what it feels like for reality to not live up to our expectations.
- People might take offence at our friendly, well-intended advice.
- A perfectly planned project might go disastrously wrong.
- We might lose out on opportunities, to people far less qualified and experienced than we are.
- We might still feel anxious, despite hours of meditation.
The root of our disappointments and frustrations in life is not so much the events themselves, but rather that they fall foul of what we believe should have happened.
When we’re attached to outcomes we become prey to our own emotional reactivity.
Rather than being open and present, we close ourselves off to what is.
We get lost in our stories of how this can’t be right or why its not fair, and we enter a cul-de-sac of self-doubt.
The most reliable way to create suffering for ourselves is to make our happiness dependent on things turning out the way we want and then hoping that it lasts.
Mindfulness offers a way of being released from this cycle of expectation and disappointment.
With practice, we can begin to accept and appreciate the simple truth that we don’t know what’s going to happen to next.
Rather than this being a source of uneasiness, it invites us to bring interest and curiosity to the unfolding flow of our experience.
Over time, we can recognise there is wisdom in having a “don’t know” mind.
When we act in the world with a true acceptance that we don’t know what is actually going to happen - that events could transpire in any number of ways - we’re less likely to attach ourselves to one particular outcome.
We continue to set our best intentions and do what we feel is the right, but all the while we can stay present to, and curious about, the reality that unfolds.
And as it's unfolding, it's like we can say, “Ah, so this is how it is”.
Having a don’t know mind is not the same a being passive.
It’s simply a quality of mind that allows us to stay mindful and to make wise and flexible choices as we move through life in harmony with the way things are.
Think about the rest of the day ahead of you; the tasks you’ll complete, the conversations you’ll have, the things you’re looking forward to.
Can you recognise any expectations you have about how it all ought to go?
Can you let go of any attachment you have about the day panning out that way?
It may well pan out that way, but the truth is we really don’t know.
Practice developing comfort with not knowing.
Starting with what’s here right now, simply move through the day with awareness and interest about how it actually does unfold.
Be flexible, stay present and enjoy the big reveal.
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