When we are about to step forward in a new direction, it’s natural for the ego mind to feel threatened. The ego craves certainty, struggles for control, and clings to the illusion that there is some absolute “right” action to take. In reality, the ego can never really know what’s going to happen but can only project based upon the past or what it already knows. The known is everything that has already happened. As soon as you say the word “known,” it’s in the past; it’s gone. The known is a memory, and to live in the known is to live in the prison of the past.
The unknown is the field of all possibilities. When we step into the unknown, we are free of the past and open ourselves to an infinite range of fresh choices, exciting opportunities, and fulfilling adventures. So how do we move beyond paralyzing fears and the ego’s resistance to change? Here are three practices that can help you on the path of self-transformation:
Meditate. Meditation is central to the ability to remain fresh and open to a reality that is not simply a replaying of past experience. Meditation is a powerful practice for cultivating witness consciousness — a state of silent awareness that transcends the mind. With regular daily meditation practice, the mind spontaneously begins to let go of old conditioning and rigid habits of thinking.
Allow. It is much easier to tolerate and ultimately embrace uncertainty when you don’t wage a battle against your fears, worries, and doubt. Doing so only causes the ego mind to cling more tightly to entrenched beliefs. Instead, focus your attention on the present moment and allow any feelings of discomfort to arise without giving them too much importance. Reassure yourself that everything is all right and will be all right even if you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Reframe. I often remind people in my talks that the mind’s biochemical response to a roller-coaster ride varies radically depending on whether a person loves the ride or fears it. For someone who loves roller-coasters, the ride stimulates a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that heightens the senses and creates a state of euphoria. For the fearful person, the ride elicits a series of responses that weakens the body and diminishes awareness. By gently encouraging yourself to embrace the unknown and enjoy the present, you help shift your interpretation of life towards empowerment and happiness.
Real certainty is not certainty about things; it is certainty of your existence, your truth, your Being. When you find your core certainty within, then you no longer look for certainty outside. The unfathomable nature of the ever-changing world ceases to be a source of anxiety and instead is a source of joy and adventure.
The Chopra Center