6 Tips for Surfing Through Uncertainty

27 Oct

It’s a cool grey day in Vienna.  Since I last wrote the temperature has dropped about 10 degrees celsius and no sign of sunny skies.  With the change in temperature came the departure of one of my hosts as she left on an adventure of her own in the States. While she is overseas, her husband, daughter and I remain in Vienna. With some timidity and adjustment on all parties, so far we are faring well.

This week I connected with the Vienna Art of Living group, an international spiritual and humanitarian organization led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.  I first encountered the Art of Living about 8 years ago in New Orleans where I took their introduction course called The Art of Breathing.  In this course I learned their signature breathing technique called the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful technique for health and relaxation that I still use regularly today. As I travel internationally, I rely on connections through groups like Art of Living to be connected to community, meet new people and receive support.

I was delighted to discover the local Art of Living group meets just down the street from where I am stay in Vienna. This past week I attended an introduction to Ayurvedic medicine hosted by the Art of Living.  Sri Sri and the Art of Living support a complete healthy lifestyle including the use of Ayurvedic medicine.  New to this topic, I loved the talk and scheduled an appointment with the visiting Ayurvedic doctor.  A native of India, he now lives in the Netherlands and has just begun regular visits throughout Europe including Vienna.  I am excited to explore this approach and how it can support my health and well-being!

While waiting for my appointment, I met a wonderful person who herself had done some traveling.  As we briefly chatted, I shared some about my past four years of travel.  I came to realize that there is a bit of an art to travel and the level of uncertainty that often comes along with it.  After sharing with her, I took note of the many lessons I have learned from my experiences. Perhaps it would be helpful to share with you!

We all have uncertainty in our lives. The support of our growth, dreams and life often demands that we tango with uncertainty.  Whether you dream of traveling the globe, are in the midst of a career change or facing unexpected life changes, here are some tips that may assist you.

6 Tips for Surfing Through Uncertainty

1.  Seek Wise Counsel.  Four years ago, many elements of my life fell away at once.  My car broke down, my belongings were destroyed (again), living arrangements dissolved… and my cat ran away. I was in a huge sea of uncertainty.  After I panicked for a bit, one of the first things I did was seek wise counsel.  You know what I am talking about, that grounded but inspired friend, teacher, or professional.  I reached out to someone I trusted who could give me a broader and directed perspective on the situation. Seeking wise counsel gave me a fresh viewpoint, some vision and hope in the space of uncertainty, and ultimately liberation and support. This great time of uncertainty was when I first considered traveling overseas. Initially the idea was just a tiny spark, with no big plans or ideas.  Seeking wise counsel helped me to align with that dream and more confidently move into action.

2.  Have a Support System.  Negotiating the unknown is a time of great creativity when nearly anything is possible. But when I first mentioned the notion of traveling overseas, the idea was like a fragile bubble that someone could have easily and carelessly popped… never to be seen again.  With a healthy support system, the idea quickly grew, blossomed, and continues today.  Keep in mind, not everyone is suitable to serve as support through uncertainty.  Choose your grounded wise friends and supporters who have your best interest at heart but can also be playful and usher you in the direction of “yes” to you dreams.

3.  Take risks.  It is true, in the space of uncertainty, there will be no rewards without risks.  On this journey it has been essential that I leap out of my comfort zone and sometimes take daring action.  Keep in mind, this is not reckless action.  The risks I take are in the space of seeking wise counsel and having a support system.  This combination has made all the difference to assist me in more confidently leaping into the unknown.

4.  Stay in Action.  Sometimes in the space of uncertainty, we may have an idea or concept about where to go or what is next, but it still isn’t clear and we really are not sure just what to do.  At this time I find it important to stay in action.  Keep doing things daily that take us in the direction we want to go… even if that is just a vague concept.  For me, staying in action helps to keep my attitude positive and to never give up.  It also gives way to unexpected opportunities.  I look at it like scattering seeds. I try to stay unattached to what “works out” and what doesn’t and then watch what blossoms and grows.

5. Practicality.  Of course, there is a practical element in the waves of uncertainty.  Even with the opportunities that uncertainty can present, it can be daunting at best.  When living into uncertainty, I do my best to handle the practical.  Make sure the details that I know to handle are all cared for.  I also seek to provide myself with some practical comfort that may help me ease through the uneasiness.  I ask myself, what do I need to make myself feel better at that point?  Maybe it’s an outline of a plan… even if that plan doesn’t come into fruition.  Perhaps it’s a spreadsheet of options, contacts and ideas. Or maybe even a job, any job, just to bring in some income. Whatever it is, tend to the practical to help ease your mind and being.

6.  Spiritual Practice. Whether you travel the globe or not, life is uncertain.  Things change unexpectedly beyond our control. However, my experience is that through cultivating spiritual practice, we can connect to that unchanging space of spirit.  I view it as building a foundation on something far greater than the ever-changing unpredictability of any life.  As I connect daily with this space through spiritual practice, it helps to ease the discomfort of uncertainty and provides a greater stability for negotiating this space.

Spiritual practices for me include reiki, chanting, yoga, and the Sudarshan Kriya.  I spend some quiet time in these practices nearly every morning and night.

You may enjoy these practices.  But spiritual practice for you may look different.  Perhaps it is meditation, a tradition in your religious practice, or a walk in the woods.  Whatever it is, taste it daily.

How about you?  Any waves of uncertainty you are surfing through?  Any tips or experiences to share?  It’s always great to hear from you.

Now that I have arrived in Vienna, some of my huge waves of uncertainty have settled a bit to make way for some seedlings of stability.  I pick up my little Austrian friend from school today for the first time by myself and prepare to tend to the little things that will help out this family while mom is away.

Good-bye for now from the cozy flat nestled in the busy (but not too busy!) center of Vienna.

Featured photo is a treasured corridor in Vienna en route to my German course.