Certainty brings about a poise and balance, we are able to move forward slowly and surely; certainty that I will succeed or I will be able to attain my goal. In contrast, uncertainty gives rise to restlessness and we start to feel rush, always in a hurry. When in a rush we end up with misses and accidents, we face hurdles and blocks. To move forward slowly in this context means to remain present in what you are doing in this moment and to relish and enjoy the process of the doing. You are not looking out ahead all the time with the question “what next” hanging in the mind.
There is an underlying and unacknowledged belief or assumption that somehow the next moment or some time in the future is going to be better than this moment. We always tell ourselves and others – “It’s going to be ok”! We always hope. These things make you want to rush to that unknown future. And then the state of rush becomes the norm, a habitual tendency. We are always uncertain and we are always striving to reach a better place.
When you look at modern life, it is always about the future. Studying for a better future, saving and thrifty for a more abundant future, investing for a better future, planning, thinking, working, striving, struggling, hoping – everything aimed at the future. The implication here is that this moment is not ok and we need to put up with it for the sake of a better future. Looking ahead at the future is not bad, actually it does help to have a goal or a direction to life, but one very important truth about life is completely missed. It is that life happens only in the present moment all the time and never in the future.
The mindset of always looking for the better future becomes such a deeply ingrained habitual tendency that sometimes we tend to even miss the future when it finally arrives! Whatever it is – say a PhD degree, or own home, or own vehicle or fame or even the little things like a new dress or a new device or the birthday party, anything we aim for – is just a moment in life when you attain it, and even before you could take a pause to relish it, your next goal shows up and you are back to striving for this new goal. You are once again uncertain if you will be able to attain this new goal. In case the next goal did not show up in time after you attained your goal, that will also give you a sense of aimlessness and uncertainty because you don’t know “what next”!
Can we cultivate a sense of certainty as our underlying state of mind all the time? Living life holding this sense of certainty seems to be be a better way rather than being uncertain all the time. But then, how can we be certain about something that is not here yet? As long as you look at the future, at somewhere you would like to be, you cannot be certain. So while it is ok to think about the future and plan for it, you need not continue looking at the future all the time! An entire lifetime can pass by in that state of looking out for a better future and we never get to live life. Instead can we look at the same thing in a subtly different way? As we live life in the “here right now”, we occasionally play with the thought about the future in our minds.
Life is always a journey and the goals that we aim for in life are just signposts or milestones in the journey. Living life means journeying on the path towards the next goal. A goal is a thought in the thinking mind and living does not happen in the thinking mind. Once the goal is set, we can learn to switch off the thinking process and shift focus to the journey, the little things on the journey and live it fully.
Instead of “It is going to be ok”, ’It is already ok” happens when we recognise that life is always a journey towards a different experience. I am here right now, breathing, sensing, feeling and living life and what I am experiencing right now is what “IS” right now. There is also a thought right now that – “this is not ok and I want to be at the goal”. Recognise it as just a thought that needs to be engaged with only when you are actively thinking and planning for your goal and not all the time. Cultivate a habit of recognising this thought and choosing not to engage with it and instead choosing to being aware of all the experiences arising in this moment.
The most certain thing about life is “This moment”. The fact that I am living, I am conscious, I am aware, I am breathing, I am physically sensing all that is happening right now in my body and in my surroundings. There is no uncertainty about all that is happening here right now. As long as I recognise this moment for what it is, I am in my place of certainty. And when I am in my place of certainty, I am able to move forward with surety, slowly. This way of living not only helps us relish and enjoy life in this moment but also reduces the misses and accidents, ensuring an easier and shorter path to our goals. One easy way to cultivate this habit is to be alert and aware of our thinking process and whenever we find ourselves thinking of the future just get out of the mind and in to the body by engaging with the breath with one deep conscious breath and simple body movements such as rubbing palms, tapping, doing some energy movements for a few seconds mindfully. It will break the unproductive thinking process and bring you back to the “here and now”.
What we do now turns out to be something beautiful leading us towards our goals faster even though we are actually not rushing forward.