Stepping into the Unknown

by Rachael on September 22, 2011

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by hosted by Kelly of Becoming Crunchy and Zoie of TouchstoneZ. Participants wrote about what mindfulness means to them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Sometimes in my meditation and my writing, I see myself holding myself back. Instead of giving everything I have to my breath or to my language, I’m keeping just a little bit of myself to myself, as though tucked into a pocket or placed on a shelf where no one else would think to look for it.

Of course, if I’m holding back in my meditation and my writing, then I’m certainly doing so in all other arenas in my life: as a parent, in my relationships, in my work. The only difference in my meditation and my writing is that in these activities, I actually see what I am doing.

What exactly am I holding on to? I don’t even know.

Why am I holding onto it? Well, for comfort, of course. After all, what would happen if I let go of myself in meditation or writing? Yikes! Scary question! Let’s not think about it, OK?

Actually, I can’t really think about the answer to the question of what would happen, because the answer is, I don’t know. And what’s more scary than stepping into the unknown?

In truth, however, every moment of our lives we are stepping into the unknown. I might read the weather forecast and write a to-do list for tomorrow, but I don’t really know what’s going to happen. To pretend that otherwise is true — to hold myself back, dwell in the illusion of comfort — is like staying home to watch TV instead of going on a trip to Paris. So maybe the flight there is likely to be long and uncomfortable, and maybe I don’t adjust well to new time zones, and maybe my French isn’t all that great, and maybe French food isn’t all that accommodating to vegetarianism … but hey, it’s Paris. C’mon, Rachael, WAKE UP! You can figure it out when you get there. You’ve always managed to figure it out.

I mean, my goodness, I didn’t know a damn thing about mothering before I became a mother, but I figured out how to take care of this Critter.

And I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but we seem to be doing OK anyway.

What is mindfulness to me? Stepping into the unknown, eyes wide open. Maybe I miss a lot. Maybe I’m afraid to look in some places. But I keep on walking …

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama September 22, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I’m guilty of the same thing – allowing fear to hold me back. If mindfulness is recognizing that we are holding back, then courage/believing in ourselves is what allows us to get past that fear :) For everything we do that is outside of our comfort zones, we’re becoming that much stronger. Yay, us!

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teresa September 22, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Oh boy! I really get this one. I like the reasoning that we’re always stepping into the unknown anyway. That’s something for me to think about. It helps.
Thanks!
teresa recently posted… The “Sister’s” Party (part 2)

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Zoie @ TouchstoneZ September 22, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Thank you for this post for the carnival. I barked a laugh when I read your trip to Paris analogy (the people in the library say thank you, btw ;)
The entire paragraph is so apt that I laughed at the resonance. I had never thought about it in quite this way. And I wonder about wanting the illusion of control and the sadness and disconnect it can cause in both our individual experiences and as the parents we strive to be.

I think the trick for me is to choose Paris or TV, but to do it with my full mind on it, rather than out of fear or judging one to be superior to the other. And truthfully, I do have judgment: Paris better than TV and Mindfulness better than unmindfulness-something more for me to explore thanks to your post.
Zoie @ TouchstoneZ recently posted… Mindful Mama: The Places that Scare Me

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Kelly September 22, 2011 at 9:09 PM

What a cutie! Love the pictures of your ‘critter’…and right with you in not knowing a damn thing about mothering before actually having to do it lol!

I hate that letting go and heading into the unknown most times, yet the times I have have always been the most rewarding. And I love your analogy about Paris…I am going to be keeping that one in mind for sure! Thank you for this awesome post Rachael :)
Kelly recently posted… Derailed

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Amy @ Anktangle September 22, 2011 at 11:18 PM

I definitely do this too: hold back for fear of the unknown. I find myself doing it in my writing more, too, as I worry about the consequences (what would those even be, really?) of being too honest, too raw. I really appreciate your Paris analogy, and I’m going to remind myself of that the next time I find myself holding back.
Amy @ Anktangle recently posted… My Job Made Me a Mindful Mother

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Michelle @ The Parent Vortex September 23, 2011 at 12:19 AM

I have a hard time noticing when I’m not fully there or fully mindful, but that hasn’t stopped me from wandering blindly into the unknown. I’ve done some pretty crazy things in the past, most involving a trans-atlantic move with difficult timing, and the best way I found to get through it is just take one moment at a time.

I wonder if being more aware and mindful can make it more difficult to take a leap into the unknown? I’ve found that being more mindful makes things easier to deal with moment-by-moment. Hm. Something to think about.
Michelle @ The Parent Vortex recently posted… Wordless Wednesday: Around the House

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Erin OK September 23, 2011 at 2:36 AM

I think it’s such a great point, particularly in parenting, that we’re always stepping into the unknown. Doing it knowingly, confidently, with eyes wide open makes us quite a different teacher than trying to live in an insular world where we think we know all the answers.

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Patti @ Jazzy Mama September 23, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Stepping into the unknown and then just keep on walking….

It sounds like what I often say to myself when I’m feeling frustrated or overwhelmed: Just do the next thing.

Maybe it’s not about having it all figured out, but just being willing to do the next thing and experience the journey?

A lovely post.
Patti @ Jazzy Mama recently posted… Our Family Mission Statement

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Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama September 25, 2011 at 1:33 AM

Oh boy…I am so guilty of letting fear hold me back. Yet fear is really what spurs us on at the same time. Like you (and probably every other mama out there) I had no clue what motherhood would hold before having Tiny. But I have navigated the murky waters and survived. I love the Paris analogy! Keeping that one in my mental files.
Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama recently posted… Starting Solids and Baby Led Weaning with Real Foods

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Gaby September 25, 2011 at 7:58 AM

It’s interesting, because this is a lot like how we are in labor… I know in my first labor, I held back so much more and in my second (because it wasn’t unknown anymore), I let loose. But it is a protective mechanism. I think that it’s important to be mindful of it, but sometimes letting yourself go a little bit at a time is necessary. Other times, dancing blindly into the unknown is necessary. For me, mindfulness is knowing when it’s right to do either one.
Gaby recently posted… Does Your Ergo Baby Carrier Strap Make You a Stuffed Sausage?

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Alicia C. October 13, 2011 at 5:01 PM

I am so afraid of the unknown. To the point where I’d rather stay in a bad place than make the jump to a place that I have no idea about. I’d like to say that things are changing, but they’re not. This post is going to have me thinking a LOT about all of my options in life and not disregarding them just because of the I don’t know factor! Thank you for the boost I needed!
Alicia C. recently posted… Money? What Money?! {#CarNatPar}

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Tracie Mason Holton November 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM

My husband often reminds me that the only thing any of us knows for sure is that none of us gets out of here alive. What happens between now and then is up to each of us (to a point) and the universe, so we have to make the most of everyday. While it’s hard, I try to remember that and not let my fear hold me back. Of course, some days I’m better about remembering that than others. But like you, I keep walking forward…

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