The Art of Navigating Unknown Waters
All human beings experience the unknown. It’s exciting, full of growth and learning opportunities, gives plenty of adrenaline to survive on. The other side of the coin is that it can be draining, overwhelming, exhausting. If you’re an introvert - like yours, truly - chances are you can nod along reading these words and remember moments that took you so far away from your comfort zone you might have lost yourself on your way.
The unknown is the exact opposite of the known, quite literally, the opposite of what’s familiar, comfortable, understood, proven, and recognized; it truly is an art to be able to go through these unfamiliar situations without losing your mind. In these situations, the known has to be emphasized, the known has to be remembered - and it has to become something you can rely on.
Creating a sense of home within you is absolutely necessary if you want to navigate unknown situations while still being able to ‘keep it together,’ as they say. And by ‘keeping it together,’ I mean being able to lead your life without feeling overwhelmed or like it is all way too much for you to handle. If the unknown involves some sort of action-taking from your part, like in a creative project, an event, a life change, you need to be able to stay sane and actually enjoy the process of creating newness - which is what the unknown is about, right? -, getting outside your comfort zone, and learning.
you need to know where you feel at home so you can truly embrace the unexpected & be fully present when it shows up
There are steps we can take to create this sense of home, safety and security so we can be ready for when the unexpected comes knocking on our door. Lots of it comes down to getting to know yourself better, learning about the ways you approach the unknown, and becoming your own little engineer to optimize your time, space & mindset accordingly.
Step one: Preparing for it
This might sound a bit counter intuitive: you can’t really get ready for something you don’t know anything about, or something unexpected. You can, however, think about all the ways and moments when the unknown can arise. If you’re preparing to move, for example, you can expect lots of changes, but you can’t expect what shape these changes will take. It can be useful for you to think - maybe even write - about these potential situations, and in doing so, you’ll already know more than if you'd just waited for the big event(s) to come around. New job? New relationship? The birth of your first baby? Exams? Write it all down, being as specific as you want.
Step two: Identifying your reactions
Think about times when you got swept off your feet, moments when you’ve been wowed, in the good & bad ways. How did you react? What did you do? Did you lose your mind and stress out? Did you go home and watch Netflix to forget about it? Did you cry? Did you get angry and frustrated, at yourself, other people maybe? Did you get scared?
I know I tend to hide away; I retreat into my bubble and wait until the storm passes. While I believe this is a relatively good reaction - I get to recharge my batteries and feel less overwhelmed - it also gets dangerously comfortable and leads me to miss out on many opportunities for learning and growth, and simply embracing and enjoying situations as they are.
Learn how you do it, journal about it, and over time you’ll know how to avoid catastrophes and breakdowns.
Navigating unknown waters? Consider taking a private yoga lesson online to work through it.
Step three: Coming up with a plan
Now that you know how you react, you can find ways to soothe yourself, nurture your needs and urges. Think about the ways you can counter your reaction; if you get angry, what helps you let it out and come back to a more stable and peaceful state?
More than just knowing what helps you find your way back to a smoother state of mind, intentionally choose to make space for these activities. The best way is to make space for yourself every morning before you start your day and actually mark your agenda as busy.
This will help you stick to your practice - whatever shape or form it takes - when ‘keeping it together’ gets harder. I get very strict with my practice and make it an absolute non-negotiable, and a longer one than usual, when I’m in the middle of unexpected situations.
I’ll wake up early, drink my water, and get to meditate for 15 or 20 minutes (I usually do just 10). I’ll pick a card from my Art of Attention card deck and I’ve recently started incorporating essential oils to support my practice. Then I get to my asana practice, taking extra time to ask myself what I need that day - a sweaty practice? A yummy yin one? A slow flow, or maybe extra attention for my hips or shoulders? I decide in the moment and take lots of of extra time in savasana.
coming up with a plan to navigate the unknown will give you a sense of familiarity & enable you to tackle the day feeling grounded and anchored within yourself, ready to embrace the adventure.
It helps me feel centered, focused, and allows me to process whatever happened the day before, in the comfort of my own space. It also gives me the strength and comfort I need to tackle the day; knowing that I let out the anger or the excitement that needed to come out makes more space for anything that might arise during the day.
Step four: Navigating… and repeating
There you go! That’s optimization skills for you dear yogini, you’ve just added another string to your yogi bow. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of this, a bit of that as you grow into your practice and into your own space. Allow it to change through the seasons - of the year, but also of your life. Remember that it is supposed to make you feel at home so you can go out there and be ready for all the mysteries and lessons that await to be revealed.