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April 5, 2022

How to Deal With Chaos

Photo by Sergey Katyshkin on Pexels.

Chaos is where we can’t see clearly. What remains hidden and misunderstood. It seems to have no pattern, that’s why we consider it chaos. But what if the pattern was just in a different language? A language we cannot describe with our current framework of reality. In that case, we would have to expand our scope of perception to understand.

You know this. You have come across this phenomenon where something transforms from completely alien to an understood, embodied, and even mastered experience. Think about learning to ride a bike. It probably seems quite foreign to you at this point because it’s obvious how you do it. However, at one point, it was something hard to grasp. What was chaotic at the beginning refined itself in your awareness more and more, as you gained a higher capacity to receive the “chaotic” information.

Something I have enjoyed researching lately, in my self-inquiry practice, is where I find things to be confusing. I ask myself ‘why am I confused?’ Something is unclear, therefore something must be hidden. And when something is hidden it means I am absent from that area of life.

In my experience, a spiritual or contemplative practice serves to bring all of one’s self into presence. So we can experience the pureness of our relationship to life. As the capacity of presence grows, absent parts tend to get louder. But, they don’t speak in a familiar voice. They sound muffled or distorted. They are challenging to register, hence the confusion.

We must see this as the intelligence of the nervous system at work and not an inadequacy. All information is present here, at this moment. Likely to be overwhelmed, because we’re still processing information from previous moments in our life, we cut ourselves off from the depth of this moment. We can split ourselves into two, becoming absent to this moment so we can continue to process the past.

This brings me back to having a higher capacity to receive chaotic information. Chaos is able to land in us when we have more space. In other words, when we are more “here.” Therefore, if something is chaotic and confusing it’s likely not helpful to try to understand. A higher benefit would be to create more space inside. Which looks like taking time to further integrate what is understood so far and digest what is unclear.

The key is to not be in a rush to understand. We often create more confusion when we are urgent to figure something out. Fear runs the show when we are in a rush. We must not let our inability to control chaos drive us towards understanding. A simple allowance and softening of the pressure to know what doesn’t make sense currently can create more space. This brings an understanding that chaos is a natural part of the process, an inherent quality of life.

The allowance of chaos, however, can be overwhelming as well. So, we can bring awareness to the moments where the confusion comes in. This is not to say that it’s wrong that we “can’t handle” the certain level of the unknown we are encountering, but to become aware of how our energy moves. If we can become aware of the process of confusion, the confused state has less power over us. Meaning, I can notice where I became confused and discover that’s the area of my life that seems silent, rather than efforting to understand or getting frustrated. We are further away from the process itself because we have space and from there, we can discover something new by witnessing our internal movements.

This is subtle work, but it’s something that can be done wherever we are. There are many moments of chaos throughout our day. These short instances of confusion or overwhelm can become our playground for opening. And, it seems, when we can cultivate space in these moments, an inner stillness, what was once blurry becomes clear.

The eye of a storm is centered and silent, while the chaos swirls around it. Eventually, the stillness from the center permeates the chaos, and the storm dies out.

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