Awakin’ing To Our Inner Feelings About Uncertainty

Posted by Anne-Marie Bauer on Oct 4, 2013
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When we come together each time in a collective effort to cultivate service and stillness at our quarterly Awakin one day retreat, the intentions are certain. However, as we learned this past weekend, there is a lot of uncertainty we live with on a daily basis and this notion brought about many varied reflections from all. We were inspired by our very own Joel Bombardier to adopt ‘Comfort with Uncertainty as our theme for the day. Amit welcomed us after the first hour’s meditation sit, and helped further frame the day by selecting a passage titled The Art of Uncertainty by Dennis Merrit Jones for the opening circle, which was beautifully read by Leena. In sharing the seed thought below, there were a lot of beautiful reflections that arose from all.

‘Take a look at your own life and see where there is a need to grow, change or create something new-- whatever the situation, the resolution will always be the same; coming to the edge of what we don’t know and trusting there is something within us that does know and then, with trust, faith and courage, following its lead’.

For myself, the theme and seed question I found a personal resonance with, as I had quit my job only the day before the retreat and am about to embark on a lot of uncertainty in what my next stages in life will be and where the road will lead me. On my last day at work, as I was about to walk out, a coworker asked me why it was I was leaving. Realizing I had not had the time to really process that question, and perhaps not even ask it of myself, I later found I was able to sketch out a hazy answer to this question- and what came to mind was that somehow a deeper knowing was urging me to take on journey in which new discoveries would emerge. For Lotika, similar thoughts surfaced, as she shared that when we stay in our comfort zone, our souls are not striving to grow, they are merely surviving.

That often we stay with what is known because of fear. And it inhibits one’s personal/spiritual growth. Marianna then reflected that even when there are many predetermined moments in the day, going to work etc. it is when we allow for unexpected experiences, there is beauty that can arise. She further shared that we have a tendency to fall back into the familiar in the everyday, but realizing that we can grow and change where we are right now, so long we bring attention to the moment, but that sometimes perhaps a different environment can help propel that change and growth if it feels necessary. Tracy shared that she had feelings of uncertainty of the day right from the start, as she had not been to the Princeton Awakin retreat before, further explaining that the mind likes to live in a story, the story we tell of ourselves, of others and of our world. The mind will wander and tell a story of what will be, but rarely of what is the mystery of right now.

That uncertainty can be a real support for awareness to arise and presence to come forth. That uncertainty brings about mindfulness of the present and for that we should be grateful. Birju remembered a conversation with a friend who shared feelings on uncertainty while on a walking pilgrimage. That there is a difference between the process of uncertainty and and the outcome of uncertainty. While focusing more on the process there is greater room for awareness of the present moment and with that opportunities to serve.


Ashish reflected on the words of Krishna Das in that perhaps it is not that we are fearful of the unknown, but rather it is the fear of losing what is known we that causes pain. Ashish further asked us and wondered if there are any pitfalls to knowing? Is there wisdom in the known? Because when you don’t know the road ahead, the possibilities are limitless and when you do know, there is only one path. And in that, there is less creativity. One of our circle participants, recalled by Birju: 'shared a story of how small shifts in intention make a big difference. His roommate was planning on moving out and as preparation he had moved the A/C unit in that room out - given that A/C season in NYC was nearing a close. His roommate, who still had a few days left in the place, was not happy about this! Rather than 'digging in' internally and holding position, our friend decided to put the A/C unit back into the window in his own free time - and the response was that of joy from the roommate. Small thing, but if a different decision had been made, it could have led to a very different outcome.'

Chris added a quote/poem he remembered by Emily Dickinson "I Dwell in Possibility" which again inspired the notion of creativity of the unknown and the hope that uncertainty can bear. Another circle participant, again recounted by Birju: 'described her approach to faith as having changed over the years. From a sort of a unquestioned acceptance, to a period of disillusionment, to now a space of 'joyful not knowing.' In her field, it is quite the norm to be an atheist, but instead of heading in that route, our friend described the importance of holding to the mystery of not knowing - and being 'OK' with it.' Kirit uncle added his thoughts on the seed question, in that when we don’t worry about outcomes there is no uncertainty, the universe will take care of you. Anu shared her gratitude for the community and a personal story of hers as she found herself also able to let go of outcomes, and trusting the process as she took up an interest in running and found there was a great amount of beauty in the present moment when she was finally let go of a time goal, and in the end, made good timing anyway! :)

A little later in the day, we had a chance to reflect further on questions around the topic of uncertainty as Chris led us in the fishbowl activity that brought about great insights from all including Sunaina, Annette and Tracy who made up the inner circle, while the outer circle listened deeply.


The second half of the day had us all hyped up for a group photo outside, right before our walking meditation. But before that, the neighborhood postman drove up to the mailbox to drop off mail, and before we knew it, our ‘Kindness Super Star/Love- Care Bear-Amit ran up to this man to offer him some leftover food from lunch! The postman joined us for a moment and was perplexed as to what we were doing. “what kind of party is this?” he asked, with a lot of us smiling and trying to explain the beauty of our gathering. We found out later, that this postman was the very same man who a long time ago, had found Ashish’s wallet and returned it to him!

After this spontaneous connection, we made our way to our walking meditation led by Sarika, who on her walk, found a dandelion and later shared a wish for us all to be the seeds like on the flower and may our intentions fly with the wind, thereby rippling out to the world.

Ranjana was also moved by a ‘talking stick’ (that was gathered and made during the walking meditation) and shared a happy memory of when she was younger In her household, the act of a talking stick brought about deeper listening and this habit was instilled by her mother. It was only appropriate then, that a few of us had the same intention, to give her the ‘talking stick’ to take home :) As has been with previous gatherings, by the end of the day, our circle was once again filled with gratitude and a strong intention to carry the ripples of love and good into our everyday lives and out into community. Ashish shared how he has been greatly impacted by the Awakin gatherings, as many intentions planted during the retreat have sprung, and can now see them blooming in his everyday life. An example of this was when he shared that by not rushing to find a seat on the train anymore, and by standing back to let others in first, the offering of his intention has always led him to find more peace within and as it turns out, there is always a seat for himself anyway!

Reflections on these gatherings afterward had been observed by many who attend, to be of great value and have a much more deeper meaning than originally thought. ‘The simple technology of a circle’ is indeed a design that may be uncomplicated in form, but one that offers profound ornamentation in pure, sincere insightful sharing and it’s significance is far reaching. A few more reflections on this and from the day, shared by participants present during this past weekend’s Awakin retreat:

my takeaway feeling is inspired. the experience of being in an intergenerational circle like that, with such deep quality of presence, diversity of perspectives is energizing in an of itself. i'm also left with the notion that each circle is at the same time a culmination of previous collective efforts and a beginning of new possibilities, intentions, unfoldings.”

“We don't always know what chord our words and intention will hit, but we are able to hold the purity with which we approach. Everyone came to this gathering with their own journeys in the back of their mind as the lens through which comments are parsed. As we saw tears flowing in multiple occasions, I was reminded that in addition to creating the space where that is welcome, we also recognize that all are able to come with their whole selves”

“ I am feeling content, fulfilled and excited at the same time. The topic of 'Comfort with Uncertainty' was relevant for many of us, and I am personally grateful for the heart-opening reflections and insights that were shared throughout the day. It fills me with wonder as I watch my own inner transformation which happens through the 'simple technology' of the circle, with a foundation of deep listening, authentic speech, empathy and understanding.”

“Later on in the night, we had a chance to experiment with an interesting group dynamic technique led by Chris to see if we could foster further connection amongst the group”

“Immense gratitude and thank you for the ' beautiful ' Saturday. To all for, for opening and facilitating true connection, so that we all learn from connecting and continue to grow from within, in our journey, in our quest 'who am I ' “

“It touched my heart and confirmed for me that life really can be transformed--and transforming. I look forward to more.”

“The ripple effects of this wonderful experience of Super Soul Saturday will surely be felt by our families and friends through our experience.”

And last but not least, a poem that was shared by one of our participants, Frank. This poem moved me to tears. It’s love was felt immensely. Thank you once again :)

The time will come,when with elation
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door in your own mirror, And each will smile at the other's welcome
And say sit here,eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self
Give wine, give bread , give back your heart to itself to the stranger who has loved you.
All your life whom you ignored
For another who know you by heart
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf
The photographs, the desperate notes
Peel your own image from the mirror
Sit feast on your life.

Seeding the world with good intentions some of the Awaking East Coast Posse:


[For more pictures of the day, click here.]

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Comments (4)

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing and lovely to see the visuals! Looks like you all had a beautiful fall day to go within :)

  • Kanchan Gokhale wrote ...

    beautiful Anne MArie!! love the stories and the photos!! When was your birthday?

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Especially loved the story of how the mailman came and joined the circle, in the middle of making his rounds! :-)

  • Sarika wrote ...

    Anne Marie, thank you for this beautiful write up... as we saw throughout the day, uncertainty can sometimes unfold into sheer beauty. I know the seeds are flying far and wide... :)