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  • Writer's pictureHannah Marsh

Trust amidst Uncertainty

Remember a moment when you felt a sense of trust. Perhaps it was surrendering into the arms of a loved one. Or resting in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Or spotting the first cluster of spring buds, the miraculous green bursting through a dull brown monotony and reawakening you to your own sense of aliveness. Perhaps it was someone speaking kindly about your creative project, renewing your faith in your work. Or a simple noticing of the breath, the continuous rise and fall, the life-giving motion occurring on its own, without you having to do anything at all.

I don’t know about you, but much of the time, I’m not in this trusting space. I’m doubting, worrying, second-guessing, skeptical of what I see. While doubt serves a function, allowing us to question our experience – rather than believe with blind faith everything we see or hear or think – doubt can get in the way. In creative work, it can be a debilitating force. If we’re in the habit of doubting every idea we have, how do we make a start? If we doubt the worth of something we’ve made, how do take the important step of sharing it – sharing ourselves – with others?

Doubt, of course, comes up not just in creative work but in relationships, careers, all areas of life. In Buddhist teachings, doubt is one of the hindrances – an obstacle to mindful presence. On a recent retreat, I asked the meditation teacher, Heather Martin, about her suggestions for working with doubt. She suggested looking to trust. Doubt and trust exist on a spectrum – doubt at one end, trust at the other. You could make a practice of going through your day, noticing where you land on that spectrum. (Is doubt here? Is trust here? How do you know one from the other – sensations in the body, thoughts, feelings?) When doubt is persistent, you might remind yourself how you felt during moments of trust. Imagine one of your trusting moments – body resting easy, mind open, connected to the living world – and the memory might lend you some needed steadiness.

Image by Sammie Chaffin

In our May Mindfulness & Creativity drop-in, we’ll explore the territories of doubt and trust in our meditations and reflections. We’ll consider that creativity – doing anything new or different – involves uncertainty. We'll ask, how might we cultivate trust in this space of not knowing?


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