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When Things Don't Make Sense, Breathe: The Gift of Not Knowing

Updated: Jul 9

In the complex fabric of human life, we frequently struggle to comprehend the mysteries of existence. It’s natural for us to seek meaning in the events around us. Let’s face it: not everything in life is clear, and unravelling every mystery or event that doesn’t make sense can become overwhelming and distract us from the present moment.

Have you ever lost someone in an untimely manner? Have you been let go from a job unexpectedly? Or did a relationship dissolve right before your very eyes?

During times like these, we can be obsessed with finding the ‘reason’ behind everything. We may cast blame or take on all the blame for the circumstances, but we can all agree that neither is productive and can prevent us from opening up to the possibilities that exist at that moment.

The Quest for Answers is Innately Human

From the most minor everyday problems to the grand questions of purpose and existence, humans have an insatiable thirst for answers. We crave clarity, logic, and rationality in a world that often operates in mysterious ways. This quest for understanding is a fundamental aspect of the human experience, driving us to explore, learn, and grow.

This innately human quality has led to significant advances in technology, medicine, and understanding of our environment, but has it really helped us? I’m sure we could have a long debate about that.

The Weight of Unanswered Questions

Yet, as we navigate the complexities of life, we encounter situations that defy explanation. Unexpected setbacks, the inexplicable behaviour of others, and the erratic nature of the universe can leave us feeling bewildered and disoriented. The burden of trying to make sense of it all can weigh heavily on our minds, leading to stress, anxiety, and a sense of helplessness. Over-focusing on why things happen can lead to several things:

  • Internal Conflict: The clash between our innate desire for coherence and the bewildering realities we face can create internal conflict, sowing seeds of doubt and frustration.

  • Emotional Turmoil: The relentless pursuit of answers can give rise to emotional turmoil as we grapple with uncertainty and the fear of the unknown.

  • Physical Manifestations: The stress of trying to figure everything out can manifest physically, leading to fatigue, tension, and a decline in overall well-being.

Embracing the Unknown

Amidst the chaos of unanswered questions, there exists a simple yet profound truth — not everything needs to make sense. Embracing the unknown, accepting the inherent mysteries of life, and relinquishing the need for absolute understanding can liberate us from the shackles of relentless over-analysis. By knowing that we tend to need to know, we can replace that with these superpowers that can lower our levels of stress and create a state of flow in our lives:

  • The Power of Acceptance: Acknowledging that life is replete with uncertainties can be empowering, freeing us from the pressure of constantly seeking explanations.

  • Mindful Presence: Cultivating mindfulness and being present in the current moment allows us to notice when we are seeking answers and helps us to let go of the incessant need to unravel every mystery, fostering a sense of peace and clarity.

  • Resilience and Adaptability: Embracing the enigmatic nature of life nurtures resilience and adaptability, enabling us to navigate unforeseen challenges with grace.

The Art of Breathing Through It All

When confronted with the incomprehensible, one of our most powerful tools is the simple act of breathing. Taking a moment to breathe deeply and consciously can offer a much-needed break from the turmoil of trying to make sense of everything. Children will do this effortlessly when it is time to let go; however, as adults, we learn to hold on and contract. Holding on tightly to finding the answers will prevent us from opening up to what is. Here are three tangible benefits of anchoring the uncertainty with your breath:

  • Clarity through Calm: Deep breathing calms the mind, offering a fresh perspective and enhancing clarity amidst confusion.

  • Release of Tension: The rhythmic flow of breath releases physical and mental tension, alleviating the weight of relentless analysis.

  • Grounding Presence: Focusing on the breath grounds us in the present moment, fostering a sense of stability and serenity even in the face of uncertainty.

  • Access to Higher Thinking: A relaxed mind is a present mind, which gives us access to a different part of our brain. Our higher thinking happens in our cortex, also known as our human brain, whereas our more reactive tendencies — the fight, flight and freeze responses — happen in our amygdala or reptilian brain. By regulating our breath, we allow ourselves to access that higher thought.

Finding Peace in the Unfathomable

In the vast tapestry of life, not everything is meant to be unravelled and understood. The beauty of life often lies in its unexplainable complexities, and finding peace amidst the mystery is a profound art. When things don’t make sense, take a deep breath, embrace the unknown, and remember — sometimes, the most profound wisdom arises from simply letting go.

While the human quest for understanding is noble, it’s equally important to recognize the value of accepting the mysteries of life and finding peace in the midst of the unexplainable. So, when faced with the perplexing riddles of existence, remember to breathe, embrace the unknown, and revel in the beauty of life’s enigmatic dance.

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