Befriending the Unknown

Befriending the Unknown

written by Paula Sager

Paula Sager shares a contemplative practice of embodied awareness in solidarity with all who are quarantined or choosing to stay safe in place. If you don’t have access to a candle or matches, you can substitute the moon, or light coming through a window, or an empty chair, or a little stone, or …

Preparing a Space

Consider creating a space where you are living or staying that can support your health and inner life through this time of so much uncertainty. You don’t need much room—a chair, a small table in a corner, a mantel, a surface area to place a candle and matches, plus any objects you feel intuitively drawn to include.

Clear away any clutter or easy to move extra furniture so, if possible, you have a clean, clear space in which you can be free to move or lie down. In this practice, you will be sitting or standing but there may be other times when you feel drawn to move in this space. Notice that the process of preparing such a space is already serving your intention for greater clarity and wellbeing. Notice in your preparations, when the moment comes that you inwardly recognize the space is ready for you.

Lighting a Candle

Choose a time when you can have about 15 minutes of uninterrupted time in this space. Bring a chair or stand close to the place you have set your candle and take a moment to feel yourself arriving here, not knowing what exactly will happen. Take a match and light the candle.

For the next few minutes bring all your attention to the candle.
With a soft gaze notice how you see the flame, it’s shape, it’s colors, how it moves or becomes still, does the light of the flame brighten or dim? Not knowing what you’ll notice next, see where your attention is drawn as you simply stay with your experience of the flame.

When you’re ready, close your eyes and notice how you can bring this same quality of gentle attention to your inner experience…not knowing what you’ll discover.

Maybe you notice the movement of your breath, the feeling of breathing in…breathing out…the rhythm of your breath. Maybe you feel the support of the chair you’re sitting in, or the floor you’re standing on. Notice what this support feels like through your feet or your hips. Maybe you’re drawn to sensation in some part of your body.

Notice how your attention is free to move anywhere in your body…notice you can trust the movement of your attention, not knowing how or why this can happen. Simply notice the way your own attention is present with you, a kind of inner light, illuminating what is here for you to experience.

The Space Between

When you feel ready, still with your eyes closed, can you again become aware of the candle? Notice you can sense the candle’s presence even without looking, even while staying with your own inner experience. The candle, there where it is…You, here where you are. Notice how your attention is free to move between a sense of being separate from the candle and a sense of being with the candle. And now feel what it’s like to invite a sense of the candle returning your gaze. Inviting your awareness to move freely between seeing the flame and being seen by the flame.

Without knowing how or why it happens, notice that the space between you and the flame comes alive.

Notice how the space between is a space of emptiness, a space of not knowing, a space of receptivity, a space of welcoming. Welcoming vulnerability, welcoming inner strength, welcoming whatever is here to be more known. What is this space of the unknown welcoming in you in this moment?

As you prepare to close this practice of befriending the unknown, return to the flame…with gratitude for its light, for its companionship. When you are ready, you can blow out the candle and prepare to return to the rest of your day or evening.

Learn more about Paula and her work at Three Stone Studio