2 min read

Lost in the woods.

Lost in the woods.

Imagine for a moment that you are lost in the woods.

There is no clear path ahead. You are surrounded by trees, brush. It is light out, but you are unable to locate anything on the horizon. You can probably orient yourself with the sun, but other than that you are lost.

Anxiety, fear, panic. Those would all be normal responses in this situation.

You don't know where you are, and you don't know the next best step to take. Uncertainty and doubt are everywhere.

There are no immediate dangers. You don't see any wild animals. You are not hungry or thirsty. You have basic rations and clothes.

Right now, as you stand, you are actually safe. If you were to simply stand and listen, you would find that the woods is naturally peaceful. You might even find that you are naturally peaceful.

Notice the tension between these two mental states. On the one hand, you can experience the peace and perhaps even beauty of the present. On the other hand, you experience fear and uncertainty as to your whereabouts.

Those two may not coexist, but it is indeed possible to experience a degree of peace and settledness amidst disturbing emotions. You can hold space for unpleasant thoughts and feelings without being overwhelmed by them. You can see them, feel them, experience them and know they are there, without having them dominate your experience.

You don't need to identify with negative thoughts or feelings.

In this situation, you might discover a basic resourcefulness, a determination that you can indeed find your way. It may not be readily apparent what the next best step is, but you can take a step knowing that doomsday is not the inevitable result.

Resourcefulness comes about when we recognize that our nature is not one of scarcity, but abundance. The world around us is telling us a lot of information, things we can use to get started.

The next best step might not be to plunge forward into the thicket of our hopes and fears. It might be to take a few moments to breathe and to notice the ground on which we metaphorically stand.