Order is something we all desire, but chaos is everybody’s business. From what we’ve learned about chaos, we’re usually intrigued, but never comforted. Chaos seems ominous because we’re all taught to avoid it. Nevertheless, when it happens, it serves a valuable purpose.
In everyone and everything lurks the potential for chaos. Amid change, all life is in chaos—the turbulent sea, the fluctuations of wildlife, the oscillations of our hearts and brains. Life is most exciting when it’s in chaos. During periods of emotional chaos, you always seem to grow the most. Disturbances create disequilibrium, but disequilibrium leads to growth. Chaos is the great motivator, prodding you, pushing you to keep going, to renew your beliefs and question your behaviors.
Chaos is just the motion of your system organizing itself into a new focus. When disturbances come, know you are being asked to change and move forward. Sure, it initially disturbs you because it throws you off balance. You can’t seem to focus. Nothing appears to be accomplished. But emotional chaos is nothing other than order without predictability.
To trust in chaos is a learned behavior. Deep inside your system’s chaos lies an extraordinary kind of order. The truth is, chaos and order are barely one step away from each other. Unsettling as it may seem, your emotional confusion, disturbance or doubt is simply the journey of your system moving into and out of chaos.—or into and out of order.
It goes something like this: First, you experience a feeling of turbulence or emotional disturbance. You move into a period of oscillation, swinging back and forth between what you feel and what you think. As your chaos goes full out, it feels like you’re in limbo. This is a place of total unpredictability. But as you open yourself and allow it in, what happens is astonishing. In the realm of chaos, when everything seems to fall apart, this strange kind of force comes into play. It’s as thought a magnet pulls everything into form. Where there was once chaos, there is now an inherent order: your relationship falls into place, the decision you need becomes clear, the business plan you are working on starts to gel.
Appreciate the necessity for chaos, and you will understand it as the source of your creative energy.
Moving through chaos is a process with many steps:
- Trust in yourself.
- Have faith in a higher order.
- Know that sanity lies in the meaning of it all.
- Be gentle with whatever you are going through.
- Look in the direction in which you want to go.
- Allow yourself to grow, but be willing to be disturbed.
- Keep moving.
When you’re in chaos, trust in yourself, believe in your guiding values, and have faith in a higher order. Whatever happens, the structure of your entire being will maintain its shape. It won’t dissolve. Focus will emerge. There will be differentiation, that’s all, not dissociation from who you are.
Know that the sanity lies in the meaning of it all. Your main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in life. Meaning is the attractor; it pulls your cohesive self through.
Be gentle with whatever you are going through. But extend yourself beyond the ordinary. Pulling back does not take you through. The aim of yoga is to deal with the pandemonium of the world, not to avoid it. Simply discover through introspective practice, the state of calm. Let your internal refuge guide you through.
Look in the direction in which you want to go. You may feel like a ship at sea being tossed around. But keep pointing the ship in the right direction, toward the shore or toward the light from the Coast Guard station. Keep steering the boat. Know you’re going to get through it all. In the end, there will be a wide calm and a deep delight.
Allow yourself to grow, but be willing to be disturbed. This is the challenge. Once you go into your chaos and emerge without too many bruises, you’ll know you can throw yourself into the meanderings of chaos anytime, and you’ll still be all right.
So the next time you find yourself in chaos, keep moving, and remember what Nietzsche said: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
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