The Bardo of Waiting

I wrote an email to a friend this morning:

I am getting familiar with that in-between, waiting, confused, gap experience. I’m waiting on biopsy results myself–results are due Tuesday. My health over the last year has been one thing after another, since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a year ago.

There’s a word for this waiting place from Tibetan Buddhism–bardo. A bardo is a state where we’re leaving something familiar, and the next stage hasn’t fully revealed itself. It’s the most uncomfortable, potentially terrifying place to be. It requires the utmost kindness, gentleness, a light touch of awareness, and an approach of grounding, one-step-at-a-time, and appreciation for the present moment.I have appreciated your words about vulnerability. The panic you describe happens–maybe more often when we’ve let down our guard, stepped out of our cocoon of self-protectiveness.

As a Shambhala Buddhist, for me not hanging out in either hope or fear has always been the instruction. Becoming aware of hope and fear, and relating with it gently, is the steppingstone to real fearlessness–real warriorship.

So, I cry, I freak out, and then I come back to the present. Over and over and over again. Panic happens! Applying gentleness to everything, even allowing the fear to just be, without feeding it, is the only choice.

No state of mind, no experience, is fundamentally flawed. At the core, at the essence, everything is fundamentally, primordially okay. So there is no point “fighting.” We proceed gently, even appreciating fucking cancer, mortality, our freak-out, and we just take the next step. We make choices that seem the kindest overall for ourselves and for others.

The bardo is said to be a powerful place to be. We’re giving birth to something. Relating to it honestly, even with appreciation, can transform us.

I love you and wish you the very best of healing and everything. I will be holding you in my heart, and especially this afternoon.

Love to you both,



  1. I enjoyed reading this. Your entries have a calming effect on me, so thank you for that. Great reminder to keep bringing it back to the present. Love you.


  2. Thank Celeste for your openness and gentle, strong, example. You have for so long been a quiet center to me and I hope you know how much I appreciate your simple presence.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s