Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Alice finds herself in a garden of beautiful flowers that can talk, however these flowers are not as pleasant to speak with as to look at: “I never saw anybody that looked stupider,” says the Violet to poor Alice who is only trying to be polite and get to know these strange and lovely creatures. Alice discovers that the reason the flowers can talk (and maybe the reason they are so disagreeable) is because they are stuck in a hard bed of dirt, which keeps them from their sleep. Despite Alice’s attempts at being cordial, they continue to criticize and condescend.
The talking flowers have surfaced for a few possible reasons. One is the old fashioned cliché about beauty and it being only skin deep. In this case, it is only petal deep. It may be that there is only a surface level appeal or connection going on in the circumstances of your inquiry. Another way to look at this card is to go a little deeper into the flower bed, and dig into the reasons for the unpleasant behavior. Not enough rest will make the most amiable petals curl. The flowers are talking, and maybe being so nasty simply due to the fact that they cannot get any sleep (And we all know how valuable sleep is. Just ask the Red King, who is dreaming this whole reality up. On second thought, don’t disturb him). It might just be possible that a little bit of rest and a spot of insight and compassion will lead to a breakthrough in your situation at hand. Finally, these flowers suffer from being stuck in a rut, unable to move, and this makes for a bit of eccentric and elitist thinking. If one doesn’t get out much and see the world, it’s difficult to open one’s heart and mind to new experiences. The flowers don’t even comprehend that Alice isn’t just a strange and faded flower because they haven’t had the opportunity to know anything different. Are you being tempted into a situation that offers surface level appeal, but keeps you limited in your thinking or even self-centered? It’s time to let go of the elements that are merely serving as eye-candy, and time to allow more depth into your experience. You do reap what you sew, so check in on what your real intentions are as you plant your garden.
Meditation: Take a moment to relax and call in the circumstances you are currently inquiring about. Take a good close look at what the motivations and agendas are of all those involved. Is it possible that things are stuck in a hard bed of dirt that is keeping the situation from moving forward in a progressive way? Is it possible that there are shallow values at play? Now see if you can look a little bit deeper into the topsoil. What might be keeping things on such a surface level or stuck in its place? Would a bit of compassion help to loosen things up? Is there some insight that would help everyone to move beyond the current flower bed and out into the kingdom of Wonderland? Allow yourself to take a break from the hard earth. Step away as an artist does from a painting, and then take a look at what is happening. Sometimes it is necessary to move away from something to see it in its entirety. Allow this space and time so you can get clarity on your inquiry. Don’t worry about leaving those superficial flora behind. Your insight will bring you into circumstances that are much more suited to your needs. Who knows, you might even find the tools to free up those flowers’ facades so they can have a more enriching experience as well.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Alice approaches a Mushroom that’s bigger than she is. After walking all around and looking underneath and every other which way, she finally decides to look on top of the Mushroom to see what is there. We all know what she finds atop the cushy cap. The Caterpillar offers her advice about how to properly use this magical organism that’s moonlighting as his laid-back lounge: “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
Yes, the basic guidance is spot on, however, the details, such as how much should one consume and how much growing or shrinking will take place? It’s all relative, and probably unpredictable as we can safely assume here in Wonderland. But despite the ridiculousness, this is a serious matter, you know. Because too much in either direction and you’ve booked yourself swift passage from Wonderland and into another (d)rea(m)ality that’s likely not so fairy-tale in nature.
Those Mushrooms are amazing; some of them are incredibly medicinal, some will take you right out of your mind, and some will take you right out of your body, so before you take so much as a nibble, ponder for a moment what sort of Mushroom it is you have in front of you. [I am, of course, speaking of more metaphorical mushrooms. Don't pop anything into your mouth from the mushroom realms you aren't 100% certain about.]
If you are considering taking on something that may have dire consequences for you, the following meditation may be a good companion for your decision-making journey:
Meditation #1: Take it slowly. This is a time not for baby steps, but for micro-baby steps. First do a scan of your mind, body and feelings to get a gauge of where you are at now. Then, imagine allowing in a little of that which you are considering opening up to, and really take the time to feel how your being is responding to it (your body is great at sending signals in response to emotional, energetic, mental, spiritual and physical input). If you feel contractions in your body (the area of the belly, the heart and the head are common places we get strong messages), contemplate whether this is just a fear that needs to be overcome, or whether this is genuine wisdom that should be heeded. If you are feeling an expansive or light feeling, this could be a sign of stepping further into this experience. If you are feeling this lightness or if your wisdom tells you to push a little further into the contraction to see if it is real, imagine taking another micro step and do another scan. Continue this process until you have come to a clear answer about whether moving in this direction is best for you or not.
The Mushroom is a very special sort of life form. Though it can feed us, and offer us medicine, it is only one link in the food chain away from, well, how can I put it pleasantly? It thrives on our waste. In this sense, The Mushroom serves as a reminder of the CYCLE of life, especially the renewal phase of that which has passed and yet lives on in a new form. Mushrooms and their other fungal relatives, assure that every living thing that passes on is transformed into something amazing, vital and in service to the complex system of Mother Nature herself.
So, my friend, The Mushroom has grown in a place where shi(f)t happened, and is here to help you figure out how to see the shi(f)t as a blessing. The Mushroom may not be here for your personal consumption; taking the wrong medicine in this reality has much harsher consequences than in Alice’s dreamy Wonderland. The biggest gift of The Mushroom is its teaching of turning shi(f)t into that which nourishes your life, and how that nourishment is received is up to your wisdom. Take it slowly and sit with it so that you do the right thing for yourself. The following meditation may help with this.
Meditation #2: With eyes closed, in a quiet and comfortable setting, allow yourself to relax and focus on a challenge that has come your way. Notice how the mind tends to label it as negative or unpleasant. With the message and wisdom of The Mushroom, imagine that this challenge is actually here as some sort of gift. It may take some time to see what exactly the gift is, so give yourself that time, but until the wisdom emerges, continually let go of any negative labels you have placed on your circumstances. Continually re-focus your mind on accepting what is in your life as an opportunity, a blessing, a shining treasure chest waiting to be opened. Keep up this practice until you are able to find the hidden treasure inside the shi(f)t. Journaling about your thoughts and ideas after each meditation can also be very helpful.
Use meditation #1 to decide which medicinal mushroom is best for you.
Some examples: Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Lions Mane . . .
After choosing a mushroom that feels best for you (consulting with a nutritional expert is also wise), make a tea following the directions (it is the heating of the tea that allows the benefits of the mushroom to be integrated).
Avoid any other ingredients, such as sweeteners, until you have really connected with the taste of your mushroom.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The Elusive Path to the Garden: “But how curiously it twists! It’s more like a corkscrew than a path!”
Alice wants to make it to a beautiful garden on the hill just outside the Looking Glass house. Despite continuous attempts at leaving, she repeatedly finds herself back at the house again: “ . . . wandering up and down, and trying turn after turn, but always coming back to the house, do what she would.”
Because Alice is in the reverse-land of the Looking Glass, things don't stick to the same rules as those on the other side of the mirror.
Sometimes, when we find ourselves unable to move beyond a certain unpleasant situation or apparent obstacle, it is important to consciously turn back and move towards it before we can proceed past it. Fears, pain, old injuries, they can stick around, dragging us down and throwing off our sense of direction and self if we don’t take the time to do an about-face, understand, heal and attend to any necessary amelioration before heading off into new directions. With these old experiences on our backs, we tend to re-experience similar circumstances over and over again, just as Alice continually runs into the house she is so purposefully walking away from. This isn’t a punishment, it’s an opportunity to actually come to a completion and letting go of old and worn out wounding; without our personal care and attention, we are doomed to continue to run into the same old scenarios. Alice does recognize that she could cross back into the ordinary realm she left behind as a way of escaping this crazy path, but chooses, instead to pursue her goal, for, as she so adeptly puts it, “. . . there’d be an end of all my adventures!” which she surely doesn’t want yet. And if we want to continue to adventure and experience new joys and new opportunities on the chess board of life, we have to truly complete the old experiences we want to leave behind.
Meditation: Give yourself a moment to really look at the circumstance you are asking about. Do the characters or elements of this question resemble experiences from your past? Are they part of a repeating pattern? Take a moment to follow this pattern as far back as you can. Betrayal, not measuring up, abandonment, all sorts of vicious cycles of negativity get started in our childhood, and though we think we have moved on, no longer thinking about such old events, we carry the injury that continues to want to heal. The further back you can take your awareness of this circumstance, the deeper your clearing of this issue will be, but be aware that going into these places can be intense. If you find yourself feeling hopelessness or despair, seek help from a friend or a professional, but don’t go through deep healing processes by yourself if it feels like the experience is too much for you to take on your own. Though you are the one who holds the key to deep healing, navigating the powerful emotions of old painful experiences often requires the support and help of someone with insight and expertise in this sort of process. In fact, if you know that you have experienced serious abuse, either emotional, physical or sexual, it is advisable to seek support before doing this deep inner healing work. Trusted and experienced shamanic guides, professional therapists, and spiritual mentors can make this healing work safe and empowering, and trying to go it on your own can leave you in a place of confusion and despair. Listen to your body and your belly, and err on the side of safety. There are no bonus points given for working through old trauma and abuse on your own; so make the experience as gentle and easy as possible.
If you are comfortable working with this on your own, or you do have some sort of reliable support for this healing process, take a moment to connect with your oldest memory of this wounding. Imagine that you, as your adult self, are the assigned caretaker for the younger you. Take a moment to breathe into your heart, and as you do, imagine you are inviting in love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance . . . continue to add whatever helpful qualities you want here. With each breath, fill yourself with these qualities, until you feel not only saturated, but overflowing. There may be colors or light associated with these overflowing positive qualities. See them spilling out around you and transforming whatever they touch. Now, go to yourself as the wounded child and just offer whatever is needed (holding, singing,to soothing, assuring, giving a sense of protection). Allow your radiant adult self be the magical healer here, and continue to be present with your child self as long as you can or as long as is needed. There may be tears or words that want to come out; allow yourself to release in whatever helpful way comes to you. Some healthy suggestions are: exercise, dance, outdoor explorations, yelling (make sure your neighbors know you are all right before hand), beating a pillow mercilessly, crying, creating art and journaling . . . there may be other sorts of energies that want to come out in creative and unusual ways. As long as you are not putting yourself or others in any harm, allow yourself to release this energy, even if it is surprising or out of the ordinary.
Sometimes this healing process can take several sessions to complete. Give yourself time and space to recoup from each session before going back in. Be aware of changes in your emotional state, and get support if at any time you feel unable to manage the energies, feelings, or emotions that are coming up for you.
Now, the next time you find yourself facing a similar situation, notice how you can respond differently than you have in the past, and notice how the circumstances might take turns for the better and lead you into surprising new directions. You might just make it to the garden after all.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Alice wanders into the forest where things have no name. As she enters the shady coolness of the trees, she promptly forgets the name of everything around her, including herself. Disconcerted, she meets up with a sweet and gentle fawn, and in their quest to remember who they are, have a brief moment of tender touch and connection, however, as they leave the forest and come into the light of the meadow, the Fawn, suddenly remembering its identity, bounds off in fear of the human child it had been speaking sweetly with just a moment earlier. Of course, nothing had changed except for the memory of identity, yet the Fawn shifted from calm and quiet to frantic without the presence of mind to realize it had been perfectly happy and safe in the company of Alice just moments before.
The Fawn is here to ask you to look at something you have labeled, and what your fixed concepts may be about a certain person, relationship or circumstance in your life. Fixed ideas are only helpful for temporary experiences, such as what road markers and stop signs are for and such, but in the long run, fixed concepts don’t really keep up with the constant changes and subtle shifts the world we live in and the world of the Looking Glass conjure up every millisecond, and therefore, leave us at a loss for experiencing what is real in this moment.
We spend the first part of our lives learning the names of things and how they work, and then we usually move into deeper understanding of philosophies and concepts and such, but has it ever occurred to you that something you may have set down a construct for a while back could be totally different now? Think, for instance, of the concept of a telephone. In a relatively short time, we have gone from a large fixed box sending out scratchy sounds through the help of a telephone operator to tiny gadgets barely large enough to really keep our hands on, and it is very possible that very soon, the telephone may become completely transformed into something barely recognizable compared to its origins. Think, as well, of you, for instance. Who you were and what you wanted as a 5 year old, a 10 year old, or who you were just a year ago? We are constantly learning and changing, and so are all of the people and systems around us. If we don’t allow our fixed concepts to loosen up a little and allow for growth, it will be difficult to really see and experience life and those around us for who and what they are in the now.
Take this moment to think about what might need a mental make-over. If there is something troubling you, ask yourself what fixed ideas you can let go of around the subject . . . Maybe even allow the possibility of letting go of the idea that there is any trouble at all.
Meditation #1: Allow yourself to get very comfortable. Relax and start focusing on your breath. Once you feel connected with the breath, call in the subject of inquiry for this reading. Take a look at it from as many different angles as possible. Ask yourself how you feel about the subject. Think about the words that you would use to describe the people or circumstances involved. Think about the meaning of those words and how these words create a structure or lens through which you see this circumstance. Once you have a strong connection with this experience, start peeling away layers. Ask yourself what you can let go of. What words hold certain charge for you? Are there certain unknowns that you have filled in with words for the sake of seeing a whole picture? If so, let those labels and assumptions fall away, and allow the unknown to exist. Have you formulated opinions or feelings based on these unknowns? If so, see if you can let go of the judgments and emotions as well; even if they are positive, let them go for now. After you have let go of as much as possible, take a look at what you have before you. Instead of working on creating a whole idea about the circumstances, see if you can sit with the subject as an evolving and indefinable experience. Focus on what pieces are left, and now ask yourself how you feel. Maybe there are questions to ask later, to fill in those blank spots. Maybe you have found that the query no longer holds importance for you, or maybe a new way of holding this experience has emerged. Notice the changes in your mind, body and spirit. If possible, do some journaling or creative arts to map out what remains.
Meditation #2: After you have taken some time to allow your personal labels to fall away and to see your inquiry with as much objective focus as possible, take some time to think about what you would like to see added to the picture. Love? Understanding? Strength? Abundance? Whatever words come to mind, think about what they represent to you and see if they can fit into the structure you have exposed. Once these new labels are integrated into the picture, take a look at it to see if it is a synchronous image. If possible, continue to journal or do collage or arts to get a more tangible connection with the inquiry.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
March Hare:“Suppose it should be raving mad, after all! I almost wish I’d gone to see the Hatter instead!”
Alice, after consulting with the Cheshire Cat about which direction she should take through the forest, decides to avoid the Mad Hatter, “. . . perhaps . . . it won’t be raving mad,” and go towards the home of the March Hare, only to discover that both the Hatter and the Hare are at the tea party, and both are, in fact, completely mad. Alice has a dreadful time making any sense of what is being said and done after she crashes the party.
This little dilemma Alice finds herself in calls to mind a joke I heard once that I liked: A man is in the market place in Jaipur, and sees the face of death, the Grim Reaper, who glances at him, and does an astonished double take. The man, equally astonished and completely terrified of confronting Death, gets on his camel and races across the desert to escape. He doesn’t stop for food or water for himself or his camel, he is so frightened, and finally his camel can take no more and dies. The man takes off running on foot until, having pushed himself too much, also starts to perishes in the desert, and just before he goes he sees Death approach. Facing his certain demise, he asks Death why he had such an expression of shock on his face when he’d seen him in the market place, and Death replies: “I was surprised to see you in the Jaipur market this morning because I knew I had an appointment with you all the way out here in the desert this evening.”
Basically, the March Hare is here as a reminder that you can walk, saunter, gallop, run, or even jump through the looking glass, but you can’t hide from certain experiences along the pathways of Wonderland. Making decisions based on avoiding something we are afraid of, may be the very thing that leads us straight into that which we are running from (which usually isn’t as bad as we would first assume anyway). Reacting to fears and those who frighten us gives them rein over the chess game. We will never be able to catch up if they are always one step ahead, making the moves, and we follow in our reactions to them. It is important to take a moment to stop, drop the fear (even if just for one moment), and roll into what our true path should be, regardless of how frightened we may be of certain circumstances in our lives. Give yourself just a moment to let go of fear, and move in your own true direction.
Meditation #1: Take a moment to get very comfortable, and turn off all possible interruptive devices. Start breathing and allowing yourself to let go of your fears, just for this moment. Feel into your body. You will notice places of resistance. Places that are tight, or don’t seem to want to let the breath in. Just keep gently expanding the breath until it can open up and release those places that are contracted in fear. Just allow yourself to pretend for a moment, that everything is all right. Breathe into the belly and let go of tension. Breathe into the heart and let go there. Keep doing this until you have opened up as much as possible. You may want to put your hands over any parts that are feeling tight with fear. You can gently tap, or offer light touch to this area if it feels helpful. It may help to imagine yourself in a healing place, maybe in nature or some place that feels nurturing to you. A place where you can relax. Keep breathing and then imagine the thing that is making you feel fear, and see if you can just behold it without any judgment or any tensing up inside. Imagine that this fear is a living creature that needs love. Something that is acting scary because it is injured; it is trying to get your attention, not scare you. Something that needs love before it can go away. Either from your heart, or from this healing place, imagine whatever love is needed by this fear is being poured into it. See this frightening entity heal and transform. Notice if there is any insight or wisdom you can gain from watching this change. Keep breathing deep into your body and releasing any contractions that might still be hanging around, or any new ones that might pop up as you face your fear, and allow yourself to fill up and overflow with love. Stay with this feeling of love as long as you can, breathing it in (does it have a color?), and letting go of fear (does the fear have a color?).