Thursday, May 27, 2010
Going Down the Rabbit Hole:“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
Well, this is where the journey begins, isn’t it? Alice, without really thinking, follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and finds herself falling for a very long time: “Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end?” But of course we know she does eventually make it, astonishingly in one piece and not much worse for wear at that.
This is the beginning of Alice’s adventures in the nonsensical land of Wonder, and the Rabbit Hole serves as her magical portal into this mysterious world.
You, too, are about to face a rite of passage, your very own rabbit hole, so to speak. It may be spoken of as a Shamanic Journey, a Journey into the Underworld, the Hero’s Journey, an Initiation, or simply meeting up with the subconscious mind.
No matter what level or form you come to it, you will be jumping down a Rabbit Hole of one sort or another. You can either do it as Alice does, full speed ahead without fear, checking the shelves for orange marmalade as you go, or clawing and kicking all the way down. The former seems to be a much more pleasant option.
You are facing a major shift in your consciousness that will very likely lead to a transformation of life and mind-altering proportions. So grab your satchel, some tea cakes and sandwiches, and let the journey begin. No need to go looking for it; you are already on a path that will inevitably lead you into a whole (hole?) new world, or maybe even another dimension.
As I said before, it may be as fundamental as meeting up with your subconscious mind, but that is no small task, and the consequences could shake the whiskers right off the White Rabbit. So hold on tight and breathe deeply. You are in for the adventure of a lifetime.
Meditation: Relax as best you can, getting comfortable and gently closing your eyes. Breathe deeply. Don’t force it, but allow the breath to deepen and slow down. The breath is one thing you can’t live without, and when we are present with it, it offers deep healing and wisdom. So take some time just to breathe. When the breath feels naturally deep and slow, just check in with your feet. Feel how they connect with the earth. As you breathe, imagine roots coming out of the bottoms of your feet and growing and digging into the earth, spreading out and branching into all sorts of directions leading downward. As the roots grow and go deeper, you can feel a sense of strength and grounding. Like a well-rooted tree, strong winds can’t topple you. Now, breathe into the space between your eyes, where the pineal gland is (also referred to as the third eye). Imagine the color of the midnight sky and then breathe into the top of the head, thinking of the color violet. When you exhale, imagine letting go of any blocks (mental, physical, emotional or energetic) that may be a burden on your transformational journey (even if you don’t know what they are). Just feel the sense of relief and lightness as you exhale and let go of these blocks. Continue to breathe into the third eye and the crown of the head, visualizing the colors indigo and violet. If you find yourself being shaken by your transformational journey, just sitting and breathing, giving all of your awareness to your breath can get you through. A very wise shaman I know has just one piece of advice for when the journey is difficult: “Respira” Breathe. Just breathe.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The Lobster Quadrille, as Alice surmises, “. . . must be a very pretty dance,” though quite strange and complex. It involves all sorts of sea creatures, switching partners and throwing lobsters into the ocean and all sorts of shenanigans. Few have ever witnessed such a spectacle and even fewer are available to share the account.
The Lobster Quadrille has promenaded its way here to ask you if you are ready to join the dance. There is an invitation before you. Maybe something completely and utterly bizarre, or maybe just a bit foreign, but despite the possible challenges of its novelty, you are being given an opportunity that is one-of-a-kind.
It may not exactly be your cup of tea, but this is a special invitation and you may never get it again. You can always opt out after you’ve had a taste of this trying two-step. Remember that timing is everything. A few good moves in time may go a long way to connect you with a community that you’d otherwise have no relationship with. The experience is likely to be rich if not surprisingly rewarding. The worst that can happen is that you decide this isn’t your scene; in which case, you’ll be respected for giving it a try and you’ll have expanded your horizons.
Meditation: Relax and breathe deeply into your belly. Imagine the experience that lies before you. Notice if there is any anxiety or worries, and for now, let them go. Pretend that you are completely comfortable with yourself and the situation. Imagine that you have great confidence in your ability to be socially engaged, amiable, and well-received. See yourself moving through this experience with grace, acceptance, an open heart, and an open mind. See yourself learning new things, maybe a new culture. Allow your mind, body and spirit to be as receptive as possible to the newness. Breathe a smile into your heart if there is any sense of contraction. See yourself completing the experience with a new perspective of life and the world you live in. See the new connections you have made and how you have expanded your horizons. Even if you cannot stay with the experience to the end, keep that sense of receptivity and acceptance. Notice if judgments come up and gauge whether the judgments are there as a defense against fear of the unknown, or whether they come from wisdom and discernment. Take time to write, draw, meditate, or move what you have learned so that you can truly integrate it into your life.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Mock Turtle has slowly sobbed his way over to you to raise a question of authenticity. As we listen to the poor leatherback’s lament (which takes a good deal of patience, might I add), we learn that he once was a real turtle. We never do discover what happened to turn our dear slowpoke into an imitation of his old self, but the truth that lies before us now is that he is, indeed, no longer the real deal. That’s enough to make anyone feel a little low. Of course, the sorrow is a farce as well, as The Gryphon informs us: “It’s all his fancy, that; he hasn’t got no sorrow, you know.”
So, it would seem that there is some sort of artificiality to your query. Either you, someone you know, or the whole circumstance itself is lacking the inestimable quality of authenticity. Notice the connection between The Mock Turtle’s forlorn state and his lack of verity. You may sense, as well, a melancholy that clouds your own circumstances.
The Mock Turtle may be giving us a clue to finding where the authenticity went as he tells his story of his childhood days of school. Most of us go through great storm and stress as we become adults, and we frequently lose important parts of ourselves as we deal with childhood challenges. For whatever reasons we encounter, we frequently feel it is unsafe to express our true nature. One of the important tasks of becoming an actualized adult is to remember those essential parts of ourselves that got lost in the process of growing up.
Another insight that comes from our hard-shelled harbinger of happiness lost is that when we are learning (as when we are in school), we are open and growing. As soon as we close the book, convincing ourselves that we’ve “got it,” we have also shut the door on the growth process, and you know what that means. If we aren’t busy growing, then we are busy dying, and that is truly cause for grief.
It’s time to open the book on who you are again. Allow yourself to remember what you once were as a child, calling back all parts of yourself that have been closed off with the delusion of being completed, or the illusion of being unsafe when authentically present. Now that you are an adult, and you call the shots, you can allow what was once shamed, ignored, or scrutinized into non-existence, to blossom and grow. Don’t worry, those parts are still there. They might need a little dusting off and oiling up, but with a bit of gentle use, they’ll be running like new in no time.
Meditation: Give yourself plenty of time for this one. You might even want to give yourself several sessions as this is such a powerful and beneficial practice. In a comfortable position, allow yourself to think back to when you were young. What did you love to do? What gave you special joy? Just focus on the first thing that comes to you. Really allow yourself to step as fully into the experience as you can. Notice how you feel. Notice what strengths show up. What talents. You probably didn’t notice them when you were young, but as an adult looking back, you can recognize what your gifts were. It may have been a curiosity in how things operate, or a strong intuition, or maybe you had a talent for physical activities or the arts. Maybe it was something you got in trouble for, but inside of it lies a super-power. Allow yourself to explore what was once vibrant in yourself. Once you have that image, and have taken the time to feel it as thoroughly as possible, give yourself time to write, draw, do further meditation or some other practice to bring that gift into the present. Spend some time creating space for this gift in your life. How can you express this talent now? Give yourself all the time you need. This reclaiming of the self is a rich practice that can connect you with parts of yourself you didn’t know existed, but parts that are essential to a deeply rewarding life.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Alice is escorted by The Queen of Hearts to seek The Gryphon with a request that he take her to see The Mock Turtle to hear his history. As the queen leaves the two of them to see to her copious executions, The Gryphon informs Alice “It’s all her fancy, that; they never executes nobody, you know!” And off they go to see the sobbing, sorrowful Mock Turtle. Upon their approach, Alice asks what the terrapin’s troubles could possibly be, and The Gryphon informs her: “It’s all his fancy, that; he hasn’t got no sorrow, you know!”
In this sense, The Gryphon has appeared to you to remind you that much of life is what we make of it. How we see the world, and how we move along the chessboard of life determines the consequences that befall us. The Queen of Hearts appears ferocious and intimidating, and The Mock Turtle appears full of overflowing sorrow, but The Gryphon lets us in on the ruse. Maybe it is the fact that he is a mythical creature himself, only coming to life inside of our powerful and limitless imaginations, that allows him to understand what is real and what is make-believe. Regardless of the reasons, The Gryphon is wise and sees the deeper truth.
The Gryphon is frequently held as a guardian of great treasure, and in your reading, the treasure to be found is in determining your own destiny. This is further echoed in the transformation that The Gryphon took in Christianity. Initially, this creature represented Satan and evil, and later came to be a symbol of Christ, further emphasizing that life and how we view it is truly up to us to determine. If we can learn to tweak our perceptions in just the right way, we can turn lead into gold, monsters into angels, and that is the best treasure one could hope for. “It’s all our fancy, that; we ain’t got no troubles, you know!” That is the magic of the alchemists.
The Gryphon is summoning you to sit down with your query and make up your mind about what perception best serves your circumstances.
Meditation #1: With eyes closed, start noticing the breath until all distractions are quiet, and then turn your focus to your query. Notice how much of the apparent troubles or turmoil may just be a determination that’s been made and agreed upon, but not necessarily set in stone. What if The Gryphon were here. What bluff would he call on this scene? Imagine peeling off the layers of emotion, one by one. Allow yourself to recognize each feeling involved, and then let it fall away until you get to the core. What is true that remains? This is the treasure that The Gryphon is guarding; the golden truth that lies at the heart of the matter. Allow yourself to explore and appreciate it; it is here that the best answers await.
The Gryphon also keeps the conversation with The Mock Turtle (he’s so exhaustingly slow) moving along at a reasonable pace and keeps Alice moving along through Wonderland swiftly from croquet game to Mock Turtle, then from the arduously slow Mock Turtle to the trial.
In this sense, he has shown up in your life to tell you to “Come on!” It’s time to make a move. No more dilly-dallying about. Timing is everything and now is no time for delays. The Gryphon will have none of that. Take a deep breath and shake out those cobwebs tying you down. Swiftness and steady pacing are key to your query.
Meditation #2: In this meditation, allow yourself to really connect with the rhythm of your breath. Don’t try to control it; just notice the rise and fall of the breath. How long of a pause is there between the inhale and the exhale? Once you’ve connected with this rhythm, find your heart rate (at your wrist or your throat are good places to check). See if you can connect with both your breath and your heart rate at the same time. These are the rhythms of your body. The two main rhythms that keep your physical self in touch with the earth. Now, imagine that this rhythm is creating a harmony with the natural cycles of nature, the turning of the earth, the waves of the ocean, and continue to connect with this until you have a sense of being in harmony with the rhythms that you operate within.
Wealth & Guardianship (What treasure do you hold?)
Ruler of the skies and the earth (eagle & lion)
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
[Throwing out a special thanks to Chor Boogie, color therapist & artist extraordinaire, for this amazing artwork, The Vision. You can check out more of the visual feast at www.chorboogie.com ]
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”
The Cheshire Cat has pounced into your life to remind you that being able to step outside your own land of wonder may just be the cause of great contentment. The Cheshire Cat is one of the only creatures in Wonderland who smiles, and seemingly constantly at that. In fact, even while his visible existence fades from Alice’s world, his smile remains as a reminder, (and an incentive), that you are not defined and contained by your current, external circumstances. Being able to step outside of them on a regular basis will help you to gain deeper clarity and a better perspective in regards to your current life events, as if perched up high in a tree. In fact, going to a very high place that allows for a slightly removed perspective is a good idea, or, taking a break from a very intense situation, either challenging or joyous, might be a good idea at this time. Almost any great artist will agree that stepping back from one’s work, physically and energetically, will allow for a deeper understanding of one’s process and product. Looking at your life circumstances as your most current and important piece of art, allow yourself to step away from it and look in as if you are a visitor passing by.
The Cheshire Cat also acts as a gatekeeper, though the passage through is only into madness: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” And in such times, when everything has gone mad, then you are free to step outside the normal responses you might have to a situation.
Take this opportunity to do a head stand (when everything is upside down, it’s truly the best way to gain proper perspective)
You are being invited to take a break to gain insight on your current life circumstances; take the shaman’s path of walking between the world of dreams and the world of reality, keeping your feet grounded and your mind elevated. Allow yourself to be in a place of detached observation, and allow yourself to smile into that which you observe, regardless of the circumstances.
Mediation #1 Sit comfortably and breathe deeply as you imagine that you are in a blank space, where there exists nothing but yourself. Now, slowly invite in imagery of a circumstance that is a current part of your life. You are looking out from your own eyes, hearing through your own ears. What are your feelings and thoughts? Now, imagine that you are another person or object in this scenario looking at yourself. What do you feel and think now? What is different about how you experience yourself in this perspective? Now, imagine that you are like The Cheshire Cat, high up in a tree or other high place, and completely removed from the situation, yet still able to observe everything that is taking place. What is your experience now? Really give yourself plenty of time to feel and discover each new perspective. You might, with practice, find yourself becoming able to simultaneously grasp each of these three ways of experiencing a situation while it is occurring. The reward for this practice is alluded to in the lingering smile of The Cheshire Cat.
Meditation #2 Sit comfortably and breathe deeply as you allow a concern to come to you, or you might feel a place of tightness or discomfort in your body. Take a moment to focus on this circumstance, or this part of your body and allow a smile to come to your face. Allow this smile to gently and smoothly travel to this thought or part of your body. You might even imagine the wide grin of the Cheshire Cat slowly appears on this area of focus. Feel the warmth of the smile moving into this area and feel the powerful shifts that can happen by smiling into the physical and emotional and situational discomforts of your life.
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. catnip
Monday, May 3, 2010
The Duchess:“If everybody minded their own business,” said The Duchess in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round much faster than it does.”
The Duchess has trounced into your reading with a few possible insights.
When we first meet The Duchess, she is violently nursing a baby whilst being attacked with pots and pans by the Cook. There is much chaos and violence in the kitchen where The Duchess sits shaking and threatening her howling child. She is impervious to the a-salts (forgive the pun), though the pepper seems to have gotten her temper up as she is quite rude with Alice and orders her head chopped off. The Duchess exits hurriedly, throwing the baby to Alice, a complete stranger, to care of while she prepares herself for a game of croquet with The Queen.
Are you finding yourself in the middle of chaos? Dealing with someone or something that is impervious to any sort of confrontation? Completely numb to responsibility and respect for others? Do you identify with any of these descriptions?
The Duchess, like many with a title and all of its privileges therein, may be rough and rude because she has no sense of civility towards anyone “beneath” her. This may be a cause for compassion, a right good ear-boxing, or simply curtsying and moving along. You have several choices here, but which one is the best for this circumstance?
Since there is no use in going to battle (The Duchess is bigger, meaner and uglier and there are no known vulnerable spots with this unshakable aristocrat), your best bet is to do what Alice does. Stay as close to the edges of the situation as possible, taking in any helpful information, and when the time is right, walk out.
This madness is obviously something that was going on long before you came on the scene, and has little to do with you. It is possible that you may be of some assistance to someone else who is needlessly being harmed by the circumstances, but you have no obligation to stick around. You are here for a special purpose, but it isn’t to be caught up in the chaos.
It requires special skills to just be still and present while things around you are whirling and crashing about. This isn’t your mess, and you are not being asked to resolve things. Your steadfast presence in the fray may lead you to a healthy role of helping someone else to escape the madness, but if you are lost inside it as well, you can do no good. As an anchor from the outside you have the advantage of a strong foundation and can safely lend a hand to those seeking refuge, but be careful not to take on too much of the rescuer role. You are here mostly as a bystander.
As a witness, you are playing a special role that may not yet make sense, but by the time the soup is served, it will all be clear.
Meditation #1: After you have made yourself comfortable, allow the breath to become regular, with an even timing between inhale and exhale. Once this feels natural, allow your query to form in your mind. Notice where you are in the mix. Wherever you happen to be (make note of it), now imagine yourself at the sidelines, or better yet, totally outside of the circumstances looking in. What do you see that is helpful? Is it easy for you to be present at the edges of the chaos without letting yourself get caught up in it? How does it feel to see others suffering and just be? If this is difficult, notice what it is that you feel moved to do? As this urge comes to you, take a deep breath in and let it go with the exhale. What need inside of you is met when you step in as a rescuer? See if you can let this identity go, for now, with the exhale. Allow this mantra to come into a rhythm with your breath: I am complete. I allow myself wholeness in just being. Continue with this practice until you are able to, as Alice, stand amidst the chaos without getting lambasted by a saucepan.
A further look at The Duchess reveals more insight. . .
Later on in the adventures, we meet The Duchess after a disruption of the royal croquet game. She has just been fetched from prison (sent there for boxing The Queen’s ears no less!) to help deal with her elusive Cheshire Cat. Whether it was her prison sentence or the lack of pepper that smoothed her out is unknown, but The Duchess seems quite amiable now. Though somewhat annoying, she no longer treats Alice with incivility. In fact, The Duchess now has a hard time being anything short of a clingy child with her sharp chin penetrating Alice’s shoulder and her annoying and constant morals and cliché’s penetrating her peace of mind. She’s like that distant auntie who always has too much advice about every last detail of your life. Uninvited, yet full of the best of intentions. Do you recall what is said about good intentions? The road to hell is paved with them, and Alice and The Duchess are walking steadfastly down it.
Again here is the theme of stepping in when it really isn’t necessary (let alone terribly obnoxious).
It may be time to check boundaries. Are you letting someone move in on your personal space or time? Just because it isn’t assaulting, doesn’t mean it’s not harmful or inappropriate. It’s okay to ask for your personal space and be clear with your boundaries. Even if there is an imbalance of roles (The Duchess vs. Alice, boss vs. employee, parent vs. child . . .), there is no impropriety in taking care of your energetic needs.
She may have once had the fiery temper of a hot-pepper, but now The Duchess is a bit too friendly. There isn’t going to be an ear-boxing or beheading if you speak your truth. Simple honesty without anger will yield you what you need and probably get you a good dose of self-respect to boot.
The Duchess professes that “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” You can continue to hang around and look for a moral to all that is around you, because there is much that can be said about and many ways to interpret the situation, however, in this instance, it hardly seems worth keeping company with the problem. The lessons to be gained aren’t worth the annoyance. It’s time to take your flamingo mallet and give whatever it is that’s in your way a good hard whack.
The choice is yours here. Whichever way you decide to respond, things will find themselves in order soon enough. And despite the possibility of everything having a moral, doesn’t mean they are at all helpful.
Meditation #2: Connect with the breath and relax as much as possible, calling in your query. See the players involved, and notice how your body feels when things are in motion. Where is your body feeling the leaky boundaries? Once you have connected with this feeling, imagine the breath as some sort of plumber with the proper replacement pipes. Breathe into the leaky part of your body and imagine those places getting reinforced and becoming stronger. Notice how it feels to have that new boundary. Look at your query and see how the former intruder has no way in. With love in your heart, let this situation or person know that you send your best wishes and are now taking important time for yourself to restore and replenish. Take a deep breath and with the exhale, let the gentle breeze guide this intrusion out of your field of being. Continue to breathe in that reinforcing of boundaries, and letting go of intrusions. Any time you feel that “leaky boundary” sensation in your body, or encounter a usurper of your precious space, energy, or time, do this meditation and notice what happens.