Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Alice has grown small again as a result of eating stones-turned-cakes in the home of The White Rabbit. She has been stuck there, oversized and trapped until now. She runs out of the house and into the woods to escape the large crowd that’s gathered outside.
Alice is preoccupied by her diminutive size: “The first thing I’ve got to do,” said Alice to herself, as she wandered about in the wood, “is to grow to my right size again . . .”
Moments later, she comes across a large puppy. She uses a stick partly to entertain The Puppy and partly to distract it from eating her up since she is so small. So Alice is simultaneously playing with and defending herself from this giant canine until she can find her way of escape.
Of course, if Alice were her proper size, The Puppy wouldn’t pose any sort of threat at all, and she could relax, play and have some fun. As it is, however, she must keep her guard up as she engages with the jumbo pooch.
The Puppy has playfully pounced his way towards you to let you know that you have what it takes to safely move through what is before you, however, until you have had the opportunity to grow and develop a bit more, it is wise to keep up your guard. You are not yet a master who can work through this challenge effortlessly . To make sure you complete your journey through the woods in one piece, you must balance playfulness and caution.
So now it is time to apply this wisdom to your query.
Meditation #1: Sit comfortably and let your breath slow down and become deep inside your belly. Close your eyes and see yourself as you are within this query. Look at your strengths, wisdom, and experience that you bring with you. See how these can help you work through your circumstances safely and successfully. Now take a moment to look at your limits and needs. Where could you do some growing to make the circumstances easier? The road to mastery is lined with challenges like these that help us to refine our skills so we don’t just “make it” through life. As masters we can make it look easy because it IS easy. You are being invited to grow and develop in some ways that could lead to mastery if you are mindful and dedicated enough to the path. Notice how much easier this situation and others like it will be once you are at that level of mastery? What once verged on a threat becomes as silly and enjoyable as a playful puppy.
Another possibility is that The Puppy in this reading is you. Maybe your enthusiasm has someone else walking a line between self-defense and fun. Tune in for a moment to this possibility. Things may all seem fun and games, but there may be someone who is feeling threatened by your innocent gestures. Not that enthusiasm is wrong, and not to suggest you turn it down or deny it. But being aware of how you are impacting another may create peace and collaboration instead of a brief and nervous rendezvous. A moment of genuine heart-to-heart may clear the matter up.
Meditation #2: With eyes closed, allow your breath to slow down and relax. Think of your inquiry, and your enthusiasm. Feel how it radiates outward and has an impact on the world. Notice if there is anyone around you in this inquiry that is putting up a guard to this energy. Imagine your enthusiasm as a soft light or color that radiates outward, and when it comes close to this other, imagine that energy softening and allowing him or her to maintain their own energetic field. It is not your task to adjust yourself to accommodate someone else, but imagining the ability to co-exist in authentic self-expression can do wonders. Imagine both of your energies allowing space together, and breath into this reality, letting go of any sense of tension as you hold this vision.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
As Alice moves along towards the third square in the chess board of Looking Glass, she suddenly finds herself inside a train carriage that is stuffed full of all sorts of talking animals and other creatures. They all speak a load of nonsense, and none of them have anything useful to say. During the chaos, Alice thinks to herself, “Then there’s no use in speaking.” But even this doesn’t keep the silly banter from rolling along unhindered.
They all seem caught up in wanting to fix Alice’s dilemma of not having a ticket, though Alice herself seems perfectly at ease with her situation, and the Guard has long gone. The crowd continues with their suggestions: “ . . . ought to know which way she’s going, even if she doesn’t know her own name!” “She ought to know her way to the ticket office, even if she doesn’t know her alphabet!” “She’ll have to go back from here as luggage!” And so the unsolicited suggestions go, without any insight or consideration of whether Alice needs any help at all. It is all rather maddening and such a waste of time.
This circumstance reminds me of a story a wise woman once shared with me. It goes something like this: “A kind and gentle man was walking one day and came across a butterfly struggling to free itself from its cocoon it had been transforming within. The man watched in fascination for a while, but soon grew concerned. It seemed a very long time that the butterfly fought to free itself. Finally, out of deep empathy, the man took out a pocket knife and cut open the cocoon to help out the tiny insect. The butterfly quickly made its way out of the hard shell, but something was wrong with its wings. They were limp and wrinkled. The man soon realized, to his personal horror, that his act of heroism had actually caused the eminent death of this beautiful life. It is in the struggle to free itself that the butterfly strengthens and develops its wings so it can fly. In doing for the butterfly what it needed to do for itself, the man had alleviated his own discomfort and caused the death of what he loved.
Seeing the struggle of others can be hard on us because we empathize with human suffering. Sometimes our acts of Good-Samaritanism make the world a better place, but when we act without insight and without permission, we can end up causing more harm than good.
It is wisdom to take a moment to think before taking the challenges of someone else into our own hands. It is the challenges in life that help us all to learn and grow, and without them, we do not develop important skills and wisdom we need to advance to the next level.
Another wise person once shared a rephrase of an old saying: When you are in an urgent situation, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” It’s good to make sure that the help we offer is actually helpful. Again, asking permission, taking a moment to get a sense of what is actually going on, and recognizing (from wisdom, and from our place of truth) whether we are being called upon to assist or to witness.
The Creatures in the Train Carriage have rolled into your station to ask you to look at whether what you are doing is really helpful, or whether it is a way of alleviating your personal response to what you see around you. The universe works in magical ways, and it’s good to have faith that the pieces will fall into place. Sometimes the right thing to do in an apparent emergency is nothing at all.
Meditation #1: Take a moment to relax and breathe deeply. Close your eyes and allow yourself to call in the question at hand. As you see the image become clearer, allow yourself to be outside looking in. Allow the players involved to move about without your interference. If it helps, call in angels, guardians, any sort of protector or helper and ask them to assist the situation and the people in a way that serves the highest good. Continuing to stay outside of the scenario, allow whatever is out of balance or out of place to right itself without your help. It may help to see this from an abstract point of view. You could see the situation as if it were tiny pieces shaken up inside of a snow globe. As you watch from the outside, notice how they gently drift into position, and the new image that comes together has harmony and equilibrium. Ask yourself, once this image has come together seamlessly, what it is you felt you needed to do to make things better. What were you hoping to accomplish? It’s okay to be real. Sometimes we feel a need to be acknowledged for hard work or a good deed, but if our needs for this get in the way of actually doing good, what is the point? Use this meditation any time you are feeling pulled into drama of any sort.
Meditation #2: Starting the same way as in the previous meditation, allow yourself to see the situation you inquire about. Now, take a moment to get grounded, feeling roots going into the earth from your feet and root chakra. Once you are feeling connected to the earth, look to see what is going on with your question. What is it you think needs to happen? Recognize that your personal idea of what is right may only fit your personal agenda and may be bad medicine for the others involved. Take a moment to ask what it is that you can do to truly help in this situation. Let go of your personal agenda and ask from the heart without being attached to the outcome. See if you get any new inspirations. If an idea comes to you, sit with it. Run it through the scene and see how well it works with everything else. If it seems like it is helpful, take a moment to ask permission to act. Really open up your heart and wait for an answer. If you feel a sense of openness and expansion, then this can be taken as a sign that your selfless help could be handy. If you feel a sense of contraction, then hold off. And remember to ask permission in real life. Good intentions don’t prevent us from doing harm, but asking permission can keep us out of trouble better than stepping in uninvited.
Maybe you are the one on the train, being bombarded by bombastic bids of advice. Take a moment to let it all go and see your own truth at the core of the babble:
Meditation #3: Sitting with a straight spine, close your eyes and relax. Breathe in even, slow breaths, filling up the belly and fully letting go on the exhale. Take a moment to think of all the advice, suggestions, hints, influences that are coming your way. If possible, see all of it as gifts; offerings of love and with good intentions. Maybe allow a moment of gratitude for all the people who are coming to assist you at this time. Now, imagine guiding all of these people and all of their words into another room where they can ponder and pontificate, philosophize and perseverate as they wish. Close the door behind them and witness the absolute silence that permeates your surroundings. Here, in this space, you can be with yourself, in peace, without the input of anyone else. Take a moment to just breathe in that sense of sanctuary and solitude. Now, as you let that sink in, connect with the place you feel your inquiry most (in your heart, your belly, your mind . . .). Ask yourself what feels right for you at this time? What is your next step? What guidance is wanting to come through at this time? Take as much time as you need to formulate a clear question, and then give yourself some time to open up (imagine actually opening up that part of you where you feel your question). See it opening up like a chalice to receive the answer, like water to quench a thirst. Notice what comes to you: sensations, visions, ideas, memories . . . these are the clues that will guide you to your highest wisdom and most effective advice. If it helps, take some time to make some art, do some dream-work, or some automatic writing to explore how your answer lies within the information that came up in this meditation. While others may offer helpful reflections, only we can discern what is best for us.
Friday, June 18, 2010
This card is dedicated to my dear friend, Dr. Friendly.
Alice takes her place at the head of the table even after being told there’s “No room! No room!” by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It can be hard enough entering a new social situation, not knowing anyone and being in a strange and unfamiliar place, but with the discouraging remarks, it could feel downright hostile. This doesn’t seem to bother Alice whose self-confidence has developed a good deal (almost as if it had chewed on a bit of that mushroom). Sitting at the head of the tea party could easily be seen as a symbol of her attainment of authority and temerity. She’s really not letting anyone push her around here.
As she takes her place, Alice is hopeful for some clever conversation, however the discourses that ensue come to quick dead ends as a result of pot shots and incivilities from her deranged hosts. Alice is not shaken though, and in fact is quite quick with the comebacks herself and displays a strong sense of self-confidence. She also chooses to draw the line with the supercilious Mad Hatter, which demonstrates strong boundaries:
“This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear; so she got up in great disgust and walked off . . . the last time she saw them they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.”
Alice is displaying a new sense of determination and it is easy to see that she has come along way since she first touched ground in Wonderland. She doesn’t need an invitation or permission to move about as she pleases and she makes no hesitation in questioning the nonsense around her.
You have been invited to the tea party to be aware of the influences of those around you, and to gauge it against the strength of your own volition. The ability to follow one’s own will only comes after having knowledge of the self and the courage to act based upon that knowledge. If one is easily swayed by the external influences of friends, family, circumstance, communities and tea party hosts, one might find oneself forever at the whims and fancies of others. Alice has stepped beyond this wishy-washy way of wandering and has a deeper sense of purpose. You too, are being called upon to assert yourself and rely on your own inclinations. Whether you feel you are ready or not, now is the time to start practicing putting forth your precious prerogatives. No one else can do it for you.
The Tea Party is Alice’s last adventure in the forest before coming back to the hallway where she began her adventures in the underworld of Wonderland. In a sense, it is the last marker before coming full circle, and a wonderful time to make note of the journey and achievements along the way. Take advantage of this opportunity to assert yourself by noticing how you have changed during your personal adventures in Wonderland. As you recognize your internal power and fully step into it, you will also be moving into another new phase of experience. It may be a good idea to celebrate this growth (a nice tea party perhaps?), or at the very least, acknowledge and honor your progress.
If you are still feeling unsure of what it is that you are supposed to be asserting, take a moment to try out the following meditation.
Meditation #1: With eyes closed, call in your query, and once it is clear in your mind, take a moment to see yourself inside of it. Where are you? How big or significant are you compared to the other players on the chess board? If you are feeling intimidated by the influences of those around you, take a moment to make yourself bigger in the picture. You could also imagine having protective layers or tools that help you to feel strong. Make any changes you want to yourself in this image so that you can feel a sense of confidence. Now, check in with this image of yourself. What is it that YOU really want. Let go of what you think others want of you or expect you to say or do. Really focus on what serves you. After you have connected with this desire, practice speaking it to those in your query. Imagine your desire or will as a light inside of your solar plexus that, with each breath, you expand until it is brilliant and visible externally. Keep practicing and making adjustments to your size or any other aspect of this visualization until you can speak clearly with confidence. Now imagine that your desires are heard and given equal weight in the query at hand. See others admiring and accepting this brilliant light of your desires. Continue to work with this meditation until you are speaking your truth, rather than hiding behind the façade you think others want to see.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
As Alice rows along in the boat with the knitting Sheep, she notices scented rushes growing in the water. In her frenzy to pick them, she continually notices that “The prettiest are always further!” She continues to try to chase down the nicest ones, but they seem constantly out of reach. In the meantime, the lovely rushes she has been able to pick quickly fade and lose their lovely scent, disintegrating into nothing: “Even real scented rushes, you know, last only a very little while—and these, being dream rushes, melted away almost like snow, as they lay in heaps at her feet—but Alice hardly noticed this, there were so many other curious things to think about.”
It is easy, when our interest is piqued, to get caught up in a quest for more and more, or better and better of whatever it is we think we need. There is a sort of feeding frenzy-type energy that can enter us like a possessed person, and we find ourselves hopelessly searching just beyond our reach for that perfect whatever-it-is. Rushes, shoes, knick-knacks, relationships . . . always something better than what we have, and in the meantime, what we do actually have in front of us, fades and loses its charms.
The world, especially Wonderland, is full of amazing things, and it is easy to get caught in that trap of continually searching for something more exciting and being distracted by the varieties that exist out there for every sort of thing we could imagine. But if we are constantly looking for something, how can we be enjoying what we actually have? It seems as though we are in a silly tail chase. You’ve seen them. Those mindless dogs running around in circles trying to grab hold of their tails and around and around they go until they collapse in a tired hairy heap.
It is hard to get any enjoyment out of what we have in front of us if we don’t stop and allow our attention to be present with it. There is also a constant state of dissatisfaction that goes along with ignoring what we have, and searching for something better. Our shoes won’t take it personally (though they will go without the pleasure of really enjoying them) but if it is happening in our relationships, then this can cause a great deal of fading. Our relationships (social and otherwise) rely on us for reflections of truth and when we can’t be bothered to share our attention, caught up in the race for something better, we send a signal of “not worthy,” “not good enough,” and eventually it can stick. Only because it is accepted as truth, not because the actual value has been lost, mind you.
There are so many beautiful things right in front of us if we can just allow our busy-bodies and minds to just slow down for a moment to enjoy them. Or, maybe you are on the receiving end of someone who is constantly looking for something better. Don’t let it get you down. That is a mind game that has no foundation in truth. That idea of the grass always being greener, that comes from a place inside that believes in “never good enough.” And it gets projected onto the self and others and it makes for a maddening game that is never finished and no one wins. Throw that mind-frame overboard with the faded rushes.
It’s time to sit down and take inventory on what you have and see the value it holds for you. Maybe it is you yourself that needs to be valued. Whatever your query is, take a moment to re-evaluate it. Stop and smell the rushes you already have in your boat.
Meditation: Sitting comfortably, eyes closed and allowing the breath to slow down, allow yourself to think of what you have. A comfortable place to rest? Good food to eat? Clothes in your closet? Places to sit in peace? Books to enjoy? Friends? Parks? Libraries? Trees and other plants? Birds and other living creatures? Beautiful sunrises and sunsets? A beautiful day here and there? Music? A hot bath? Mountains? Lakes? Light? Air? Shelter from harsh weather? There are so many things that keep life going and make it sweet, and they are easy to forget about, but life is so much sweeter if we take the time to remember. Something you can add to this meditation is a gratitude practice. See how many things you can find to give thanks for. I have found that the more time I spend giving thanks, the more I find there is to be thankful for, and the less there is to be dissatisfied with. Give yourself this gift and see how much treasure you uncover with your awareness.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Gnat is a funny character. Alice encounters him on the train carriage as she travels across the chess board of the land of Looking Glass. The Gnat seems able to read Alice’s thoughts and makes suggestions, with its tiny voice, for Alice to express herself through bad puns that Alice doesn’t like one bit. She suggests “If you’re so anxious to have a joke made, why don’t you make one yourself?” The Gnat just sighs and seems terribly unhappy.
This aspect of The Gnat is a symbol of that annoying little voice inside of our heads that has bad suggestions and distracts us from being present. It doesn’t necessarily lead us into trouble, but it does lead us off our path of authentic action. This voice usually shows up when we have been exposed to too much stimuli and haven’t had time to “download” it from our busy brains. It also shows up when there is something going on that needs our attention, but we haven’t taken the time to sit down and really listen.
Have you noticed yourself talking aloud about what’s going on in your head? Have you been tied up in thoughts about petty things? Have you had the feeling of too many thoughts buzzing around inside your head?
If this is sounding familiar, then try the following meditation and see what arises:
Meditation #1: Sit comfortably with a notebook and pen by your side. Make sure you will not be interrupted by noises or anything else. Close your eyes, and just breathe. Notice what thoughts come up as you start to relax. If the thought that arises seems trivial, let it leave your mind with the next exhale. Imagine that you are opening up your brain and allowing all of the little niggling voices, thoughts, reactions, incidents, anything at all that doesn’t serve you, to flow out with each exhale. Imagine that you are cleaning house in the proverbial attic and letting go of old information that no longer needs to take up space. As these thoughts go, just acknowledge them and continue to release. If something really important comes up that you don’t want to forget, write it down in your notebook, and get back to the meditation. The goal here is to get to a point where you can just sit with an empty mind, but this may take a very long time, and many different sessions to accomplish. Of course, the rewards are amazing. Imagine a getaway to a deserted island with no phone, no internet, no interruptions whatsoever. Just you and bliss. Now imagine achieving that state of bliss by simply sitting and breathing. This is what is possible if you give it enough time. Don’t get down on yourself if silly thoughts come up to interrupt the peaceful nothingness. Just take a deep breath and let it go, and focus on the new moment of nothingness in the now. You’ll see that that buzzing little voice goes away pretty fast when you do this practice.
As Alice and The Gnat magically exit the train and find themselves in a meadow, Alice sees that The Gnat has grown and he introduces Alice to the Looking Glass insects. There are all sorts of fantastic creatures, like the Bread-and-butterfly, the Rocking Horsefly, and the Snapdragonfly. These make-believe insects live on all sorts of silly things, and Alice worries what would happen if they couldn’t find the special foods they eat. The Gnat informs her that they die, and Alice asks if that happens very often. The Gnat replies, “It always happens,” very matter of fact.
Insects have a much shorter lifespan than larger creatures like ourselves. They are born to accomplish certain things, and then they pass on leaving room for the new generation. Taking a moment to ponder upon this way of living might offer you some insight into how you do things now, and how you might do them differently if you had much less or much more time. None of us have much control over hour lifespan, and few of us know when our time to transition will come, but we do control how we use the time we have.
Take a moment to sit with your query using the following meditation:
Meditation #2: Sitting comfortably, relaxing and breathing steadily and deeply into your belly, call your query into mind. Allow it to be as full and complete in details as possible. Notice who and what are present. Now, imagine that you had the lifespan of an insect to deal with the situation at hand. How would you handle things? What would stand out as most important? What would you choose to let go of? How would you interact with the different players involved? Once this process feels complete, take a moment with the query as if you had limitless time. How does this change how you would act? Do your priorities shift? After this process feels done, come back into your current state: the unknown. Recognizing that you do not know how much time you have here, what do you want to accomplish in your situation? How do you want to go about doing that? What do you want you and the people around you to feel like when this has come to fruition?
Finally, The Gnat, like many of his kind, is annoying, but ultimately harmless. Recognizing that we are letting relatively small things keep us from healthy and positive action is important. Think about the size of a gnat (almost invisible), compared to the size of someone like you, and take a moment to think about what a big impact this tiny character or incident is having on your life. It’s time to gain some logical perspective on your query:
Meditation #3: With eyes closed, imagine your query or challenge as a little gnat buzzing around. Notice it’s almost insignificant size in relationship to you. But notice how much distraction this tiny invader is causing. Take a moment to really drop in and ask yourself: “Is all of this commotion really worthy of the tiny significance of the situation?” Sometimes just recognizing how much we are allowing ourselves to be derailed by unimportant things helps us to free ourselves from what previously felt like a large burden. Really check in on how much weight you have unintentionally given this circumstance. Is it realistic? Or can you reduce your distress by stepping into your own personal power and recognizing that you’re bigger than the “problem” you face?