Thursday, October 28, 2010
The first notion we get of The Red King is from his sonorous snoring. At first, it is mistaken for a large steam engine. And the fact that the little red monarch is so deeply into his dream state that he can saw logs like a lumberjack without stirring is a very good thing. Why? Well, if he were to awaken, Alice, her escorts (the Tweedles), and everything else would dematerialize. According to Dee and Dum, everything that is happening in that moment is all just the dream of the crimson king.
Alice becomes quite distraught at this news. The idea that she is not real, and only some fantastic figment of the Red King is quite a shaking up of her Wonderland snow-globe. She argues: “If I wasn’t real . . . I shouldn’t be able to cry,” which she is doing quite copiously. And who can really blame her? The idea of not being real, well, that is quite a frightening prospect. But Tweedledum cautions: “I hope you don’t suppose those are real tears?” I would guess they feel quite real to Alice, but what is real anyway? Is it what we feel? What we think? Sometimes those don’t match up at all. Much of reality is solely based on our perceptions of it, and if we are alone in those perceptions, how can we validate them? Do we need to validate them?
This reminds me of a time when the Caterpillar held up a drawing of The Cheshire Cat for me and asked “What is this?” I responded, “It’s The Cheshire Cat,” and he chided me, saying: “Wrong. It is a picture of the beast, not the beast itself.” The concept of what is real only begins here and gets much more twisty and even more elusive than the path from the Looking Glass House as we go further down the rabbit hole with it.
How do we know any of what we experience is real, and what are our expectations of reality? Who shares in that picture? Does consensual reality make something more valid? Is it the only thing that makes something valid? What is the validity of a placebo versus a tried and tested cure if the results are the same? There are so many ways to look at “reality,” and so many ways in which to prove what is real and what is not.
Alice is quite upset at the thought of being nothing but a king’s dream, but then again, Alice is already in a dream . . . her own dream; only she doesn’t realize it yet. So it all becomes a bit of a conceptual labyrinth to figure out. This card might be in your reading to nudge you into awareness about what you are taking to be real that is really just your own imagination.
If you care to give it a try, you might find that you have the power of choosing what is real and what is not. Assumptions, for instance, are one realm we have complete control over, which often lead to emotional responses, so it might be quite possible to actually choose what emotional reality you live in. This might also be a good time to look at certain responses to stimuli we have that are based on beliefs and what we have seen demonstrated, but doesn’t actually reflect our own true inner feelings. For example, being around the Queen of Hearts might lead one to be constantly worried about the slightest faux pas, which could then lead to deep seated fear responses to authentic self-expression, and yet there is nothing saying that this needs to be ones personal beliefs.
Go ahead! It is your turn, now, to tune into your reality station to see where there might be some static. It’s time to fine-tune your mental perception and get it in alignment with reliable truths. The following meditations may help out with this.
Meditation #1: Look at what you believe about your current query. As you picture every little bit and connect with what you truly believe to be real, notice how the rest of your body feels. Our bodies are good at telling us when we can’t let something in. Usually, if we can’t let something in, it doesn’t hold truth for us. If there is contraction, breathe into it and see if there is something in your belief system that can be released to trim down to the essentials of what is real. If you can continue to let go, with every exhale, of something that feels contracted, then you will eventually come to a sense of openness, and in this state, you can ask for truth to reside. Continue to check in to see where your body may have a hard time accepting something, and breathe into it to see what messages are still hanging around that may be an obstacle for the flow of reality.
Meditation #2: Take a moment to call in your query and notice who has a voice in the matter. Notice how much weight/volume each voice gives to the situation. Slowly, with every breath, let go of a voice until it is just your voice that is there. Take some time to really listen to this voice and see if it is possible to hear and learn things that may have been too difficult with the distraction of others in the mix.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The poor Knave of Hearts is on trial at the court of the King and Queen of Hearts for allegedly stealing tarts. With a hot-tempered Queen who’s thirsty for decapitations, and a King who can’t seem to keep his head on straight (or maybe it was just his crown), things are getting a bit over-the-top if you know what I mean.
Just because the old poem says it in a rhyme (“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer day. The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, and took them quite away!”), doesn’t make it true, but you know what happens when something gets said enough, especially if it rhymes. And if it’s to do with the Queen of Hearts, it can become law. Before so much as the first witness can be announced, The Knave is about to be judged and sentenced. It hardly seems fair, and it isn’t really. In fact, the whole thing reminds me a bit of that Kafka story. What was it called again?
Now, The Knave of Hearts might have shown up in your reading because there is some sort of injustice having to do with matters of the heart, and there may be some things to work out. But be mindful, and try to keep your head on. The Queen of Hearts is a good example of what happens when we let our emotions get too carried away. Any sort of mischief, real or imagined, can get sorted out as long as everyone’s given the opportunity to drop into the heart and seek understanding. Without that intention, well, just look what happened in the tiny royal court of Hearts.
Anyway, justice is definitely not in balance here, and it seems very much due to passively accepting old stories as truth, and jumping to conclusions before all of the facts are in. There may be extraneous players, as well, who are making the matter much more complex than it needs to be. For this trial there are scatter-brained jurors, a paranoid Hatter, the bloodthirsty Queen, the absent-minded King cum judge, and Alice who continues to get larger by the second, causing quite a distraction. It’s all very chaotic.
Of course, the Knave of Hearts could be guilty (he is a Knave, after all), but does the punishment fit the crime? I mean, the tarts are still in tact and presented for all to see as evidence, so what is the harm? Is it really worth beheading a man for a stolen plate of biscuits?
I guess that may be the motivation of jumping to a conclusion too quickly here. There just seems to be too much to wade through to do anything justice, so justice has taken a vacation. But I’m afraid that it is unimportant, no wait, make that important (that darn King of Hearts has gotten me all turned around). It is very important to carefully weigh all the evidence before coming to a conclusion and sentencing the accused. That means in your heart (as we are in the royal court of Hearts) as much as in your head. Before diving into and indulging in powerful feelings and reactions, let everything go for a moment and take in “just the facts, ma’am/man.” The following meditation may help with this process.
Meditation: First of all, just take a deep breath, and let it go. There is no rush to get to any decision. What’s most important is that you give time to this process of discernment. Take some time, first, to just allow yourself to let go of assumptions and labels. When you feel clear, move on to the different pieces of information in front of you. Include words, feelings, sounds, smells, sensations and images of any kind. Take them all in (write them down if it helps). Take some more breaths just to let go, again releasing any final judgments. Allow for time to just sit with your information and ask for a higher wisdom to emerge and speak to you. Then, start to notice what comes up: physical sensations? (if so, where are they and what do they feel like?), an image (how does this inform you?), a word, a memory . . . give time and space for each piece that emerges, and then let it go without any conclusions. Again, allow time to just sit with this information and clear out as much as possible with each exhale. Do some journaling about this process. Start with free-writing and without censorship; write everything that comes to you for 3 minutes. You can continue to repeat this process until you have come to a clearer and more precise perspective of your query. If it is you that is being judged, this process is very potent as well. A forgiveness practice can be added in to help you to move on from this trial.
Tuesday, October 12, 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, don't we?
The Caterpillar offers her advice about how to properly use this magical mycelium 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? Well, 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.]
You have in front of you some very special resources. They can make you larger (emotionally, energetically, socially . . . it all depends upon your query), or they can make you shrink a size or two. And which direction would you like to go? Well, that is something to really get a grip on before you start snacking on a size-shifting substance.
It seems most important to be mindful about what direction you want to grow, and then, plot out your plan of action.
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.
Monday, October 4, 2010
As Alice joins the Croquet Game she realizes it is complete nonsense. That’s pretty much par for the course, so to speak, as we are in Wonderland, so it is no surprise that there is confusion and chaos abounding. Live flamingos that won’t cooperate are being used for mallets, live hedgehogs that won’t stay put are substituting for balls, the soldiers are moonlighting as arches (and frequently leaving to obey the Queen’s execution orders), there’s nothing but ridges and furrows on the ground, and everyone must play at once without waiting for turns. It’s hard to understand why there is any game at all. There are no guidelines, no way to know who what’s really happening, and no one seems to be having any fun with the mad queen seeking fatal punishment for every indiscretion. The only real point of the Croquet Game seems to be keeping one’s head. Even if the queen doesn’t order it to be removed, losing one’s mind seems inevitable in this farce.
Yes, by now we should understand that nothing in Wonderland makes any sense whatsoever, but the Croquet Game really takes the cake (or was it tarts?).
It is your turn in the Croquet Game, and your goal, should you choose to accept the invitation or not, is to keep your head. There is a lot of silliness, and a lot going on to distract and throw you off course, but the only truly important achievement is to keep your wits about you. It may be difficult, but it is essential if you are to make it through the madhouse of your query.
It is easy to focus on the things that seem to sabotage the progress: the flamingos are cranky or the hedgehogs are fighting. None of these things are in your control, and none of them will matter if you lose your sense of self along the way. What you can do is keep bringing yourself back into focus on what is most important to you and your (mental) well-being until the game is called.
Don’t be distracted by the maniacal minutia. It all has its place and its course, as well as you, and you are most likely to succeed if you can ignore what’s happening around you and keep your head straight.
It might be tempting to find blame with those external elements that are making this experience challenging, like mobile arches and the hot-tempered queen, but that is an illusion that will lead you off course and into trouble only you will be held responsible for.
Now is the time for the difficult task of staying focused. Use the following meditation to practice and develop your ability to keep your head in the midst of maddening mayhem.
Meditation: Take some time to make yourself comfortable and relax, closing your eyes, and allow yourself to think about what it is that best serves you. Just allow an image of you in a state of perfection to become clearer and clearer. See yourself in a calm state of centeredness. Whatever it is you’d most like to feel or be, imagine it is already so. Now, start breathing deep into your belly. Notice if there are any places in your body that are contracted against this image of perfection. Breathe into those places and allow the inhale to loosen up the contraction, and the exhale to release it through the out-breath. Keep breathing deeply until your body seems able to relax and hold the image of perfection. Now imagine, as you breathe, that you are creating a shield or cocoon around you (it may have a color or be made of light), and this protective layer is helping you to keep any external distractions from entering into your field of being. Once the protective layer is in place, allow all the elements of the query to enter the image. Notice if you are able to stay focused on yourself. If thoughts of frustration or blame arise, acknowledge them and let them go with the exhale and return your focus to yourself. Continue to practice this until you are able to really sit and embrace the image of your perfected self without being distracted by thoughts of external stimuli for at least 10 minutes (up to 30 minutes would be ideal).