Monday, February 28, 2011
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, 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.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Painting the White Rosebush Red:“Would you tell me, please, . . . why you are painting those roses red?”
Alice comes upon 3 playing cards who are furiously painting white roses red. Alice inquires into the madness: “Would you tell me, please,” said Alice, a little timidly, “why you are painting those roses? The playing cards explain that the Queen ordered red ones, but they put in white by mistake.
Now, of course, it seems ridiculous to paint roses rather than admitting to the mistake and then replacing them with the right kind, but the cards are acting out of fear, and so there is no opportunity to take care of things properly.
Fear has a funny way of blockading reason. In fact, it’s been proven through several studies that stress (a fear response) impedes our vision, our creativity, and our ability to think clearly. So, trying to solve problems while in the grips of fear is likely to lead to very unsatisfactory solutions.
Taking a moment to stop and smell the proverbial roses with a deep inhale and then letting go of the fear is a great step towards having the peace of mind it takes to problem solve with clarity.
One of the most exquisite qualities of a rose is its aroma, and the smell of red paint, even in Wonderland, certainly couldn’t compare. No, when we find ourselves painting white rosebushes red, we can assume that we have abandoned the essence and gone straight to the surface. Some say that beauty is only skin deep, but I would beg to differ that true beauty shines through from the core, and no amount of paint will ever properly cover over the truth of any animal, mineral, vegetable or query.
You have found a painted rosebush in your garden for a few possible reasons:
It is possible that others in your query are intimidated by the thought of being honest with you, and it would behoove you to open up a dialogue that engenders authentic self-expression, otherwise you’ll continue to get wet, drippy flowers instead of the lush, fragrant ones that bring so much joy.
Meditation #1: With eyes closed, imagine your query. Notice feelings of anger or a need to be in control or to have things “just so.” Notice if these feelings come with a sense of contraction in the body. A place of frustration that is tight. Now, start breathing into this place. Give it your breath, and start to ask what is most important to you in this circumstance. You could even imagine being at the finishing point, and noticing what your ideal completion would look like. Is it most important to have a sense of harmony? Is it most important to feel good about where you are? Are close relationships a factor? Do you want a genuinely good quality outcome? Or is it just an appearance you need at the expense of respect, cooperation, or camaraderie? Allow what is most important to stay, and as you exhale, let everything else go, including those little tight frustrated spots. Let the breath help relieve you of expectations that just aren’t worth the burden. Notice what you are left with, and give that your breath and attention. Keeping this image in mind, you are now equipped with the best information for moving forward.
Or maybe you are the one who is busy keeping up appearances, caught in a silly game of holding the surface together, not realizing the great loss to the quality of that which you are disguising. Give fear the shake and let your unhindered heart and mind help you make a good decision.
Meditation #2: Call your query into mind as you breathe deeply. Start to notice where you may be holding fear (fear of getting in trouble, fear of failing, fear of not creating the right appearance for others). Breathe into it, and as you do, ask yourself what would your circumstances look like without the fear. Just pretend you are happy and confident in what you are doing. How does it feel, and what is going on with this new way of being? Are appearances as important as you thought? Is it possible that something that is authentic might blossom and become much more valuable and helpful than what you were scurrying around trying to fake? Give it your breath and see what emerges. Imagine using all the energy it takes to hold things together now, and just letting things follow their true nature. Imagine what might happen if you used the qualities of your resources to create, rather than fighting against what is to give the illusion of something that is not real. Breathe deeply and let go of any expectations that require you make a white rose red by painting it. It’s a waste of resources, and completely misses the point of having a rose in the first place. After you have let go of fear and unreasonable expectations to create a façade, allow your heart and mind to come together to allow what is true and authentic to blossom. Feel how much more joy there is to be had when true essence creates the blueprint for manifestation.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Alice bounds into the last square, throwing herself down to have a little rest, and immediately finds a golden crown upon her head. She does have to pass the final examination, but it’s gibberish, and before it’s all worked out, the Red and White Queen are calling her “your majesty.”
As the other queens nap, Alice takes a little walk only to find a doorway labeled “QUEEN ALICE.” Inside, Alice finds a feast, and guests, all celebrating Alice’s new advancement. It’s as if they were just waiting for her to show up. It’s as if all of this had been the plan from the start; becoming a queen, that is.
Even though Alice is surprised at her sudden rise to royalty, “I never expected I should be a Queen so soon--,” it’s important to recognize all that she has been through to get here.
First of all, she took that first courageous leap down the rabbit hole to begin with, she did a great deal of growing (and shrinking as well), had all sorts of encounters that, though they may have been disconcerting and disorienting, she came through no worse for the wear. She held her own with the blood-thirsty Queen of Hearts, engaged quite charmingly with a disappearing cat, swiftly escaped the dangers of the Large Puppy, rescued the Baby Pig from being butchered by the hot-tempered Cook, drew the line with the Mad Hatter and his crazy entourage at the tea party, and held her own quite impressively with the multiple kings and queens with which she rendezvou’d. Yes, Alice has most definitely earned this right, and it may well be that you, too have earned a promotion of sorts.
In a way, this royal reward has been here all along, just waiting for you to claim it. What it is, exactly, may be obvious, and if it is, then allow yourself to really enjoy it. Take a moment to look back at all that you’ve gone through to get here. Remember who you were before you jumped down the rabbit hole, and recognize the regal being you are now.
Meditation #1: With eyes closed, and letting the breath find a steady, natural rhythm, allow yourself to really drop in to the journey you’ve been on. See what you’ve learned, what you’ve accomplished, the challenges you’ve faced and overcome. And once you’ve taken the time to review your journey, look at where you are now. Take in all the rewards and resources that are available for you now that you have come to this place of completion. It doesn’t mean you’re done growing, and it doesn’t mean the adventures are finished, it’s just a mile-marker on the continual road of life, and it’s time to celebrate how far you’ve come. If you’d like, you can turn around and face forward to get a sense of where you might like to head next, now that you have the golden crown and a few new tools and talents to help you navigate the mysteries of Wonderland.
If your upgrade is not so apparent, then take a moment to check in and find what treasures are sitting in front of you. What celebratory feast is laid out just for you?
Meditation #2: In a quiet place, allow your breath to bring you into a sense of deep calm. Ask yourself what you hold within you that is worthy of being celebrated at this time. What challenges have you survived, and what skills and wisdom have you gained as a result of your successful navigation of the madness of Wonderland. Remember that having challenges, and running into obstacles isn’t a sign of failure; it is only proof that you have been on the training course for something better. No muscle is developed, no talent fine-tuned, no wisdom gained without some sort of confrontation and work, and the more you face, the more you stand to gain, so take this moment to find the treasure that may have been hidden in all of those battles and barriers that are now behind you. Really allow yourself to revel in how far you’ve come.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
As Alice becomes weary of the battle preparations of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, she makes an entreaty: “I wish the monstrous crow would come!” And within moments, the clouds start to darken, and the gigantic crow appears, breaking up the nonsense of the Tweedle brothers, and offering Alice a quick exit from the monotonous hubbub.
Of course, The Crow is also a bit ominous and poses a momentary threat to the safety of the Tweedles and all below.
The crow has flapped its way into your reading to remind you of how powerful you can be at times. I am not exactly sure how it works or why, but there are times in our lives when we are particularly good at manifesting what we ask for (whether it serves our best interests or not). If we are very wise and very clear about our communication, this can be a glorious gift. If, however, we are not truly honest or wise with what we truly want, and if we do not know how to clearly communicate that to the rest of the many wonderful powers that be, then it can turn into a terrible burden.
In Alice’s case, the crow’s appearance was timely and met her immediate needs. You, as well, may be on to something very helpful. If so, make the most of it. The usually pear-shaped land of wonder has lobbed the ball into your court, and you should play it for all it’s worth. However, if you are finding that things just aren’t going your way, a little bit of contemplation is in order.
I am reminded of an old proverb: “Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.” Sometimes we ask for things, instant gratification or other compulsive thoughts taking the driver’s seat, only to realize that we’ve ended up with a white elephant. If all of the consequences aren’t taken into account, we could be setting ourselves up for a real misadventure.
Sometimes we send out signals that may easily sound like appeals to the workings of the universe, but are really calling in our worst nightmares . . . these signals are better known as worry. Thoughts that continually generate images of gloom, doom, and worst-case-scenarios end up being heard as constant solicitation for the exact things we don’t want.
This is the time for you to take a moment to pay attention to what it is you really want, where your thoughts tend to wander, and how you can refine your thoughts and words to use this powerful time to manifest that which genuinely serves your best interests.
Meditation: Take a moment to sit in silence, just breathing. Call in the query you have brought to this reading. Imagine what it is you would like to see happen. What reality would you like to manifest? Once you have an image of this, sit with it. Feel it in your body. Does it feel right? Imagine things playing out as you see them. Does it still feel right? If not, ask what needs to be adjusted for things to flow better. Continue to allow the image to change until your whole body can positively resonate with what you are imagining. Then hold that image in your head and just breathe. How do you speak and move when this new reality is in motion? What is your attitude like? Try them on and practice in your mind. Now, allow this image to get smaller and smaller until it is something you can hold in your hand. At this point you can do several things. You can plant this image, like a seed in the ground, and allow it to grow. You can put it in a bottle and cast it out to see. You can tie it to a balloon and let it float out into the ethers. Whatever way makes sense to you for sending out your message to the universe, let it go.
In the days to follow, notice how the elements for this manifestation might show up in your life. If things seem off, or not quite what you expected, do the meditation again, and see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.
Note: Short-sighted, self-serving desires often come loaded with items we don’t want, and it isn’t until we can let go of the myopic vision that we lose the other unwanted baggage. If you’re not getting what you want. It might be helpful to take a closer look at the integrity of what it is you are asking for. If it serves only you, then it might not actually serve anyone’s best interest (including yours) in the long run. The world (even Wonderland) works on principles of sustainability, and if that isn’t supported, then what we get is seldom satisfying, and never long-lasting.