Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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.
Alice has the wisdom of recognizing that though this preposterously large puppy could chew her to bits, he means no harm: “And yet, what a dear little puppy it was!” This sort of insight and compassion is an important quality to key into as you face your current challenge. Just because something or someone is arousing a bit of fear doesn’t mean it comes from a malicious intent. Allowing this wisdom to be a part of your journey can help you to let go of distracting judgments and use the insights of understanding this challenge to get through. If Alice had used her stick to beat the dominating dog off instead of making a game of things, she might have ended up as puppy chow.
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. There is some growth that needs to take place first, and it may be growth that you’ve gone through before, but taken some steps backwards due to the whirlwind nature of your trip through Wonderland. But don’t be disheartened; this next pass through will be a bit easier now that you’ve got some experience under your belt. Despite the need for mindfulness, there is the opportunity to get through these growing pains with a little bit of fun. To make sure you complete your journey through the woods in one piece, focus on balancing caution and playfulness. Just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself.
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.
Monday, July 18, 2011
The Slug is one of those creatures that never gets mentioned in the Alice adventures, but we know he is there. We might not even recognize that we are enjoying the fruits of his labors, but we are subtly infused with the magic that he trails behind him.
There is a beautiful old oak tree, one that the Cheshire Cat frequently visits (well, his ever-grinning mouth does, anyway). One day, as I had finished burying my face in the mossy chest of the fatherly hardwood and smelling the earthy richness of the soft bark, I was delighted to find that the tree was glittering in the sun that had just peeked its head up to say "good morning!" I leaned in to get a closer look, wondering how on earth this beautiful old elder, rooted in the ground, could possibly be so bedazzling. As I looked with excitement, I noticed little tiny slugs all over on the tree. In fact, one had crawled onto my finger to fill me in on a little secrete, er um secret . . .
He told me that the "slime" we tend to turn our noses up at is really a constant labor of love that he and his kin are constantly applying out of their adoration of the Faeries, Sprites, Elves and other forest creatures, especially the Fairy Godmother because she's allergic to commercial glitter, don't you know! Yes, this "slimy" substance we usually think of as unpleasant dries and turns into the loveliest, most naturally shimmering light-catchers anyone could ever want.
The tree was simply replete with glimmering round rainbows of tiny bright light twinkling in the rays of the new day.
The Slug continued to tell me that all of his slick siblings get a bad rap, but they are here to fulfill their calling of keeping things in balance, and they do it with endless patience, and the trails they leave behind are simply delightful. (And wouldn't we be lucky to be able to say that we left a trail of magic sparkles every where we went?)
The Slug has slowly squirmed his way into this reading to remind you of something else. Sometimes moving slow is just exactly what needs to happen. Instead of feeling frustrated, allow the magic to unfold. Sometimes taking time to complete a process allows it to be deep and to make a much more beautiful and beneficial impact than rushing through. He also wants you to recognize that the slime trail you see in front of you now that might be repelling will eventually dry and reflect the light like tiny diamonds and drops of dew that hang on the underside of honeysuckle and jasmine. Giving all things (and people) the time and pacing they need is more likely to result in finding treasure than a furious rush to the "finish" line will. And what might initially appear to be an unpleasant trail of slime, might actually end up bringing a reminder of the magic that exists in every moment if we can only just give ourselves the time and open perspective to receive it that way.
It is time for you to take a deep breath, relax, slow down, and feel into the possibility that something that feels slow or even unpleasant might actually be that sparkling diamond in the rough you've been searching for, and with time, it will bring a twinkle to your eye and a flutter of joy to your heart.
This meditation may help with seeing the deeper wisdom to slowing down and allowing treasure to unfold in front of you:
Meditation: Sit down, relax, and breathe. Just breathe. Notice the tendency of the mind or the body to get distracted by uncomfortable sensation, thoughts, projections, labels, senses of urgency, and let them all go. Allow yourself to be slow like molasses in winter, like the little slug that is gently gliding along, applying organic glitter to everything he visits. Breathe into your heart and invite it to just relax. Breathe into all that thinks it needs to move quickly, and let it come to rest. Remind yourself that in this moment, there is no place to get to but the here and now. Just keep breathing and really let yourself sit through the uncomfortable moments of impatience, and the voices that say "This is dumb; I could be doing something USEFUL with my time." Let those go. Watch them leave, and then breathe again into the places that are contracted against this sitting and breathing thing. As you start to surrender to the willingness to just sit, ask yourself what possible treasure has unfolded or is currently being offered in the midst of this process. Let go of any labels that are negative. They will keep you from seeing the glimmering jewels that sit in front of you. Ask what gifts are coming, and ask yourself if it is possible to simply allow them to come to you at a pace that will allow for depth and richness that couldn't be accessed otherwise. Be patient with yourself and this process. Being in the constant and patiently paced quest to see the treasure is bound to bring you to that glittering shiny place of real satisfaction.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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 being enjoyed) 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.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
March Hare:“Suppose it should be raving mad, after all! I almost wish I’d gone to see the Hatter instead!”
This week's card, for me, has a lot to do with trust. Trust that whatever direction my path takes me is perfect, and whatever or whomever I encounter holds something powerful and precious for me to utilize on my journey. There was a time when I felt like the most important goal in my life was to be in control and to make good decisions as to where my path would lead, but lately I have come to the belief that I have never been in control, and working at the illusion of control is a waste of resources and frequently makes my life a lot more challenging than it needs to be.
I have spent a lot of valuable time in trying to avoid challenging circumstances, and when it comes right down to it, if there is something in my life that needs my attention, no matter how long I try to put it off, it will manage to bubble up in a way that is unavoidable. So, I am learning to pay attention to that old familiar sense of resistance, and instead of contracting more and more against the unwanted stimuli, I try to relax, open my eyes wide, and navigate with as much of my ability as possible, taking in as much information and wisdom as I can along the way so that I don't find myself tripping and falling down the same rabbit hole again and again.
Now, that is easier said than done, and it's not all that easily said, BUT, even just being willing to say the words can be helpful. Just writing a letter of forgiveness, full of love and compassion, can rub the wrong way at first, but after those tough words are written, it can start to feel like taking off a heavy coat in the middle of the Mojave. This week's card is a reminder, for me, that trying to avoid the inevitable just prolongs and exaggerates an unpleasant experience. Diving in intentionally can lead to finding treasure never before imagined.
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.
Have you ever found yourself going to great lengths to avoid something, only to find that you lead yourself directly into the middle of the sticky mess you were trying to detour around? It has something to do with the law of attraction. Fear can be a powerful prayer for the exact thing we don't want.
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 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 that we then 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 own 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 inter
uptive 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?).