When Awareness Leads to Revelation

Lately I’ve really been focusing on meditation (both with my tarot deck and by simply sitting down to close my eyes and meditate) as a means to tap into my Observer.

Physically I haven’t been feeling the greatest lately. But I’ve been exercising my inner Observer by simply acknowledging my feelings and the emotions I experience, hour by hour, each day. I’m practicing separating myself from the physical sensations I encounter, simply acknowledging my various parts of myself. And I had a personal revelation today when doing so…

Growing up, I was taught to believe that being physically ill and mentally troubled was a bad thing — and that it was my fault. (Thanks, Word of Faith, for that…) These things were absolutely curable and if I wasn’t cured, it was because I was either lacking in faith or in enough church donations.

And, today, when I simply acknowledged my feelings, I felt first a surge of those old thoughts– and I suddenly realized how deeply ingrained they are in me. The things we grow up with tend to be so deeply embedded within us that we don’t even realize they’re there! And, for me in this instance, that tension of feeling ill or bad only reinforced the physical sensations– and it becomes a feedback loop.

The good news is, now that I’m aware of these things, I’m better able to embrace, acknowledge, and love myself even more than before.

Simple acknowledgement and acceptance of ourselves, even those things that are hidden, is what it’s all about. What are you acknowledging about yourself today?

Prana: Something to Take With You Today

I’ve been determined these past few weeks to meditate every single day, and it’s been extremely helpful for my practice of internal balance and individuation.

I decided to do a 25-minute long session today, unguided — meaning, I was left alone with none but myself for 25 whole minutes, haha!

What I kept coming back to was my breath. I kept reminding myself that, while my body changes over these 25 minutes (I started sweating, my foot started falling asleep, my back needed to be reminded to rest on the easy flow from my diaphragm, etc…) — while all of that was happening, my breath never changed.

Prana is defined as “life force”:

[It] comprises all cosmic energies that permeate the Universe on all levels… In living beings, this universal energy is considered responsible for all bodily functions through five types of prana… Indologist Georg Feuerstein explains, “The Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Amerindians orenda, and the ancient Germans od. It is an all-pervasive ‘organic’ energy.” — wikipedia

While some techniques of pranayama are meant to control the breath and life force, ceasing what is thought of as the origin of our mental restlessness, we can also focus on simply accepting and relying upon our prana, our breath. (I’ve been working on acceptance of my Shadow and other parts lately.)

So, to recap what I learned, my body will undergo changes throughout the day, my mind will stir with endless thoughts and feelings and beliefs… but my breath is always there, always flowing… in and out… and I can focus and rely on that regular pulsation of Life throughout my day. ❤

Choose Your Biofeedback Loop

Being Aware… Bringing yourself into the present moment…

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is just the idea that your brain is always sensing what is happening in your body and it reviews that information to decide how it should feel about the world.

…Since most stimuli that we experience is ambiguous, if you start to push the probability in the positive direction then that’s going to have a really beneficial effect. (Source)

When I sit and meditate on my breath I am choosing to direct my focus on how my physical body feels. When I’m sitting in the calm of this present moment, I recognize that my body feels relaxed.

True, my thoughts will often wander, especially when I’m in a chaotic season of my career (as I often am). But by letting those thoughts simply float away and by redirecting my focus onto the calm in my body, I am actively choosing to create a biofeedback loop based on the relaxation I presently feel. And in this manner, my thoughts are better able to fall in line.

Then, though my mind may be stirring, it holds no direct power over my mindset; indeed I am better able to direct my thoughts in the directions I choose them to go.

The Knight of Pentacles represents the element of Air (Thought) surrounded and grounded by Earth (Physical Reality)

Finding Your Own Reality Through Comparison

I just finished a personally enlightening meditation (if you haven’t checked out the Pacifica app I highly recommend it!) and I wanted to share a bit of insight I got.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the nature of Reality, how there are several layers that constitute one’s Reality, and awareness. And in executing a very simple guided meditation of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, I was reminded that we only know our own physical reality.

Humans have an amazing intuition for “guessing” others’ similar realities. But we can only truly know our own.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11, KJV)

So, when I strive to relax my shoulder muscles, how do I know exactly what relaxed is? We say relax, but for each body relaxed is its own definition. The only way to know what relaxed is for ourselves is to compare it to tense.

By purposely tensing and then relaxing our own muscles — and becoming aware of what each feels like — we become acutely aware of what the relaxed and tensed states mean for us individually.

Sometimes I become aware that I have unrealistic ideas of what something means for me, even something as basic as “relaxation”. We must remember to learn for ourselves what our realities truly are, so we can live more fully in them.

Featured Arcana: The Devil (XV)

I am continually fascinated by the Major Arcanum, The Devil — he seems to show up in a lot of my daily spreads. 🙂 It’s taken me a while to finally get a better grasp on what he typically means in my life…

The Devil branches from the 6th sephirot to the 8th on the Tree of Life. This indicates a few important aspects of his character:

Another way to think of Hod (sephirot 8) is the allowing of chaos to occur while we simply observe it; we submit and watch it unfold. Or, if 7 represents the raw energy needed to make things happen in our lives, 8 represents the physical form we assign to the Ineffable Energy in order to better connect with it and call upon it for practical use.

So I have come to understand my friend, The Devil, as an archetype of submission to my Shadow Self. (Notice in the imagery of Baphomet the presence of male and female, animal and human…indicating that we are All at all times…)

Coming from a place of Balanced Interpersonal Interaction, the Devil is the name we give our nature when it releases itself from dogmatic control and we submit to our gut instincts. We experiment and see what happens, without apology. Notice the two children, one chained and the other holding the chains– we are in control of our own selves. Though we may feel chained by circumstance, this card reminds us that it is we who hold our own chains…

Ultimately, when the Tree guides us through 8 via the Devil, to the 9th sephirot of Self-Reflection, we find ourselves walking in the Sun… the two children of our nature have broken the chains that bound us and found even greater liberty than we’d had before.

Elemental Guidance

I love exploring the power and wisdom of the tarot’s court cards!

To begin understanding their complexity and potential guidance, let’s break down each element and its corresponding suit…

Fire (Wands): Energy, Ambition, Passion

Air (Swords): Thought, Mental Activity

Water (Cups): Emotion, Feelings

Earth (Pentacles, Disks, Coins): The Material World (including career, or any other physical surroundings)

It helps one to recall that “We can’t know anything outside our mind. Everything we see is contained within our mind. Thus, I am not in the world. The world is in me.” (— Haemin Sunim [@haeminsunim] March 8, 2017)

Thus, 3 out of the 4 elements are found originating within ourselves, and the material world is the recipient of whatever way we act out in response to these inner elements.

Continue reading “Elemental Guidance”

When Things Are Not As They Seem

I love the Tales that Tarot Cards can Tell!

“Yes, the cards are random. Yes, my mind by nature seeks out it’s own meaning from the cards I see before me. And, yes, that’s the point of it all. I look at what meaning my mind draws currently from the randomly drawn cards, and I am able to gain insight into my current state of mind. I am able to decide how I might chose to address my current state of mind; to encourage parts of it, or change other parts to better face my day ahead.”

One of the more intriguing aspects of tarot interpretation comes when the supposedly “bad” cards are found in “good” places, and vice-versa.

I’ve had a series of really powerful spreads to reflect upon since I did my Yuletide Sabbat Reading in December. It’s been a steady reminder to sometimes embrace my disappointments or mental defeats…

The above photo is the “quickey” Daily Oracle I drew for today. Side note: it impressed me doubly that the first card at the left was the same card I drew a couple days ago, as my “first step” toward resolving my inner issues; and, likewise, the third card, at the right, was the card in that same prior reading as one of my sources of inner strength I could draw from.

So, let me explain these cards and their basic meanings:

  • On the left, we have the 7 of Water (Emotion), or Debauchery.
  • On the right, we have the 5 of Water (Emotion), or Disappointment.
  • And in the center is the 7 of Fire (Energy/Action), or Valor.
  • The placement of these cards is as follows: Left = Where I am right now; Center = the Root of my obstacles today; Right = the recommended response to learning from or overcoming that obstacle.

So, we might say, then, that Valor is my problem and Disappointment is my answer. Say what?

This is where a deeper look into ourselves comes in handy. A Buddhist ideal is that “bad” and “good” have no intrinsic values on their own. They are simply labels that we humans attach to any given thing or event, depending on how we see it at the moment.

So, taking Debauchery (7 Cups): in this setting, it means I’m on the right track. I’ve taken the first step recommended in the prior spread; I’m in a good place. A deeper look at the concept of this card reveals that this state of Emotion doesn’t have to be “bad.”

Debauchery is defined as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.” So, there is a word of caution that comes with it: one shouldn’t wallow in stagnate emotions for too long, or the waters will rot. But, sometimes, it may be necessary to lie still in your Emotions and enjoy their sensual pleasures for a spell–just be aware that you will have to move on at some point.

Valor (7 Wands): it is a card of fiery Action! A pushing forward past obstacles using the sheer energy of your passion! And, weirdly enough, for today that is what is the Root of my difficulties I either face now or will face today. Valor is an honorable trait, to be sure. But often, our Fires of Passion can run over others and get us into trouble, burning up our surroundings that we have built with those same energies. Wouldn’t you agree?

Lastly, Disappointment (5 Cups): How can this possibly work as a “good” card–an answer to the “problem” of Valor??

One of the traits of water is to cool fire. Our Emotions can at times be the vehicle by which our passionate energies are cooled, allowing us to step back and think on things a little more. Deeper still, the principle of Emotional Disappointment is a state of non-equilibrium. We are, of course, not content to stay in Disappointment for long. The Waters of Disappointment seek to flow to calmer or more stable grounds.

When Disappointment is meant as a suggested response, it is wise to look straight into the face of your emotional upset and allow it to carry you along to a better emotional place.

Many times, we must not shrink from unpleasant emotions but embrace them and let them carry us forward.

Skepticism & Spirituality

I am, day by day, more a practical realist. (Being raised in unfounded, literalist belief systems that have damaging real-world and bodily consequences will do that to you.)

But, at the same time, I consider myself deeply, psychologically spiritual. We must remember that our opinions, observations, and views of the world around us will be colored by our own mental predispositions. Perhaps that is a part of what human “spirituality” ultimately is: constantly reminding our own selves that our mind is the influencer of everything we consider after we first take it in, and that, afterwards, our mind will use its penchant for patternsimage to instantly categorize similar future in-takes without further thought.

It is this wisdom, I think, to slow down and recall our psychological place and tendencies within our universe that is a major part of the Path to Understanding.

When Literalism can be Beautiful….

Most people who claim they read Genesis 1 “literally” don’t. They believe that what they believe about Genesis 1 is literal. But they aren’t reading Genesis 1 literally.

If we read Genesis 1 literally, we come out with a very different picture than most literalists imagine. Indeed, we find ourselves firmly planted in the Hebrew worldview—an ancient worldview. And, if we know our history, we know that the Hebrews had no concept of a round earth that coursed around the sun. They believed the earth was flat, the sky was a dome, and the sun revolved around the earth.

—-Scribalishess, from “Reading Genesis 1 ‘Literally’

 

continuum-Fig-3-2-hebrew.preview

To try to wrestle with the ancient cosmological understandings of the day and shoehorn them into our modern, scientific understandings of the Universe, as we know them so far, is to rob such ancient texts of their beauty and poetry.

Read this wonderful article by Scriablishess in its entirety for all the details in understanding this beauty, from the cultural perspective of the ancient Hebrew writer of Genesis.

Click through the jump for some of my most favorite quotes from the article!

Continue reading “When Literalism can be Beautiful….”

Conformity and Renewal

…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…

–Romans 12:2, KJV

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.

–Jesus, Luje 17:33, NLT

What does being “conformed to this world” mean exactly? From what, does Paul suggest, should we be renewing our mind? Many have read the above passage from Romans and interpreted it to mean something along the lines of: “If it isn’t like me or the traditions of my church and family, or follow the precepts as proclaimed by my pastor, then it is of the world and I am to reject it.”

This is too easy, however; this is living the Inner Life: the “framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions…It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.” Recall, “The Shadow is who/what we believe we are not…For every aspect of behavior and personality the Ego has chosen for itself, all else is thrown off onto the Shadow. The Shadow is everything the Ego denies….”

But, consider: What is “the world” of which the Bible speaks so often and, most often, in a most odious fashion, that we should reject it wholly? Again, too often, pastors and their flocks have taken it to mean “everything in the world that is not like us and what we perceive in the Scriptures — that which is not of our familiar culture or our personal Inner Experience.”

What if we break it down a bit? One might say the World is:world

  • sin
  • destruction
  • loneliness
  • arrogance
  • dog-eat-dog
  • unloving
  • dark
  • hateful
  • proud
  • disobedient
  • ungrateful
  • cruel

The list could easily go on and on, but I think we can all agree that this is the most typical view of The World — it is right and good that we should abstain from such things, to be sure. But, the interpersonal problems may arise when we, again, view the list above purely from our own personal reference points of what these evils are.

What does cruelty look like? What is pride? What is sin, exactly? Does the male in my community who enjoys expressing himself through the use of eyeliner embody sin and lostness? Is the woman next-door who refuses to wear a dress and “dresses like a man” proud and disobedient? Is homosexuality equivalent to destruction?

This is where the purity of Jesus’ words may shine through — Do not cling to your life.

The renewing of our minds ought to be a renewing of our thoughts to the Outer Experience: “…the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our Shadow and realize that we are One…”

Perhaps The World is most aptly translated to mean: the thoughts and practices and ways of those who live their life locked in their own personal framework of Ego; going through the motions of life without really seeing.

May we continually renew our Minds, to let go of our lives and our narrow perceptions daily, to see All as it truly is and embrace genuine Love and Harmony, as Jesus did.