Sunday, June 24, 2012

6/25/12—Taking Control of Shapshifting Emotions

Today's Draw: Island of the Revolving Beast from the Celtic Book of the Dead oracle. Are you quick to anger? Do you often find that something comes along to ruin a perfectly good day? Do you have a hard time maintaining a sense of peace in your life?

As it turns out, last week's readings were all focused on creating change in our lives. And many weeks, come Wednesday or Thursday, I'll notice that the cards are following one theme or another. So this week I thought I'd make that intentional and, each day, ask how we can create more peace in our lives. 

A "Book of the Dead" is a funerary text to help ease the transition of a dead or dying person as they prepare for the otherworld. It contains prayers, as well as details the states we encounter after death. Perhaps originated by a shaman, priest or some other traveller into the other realms, these ancient texts were subject to great interpretation as they were often part of an oral tradition or had multiple versions preserved on scrolls or papyrus.

In the Celtic culture, the Book of the Dead is told in Immrama, or poems about a hero's oceanic quest in search of the otherworld. I was surprised to find that these poems are Christian in nature, not pagan as we're used to finding with the Celts. Certainly today "Irish Catholic" are two words that are inextricably intertwined, but in the world of mysticism and tarot, the Celts are all about paganism (earth-centered or polytheistic types of religion.) In a way, this deck pulls together the mythic nature of Celtic paganism with the ideas of paradise and transformation in Celtic Christianity.

So, with the intention of creating more peace in our lives, I chose the Island of the Revolving Beast. On the hero's quest for the underworld, they land upon 33 islands. And on this island, they are greeted by an angry beast who changed shape "quicker than thought". Does that sound like anyone you know...perhaps even yourself?

We all have a tendency to respond to things "quicker than thought". We can be fine one minute, but if our no-whip soy Caramel Macchiatto is made incorrectly—or takes too long to make—all bets are off. In any given day, we may shapeshift dozens of times. Most of the time we won't even notice it. The more we sit within our ego, the more often this will happen. And by ego I mean that part of us that walks within our own head, instead of inside the universe's head. The difference between the two is the difference between the experiencer and the observer....between the participator and the detached. 

When we're inside the head of the experiencer, we have no choice but to react. We have no choice to but to see the impact the situation is having on us in the moment. When we're inside the head of the observer, we simply see a situation....or the situation as it fits into the continuum of life. We come out of ourselves and see a truer version of what is going in...not just how something impacts us, but how the something fits into a larger pattern. We're more able to see the basic nature of ourselves, others and life. In the head of the ego, peace is fleeting and controlled by outside forces. In the head of the detached, peace becomes more of a constant and is less vulnerable to attack. 

One way to come out of the ego is to retrain yourself to pause before reacting. Reaction really is a habit you can break. Sure, you're going to still have moments when something pokes you when your guard is down. But most of the time you're able to take a moment before you respond and, in that moment, you can breathe, detach and remind yourself it's not all about you. There's something bigger going on. It's not an attack on you. Even when things sound and look like an attack on you, they're usually about the other person and a million other things, too. 

Another way to come out of the ego is to learn to trust that everything happens for reason. Everything is part of a much bigger pattern you don't have all of the pieces of yet. Again, it's not all about you. And another thing you can do is to play it like a game. What would this situation be like if I floated out of my body and saw it from the outside? What are the intentions of the players? What is really going on underneath the facade of their words and actions? Look at things clinically, like a doctor. Detach from what feels personal...because it's probably not. 

When it comes down to it, peace comes from a place of centeredness within. And you are in control of what disturbs that peace. You can point to outside forces as the cause of that disturbance ("I was having a pleasant drive until some asshole cut me off in traffic") but the real cause of the disturbance is the shapeshifting nature of your own ego—something you have complete control over.

Part of what I ask of my readers, when they're ready, is to do the tough work. To take personal responsibility for their lives. And one of those tough things is to move away from victimhood and realize there are no assholes and no people out to get you. The assholes and people who are out to get you are people who haven't yet healed something within them. And they come into your life to show you where you haven't yet healed yourself. They don't do this to show you're just like them. A mirror reflects back a mirror image, not the image a camera, for example, sees. So others don't mirror back to us in kind, they mirror back to us where our vulnerabilities are so we can heal them. 

When you're walking in the ego, you're just going to react and never see what's being mirrored back. It's not until you can step out of the ego, see why this situation is coming to you and see what it's triggering in you, that you'll be able to see the path toward healing it—the path toward replacing anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness and despair with peace.

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