Friday, June 29, 2012

6/30/12-7/1/12—Celebrating Integration

Weekend Reading: The World from the Mythic Tarot. Looking for a project for the weekend? How about just liking who you are. As you are. In this very moment. You're not so bad, are you? Nah! Take away all the self judgement and self flagellation and, as it turns out, you're pretty cool! In fact, minus all the would'ves and should'ves and could'ves your entire life's not so bad either. The World card comes to us when we've integrated and accepted opposing parts of ourselves. It also signals a time of successful completion. If that's what the cards say, it must be true. So celebrate the completion of this phase of all that inner that work you've been doing by giving yourself a two-day vacation from self criticism!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

6/29/12—Facing The Black Hole

Today's Draw: Nine of Swords—The Black Hole—from the Science Tarot. Do you often feel that something's missing in your life? Is there a bad habit or excess you'd like to eliminate from your life? How often do you spend time by yourself with no distractions—no radio, not when you're driving the car, not while you're reading—just you, yourself and thy sitting around being good to each other?

A black hole is when a star collapses in on itself, pulling all its mass into something so small it can't even been seen. Everything in its vicinity is pulled inside, too, never to be seen again. Not even light can escape the prison of a black hole.

Even though all that mass compressed into an invisible black hole is tough for even my favorite astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, to wrap his head around, on one level, we kind of understand it, don't we? Because each of us has one inside us...a black hole so vast that no amount of Oreos, no kilos of drugs, no number of children, no posse of pool boys and no storehouse of sparkly things can fill it. Its gravitational field pulls us in. Nothing can escape it, least of all the light of peace.

*mindlessly filing my nails while some of you slit your wrists over this ugly truth*

So today's Nine of Swords comes to us for a couple of reasons on the final day of "how to create peace" week. The first reason is that it's in the suit of swords, which is the suit of the mind. Yesterday's card was a Swords card, too. And both of them are pretty dreaded cards to get in a reading. Not because they predict bad things, but because they point at things we're already doing—the  ways in which we allow our own minds to defeat us. Yesterday's card was about the negativities we dwell upon and today's is about disillusionment and the lies we tell ourselves. 

Really the two cards are very interconnected. Some of the negative stuff we dwell upon is about us and our abilities and potentials, for example. On one end of the scale we tell ourselves that a prince will come in on a white horse and we'll live happily ever after, thereby ruining every relationship we forge under that belief before it even starts. On the other end of the scale we tell ourselves in one way or another that we are somehow limited—not smart, lucky, pretty, creative or deserving enough to reach for the highest star. So these are some ways in which our minds defeat us. And with all that noise up there, with all our limited potential and dashed dreams, how will we ever find peace?

Gratuitous photo of my next-life boyfriend, the phenom known simply as NdGT.
But the other part of this Nine of Swords is this black hole inside us. The one we fill with food, alcohol, social engagements, television and other, more innocent sounding distractions like music, books and gardening. (Oh, yeah. That.) None of those things are bad by any means, by themselves and in moderation. But when they build up into a ball of noise and roughage so huge we can't hear ourselves think...when we use them to numb the pain inside...when they keep us from listening to our inner voice...when we expect them to fill the void...that's when they create problems. 

I think this is probably the #1 thing society is in denial of. Somewhere inside us, though, we know. We know "something" is missing. We know something else is excessive. A big part of it comes from looking to something outside of you—romance, children, potato chips, possessions, thrills—to make you happy or rescue you from the burden of your "self." Our fears overtake us and that black hole looks like a source of comfort, but it always ends up leaving you cold.

So what's the answer? Some of the answers have been given this week. Learn how to love and trust yourself, learn how to accept yourself and others and start a healthier relationship with yourself...listen to yourself, give yourself a break. That's the thing that's missing—a healthy, loving, respectful relationship with yourself. Yeah, I know it's hard to do. There's no Cliff Notes version. It takes time. Trust me, I'm still working on it myself. It's a practice, more than an event, meaning it's something you form the habit of doing every day. Just like you formed the habit of second-guessing yourself way back when. 

Still not sure who Neil deGrasse Tyson (NdGT) is?
But the biggest part—and, honestly, the reason I think you come here however often you do—is to stop being afraid of what you'll find when you look within. Have the balls to ask yourself the tough questions and be honest about the answers, which so many of you are already doing. So much is stuff we've been struggling with since childhood. The input we got from back then is deeply rooted and nobody escapes unscathed. Sometimes I swear I think we come here to this earth to heal our childhoods...haha. But another way of looking at it is that our childhoods happened the way they did to give us the cues we need to heal our souls. 

One of the reasons I'm so frank about my own life here at times is to show others they're not alone. Monsters thrive in the dark, and until we shine light on these things and deal with them as they are, we can't defeat them. But we can't do that if we think we're the only ones who feel emptiness or disappointment in our lives and in ourselves. The energy we spend holding on to the shame could be used to escape the black hole. This may not be possible in outer space, but it is possible within.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

6/28/12—Understanding That It's All Good

Today's Draw: Ten of Swords—Ruin—from the Rohrig Tarot, Part 2. Is there something about yourself that you've always wanted to change but can't? Is there someone really annoying in your life you can't get rid of? And is there some group of people—Republicans? Democrats? Jehovah's Witnesses?*—that just really chaps your ass?

Yesterday we considered how our ability to bounce back after "ruin" affects our ability to create peace in our lives. And today we address another aspect of the Ten of Swords—negative thinking.

I know what you're thinking..."I'm a very positive thinker, Tierney, so today's entry isn't for me, thank you!" Well, that may be. Or it may not be. Really, just closing yourself off to the possibility of discovering how you might become more positive is sort of a negative attitude to take, isn't it? Thinking you're "all that" is just as toxic as thinking you'll never be that. So, whatever, positive peeps. Stop reading! See if I care!!! :D

Thing is, even positive people (and I'm one of them) probably have something we're less than kind to ourselves about—a problem spot on our bodies or some bad habit we can't shake. Or maybe we have a pet peeve about others that sets us off when we see it. Or maybe there's someone in particular that raises our ire. Anything short of a pure, heartfelt "it's all good" is unproductive thinking that is counter to creating peace.

By means of illustration, one thing I hear people say all the time is "if so-and-so loves Jesus so much, why don't they act like it?" or "we're supposed to be a spiritual community, yet some of the people are acting less than spiritual". We've all heard stuff like this before and agreed with it. But have you ever considered how toxic it is?

First of all, it's a judgment. Second, the saying of it separates you from others, conveniently making you the morally superior one. And, third, if you're really so spiritual, why aren't you acting that way? :D

One of the most negative things we do is to not respect those on other paths. That drama queen you can't stand? She's on a different path. That narcissist who keeps annoying you? Different path. That careless man who never picks up his dog's poo? Different path. (Thank god!)

Not only are these people on a different path, their path intersects with yours for a reason, smartypants. Their brokenness is there to show you where your brokenness is. And it brings with it an opportunity for you to understand that, while you're commenting on their toxicity, you're being toxic yourself.

You might say, "I really don't spend too much time thinking about it" or "it's really just this one person," but this week's theme is creating more peace in our lives. And you're not doing that when you're looking over the fence and making commentary (or thinking) about someone's actions, no matter how annoying they are. You're also not doing it when you focus all that judgment on yourself.

Traditional Ten of Swords image.
The Ten of Swords is a card about how the mind defeats us, and it's also about how our separateness defeats us. In the traditional card, a fighter lays dead/dying with ten swords in his back, turned toward the sun, just rising on the horizon. In his last moments of surrender, we presume he is finally able to drink in the beauty that is all around him after a life spent fighting all the darkness and ugliness he perceived in the world. It was always "you vs. me" for this guy. Until his final moment, he literally didn't see the light. His arms are lifelessly positioned in the "as above, so below" position, suggesting that the perfection that exists everywhere in heaven, also exists here on earth.

We're all perfectly who we need to be for our appointed journey down here. And that's an intimate agreement we made with our god—it's no one else's business what that agreement is. The stories we tell ourselves about what is right and what is wrong are just that...stories. We have a system for keeping those who harm others out of the mainstream, but even they are on the path they came here to walk. And I know you know that intellectually. But until we can take that belief out of our heads and put it into our hearts, we will be keeping lasting peace forever on the horizon.

*Apologies to the Jehovah's Witnesses for cheap joke at their expense.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6/27/12—Viewing Life from the Perspective of the Soul

Today's Draw: Ten of Swords—Ruin—from the Rohrig Tarot, Part 1. Do setbacks have a tendency to really set you back? On the flip side, do you bounce back from things so quickly that you don't even take the time to honor their passing? Have you ever spent way too long mourning the loss of something in your life?

Day three of our weeklong reading on how to find more peace is the card "Ruin", a card of negative and unproductive thinking. So don't do that! OK? :) Actually, this card holds so much input into the matter of creating peace in our worlds that I'm going to address it in two parts, with the second part happening tomorrow.

Listen, not one of us is going scrape through life without something bad happening. We may be the victim of violence. Someone we love will die. Our marriage might end. Whatever it is, suddenly the life we knew is no longer. And we have no control over this. It's over.

Regardless, we will lose our sense of peace and balance over this. We need to feel. We need to mourn the old. But the key here is how long. And how we see the event in the overall context of our lives.

Some people will live for years telling themselves "my life is over" or "everything I cared about is gone". Some people will slip into depression or turn to drugs, numbing themselves to the pain. And some people will feel what they feel, take their lessons, then bounce back. This last quality has been cited on lists of things in common with both successful people and unusually old people. Your ability to bounce back contributes to both your success and longevity.

The faster you bounce back, the more peace you'll have, too. Buddhists teach that much of our suffering comes from attachment to things...non-acceptance of reality...wishing things were different. I also refer to it as pushing back against what is. Again, things need to be mourned. But things also need to be accepted and integrated.

Your marriage failed? Your life isn't over. Some might say it's really just beginning.

Someone you love died? You can love again. Dr. Phil once said something very good on this topic...the length and depth of your mourning has no relation to the length and depth of your love. They are two separate things. Being happy is not a betrayal of that love. In fact, anyone who loved you would want to see you happy, so it honors that love.

You were the victim of a crime? There's a lot to heal there. There's also a lot to learn and triumph over.

Most of the negative thoughts we think after a trauma are not true. They reflect our fears and feelings at the time. But there is a whole school of thought that can bring you back to peace. One thought is that there are no mistakes, only learning experiences. Another is that nothing is ever lost, it's just transformed. These two perspectives alone can bring you more peace, learning and healing than wallowing ever could.

There simply is no such thing as "ruin". Ruin happens when the foundation upon which you've built something is not substantial enough to hold what you've built. So ruin happens to show you where you need to build stronger foundations in your life. If someone died or a relationship ended and you "simply cannot go on", then your foundation of self-confidence, self-reliance and self-identity wasn't strong enough to support the relationship in the first place.

Nobody *is* your life. No state of being *is* your life. Nothing is permanent beyond your soul. And when you view life from the perspective of the soul, then you'll see "ruin" does not exist. And a world in which ruin does not exist is a more peaceful one, indeed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

6/26/12—Surrendering to Your Inner Knowing

Today's Draw: The Moon from Thea's Tarot. Do you have trouble trusting your intuition? Do you even know which voice up there it is? Given the choice between a gut feeling and logic, which would you choose?

So this week's theme is "how do we create more peace in our lives?" This Moon card brings a simple answer—trust yourself. 

Every human comes with a built-in GPS. We call it our instinct, intuition or inner knowing. Before we can learn to trust its turn-by-turn navigation, however, we must first learn how to hear it. It's that whisper that comes without thinking. It's a sudden idea or inspiration. It's the answer you get before you're done thinking the question. That said, it's also that voice we tend to second-guess with "why am I thinking that?" or "is that my intuition or is it just what I want to hear?" or "is that my knowing or my thinking?". So if you're not sure which voice is which in your head, you'll just have to experiment...go with the flow until you're pretty sure you know which is which. Even then there will probably be times you're confused.

The second thing you need to learn about this GPS is something that's critical to experiencing peace—there are no wrong turns. So whichever way our intuition steers us is the place we need to go. 

Think back on your life. Is there any decision you have ever made that didn't lead you to someplace valuable and necessary to your path? Even if you ended up someplace you felt was a bad place at the time, you survived it and came out of it with the kind of information you needed to keep it from happening again. Assuming you're still alive, whatever the situation was, it could have been worse. And the lesson you learned kept you from having to suffer that worst-case scenario. So if this GPS has never failed you, why do you second-guess it?

If you're anything like me, there have been times in your life when you've allowed others to steer you away from your inner knowing. And then, mostly likely, you've found yourself living someone else's version of who you should be. You took the job that didn't feel right because someone talked you into it. You bought a dress that you don't feel comfortable in because someone said it looked nice. Or you ended up lost on a roadtrip because you had more confidence in someone else's GPS than you have in your own. 

This is the worst kind of betrayal. Because its a betrayal of self. You listened to every voice outside of you before listening to the one within. The same is true even when there are no other voices in the mix—when you hear your intuition telling you to turn right and you turn left anyway. Even if the left turn leads you somewhere safe, you didn't honor the one and only voice on this earth that comes without an agenda, can speak faster than your ego and has only your best intentions at heart.

When you placing the voice of your higher self low on your priority scale, you cannot feel peace. There will always be conflict within...a grumbling between your knowing and your thinking...a lack of alignment between the calling of your higher self and the choices you make. So today's path to peace is paved by listening to that voice within and trusting that it cannot steer you wrong, no matter where it leads you.

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.