psychology

Riding Out the Pandemic Crucible

The Hanged Man as portrayed in two different Tarot decks.

I had a remarkable experience this week which I’d like to share. I am a student of the tarot and as part of my recent practice, I have been drawing a daily card, setting intentions for the day related to the message and then reflecting at night. It’s a good way to gain insights into my life while enhancing my understanding and relationship to the cards. 

I usually find the themes to have important and personal cues which guide me to areas of my life needing attention and often catalyze new ideas and insights. It is not uncommon for me to feel the Universe pushing or pulling me in a given direction or to hear my inner wisdom raise its voice. 

This week, although I was not looking for help on any particular issue, the cards seemed to be asking me to stop and pay attention, and they were rather loud and clear.

Over the past four days, I have drawn the Hanged Man every single time. This is highly unlikely given the fact that I shuffle the deck fully and then cut it at different places before uncovering the chosen card.  It didn’t seem that strange when the Hanged Man appeared for a second time. After all, coincidences happen and the interpretation made sense. On the third day, I thought, “how strange,” and by the fourth (today), I had no choice but to stop and take a closer look.

The Hanged Man card in the Tarot deck symbolizes suspension, detachment, letting go, and uncertainty. The subject hangs from a tree, tied by one foot. He is not free to go easily. Yet, he appears relaxed as if surrendering to his circumstances. His second leg and arms are not bonded and a yellow light emanates from his head, indicating intellect and spiritual development. The card is said to suggest sacrifice, a necessary step in the process of moving forward. Sometimes, the card asks for a certain action to be suspended. It tells us the time is not right to make a move. I have also read that the Hanged Man can represent a crucible, a situation or severe trial which leads to the creation of something new and improved.

I have been thinking lately about the pandemic and its effects on the mental health of our world. People are suffering or at the least being tried, physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. There has been enormous loss and challenging circumstances everywhere and on every level. The economy is wincing. Politics are dividing and in our isolation, we are being forced to face ourselves head on. There is nowhere to hide. We have been stripped of our usual escape routes, like busying our lives to the point of exhaustion and complete distraction. And although the situation is improving, there is no saying how much longer we will be hanging from the tree. 

I have been noticing a growing pressure myself and like many, I feel the need to bust out, to make a move, to release the bondage, to battle with the cords that bind me, and to break free. Some days I feel unnaturally restrained. However, as the Hanged Man suggests, it may not be the right time to act. It might serve me better to relax into the situation and allow my inner light  to mull, to grow and to strengthen. It may also be time to surrender to the restrictions and fallout of the pandemic instead of trying to resist. It seems the Hanged Man is telling me with certainty to accept what is and remain patient with life’s timing. 

This seems to be a good message given the current state of the world and one that is hard to ignore considering the way it was delivered (drawing 4 of the same card in a row!).  I may be more successful and the journey smoother if I hang loose for a time. If I allow myself to ride out the pandemic crucible with acceptance and patience, it’s possible I will emerge on the other side as something new and more highly evolved.

Check out my other websites:  Body https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Tom Brady’s Playbook and Collapsing the Wave

Photo by Todd Turner on Unsplash

Tom Brady did it again. Last night, the 43-year old superstar quarterback (the oldest player in NFL history to even be in a Super Bowl) led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory (the 7th Super Bowl win for Brady and 5th Super Bowl MVP award of his career). I suspected Brady might retire last year after having completed a successful 19-year career with the New England Patriots or at most, renew his contract for a couple more seasons. However, I never thought he’d sign on with a new team. So when he announced his move to Tampa Bay, I assumed he simply wanted to eek out a few more years in the sun, perhaps freshen his perspective, and continue to earn a reputation as one of the oldest quarterbacks in the NFL to play at that level. I didn’t expect him to win another Super Bowl and certainly not in his first year with a new team. No doubt he came to last night’s game with a lot of experience and a heavily loaded roster, but still. To win with such force and surety seemed like nothing short of a miracle.

I live in New England and have been a Brady fan for nearly 2 decades. How could I not be? His intelligent, persistent, and focused leadership have made for many an exciting game and his ability, year after year, to achieve win after win (sometimes in the face of defeat) have awarded his team high levels of respect and support, mine included. I particularly love his signature last minute touchdowns, where he drops into complete focus and true magic happens. There have been times when I’ve wondered, has he somehow sold his soul to accomplish such superhuman feats?  I didn’t think so, but still wondered how it was all possible.

In more recent years, as I’ve studied the power of intention, positive thought, and using our minds to create reality, I have begun to see how this sort of magic works. An interesting and exciting example, and one I think Brady employs whether he knows it or not, is the quantum physics theory of Collapsing the Wave.   

The idea is based on the proven theory that light can exist as a wave AND a particle (although not at the same time). The wave holds unlimited potential at any given moment and becomes a particle only once it is given attention. In other words, we all have an infinite number of choices, swirling around us in wavelike form, of what to see and believe at any point in time. Once we put our focus on one of the options, the rest of the potential crashes (the wave collapses) and the other possibilities blur. This choice then becomes our reality and we lose sight of everything else. This can create a very limiting existence until you understand how it works.

Just as light can be both a wave and a particle, our thoughts can be both limiting and expansive. If we understand that we can change our focus at any point and that everything is possible, we can begin to steer our experience and our destiny. If we realize that we are never truly stuck in any situation or pattern and that it is in part of our own making, then we can begin to change where we put our attention and like Brady, we can redirect the movement of play. 

The new moon will be here on Thursday and I am again thinking about what I’d like to manifest and how I might use the Collapsing Wave Theory. I may want to take a page from Tom Brady’s playbook who most likely does not follow the phases of the moon, but who, I’d bet, has formulated some cyclical process of conjuring dreams, creating and executing plans to carry them out, re-evaluating, adjusting, and revising methods and strategies, letting go of what is not working, pushing forward with belief and vision, releasing the outcome to the Universe, and then regrouping, resting and readying himself for the next round. It was reported that during the week leading up to yesterday’s game, Brady repeatedly texted his teammates stating, “We will win,” and that is manifestation at its purest.

It appears that Brady has not sold his soul to the devil after all, quite the contrary. He has mastered the art of collapsing the wave and for those who choose to do the same, like myself, there will surely be more victories in the Super Bowls of their own lives.

Other Websites.   Body: https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul: https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music: https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Winning Together

Photo compliments of Shane Rounce, Unsplash.com

The full moon occurs this coming Thursday, January 28 and I have been thinking about what I truly want to manifest in my life and what I need to release. As I was pondering the question this morning, a book I had been reading came to mind called the Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. The book, which gained popularity in the early 2000s for its innovative and groundbreaking scientific discoveries about cell behavior and how our thoughts affect it, points out that the most successful cells form communities and learn a cooperative pattern of behavior in order to win the game of survival. This idea is a stark contrast to Darwin’s survival of the fittest mentality which has ruled at least the field of biology since the concept was brought forth in 1859. 

Lipton also impressed me with the idea that cells and their communities act in much the same way as human groups and both make decisions in response to their environment. We humans are, in a sense, larger cells which form alliances of complementary specialties in order to run communities, localities, states, and countries which make up the larger earth body. How well these communities interact is the number one key factor in their ability to survive.

I began to consider my own life and the role of competition vs. cooperation. When I think back on my childhood and most of my adult life, I can remember many situations and relationships in which competition played a role. The mentality was that in order for someone to win, another had to lose and although my personal wins felt good, they were often isolating and short lived, especially when they weren’t part of a team effort and there was no one with whom to share the victory. 

Losing never felt good. Instead of being seen as an opportunity for growth and improvement, it was instead a definition of character and ability. If I wasn’t the winner, then I was certainly a loser or at the least, not good enough.

As I grew older, I have seen the holes in this approach. First of all, we are not separate nor are our accomplishments. I believe that when we improve our own condition, we improve the whole, and to think that we can only win at the expense of another is limiting at best. We are in a constantly evolving and adapting biological body (earth) and if we don’t find a way to work together, we may eventually be outmaneuvered by another group of organisms, such as an aggressive virus, whose cooperative skills outshine ours.

Second, I believe our most treasured experiences and feelings are a result of connecting, cooperating, and achieving with others. We can go much further when we collaborate than we can on our own, and the achievement is that much sweeter. Finally, if we are to reach higher levels of intellect, spirituality, consciousness, and health, we will have to let go of our need for individual success and separateness and instead join forces in a system that incorporates each of our unique gifts as harmonic parts of a healthy and thriving earth body.

The chaos and separation of our current political climate, the rampant virus, and the injured environment all point to a need for expedited cooperation among all people and consideration for all living beings. Lipton quotes a study (Lovell 2004) which states, “the natural world is experiencing the sixth major extinction event in its history and as far as we can tell, this one is caused by one animal organism – man.”

The full moon will be here soon, and I intend to release the need for individual victories over others so that I can make way for new ideas, habits, and actions that promote cooperation, connection, higher consciousness and the best health of the planet, and that, I believe, will be a win for all.

Other Websites.   Body: https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul: https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music: https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

The Power of Journaling

Journaling has a way of helping us open to the wisdom of the subconscious mind.

I woke up this morning with an underlying feeling of anxiety. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where it was coming from. There was nothing particularly unnerving in my current life, so why was this visceral gnawing tightening my chest and leaking into my gut? I wasn’t sure. I hoped my morning walk would bring some clarity or at least some icy air to freeze it out, but no such luck. It was just as strong once I returned, refilled my coffee and sat down at the desk. 

Before I could move on with my day, I knew I had to take some type of action, so I decided to employ a method of journaling that evolved over years of daily writing. 

Whenever a feeling or decision has me stumped, I take out my pen and paper, scroll the question at the top and then begin free writing the answer as fast as possible, without critique or concern for the content or style. I write whatever comes to mind, knowing that I can burn or shred the pages if they reveal something I don’t want anyone else to see. This frees me up to say whatever I want in order to get to the truth. And the truth is always what ends up on the page. 

When I first discovered this technique, I used it daily. I took the approach of coach to client, therapist to patient, and friend to friend. No matter who was in dialogue, I could always sense two distinct voices surfacing, one asking the question and one answering it. The questions were insightful and on track but the answers were what surprised me the most. Each time I began to write, the message would pick up speed and ideas and solutions would come flowing out onto the page from somewhere deep inside. It was like discovering a gold mine or an oil reservoir. Once it was tapped, the treasured solutions flowed out abundantly and easily.

This type of journaling helped to guide me through some important decisions and provided insights that may not have been uncovered otherwise or would have taken years. I called the technique “The Inner Coach” and it became my go-to strategy for solving unanswered soul and life questions.

Recently, I came upon a book which outlines a similar method called writing down your soul by Janet Conner. It is a wonderful book and goes a few steps further to help the reader assign an identity to the voice and also provides prompts to foster deeper awareness, meaning, soul exploration, imagination, and creativity. 

After completing the recommended meditation and journaling, I discovered that I was harboring a fear and uncertainty about the events of this past week, the state of American politics, the instability and fractured nature of our country, the continued loss resulting from Covid 19, our injured economy, the growing unrest and persistent hate. What I was feeling in the center of my chest was a result of a connection to the collective consciousness or communal heart (as I like to call it), the most extreme of which wasn’t happening to me directly. Yet, I could sense a piece of the greater suffering and destruction that is part of today’s reality. 

My inner voice suggested that I meditate to a sound healing video in 639Hz (a frequency that addresses the heart chakra). It also guided me to do another journal entry afterwards, this time focusing on what I want to manifest in 2021 and particularly what I’d like to put out into the Universe as a focus for this month’s new moon (which occurs on Jan 13 at 12 a.m). 

After following the guidelines that came forth on the page and writing out my wish for more peace, collaboration, and love, I feel much better. The ball of anxiety has been lifted and my thoughts are where I want them to be, focused on positive change. I am now able to move on with my day, in a heightened state of clarity and hope and with the belief that the work I have done on myself will extend out to help heal the collective condition. 

Other Websites.   Body: https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul: https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music: https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

The Passing Storm

Photo: Smithsonian Photo Contest.
https://photocontest.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/detail/a-girl-alone-in-the-storm/

In a recurring vision, I am in the middle of a storm. The wind is whipping. Debris is flying. The constant and determined rain assaults my face and impairs my vision. I look around and do not see any sensible place to take cover, and so, I run. I push forward hoping to fight through. I am in a complete panic, until suddenly, I stop. Something tells me to stand still. It tugs at my arm and whispers to let go of the fight and allow the storm to continue on her path, forging ahead without me. It takes a minute, but as soon as I stop resisting, the weather passes quickly. The wind travels beyond the place where I am standing and the sun begins to push through the clouds. The calm and warm envelop me and I feel a huge sense of relief.

This is a vision I have from time to time when life’s cyclones enter my life and my fight or flight response kicks in. Whenever I am flailing about trying to conquer or outrun a chaotic or dangerous situation, I remember this concept and consider a more passive approach.  Sometimes it is important to fight or to run, but not always. 

The Covid crisis has brought this point to the forefront, particularly as of late. When the pandemic storm originally hit last spring, people responded by taking cover, by exercising humility in the face of nature’s power, by being patient, by using the time to heal and reflect, and by relinquishing control. Now, some months later, many have lost tolerance and are moving outward and onward, sometimes denying or ignoring the realities of the storm that is still raging. I’m not sure this is the best approach.

If we can be patient, have trust, let go of expectations and be open to new insights, if we can allow the squall to blow by in its own way and time, we may be less damaged in the end. Once the skies have cleared, we may be offered new insights and opportunities. We may find that we are exactly where we are meant to be and by digging a little deeper, we can glean everything we desire from our current position. We may see that the answers will come to us rather than always having to search for them. 

This weekend, a storm blew through town with heavy snow and high winds. Eventually, the weaker tree limbs gave way and the power went out. At first we were upset. We weren’t prepared and certainly not in the mood to deal with this disruption to our plans. We struggled for a while, frantically removing snow and grappling with the generator. I lit candles in the house and tried to figure out what we could eat that wouldn’t require water or heat. We were both cursing under our breaths until at one point we looked at each other, at the beautifully lit house,  the roaring fire, and realized we were actually in a great place. We abandoned all efforts to battle the situation and surrendered to the moment. We ended up sitting by the fire, sipping a whiskey and engaging in stimulating conversation. We lost all track of time and before we knew it, the storm had subsided. The power was restored and our night resumed, with a more charged energy than it would have otherwise.

I believe there is a time for everything. There is a time to fight and a time to run, and there is also a time to stand still. 

Other Websites.   Body: https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul: https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music: https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Voting by the Moon

Photo from the New York Times, Oct. 29, 2020

It is an important week. Human emotions are running high as election day approaches. Anxiety is mounting and we are contemplating the implications of either outcome, neither of which will solve our country’s systemic maladies. That we know will take more time. 

On top of that, we continue to face ongoing pandemic challenges and increasing seasonal cold and darkness. It has been hard to relax and move forward in an optimistic fashion.

We are also in the Full Moon phase (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) when our feelings have been known to heighten.

Last night (along with many other Americans I am sure), I awoke with a lot on my mind. I ruminated a while before deciding to get up and turn off the outdoor lighting. The brightness was peaking through the shades and preventing me from falling back to sleep.  On the third try at the switch, I realized the light was actually coming from the moon, and this got me thinking.

How interesting that there should be a full moon right now, coinciding with election day.

According to  Chani Nicholas (an LA astrologer) in a New York Times article (Oct. 29, 2020), “ It is a very significant full moon, and it is happening four days before the election and is sitting next to a planet with upheaval, change, surprise, excitement: Uranus.” 

Link to full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/style/blue-moon-wet.html

The full blue moon occurred on October 31 and we are still in its wake until the end of the day tomorrow, according to a system outlined by Yasmin Boland in her book, Moonology.  Much like the ancient (and many modern day) farmers, Boland believes that each moon phase offers a unique opportunity to perform certain activities. 

The full moon is the ideal time to release and let go, especially of people, things, and situations that are no longer working. Boland emphasizes that it is important in this phase to forgive, because “when you forgive, you release the karma and when you do that, you exit the situation.” It is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It’s detoxifying and helps us move on.

Once we let go and forgive, it is crucial to fill the void with gratitude. Focusing on the blessings in life and the things that are going right will help set the intention and direction as we move forward towards our dreams (the new moon phase is best for designing and focusing on goals).

Whether or not you believe in the moon’s ability to influence human behavior, it does seem like a good time to embrace its energy, to get rid of things we don’t need, to forgive, to extend gratitude, and to get out there and vote. 

websites:

https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/

https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/

https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Adjusting Our Aperture

Websites: Mysoulpurposeproject.com Inbalancetherapeutics.net

Photo Credit to Diane Connolly Borton

I love walking in the woods. It offers the perfect combination of exercise, fresh air, nature, and time to contemplate. For years, I took regular treks (through the cold of winter and the bugs of summer) with a couple of close friends and our dogs and it provided an excellent chance to connect. We shared ideas and experiences, laughed at each other’s jokes, and gave advice when needed. I remember frequently getting into long conversations and losing myself in deep thought. Then, at some point, I would inevitably look up and realize I had no idea where I was. Luckily, my friends knew the trails and would lead me out safely.

I use to pass this off as my natural ability to “be in the moment,” and it’s true. I have always been good at mindfulness, even before it was vogue. It is fairly easy for me to live in the present while keeping my worries and fears at bay (most of the time). I am grateful for the ability to zoom in to the now and experience the close up view. However, there is a flip side.

When I am immersed in the moment, I lose awareness of time or get off track with my “to do” list. I am late to meetings and am not able to move as quickly towards my goals. Sometimes, I get lost in the woods.

Recently, I have been taking more walks alone and exploring a variety of unknown terrain with my partner. In both cases, I have needed to pay attention to where I was going. I have made note of trail intersections, special landmarks, and other identifiers and have paused occasionally to review my route. I have consistently looked forward and backward expanding my depth of field and have gotten better at navigating as a result.

One day last week, however, when I was on my morning stroll, I had gotten absorbed in thought and by the time I came out of it, I had lost my bearings. I solved the problem I was contemplating but at a cost, and this got me thinking.

Is it possible to immerse yourself in the present moment while also paying attention to where you’ve been and what lies ahead?

In her blog post, How to Be Present While Still Planning for the Future, Heidi Hill points out that, “Life satisfaction generally requires a balance of being and planning.” She suggests 3 ways to do this: Set goals, but let go of your expectations; Plan for the future, but don’t waste your time worrying about the future; Balance planning with action.

Full Post: https://www.lifeinfullbloom.com/how-to-be-present-while-still-planning-for-the-future/

I started to think about how I might apply this concept to my life. Could I continue to practice the art of mindfulness while periodically checking in on my goals and overall plan? Could I be in the moment in the context of where I’d already been?

As I continued my walk, I began altering my focus between where I was on the path and what I could see up ahead, much like the aperture of a camera. It dawned on me that this was a beautiful metaphor for my mindfulness practice and that in order to move closer to my life’s purpose, I would need to do both, knowing when and how to adjust.

Diving Into the Shadows

Shadow

I have had the pleasure and privilege of spending the last several days in Maine on my favorite lake enjoying the sun and nature. Last night, it began to rain so my daughter and I decided to watch a movie. After scanning the selections and reviews on her computer, she suggested we watch “The Florida Project,” a 2017 slice of life drama which, according to IMDb TV, follows a “precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.” 

Childhood. Adventure. Disney World. Sounds endearing, right? 

Not exactly.

I did not like the film at first. I kept waiting for the plot to unfold or an inspirational moment, but neither surfaced. Instead, I felt a mounting anxiety combined with sadness and despair as the reality of life in a poverty stricken hotel-turned-residence community exposed all the things that make me uncomfortable: poverty, lying, foul language, cheating, stealing, hustling, betrayal, fighting, child abuse, pedophilia, drug use, prostitution. 

The movie was shown through the eyes of a child who had friends, freedom, food, community and a caring mother, all of which made it more palatable. However, the stark contrast of the lives profiled to those of the privileged thousands visiting nearby Disney World, made me stop and think.

The movie did an outstanding job of portraying the reality of the situation, but I wasn’t happy with the way it left me feeling. Something was tugging at me to look deeper. 

It wasn’t until morning that I realized the importance of what I was experiencing. It became clear that the issues in the movie that made me uncomfortable were the ones I needed to examine more closely. Maybe it was time to look at what it means to lead a privileged life. Had I been turning a blind eye to the realities of those less fortunate?

With all of the recent unrest and attention pointing towards inequality and racism, my viewing of this movie was particularly timely. It became evident that the cinematic story I witnessed was one I had chosen to overlook, just as many instances of injustice get somehow justified through the selective stories we tell ourselves and the parts of our psyche we choose to keep hidden. 

I have recently been working on my own personal growth and have also started “The Life Purpose Project,” a series of one on one sessions to help people reach their life’s purpose through discussion, dream interpretation, tarot, and flower essence therapy. 

I am a believer in the power of positive thinking and healing through love. However, I have been finding that in order to truly heal and make significant progress forward, we need to look at something called our “shadow self”. 

According to an article in highexistence.com, “the shadow is a concept first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describes those aspects of our personality that we choose to reject and repress. For one reason or another, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like–so we push those parts down into our unconscious psyches. It is this collection of repressed aspects of our identity that Jung referred to as our shadow.”

Full Article:  https://highexistence.com/carl-jung-shadow-guide-unconscious/

Some examples of repressed shadow tendencies include  “aggressive impulses, taboo mental images, shameful experiences, immoral urges, fears, irrational wishes, unacceptable sexual desires.” 

Our shadow self develops as a result of societal expectations that tell as we are a “bad” person if we have certain thoughts and behaviors. We want to fit in and be accepted, so we deny and hide these impulses and pretend they do not exist as parts of ourselves. On top of that, if left unchecked, these qualities feed into a larger collective societal shadow which can multiply and become more systemic, resulting in a world that tolerates prejudice, racism, abuse, and inequity.

Jung believes that these innate qualities are present in all of us and the only way to effectively deal with them is to recognize, accept, and find ways to constructively manage their presence within our lives. 

I have been using dream interpretation and the Tarot to help uncover the shadow within myself and my Life Purpose Project participants. Both methods point out areas of the subconscious that ultimately want to be seen and accepted before allowing us to move forward on our spiritual path. Meditation and identifying psychological triggers can also help shed some light.

One thing “The Florida Project” made clear was that when we look at these shadow qualities, whether within ourselves or society as a whole, the feeling can be extremely uncomfortable. It can bring us to places and uncover a world that is unnerving and painful. 

The idea is not to run and deny, but to look directly into the areas of darkness. When we do this, “fear becomes an opportunity for courage. Pain is a catalyst for strength and resilience. Aggression is transmuted into warrior-like passion. This wisdom informs our actions, our decisions, and our interactions with others..” (highexistence.com).

If we seek to accept the shadows as part of who we are, if we allow them to come forward without condemnation, we may be able to heal not only ourselves but the world as a whole, and people like those featured in the “The Florida Project” may have a fighting chance.