Monday Tarot Message: On emotional backlog

When unseen, old emotions remain not seen or dealt with, we could find ourselves with emotional backlog that has a way of turning hard and cold. Over time, this could feel like parts of our heart and the way we behave turning rigid, inflexible. Life, on the other hand asks for energy and movement — both inherently warm and in-flow — of us.

Emotions are a natural byproduct of an engaged life, and everything we live and go through. However, through challenges or traumatic events, we sometimes shut down or lock emotions away. We do this to dissociate when it is too hard, or something feels inherently unsafe.

However, emotional backlog also has a way of rising to the surface to be seen, over and over. When we find ourselves in repetitive patterns that we are unable to break out of, it is worth re-examining if we are re-enacting an older difficult experience (could be acting out from our subconscious, or even intergenerational trauma) that we may have put away, in order to survive.

These patterns can sometimes be opportunities to revisit what was once difficult. A chance for a much needed thawing. To kindle that which had once turned frigid and cold, with the warmth and willingness for an engaged, awakened life. It is a way to move through hard places with gentleness and flow.

What do you most need to see, right now? What past experiences are rising up for reflection? How can you support yourself so you can allow this thawing?

One year ago: Turning and turning
Two years ago: Taking a moment
Three years ago: And the stars look very different today
Five years ago: Flame of the forest

Monday Tarot Message: Making space for change

Just like you can’t give from an empty cup, you can’t receive in a full cup. I’m reminded of the Zen story about a young monk who approached his master, eager to learn. But he came with a mind full of preconceived notions, inflexible opinions and keen to show how much he already knows. The Zen master rebuked him, “First, empty your cup!”

The Ace of Cups, represented by an overflowing cup brings a message about making space today. Letting go, clearing out, cultivating emptiness as a necessary step in growing. Without it, there will be no space or flexibility for newness to seed.

Where in your life do you need to make space?

What do you need to empty, so your cup may be filled anew?

What old habits are you ready to let go of, so you can change, learn or do something differently?

How can you open yourself up and become flexible in your convictions?

How could seeing multiple points of view benefit you?

How can you aid the change you seek, by making space for it?

How can you create a habit of ongoing emptying out and creating space to allow for continuing expansion?

Two years ago: I am enough
Three years ago: Like happiness is the truth
Five years ago: Kangana Ranaut’s crash-course in honesty, feminism and empathy

Monday Tarot Message: Evaluate your progress

If you have been trying to bring about change in some area/s of your life, today is a good time to evaluate how far you’ve come. Take stock, pat yourself on the back, make changes where necessary. And keep going on.

Making change happen involves letting your heart (mind) guide the way, but also following it up by action (body). Seven of Pentacles is a reminder that the process requires both — mind and body, desire and action — to work in tandem.

So as you take stock today, remind yourself of what you value. Why is this change important to you? What will your life look like when you have changed?

Most change is inherently testing, and it is likely that your self-talk and mind chatter will remind you of it. Possibly even discourage you. Be aware of this as you evaluate your progress. How you feel alone, is not necessarily always the most accurate measure. Since change challenges the comfort of hard, old patterns, they’ll do everything in their power to discourage you from growing or moving out of that comfort. Even if that means making you believe you’re not actually moving ahead or good for change.

Listen to your heart and what it feels about your progress, but don’t give the negative talk or chatter too much attention. Follow through with action that reinforces your commitment to what you value about establishing a new pattern, new ways of being, and why they are iportant for you. Act like you’re committed to the change you want to see.

Two years ago: Unfurl
Three years ago: Bad news never had good timing
Four years ago: In-stages
Five years ago: See Lanka

Monday Tarot Message: Connecting with your deep truth

The High Priestess is the guardian of the subconscious mind, the epitome of inner knowledge. When she shows up it is a reminder to lean in to the hidden workings of the intuitive/higher self.

Working towards doing this in a healthy way is to commit to knowing yourself fully, just as you are, no matter what shows up on the exploration. To meet your higher self is to confront all of you, as a whole. Including the not-so-beautiful, vulnerable parts that we may otherwise keep hidden. This includes shame, anger, fear, guilt, regret and evil, amongst other things the world deems unworthy of display.

The movements and shifts — in healing and self-improvement — that come from this approach then happen right through the process. Whereas improvement that is hinged on a striving for a particular “good” outcome becomes a striving for perfection, for an externally determined idea of worthiness.

“Undesireable” parts are present in all of us. To deny or disconnect from them, is to move away from our humanness. To lose contact with the essence of us. And when we disconnect from this truth, we feel lost and disconnected. Within ourselves, and from everything around us too. To embrace them, learn to see their existence in us, is to own ourselves fully. The messy parts of us, the cracks and pain that we hide away are the very portals to meeting our deep truth, healing ourselves. We can’t get there by pushing aside that which we don’t want to acknowledge.

When we go to therapy, it is important not to expect it to be a silver bullet to being magically “healed”. A therapists job isn’t to heal you. Instead it is create and hold space so you can find your own inner compass, tap into your own capacity to meet and heal yourself. Through your intuition, the wisdom of your emotions and systems of regulation.

It’s about the journey, not endpoints we may think we want to be. It’s about the process and all that it brings up, not the outcome. This self-reflective journey is the High Priestess’s way.

One year ago: Regeneration
Two years ago: Thank you, Bangalore
Three years ago: And I’m feeling so bohemian like you
Four years ago: Serendipity
Five years ago: Lucid

Monday Tarot Message: Stress and awareness

When we are stressed, tension builds in the way we perceive things, in our bodies, in our capacity to think and move ahead. As a result possibilities shrink, the future look small and bleak, and we minimise ourselves to fit. Not because that is necessary or even true, but because in that moment, we don’t know better.

The Three of Wands indicates an opposite state. Instead of closing up for protection, we can respond with expansion. An opening up that is born from fortitude. Where awareness grows, possibilities are many, potential is full and rich.

This isn’t about “being positive” or eliminating stress, rather about healing, so we may respond to stress, rather than react to or buckle under it. Building awareness and inviting a softening helps open our hearts and allow a wider scope of life to touch us. When we heal, we build a safe, relatively unshakeable space within ourselves that is not easily perturbed.

Stress contracts awareness. Makes us see and operate from limited view of a situation. We lose the capacity to pull back and see the big picture. With healing, we can understand and work through the triggers that cause stress and come to a place where we meet the same (and other) stressors differently.

We can teach ourselves to witness our emotions, give them space as we move to a vantage point from where to scan the horizons of our inner and outer worlds. We may experience containment and openness while also being held safely within. When we can expand and hold ourselves through this process, we are more likely to progress in a good way.

In the larger picture, this may also be experienced as individuation. Coming into one’s own. This is the birth of what some forms of healing call the Big Self.

(Thrilled to be breaking in a new deck that was an early birthday gift from my mother, and getting back to enjoying my balcony that I tended to and brought back to life over the last four days.)

One year ago: Despair
Two years ago: Chance encounters
Three years ago: A life of stranger things
Five years ago: Busy bee day

Monday Tarot Message: Be the custodian of your emotional self

I have always seen the King of Cups as a custodian of the emotional self. The one that has mastery (not to be mistaken with control) over all that they feel, to be able to sit with their emotions as they are, without judgement, to just make space for the expression needed at the time, for all emotions to come and go naturally.

Traditionally, water symbolizes all things emotion. And so the King, holding a cup in his hand, sitting amidst a choppy sea, looking out, unperturbed, represents the ability to allow emotions to surface as they need to. Even in turbulent or challenging times. Because that is the only thing to do with emotions. Let them be felt, so they can pass.

Our training in the world around us may be to deny the true state of our emotions, to feel them privately or not at all, to “control” them by pushing them back within, to overpower them in this way, to favour positive emotions over harder ones, to genderize them, label them, reject them. The King of Cups is a nudge in a different direction: to do whatever it takes to be custodians of our emotional selves. To let emotions arise, not so you can learn from them, work on them, fix them. But just so they can flow. This is probably one of the nicest forms of self-compassion and self-care.

If “eat your veggies” is what we tell ourselves to feel physically healthy, “feel your feelings” is what we should tell ourselves to feel emotionally healthy.

One year ago: Are you tired of me talking about grief, yet?
Two years ago: Looking within
Three years ago: Trust me on the sunscreen
Five years ago: Letting it go

Monday Tarot Message: (Re)Defining love

What if we learned early on that the quality of our relationship with the other, depends wholly on the quality of our relationship with ourselves?

What if there was a way to learn that to offer our love to another, is to come from a place of love for and within ourselves? To connect with another’s pain is to first have a connection with our own pain. That to be there for someone in a challenging time, hold space and offer support, is to also be able to offer all of that to ourselves?

Most often, our training/conditioning is of a “selfless” definition of love. But it is unsustainable, and difficult to truly be present for another with the belief that the only way to love them is to “make things better”.

To be there for someone, share their experiences and offer loving support is to sometimes just participate in a moment. To be present fully. Without fixing. Or contributing. To acknowledge our limitations, our helplessness, and the pain of this in relationship.

If we came at love from a softer place that didn’t hinge on “doing” things to avoid this, and instead focused on “being” in love, in pain, in joy, in grief, in helplessness, we would know how much practice it takes to be able to sit with all of this within ourselves first. And how much better our relationships can be for it.

The thing nobody tells us is how love is an experience so closely linked to pain. To know love is to also know pain. Intimately. Within and without.

Probbaly my most favourite quote on love, is a thought on an alternative definition of it, by Glennon Doyle Melton, in her book Love Warrior.

…we think our job as humans is to avoid pain, our job as parents is to protect our children from pain, and our job as friends is to fix each other’s pain. Maybe that’s why we all feel like failures so often — because we all have the wrong job description of love. What my friends didn’t know about me…Is that people who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpless vigil to our pain.

One year ago: Life these days
Two years ago: Love-filled
Three years ago: Somebody holds the key
Five years ago: Silence

Monday Tarot Message: Self love/self care

Compassion, specifically for myself, has been an overarching theme for the last many months in my life. And it’s exactly what I see in today’s card too.

The Ace of Cups shows an outpouring of compassion and love. To be held, to fill oneself up with, to nurture and to pass on, and to share with loved ones. But also to direct inwards, within. To believe in the power of self love and not look for love outside alone, in the form of reciprocal relationships.

What does self-love and self-compassion look like to you in this moment? Today’s message is about allowing for whatever form it takes to help and heal you.

  • It could be in sitting and being with yourself through a difficult time. Or in finding the strength to ask for help when needed.
  • Allowing yourself a little indulgence may feel powerful today. As might doing nothing but having a good cry.
  • If things are overwhelming, give yourself the permission to take your mind elsewhere if you need to. Or stay with the difficult emotions, if that is the call of the hour.
  • Rest if you must. Or power through the roadblocks.
  • Find the light in your everyday life. Or walk through the darkness, if that is where you are in your journey.

All of it counts. All of it is valid. Compassion and love don’t have a singular look, they don’t manifest in finite and limited forms and means. And there is great strength in accepting that our needs change, and we require different things at different times. Be open to shifting the goalposts of self-love around, get better at tuning into your needs, instead. That is self-care with compassion thrown in.

Today’s message is about discernment in understanding what you need, and giving yourself the permission to do exactly that. Minus the guilt. Minus the expectations. Minus the “shoulds” and the “have tos”. There is no rule book. Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, I hope you’ll find some love to give yourself, in whatever form that its available and possible for you.

One year ago: Tarot: In my head and in my heart
Two years ago: The last of the despatches from Benaras
Three years ago: Where the world is impossibly still
Five years ago: Quiet

Monday Tarot Message: On safety and freedom

Four of Pentacles invites us to examine ideas around Safety and Freedom. As human beings, we need both. Interesting to note though, that we seek freedom yet quickly introduce structure to regulate it. As soon as we have security in place, we simultaneously yearn for spontaneity and impulsiveness.

This is evident in how normalised it has become to track/count our time, productivity, calorie intake, water, footsteps, number of books read and so much more, even as we exercise freedom in the varied choices we make in these aspects of our personal lives.

The experience of safety (containment) is at the centre of the healing journey through which we seek to liberate (expand) ourselves.

Safety and freedom are two sides of the same coin. But can we distinguish between seeking safety to avoid the hard things in life that we need to look at and grow from (remain where we are) and building new safety mechanisms and spaces to help us cope with the difficult while we move towards growth (encourage movement)? It’s a crucial difference because while the former provides safety, the latter can provide safety and freedom too.

If our need for security comes from fear, it is likely that the coping behaviour that comes form it will feel like control. Whereas if we seek safety from wanting to move past our challenges, we’ll likely adopt behaviours that create safety in a way thar encourages movement anyway. If the former persists, that control can get oppressive. Planning, scheduling, organising help create a sense of safety that is essential to get moving. But if we don’t stay close to the intentions we began with, these same mechanisms can get rigid and stifling. And rigidity rarely supports growth.

Ponder about whether you want to revisit and redefine your current understanding of safety and freedom. Some questions to allow:

  1. Where on the spectrum do you lie?
  2. Where can you inculcate some flexibility?
  3. Where do you need to bring in tighter boundaries?
  4. Is there enough safety in your freedom?
  5. Is fear introducing control where there is none necessary?

One year ago: Even flow
Two years ago: Holy shit
Three years ago: Let’s go outside
Four years ago: Whisky-shisky
Five years ago: How we’ve aged (part 1)

Monday Tarot Message: A life of your own making

The Nine of Pentacles embodies independence and self-sufficiency. Specifically financially, but also emotionally and physically. This is a woman who has the capacity to live an untethered life that is luxurious, abundant and directed by what is most authentic and meaningful for her self, over what society and external conditioning dictates. A life of her own making.

This is particularly relevant for women, in a world that does a fantastic job of encouraging us to live within the “safe” zones dictated to us. This card is an encouragement to establish new and more authentic safe zones for yourself. To recognise where you feel stuck, trapped, bound, in pain, and to work on replacing it with joy, peace, liberation and inner alignment.

The luxury and abundance in this card is more about quality than quantity. Not opulence or unlimited means (though if that is your current circumstance, that is fine too), rather the specific nature of authenticity in your life experience — a life that is true to your individual needs and values. Reflect on the granularity of this kind of abundance in your life, luxuriate in simple everyday acts, beauty and joy around you, listen to your innermost desires, cultivate habits that ground you and uplift you.

Self-development and building a life of authenticity will sooner or later require reflection about our positions within the existing frameworks and structures of power that exert their forces on us.

We reach this place of untethered-ness by consciously choosing things, situations, people, environments that support us, whether emotionally, physically, or spiritually. And we do this by continuously tuning into our inner calling, sometimes even at the cost of turning down that which is most expected of us. That which is “normal” or “safe” or “conventional.” And moving past that which most scares us.

We’ll have to ask ourselves:
Do you feel free in your relationships?
What keeps you tethered?
Where in your life would you like to build independence?
How can you nurture your desires?
And the answers may bring up fear, shame or guilt.

Building a life of freedom, abundance and luxury on our own terms then, is a lifelong pursuit and it will mean gradually moving through past pain, shame and fear. That is the route to sweetness.

Two years ago: Reboot
Three years ago: February
Five years ago: Just go with it

Monday Tarot Message: Revisiting your past

Many of our challenges as adults — shame and guilt, disconnection and difficulty relating to others or finding a place, trouble feeling emotions as they are, anxiety and/or depression, debilitating anger/frustration — have their roots in the past. Growing up, early childhood, sometimes even prenatal experiences can cloud the lens we view the world through, as we individuate and move on to navigate our lives on our own.

The Six of Cups is about that part of the healing journey that cannot be escaped — revisiting the past. To that time of innocence where we believed, unquestioningly, that our experiences were absolute and unchanging.

The image on the card is of an older boy meeting a younger child with an offering. It is probably because of my family constellation training that I always view this as a meeting between mother and child — the relationship that has the potential to form the crux of our relationship with life itself.

To understand our challenges and find true change is to thread our way back to the roots of the beliefs that have moulded us, to integrate the pain that we may find there. This can be intimidating but going back, gently and safely, is the key to noticing how many of our adult experiences, attitudes and reactions come from a place of pain as felt by our child selves.

One of my mentors used to ask: Who is in the driver’s seat (when you feel that way)? Is it your child self or you as an adult? Going back to the origins, helps us tell the difference.

Our childhood experiences get set in stories we tell ourselves repeatedly, that we believe are the unchanging, defining stories of our lives.
I am forever alone.
People will always use me.
I’m difficult to love.
I’m too touchy, too energetic, too ambitious.
I’m too much.
And these beliefs cause us to have inaccurate perceptions: mistaking healthy boundaries for abandonment. Confusing the basic human need for connection with neediness. Labelling emotions that are basic, human and valid as wrong and problematic, in need of fixing, etc.

If you are sitting with a particular challenge or just something festering ever so slightly, unable to navigate it, this card is a reminder that maybe it is worth looking into your past. To separate early experiences of pain that you may be confusing with present ones. To re-learn basic ideas of love and the self, and to know just how worthy you are of having both as an adult. And to experience anew how embodying the two can bring wholeness.

One year ago: Shit on toast kind of day
Two years ago: Like waking up again
Three years ago: Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you
Four years ago: Roads and Kingdoms
Five years ago: Playtime

Monday Tarot Message: On working towards your desires

Apt card for mid-February methinks. When the fresh January enthusiasm to get moving on goals is somewhat diluted in the routine of life. The Knight of Pentacles is a high-energy, high-action card.

It depicts a journey towards a goal that is already underway, reminding us that desires need the fuel of commitment and action in order to come alive.

It’s good to find ways to keep your intentions active, either visually (vision board, sticky notes) or through habits (daily routines, action groups). This came up a number of times in Looking Back And Looking Ahead sessions this past week. Because life inevitably gets ahead, and a distance can build between your desires and intentions, and the direction in which you eventually move.

So whether you are a methodical planner or you like to go with the flow, this is your reminder that when bringing about a change or moving towards a goal, there is no replacement for putting one step in front of another and walking the path. No matter how big or small those steps may be, there is no escaping the walking.

Depending on circumstance and your specific goals, your journey may be smooth or challenging. Or both. Patience that comes from a deep sense of responsibility and commitment is key. When you approach progress in this way, actively, it becomes easier to evaluate on the go. To know when a goal is unrealistic, to tune into your own pace and understand if you need to move slower or faster, to also check in on whether the intention still feels exciting and motivating too. All very important steps in ensuring that you succeed.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign it permission to move towards a desire/goal/plan/intention this here is it. Go forth!

One year ago: On love
Two years ago: New eyes
Three years ago: All the feckless men that queue to be the next
Four years ago: Pointless post
Five years ago: Morning views

Monday Tarot Message: Reconnecting mind, body and spirit

I have come to see self-compassion as a primary building block of feeling at peace with oneself. That sense of wholeness — it comes from establishing a connection with one’s true self. And that in turn, is the primary building block of alignment and harmony in relationships with others.

Ten of Cups reminds us that discovering who we really are, coming home to ourselves involves looking at the sum totality of our lives. The pain as much as the pleasure, to rejoice the highs and grieve lows, make space for losses as much as we have our triumphs. It is a meandering, life-long journey that isn’t linear, uniformly happy and often goes back and forth. But the promise of wholeness and returning to ourselves, is rich.

Disconnection from the self is one of the first coping mechanisms we adopt when dealing with difficult experiences. When our feelings and thoughts become too much, we cut off from them. This means cutting off from the body, from sensory cues, from physical and emotional feedback itself. Along with it, we cut off from the capacity to also feel joy, love, healing and move further away from wholeness and harmony.

Healing begins with learning all the ways in which we habitually disconnect, when we feel broken. And bringing the parts together to cohesion comes from re-connecting the mind, heart and body back together to work as one. In doing this, we grow the capacity to look at the pain in our lives, we build resilience to stay, with kindness and self-compassion. And we develop a deeper sense of who we are.

One year ago: Small changes, big feelings
Two years ago: Stoking the friendship fire
Three years ago: And so it is the shorter story
Five years ago: Time bubble

Monday Tarot Message: On self-compassion

As a culture that places such a huge premium on happiness as a goal, we often forget how important it is to experience pain, distress, things not working out, feeling like we’re falling apart, the discomfort of tedium and monotony, disappointment, rage and grief, amongst many other discomfiting circumstances and emotions, in order to grow and evolve as people.

We talk about self-compassion a lot, but we save it only for the parts of ourselves and our lives that are happy, healthy and easy to access; while looking with judgement at our pain and difficulty. Healing often hurts like hell, before it begins to change your life in ways that feel good. But in holding all that is painful is the opportunity to reflect on what you want to change in order to evolve. This sometimes looks like a “breakdown”, like you are falling apart. But without it, there is little opportunity for growth. By placing a negative value or label to this part of the process, we disconnect from true self-compassion.

Self-compassion isn’t about brushing all that’s difficult or challenging under the carpet and moving quickly on to the happy stuff. It is about finding ways to hold yourself kindly and fully, even through what is difficult. Accepting your sheer humanness — messy, flawed, awkward, frail, difficult — as complementary to all that is wonderful and easy for you to acknowledge.

Learning to hold feelings that scare you is a powerful act in developing love and care for yourself. Dropping labels around what’s difficult takes practice.
It’s a stepping stone to building inner safety that will matter when the going is tough, or you misstep. It’s will help you see yourself wholly, love yourself unconditionally, so you can show up authentically, anyway, no matter the circumstances or perceptions of others.

The Star reminds me of self-compassion, and how it involves giving yourself permission to feel terrible sometimes, to sit with the unhappiness, to fall apart, to face failure, shame or grief — and to learn to do it without judgement. It is necessary, to build a safe internal container that can hold you as you shift your internal landscape, release and rearrange your world within, let go of the old and make way for the new — all very important steps in becoming more authentically you.

One year ago: Awaaz do
Two years ago: Full moon magic
Three years ago: Gravity is working against me
Five years ago: Love

Monday Tarot Message: Come home to yourself

The journey of “coming into one’s own” is one of self-discovery, of seeing aknd knowing oneself authentically, the triumphant experience of receiving how it is to see ourselves, and be seen, for who we truly are. It reminds me of what Toko-pa Turner says in her book, Belonging:

Where you ache to be recognised, allow yourself to be seen.

This homecoming is a process of learning to see ourselves first. What we accept and learn to love in ourselves, we can then allow to be seen by the world. One does not simply arrive here, without doing the work of peeling back the layers that cover our authentic selves, innermost desires and potential. It requires uncovering growth by getting to the depths of all that holds us back, whether past hurt, trauma, wounds that need healing, self-limiting beliefs or simply a belief in lack. It inevitably requires us to move in ways that we are not comfortable with, and we can only find newness by moving towards the edge of that discomfort.

 

Venturing into this unknown involves a simultaneous discovery of desire within, and inner strength to follow through. Undoubtedly, you’ll find fear, grief, insecurity waiting for you there. But this gradual process of meeting all that you have hitherto protected yourself from, kept hidden, helps loosen the grip, acknowledge and see yourself in your wholeness.

Knowing yourself is no different to exercise. When we place incremental strain, stretch and wear and tear on our bodies/muscles, we encourage them to grow. Similarly, your personhood finds opportunity to grow through experiences outside the comfort zone. Through confronting your fears gradually, you also find the capacity to meet them. It’s a practice that is best done slowly, one day at a time, and even better under the careful guidance of an experienced professional who not only knows the ways of how to stretch and grow, but can hold your hand and take you through it.

Let’s be honest, these challenges may be daunting. To tread unexplored waters that have always been scary. It reminds us of all that we could lose, so we choose to stay and remain unchanged. But there is a price in staying, as much as there is in moving. And sometimes that price is the opportunity to come home to yourself.

One year ago: Things that have punched me right in the gut
Two years ago: Old selves
Three years ago: Afterglow
Five years ago: End of day