Monday Tarot Message: On Progress and Failure

Getting past a setback looks different, and asks for different things of every one of us. I watched a video by my absolute favourite @nathanieldrew_ today that offered a refreshingly simple way of looking at “failure”.

Whether it’s a minor transgression or what you might deem a serious failure, there are two parts to it — 1) the event in and of itself, 2) the psychological additions (feelings) that we pack on as a result of the event. Like, self-doubt, regret, shame, guilt, fear, sadness, and so much more.

It is well worth learning to separate the two. We can do the work to get comfortable with and make space for feelings that come up, and learn to accept our humanness. Knowing, understanding and getting in touch with our vulnerabilities, experiencing our limitations is an important part of understanding what progress means to us.

Focusing only on the feelings around failure on the other hand , may not be useful. Setbacks and mistakes are a part of any journey and they are sometimes the most pivotal opportunities for growth/change, simply because they bring us face to face with the vulnerabilities we otherwise keep at arm’s length. Most of these moments are not going to feel good. If we stayed with how they made us feel, and let them guide the way, we’d never get to making progress.

In order to truly absorb the learnings from the event, we have to accept the feelings as the come, and this takes time, effort and work. But it’s also crucial to understand what is then required of us to move to the next step, so the feelings don’t keep us stuck or unable to move. In order to change, to break an old pattern, to switch streams, to do something differently.

When great waves of feelings come over you at such a time, it’s useful to momentarily drop the view of the larger goal or end point. And just look at just the next step. Progress then, becomes about an immediate, smaller step, rather than an intimidating success right off the back of a misstep.

What does the next point in your journey look like?

Monday Tarot Message: Dealing with change and the new(normal)

“Normal, just for a bit.” How many times have you said or heard this in the past few months? It got me thinking about our fixation with normal. It stems from the human need for certainty and predictability as markers of safety. Even in the face of abject uncertainty, here we are still wanting normal.

Today’s card is an invitation to look at the new, for what it is: new. Something never been before. A chance for a departure from the norm. Even as the times continue to be dismal and hopeless, every day there are changes that present new opportunities big and small. Our fixation with a static idea of “normal” blocks that out.

Changing this requires turning within. To unmuddy our minds, understand the reasons why we cling to the old, what fears keep us from embracing the new, what stories we tell ourselves in order to stay, unmoving. In the process we may affirm our intuition and inner wisdom that has been there all along. While the world may churn every now and then, that voice can provide solidity (certainty) and calm (solace) that we look for outside of ourselves.

Self reflection and sharpening your intuition will make you aware of rigidity that could do with softening up, or fluidity that could do with some focus and channelling. It strengthens our ability to change our thinking. It offers new ways of thinking, new ways of getting comfortable with what life is offering in the now. New possibilities. New normals.

I’ve turned to Tarot more this year than ever before, looking for solace, perspective and calm. If there’s one resounding lesson I have received over and over and over, it is this: every single day of life is made up of change and flux, and what I need more than anything else is to continually get comfortable with that. I see this not only in the messages I receive, but also in studying and understanding the very structure of this deck of cards. Nothing stays, everything changes, from one card to the next. There are no guarantees, no fixed answers.

What ideas of normal are you holding out for? Is it holding you back? Reflect on what is passing you by while you wait. What do you need so you can ease up and embrace what is, instead of waiting for what you’d like it to be.

Monday Tarot Message: Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing

Between watching the painfully drawn out US election with my breath held, feeling confused about how gleeful Arknob’s arrest was making me feel and generally being caught up in a whirlwind of hopelessness and hope and feeling extreme FOMO about possibly never having a fighting chance with kicking out our very own Fascist, it’s been a long and hard week of questioning ideas of good and bad, right and wrong (left?), yet again.

The unconscious holds information about how and why our rigid ideas of “good” and “bad”, “palatable” and “ugly”, “right and “wrong” came to be. When we observe our own patterns, triggers, traumas and all the cover motivations for overt actions that silently guide our behaviour, we can accept the innate humanness in ourselves. We can also then let loose the rigidity around these ideas, and see others around us, as just as human.

This is the truth about our humanness. And an important piece to understand and integrate. Because good people are capable of devastating actions. Safe people can act in unsafe ways. Trustworthy people may let you down. Proficient people also make mistakes. Well-intended love can sometimes take hurtful forms. Fair people have biases too. This is what it means to be human.

There is safety in categorising experiences and emotions into watertight opposites. Traumatic experiences make it difficult to venture into grey areas in-between. It makes it hard to accept that everyone has a rich life experience that colours the canvas of their personalities in different shades. Just like our own.

This leaves no room for humanness, causing disappointment, stress and further trauma in the long run. Looking within sets off a beautiful cycle — what we notice and acknowledge in ourselves, we notice and acknowledge in others. The more we accept our own humanness, with all the grey areas, the more we are able to see the world and how human beings tick with gentler eyes. Whether it is understanding family dynamics, relationships or global politics. I see this as a soft space where opposing emotions, opposing human beings may meet. In ideas, if not reality.

This is not to advocate a blindly neutral (or apolitical) stance, or to tolerate injustice. It is just to remember often that life exists in the spectrum between the polarities. That everyone has a story and an inner world influencing them. That while we are all drawn to fit our experiences into extremes and labels, a fuller, richer understanding of life and people is one that allows for expansion into the spectrum. Into the wild in-between. A personal reckoning with this may help us meet the world with more understanding, softness, openness and curiosity.

Monday Tarot Message: Fear is not your enemy

Monday Tarot Messages return, after a brief hiatus (which has ended up seeing another unplanned hiatus within the intended hiatus — hiatus inception, if you will!). I took a break to focus on some constructive plans and productivity for where I want to take my work with Tarot and Constellations in the coming months, but life had other plans and I ended up laptop-less, in Goa and was blissfully forced to really STOP and take a break. So no, I didn’t really fuel the plans to “move ahead” but somehow I feel refuelled, if that makes sense. And I’m attributing this sudden burst of energy to do this NOW, on a Tuesday, rather than wait for next Monday, to that refuelling.

I know it’s Tuesday, but these days I’m learning to strike when the inspiration visits, and not wait for it to arrive on schedule. This feels like a come back, and I’m aware I have a lot of catching up to do. But I feel ready. For one, I have a new laptop. Second, it feels like the dark clouds have parted and some blue skies are showing through. And at this point, I’ll take it. With both hands.

So let’s pretend it’s Monday, shall we?

***

Fear often brings a sense of inadequacy. A feeling of not being good enough when we don’t push through, or we don’t make it at something we wanted, or that someone may have wanted of us.

Popular adages that ask us to quell fear and push on are all very well. Because it is true: moving beyond fear and out of our comfort zones is a vital step in growth. But, there is something to be said about timing, about listening so keenly to your intuition and knowing when it is just right.

It’s important to remember that fear is also a necessary mechanism of self-preservation. It is a feedback system that guides how we should proceed, in which direction, and when we should stay. To begin to understand the nuances requires befriending fear. To accept it, welcome it, understand it. To drop our stories and judgement around it.

To understand the difference between when fear is holding you back, and when it is actually a vital signal that it is not time, not safe yet, requires gentleness. A soft approach to understanding yourself and where your fears come from. When we soften up, it gets easier to accept that fear is useful. That fear has a place.

This process may ask for patience and humility of you, to accept that when we respond with fear and choose to stay; sometimes, that is the right choice. That we are not lesser for it. Then, we can move past the judgement — and that sense of inadequacy.

Moving forward may not always the best option, and fear reminds us of this fact. That sometimes we need to slow down, take a break, see if there’s a deeper lesson we are missing, to check if we need to change course altogether.

Knowing when not to moving forward doesn’t mean you are weak, or useless, or a wuss. It might mean you have learned to honour and listen to your inner voice.

Fear indicates when certain choices could bring potential futures that our systems are not ready for as yet. We can ease in to this growth by moving at a pace that is comfortable and sometimes guarded. We can do the work to build internal safety that allows fear to rest, slowly and over time, by really welcoming fear in a way that helps us learn what we need in order to feel safe, healthy and to move forward.

There is no rush, and fear is not your enemy. Can you make it your friend?

Time out, in service of moving ahead

The end of something usually means it’s the beginning of something else. No? In this year of massive endings, death, loss and grief, I’ve held on to this simple thought just to get through the days. Days that were mostly filed under “I-don’t-have-a-fucking-clue-what’s-going-on-anywhere-anymore.”

Like much of the world, I have spent a greater part of this year in a state of Not Knowing. A stage that has felt decidedly like an incubation for What Comes Next. Nothing like the stage before, yet not fully inhabiting what lies ahead.

Like an em dash between all that I have experienced and learned and everything that is yet to bloom from it.

It’s been a stage that’s asked of silence, solitude and stillness of me. Retreat, reflection and rejuvenation, for a slow marination of a new sense of my world, my place in it and a desire to bring forth new expressions of my voice.

It also felt like a culmination of the last few years that I have steadily, relentlessly shifted the focus from Doing to Being, in an effort to move my axis, find a new centre of gravity to anchor my life.

This transition now though, has gently slipped an invitation to bring in a some Doing again. A crystallisation of the work I feel drawn to. More aligned to a new sense of myself.

I’m taking a short break from Monday Tarot Messages on here and on Instagram, to rest and to reflect, in an unencumbered way. But mainly to soak, in some of the ideas for Doing that have been brewing. The need for integrity to myself is high and I feel a great desire to bake in it.

I realise in retrospect that accidentally skipping the reading last week was not entirely an accident. It came from a need that I have felt grow during this week.

It seems that this topsy turvy time is potent or personal work. Providing tarot and family constellations sessions has not only kept me grounded and going, but also been the guiding light through it all.

I plan to resume weekly readings in November. I will continue to consult and take private sessions though. If you’re curious about or would like to book a tarot or family constellations session, please reach out to me.

One year ago: Mornings
Two years ago: They’ll be making sure you stay amused
Three years ago: Things change
Four years ago: When the going is crazy

Monday Tarot Message: Everyday grief

Note: Eight days away from regular life has meant many, many freewheeling thoughts that have bubbled over. Today’s message isn’t neatly filtered/edited and formulated the way it usually is. It’s more personal and long, but you’re probably used to it on the blog. Heads-up, though, that this isn’t the typical Monday Tarot Message, but from my conversations with people, it seems like this is wide-spread and more common than we’ll admit. So maybe you’ll relate, or find something to takeaway from it?

Let’s talk about everyday grief. Tiny, daily loss and sadness, outside of life’s big tragedies — past and current. Minor grief that exists even when life is going good.

Grief from our choices, about all that is left behind, moved away from, left unchosen. Grief from healthy growth and evolution, for who we once were. Our past selves, old states of mind, nature and quality of life long gone. Past relationships, even when leaving was the best thing to do. Grief for things being so radically different from the way they are now.

I’ve grieved so much small loss the year. Workshop opportunities, travel plans, my otherwise steady sense of hope and optimism, missed vacations, going to the gym, being in a swimming pool, hugging, spontaneous plans and outings, day drinking with friends, opportunities for unexpected friendship, public transport, loved restaurants, working from my favourite coffee shop, spontaneity in general, being in a crowded space as a normal natural thing, live music — all of it.

It’s easy to brush this all aside as “small”. And it is. Yet it has been particularly pronounced in this year of the pandemic. Everyday grief piled upon tremendous grief.

It’s very likely that every one of you reading this post today has faced tremendous loss this year. Made so much worse in places with completely broken health care systems and leaders brazenly displaying their contempt for lives of regular citizens.

There is also so much loss of a grip on who we thought we were as people. So many truths shattered. The idea that ultimately everything works out — well, does it? That we’re living in a functioning democracy — are we, really? That the people you respect and look up to aren’t bigots or abusers — this one is quickly shattering, no?

How do you process everyday grief? Do you power through it, push it aside as too little to pay attention to? Or do you make room for it, no matter how small it may be?

I’ve found that in examining how I feel about everything I have lost this year, in honouring it all, and allowing myself to feel the real grief as it has surfaced, I started to see some very fundamental ways in which my life had to change and move.

Loss is sometimes a portal to feeling alive again. And grief is the vehicle that can show us how to move on.

Many cultures have ritualised practices for grieving. Where loss and grief are fundamental tenets in living life. Where the goal isn’t to make loss productive, but to give it a place, as it is. Where acknowledging and feeling grief isn’t seen as a sign of weakness or regression.

I find that this grief that my privilege didn’t allow me to even acknowledge — because I have it so, so good — has been a fitting motivator for making changes in how I want to live.

In softening up towards grief, I have found several reminders of the basic inalienable truth of life — that it is limited. And somehow, that has pushed me through to the other side.

One year ago: Finding flow
Two years ago: Walk with me for a while
Three years ago: On letting go of what is meant-to-be, and enjoying what-is
Four years ago: I am eager

Monday Tarot Message: Be like water

The depiction of water is the most striking part of the Ace of Cups, to me. Traditionally, the five streams of water represent the five senses — the means through which we engage and perceive the world around us. And water depicts the flow of emotions.

The senses are carriers of stimuli, moving us to feel different emotions. A life of fulfilment is one in which your senses can seamlessly lead the way, and you can follow unhindered.

When we think of emotions, we think of control. Almost as if our emotions cannot be trusted and must be overcome somehow. But what if you were to learn to approach emotions with lightness and ease, rather than the hardness of control?

By learning to feel, by watching our emotions, allowing the full gamut of insights they offer about what we’re making of the world and our experiences, we may learn some of the most crucial facts about who we are as individuals and what makes us tick.

The idea of being “detached” is often associated with being free of emotion. When in fact being detached could very well be a state of being so in tune and at ease with feeling every one of our emotions, there ceases to be any need to control them. And life then flows. Just like water.

I’m thinking of Bruce Lee’s famous words today: “Be water, my friend.”

He speaks of finding flow, when he says, “Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep, or drip, or crash.”

Water, like our emotions, is soft, yet powerful. Soothing, yet impactful — depending on how it is wielded.

Just for today, if you allow yourself to feel an emotion you usually push aside, what might you learn about yourself? Which emotion do you most need to soften up for at this present moment?

One year ago: Small victories
Two years ago: She told me to walk this way
Four years ago: Today, on the internet

Monday Tarot Message: On self-love

How do you meet the other in any relationship? Are you more of a giver, are you also comfortable receiving? How is it for you to ask for what you need? And how do you feel as an individual within a relationship unit?

If you find yourself holding out for something to change in the other, so you can be seen or heard, have your needs met, feel safe or acknowledged, loved and validated in some way, chances are, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

The more whole and fulfilled we are in and of ourselves, the free-er it is to offer and receive love in our relationships.

This is not to be mistaken as a call for self-sufficiency that makes us shirk help or assistance. Independence for the sake of defying and denying the basic human need for connection and collaboration is futile. This is more the subtle but important difference between learning to satisfy your fundamental needs in a healthy way, versus waiting for them to be met by unwilling/incapable parties.

When we operate from a place of wholeness, we enter into relationships ready to give and take freely, rather than expectantly waiting for the other to fulfil or complete us in some way.

There is a lot to be said about learning to make choices and build a life that reflects and reaffirms that you can look after yourself, tend to your needs, nurture, love and keep yourself safe. Then everything else that you may ask for and receive from the world, will be a bonus. But, to be the master of one’s needs requires a level of judgement-free honesty about one’s own vulnerabilities, that most often requires learning and building.

Cultivating the means to meeting your own needs begins with a truthful understanding of your needs — whatever they may be. Union and connection for some, safety and boundaries for others. This too is an act of self-love. The term gets oversimplified when we don’t include the important parts of owning up to missteps that we may have made from seeking love or completion in places where it could not be found. From people who weren’t equipped to fill those gaps. Or in places that were inherently unsafe.

Completeness or “wholeness” as it is often called in therapeutic practice comes from understanding needs, which are the shaped by a range of experiences and the positive and negative effects they may have had on us. When we do ourselves the honour of healing that emotional back-log, we can connect with others without putting the burden to soothe us, on them.

Self-love and healing is about reinstating trust within yourself, that you can keep yourself safe, loved and cared for. That you are enough. The interesting thing is that learning this takes *making* choices that reflect the fact itself.

A catch-22 of sorts.

You can begin by checkin what it’s like for you to say, “I can trust that I can keep myself safe” ? See what comes up for you. Is it disbelief? Or maybe a deep trust already exists.

Two years ago: One breath leads to another
Three years ago: Go, Goa, Gone: End of my sunshine dream
Four years ago: This morning

Monday Tarot Message: A balanced approach in relationship

Today, this card reminds me of what a constant balancing act being human is. Most of us are not uniformly “good” or “bad”. Instead, products of our experiences, beliefs we have cultivated, and our “good” or “bad” actions are a reflection of it.

Growth comes from building the capacity to accept this about ourselves so we may heal that which is traumatised in us, and improve our behaviour, reducing the chances of causing harm in relationships in the future.

This is a reminder to seek a balanced understanding of ourselves, as well as of each other.

Experiences of pain in relationships may lead us to believe that all people do hurtful things so it’s better to build a wall around our hearts. Or we may fail to see that even the best people are capable of causing pain, and the pain of realising this may cause us to avoid relationships altogether. Our relationship with connection itself can be imbalanced and altered dramatically.

We do this to cope and to stay safe, but to heal from pain is to find compassion and remind ourselves that polarities are seldom useful. Or even real. Nobody is ever that black and white. Growth is acknowledging that each one of us carry unhealed trauma that makes us behave in ways. Ways that can be worked on, so we may improve the quality of connection we seek. And that we offer.

Lately, I have been thinking about this in relation to injustice in the world. How can we heal while simultaneously dismantling systemic injustice, without understanding this basic inalienable truth of the human condition — that we are all capable of being good and toxic, in equal measure? That it is useful to reflect on the why, rather than the what of our behaviour, if we are to improve as a people.

Perhaps the answer is in adopting temperance — a balanced approach of empathy and compassion, to understand that we are all whole people made up of many different parts. Self-improvement and healing involves accepting that we each have aspects of the good and not-so-good. Our identities are not so fragmented in black and white and cemented by just the acts we may commit. We are all works-in-progress with the capacity to heal and be better.

I’m thinking today of how Rega Jha put it perfectly: Everyone’s inner world is as weird, complex and well-intentioned as yours.

Seeking balance with ourselves and our traumas might be an entryway to explore the grey areas, where humanness resides.

One year ago: Raw
Two years ago: Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Three years ago: Brain noodles
Four years ago: August

Monday Tarot Message: Finding anchors

When our conditioning teaches us to consistently sidestep “difficult” emotions like anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, shame, disappointment or anything else that is “unpalatable”, we lose the opportunity to learn early in life, what they can teach us.

These emotions may indeed be difficult, but they needn’t be destructive, or cause us to be unanchored. They can come and go. And they can be opportunities to grow.

Anger, for example, can fuel action, rather than cripple us. Guilt has the power to inspire endeavour, if we invite it. Fear can make us shrink and cower, or it can spur us to move in a different way.

With the right anchors, we can learn to process, rather than repress, emotions, and receive the hidden messages that move us to grow.

Welcoming difficult emotions like anger, fear, shame, guilt, sadness, disappointment, requires us to build anchors. In our beings and our lives. Anchors that can hold us and that we can hold on to, when difficult emotions come upon us. Think of these as all that is important and affirming in your life.

Whatever your anchor may be — an important relationship, a creative life, a robust meditation practice, prayer, grounding in domesticity, dedication to work that fulfils you — invest energy in building something that really drops roots in you and fills you up in a good way. Something that isn’t an escape, but a safe shore that will allow these emotions to come and go as they need to without causing too much havoc.

To know what your anchors are, you’ll have to get very good at knowing what is truly precious and life giving. What is potent and nourishing. And for this, you’ll also have to know the exact opposite — all that is depleting, toxic or unhealthy — and know when to step away from it. Identify all that enables distance from and repression of emotions rather than healthy engaging with emotions, and step away. Knowing what enriches you will require an all-round knowing of who you are — the dark and bright parts of you, the good and bad, the palatable and not-so-palatable sides alike.

One year ago: Move
Two years ago: After all is said and done, you’ll believe God is a woman
Four years ago: Ten reasons why I’ve taken to cycling

Monday Tarot Message: Sitting with a problem, instead of solving it

Many of us find that we are wired to jump in to immediately solve problems — our own, others’ and those of the world at large. If this is a compulsive tendency, it could stem from a need to avoid discomfort. Like guilt of not being useful or efficient, or fear of not being looked upon kindly or not finding belonging, or shame for not having all the answers. This is especially true if being useful or productive or being the problem solver was a way to be seen, loved and to belong in your family.

Compulsive problem-solving denies us the experience of growth and change that discomfiting emotions present. Given that problem solving is a way of our world, our rush to fix things may have us forgetting the art of sitting with problems. An art and practice that is essential in solving the quiet, internal difficulties of our minds, that asks for something else.

While the outer world exists in polarities — problem and solution, this or that, trouble or relief — matters of our internal world call for exploring the vast middle ground, or finding a meeting point between the two.

Carl Jung called this a “third thing” in which opposites can unite. He says;

Here the logic of intellect usually fails, for in a logical antithesis there is no third.

He likens it to the intangible, fluid space in which:

a waterfall visibly mediates between above and below.

A few questions you could ask yourself, to check for your true intention, or where the need to solve problems may be coming from:

  • Are you a compulsive problem solver?
  • Are “problem” states uniformly uncomfortable?
  • Does problem solving assuage that discomfort?
  • Does being “useful” to others make you feel good, give you a sense of worth?
  • Are you inexplicably “drawn” to feeling responsible for any and all problems?
  • Do you feel that every problem you encounter, whether yours or others’ is your burden to carry?
  • What purpose is solving all problems serving for you?

In rushing to find solutions, you may be blocking/bypassing a potent channel for healing that’s present in holding the tension a problem presents. This is often “sitting with discomfort” in therapeutic practice is all about. Or what therapists mean when they say “befriend discomfort”.

Sometimes, sitting with our discomfort, or being able to watch others sit with theirs can be a powerful healing experience. Not all problems need solutions in the way we imagine they do. Simply sitting it out can be medicinal. It is important to develop the capacity to tell the difference.

One good way to do that is to learn to take a beat, to pause and check your intention when drawn to fix a problem. If the choice comes from avoidance, that discomfort will not go away, instead simply find other spaces through which to emerge again.

One year ago: Just 365 days
Two years ago: So comfortable, we live in a bubble
Four years ago: It’s nothing, really

Monday Tarot Message: Go within, embrace your truth

Two of Swords is usually a cautionary card, symbolising defensiveness, or fear, or shutting down or being unable to see things for what they are.

Today, it speaks differently. Of an invitation to take the time to go within. To pull away from distractions (lies) in the outer world that keep us away from what is within. To dig deep into the joys and pain of our truth.

And this is quite honestly a stark, strong message for me, first. It’s amazing how this happens so often — I get a pertinent message most apt for what I am going through. As I am noticing and surveying the ways in which I move forward, I am reminded today that sometimes that necessary movement is to go within. Even if it is to a dark place that is has been potentially scary. It feels like I can do it this time around.

***

Truth here, is about instinct. A raw, primal inner sense. Intuition. The voice of that inner self. This is about allowing that self to guide us. To lean in to what we know to be true, but we let slide because of logic, cognitive biases, worry about perceptions and how we will be received. We can get intimate with that intuitive sense only when we befriend all of ourselves with nakedness, dropping facades and lofty aspirations we may have held. Coming to terms with ourselves just the way we are. Culling away outer layers and meeting what lies within and cultivating a deep trust with that self.

What we go searching for in the world around — belonging, validation, to be seen or heard, love or acceptance, surety  — inevitably brings us back to that self that lies beneath personas. Finding true alignment requires truth-telling. Owning up to our experiences, our stories, our vulnerabilities and all that has shaped us.

Allowing ourselves to be led by instinct, brings truthfulness in the way we conduct ourselves in the world too. Thoughts and feelings become unfiltered. Communication becomes precise. And telling the truth, about the smallest things, becomes natural, no matter what the outcome. Like others potentially leaving us, or their reactions that could be difficult to stomach, or steering into unfamiliar territory. But because this inward journey helps build a commitment to ourselves cemented in our truth, we may not waver.

What truth do you have hidden inside of you that want to embrace? How can you forge a commitment with yourself? Know that doing this means you will have your back in a way that nobody else in the world will.

One year ago: AWOL
Two years ago: You haven’t felt the fire
Four years ago: How many ways?

Monday Tarot Message: Finding joy

The wonderful, joyful and honestly underrated aspect of healing is how it opens up access to moving towards that which you could only dream at one time. A life that has a capacity for hope, pleasure and delight, triumph and success. A life in alignment with your desires.

A major aspect of any healing journey involves doing the difficult, confusing, painful work of facing trauma. Inner work is terribly unsexy for the most part. But it is only by working through the parts of our stories that make us unravel, that we find ways to put ourselves back together again.

However, what doesn’t get spoken about often enough is that doing this work is also the portal to accessing safety and joy. When we heal our trauma (however big or small), and we regulate our systems to identify and cultivate a sense of safety, is the foundation for unlocking so many wonderful things like trust, curiosity, wonder, the capacity for joy and fun, nurturing creativity, finding and receiving love, chasing a passion and the like.

Healing brings back into our wholeness all those things that trauma may have split away from us, making us believe that we are not worthy or that we got dealt a bad hand. Accessing these joyful moments in the journey is definitely challenging and demands strength and vulnerability that many of us fear. But the moments when we make contact with that safety and well-being can be life-giving and affirming for all the work it has taken. Like finding light even while walking through the darkness.

These moments of light and life begin to return more frequently when we get the hang of regulating our systems to feel safe more often than not. When we learn of inner strength, and how we can find all of these resources within ourselves. They bring a robustness and a sense of being whole, rather than split. And a feeling of joy and love being within, rather than beyond our reach. It is only from a space of safety and wholeness that we can begin to reach our full potential and touch the fringes of all the things we aspire to.

It is necessary to affirm and celebrate these moments along your personal journey. Moments that hold promise and potential for the kind of life you may have only dreamed of until now.

One year ago: Downtime
Two years ago: And you were an island to discover
Four years ago: July

Monday Tarot Message: Being true to yourself

Our capacity for authenticity as a cornerstone of how we live our lives begins with honesty with the self. And how we hold that authenticity towards ourselves and our own lives first. This defines being true to oneself.

The High Priestess represents that inner aspect of the Self that holds the authentic core, with all that we truly know and desire. A fulfilling life comes from listening to the voice of that self with confidence.

The voices on the outside — expectations, norms, benchmarks, values — can often drown the inner one which is clear and pure and needs no reasoning. This can be hard to do, especially in a world that holds so many ideals and values as aspirational, and teaches us to chase what structures and systems (such as capitalism, patriarchy, caste, nations) require of us. This can cause massive obscuring in the process of being in tune with the voice on the inside that may want otherwise.

Today’s message is a reminder that healing, growth, personal development — are all journeys that take us back to our inner selves. Healing offers a process through which we may examine and soothe all the parts of ourselves that choose to deviate or move away from that inner self, which is actually the only compass for living an authentic life. And it helps us return to ourselves. To our bodies and hearts the way we were always meant to be.

Our connection with the inner self is routinely disrupted by the machinations of our outer life and all that we encounter or engage with. We experience dilution of our intuition and may question or doubt that pure way in which we know things to be true without needing proof or validation. This causes confusion, anxiety or, in the long run, the inability to find meaning or deeper satisfaction in life.

The ego is largely motivated by external voices. Often the knowing or desires of the inner self are not in alignment with that of the ego. This can cause tension. For eg; the ego’s pursuit of what a “good” person is, may often cause one to go against ones true desires which maybe entirely different. Over time, this inauthenticity will feel insincere and disingenuous to the self and bring disconnection and unhappiness.

Re-establishing this connection is to rediscover the true self. To gradually strengthen the ability to listen and trust the inner self. To learn to parse out doubt, fear, shame or guilt or anything else that inhibits listening and leaning in. To examine our need for external sources of certainty (validation), or why the internal compass doesn’t feel trustworthy to begin with. To notice our patterns of abandoning our inner selves. And most importantly, to see the ways in which this sidelining of ourselves brings pain from disconnection in the long run.

This is what being true to oneself would look like.

One year ago: Forward
Two years ago: Closing walls and ticking clocks
Four years ago: Smoke and ashes, email trails and matters of the heart

Monday Tarot Message: Learning to feel, rather than over-think

We over-think as a means to under-feel.
Over-thinking helps distract from the uncomfortable ways in which emotions present as sensations in our bodies.
When we over-think, we remain at the level of the cognitive, and cannot access our emotions that lie deeper.
When we over-think we keep our nervous systems in a state of stress.

Developing an awareness about what we feel in our bodies can help us learn to process emotions in a safe and healthy way. Even the difficult ones that present with distress and discomfort.

Our minds do a fantastic job of getting us to over-think, as a means to avoid feeling. Like I discussed last week, this is a mechanism to ensure safety and that the status-quo is unchanged. But it is also a way to avoid processing feelings entirely. And therefore, keeping us stuck in a stress trap.

Being trapped in the over-thinking loop causes distress and discomfort that we experience as anxiety, fear, angst or worry (amongst other things). Body sensations are signals to tune into, and understand what you are really feeling — and not what you think you are feeling. Allowing that feeling to surface and be seen, with little judgement can be life-giving, and opens the possibility of coming out of the stress trap.

Breaking out this trap by listening to the body instead of the mind can help in building:

  • building a capacity to either tune in to the body and notice sensations (or notice sensations and then tune in)

  • noticing when an emotion bubbles up and asking your body (not mind) what you need. It could be rest, sleep, a nourishing meal, a drink of water, quiet or stillness, a conversation with someone safe, movement, etc.

  • witnessing the emotion without labelling it or judging it

  • observing how it passes through, especially when you give your body what it needs

  • finding ways to express and release the emotion, whether that is to have a cry, scream into a pillow, dance around by yourself, journaling, painting or writing, making music — whatever your chosen expression may be. Sometimes a combination of some of these works too.

Curiosity towards the body is a good place to begin. It is a deep and invaluable portal to our inner worlds, far more vast and rich in nuance than our minds can ever be. It’s important to remember that in developing this curiosity, the goal isn’t to “feel better”, but to just feel, for a start. Whatever it is you are feeling, just feel it.

One year ago: On and on and on
Two years ago: I got a feeling I’m not the only one
Four years ago: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow