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

Monday Tarot Message: On the human need for safety

One of the main goals of the subconscious mind is to keep us safe by encouraging and reiterating safety in the Status Quo.

So, impulses for growth, expansion and evolution often make us feel torn between staying in or stepping out of our comfort zones. This is what that familiar feeling of not knowing when or which way to go, when considering change, is all about. Waiting for your mind to cue the right time or opportunity is to commit to that status quo — as safe as it feels — indefinitely.

Today’s message is: Whatever you feel called towards, even if just a hint or a glimmer, respond. With a small step. Begin now.

The allegiance to comfort zone is hardcoded into our physiology and psyches. For those of us who come from ancestry fraught with difficulty, deprivation or insecurity (read: experiencing wars, partition, mass persecution, famines, floods, severe economic difficulty etc.), the message to stay in the comfort zone to keep safe is inherited, valid and deeply embedded within us.

It may manifest as fear of change, disproportionate to current reality. Or as illogical and seemingly unreasonable preoccupation with things going wrong. Or, conversely, as an obsession or hyper-focus on security and staying safe.

However, this safety mechanism can often fortify our resistance to grow — a process that lies almost entirely outside the comfort zone.

Whether it is considering a career shift, making new friends, pursuing learning, developing new skills, overcoming a fear, or healing old trauma — it is your subconscious’ job to show up in numerous ways to encourage you NOT to. And it will. Very often, it will also succeed.

I’m all for fearlessness in embracing change. Growth requires a certain willingness and bravery to encounter the unknown. But it’s important to also understand that feeling safe is a crucial human requirement. When we acknowledge this very basic need, we can respond with a kind of bravery that is soft and tender, that makes space for it as a necessary vulnerability that makes us human; rather than bravado that discounts it and in the process may push us to be reckless or dangerous.

Understanding our need for safety teaching us our natural limits and therefore how and when to push them in a way that works for us. Negating the real need for safety disconnects us from what may work for us. This may be the subtle difference between the call for blind, miraculous, all pervasive fearlessness; versus moving mindfully towards growth, even as you experience fear every step of the way.

The fear probably won’t go away, but we can learn to move towards our dreams and desires by inviting fear to the table and trying to learn what it can teach us about ourselves in the process.

Even when we feel called to grow, we cannot respond to our heartfelt desires, without tending to the need for safety. The key is to identify experiences of stretch that can serve us well, and to move towards them in a slow and safe way. Awareness — of what and when resistance is triggered — and mindful steps towards safe choices that affirm the benefit of letting our guard down in favour of that stretch, towards growth and evolution, will serve well.

One year ago: Taking myself to new places that my mind doesn’t know are good for me
Two years ago: Long as you remember, the rain been coming down
Four years ago: 100 Tinder Tales reveals dating apps give women the upper hand

Monday Tarot Message: Examine your illusions

I love when this happens — when a super apt card shows up at just the right time. It feels extra relevant and potent somehow. Like this card, today.

An important one to have picked right after the full moon of the weekend, which featured an important lunar eclipse and coincided with the occasion of Guru Purnima — a day to revere enablers of truth, within and around us.

The Moon speaks of illusions we hold in our waking life. Like fear, shame and guilt — that make us project versions of ourselves, in the attempt to keep the true, most authentic versions of ourselves at bay. These projections help us fight the need to delve deep into the inner truths of our subconscious (depicted by the rippled pool of water), which is the only place to know who we really are. For example, a projection of strength, maybe hiding the fear or shame of facing the tenderness and fragility of human nature. A projection of uncompromising resilience maybe hiding the need to accept a vulnerability that would probably help us from staying out of harmful situations, than walking into them over and over, in the name of resilience.

Owning who we really are involves facing up to these illusions we hold. It requires confronting a truth that we may have avoided for long because it is either too scary or difficult or painful or shameful to face alone. This is where the role of a fellow truth seeker/speaker becomes crucial. For a seeker groping the dark, the path is illuminated by a Guru.

Traditional connotations of the term may bring to mind a picture difficult for many of us to connect with, so perhaps it will help to deconstruct the term to suit your reality and experience. Think of a Guru as anyone who enables this journey for you. Anyone who stands by your side shining a light sometimes, leading by examples sometimes, cheering you on and holding your hand when the going gets tough. This could very well be a spiritual or religious leader, as is often the case. But it could also be a mentor, a fiercely honest friend or relative, a teacher, a fellow truth seeker, a therapist even.

With the help of a Guru, you can introspect on and examine your illusions and dismantle them. So you can get to the truth that lies just beyond the facade. What do your illusions hold? What are they keeping you from seeing? What truth are they helping you fight, keeping you fragmented and disconnected from yourself?

A projection is usually hiding something very innately human. In our quest for perfection for example, we’re usually fighting embracing the very real messy, unkempt and imperfect side of ourselves. And in the bargain we’re fighting our very humanness.

Beyond the illusion is usually exactly what we need to see, acknowledge, and embrace.

Interestingly, the full moon that just passed marked Guru Purnima — a day on the Indian calendar dedicated to celebrating our Gurus and enablers of truth. And this year, Jupiter — the planet of wisdom and truth, also called Guru — is in retrograde, heralding a time of a quiet, introspective, inward-turned gaze.

Take a moment to think of the truth speakers/seekers in your life. All those who allow you to be true to yourself, who hold space for your truth, who enable you on the journey to knowing your true self. And with grace and gratitude, give thanks today.

Two years ago: Did you fall from a shooting star?
Four years ago: More work thoughts

Monday Tarot Message: Reimagining love

The Ace of Cups typically speaks of romantic love. But lately, I’ve been drawn to examine love outside this stereotypical association alone.

Love, like all emotions, is like water. It will find a way to flow. It can either refresh and give life, if tended to nurturance; or it can flood and destroy, if suppressed and withheld.

This is an invitation to revisit love in a time when building walls around our hearts and saving up our love only for people exactly in the same camp as us, is the norm.

Growing a positive and nurturing attitude towards love begins within each one of us. With noticing what makes us clam shut and close our hearts up. Why we give up connection and empathy so easily, even when we’re neurologically hardwired to connect and belong. And to examine the deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing. Conversely, what makes us open up and express love to those with whom we have a sense of sameness and commonality.

Can we learn to let love flow freely again, as the necessary component of structural compassion and empathy our communities so desperately need right now? How else can we reorganise our world to move past the growing divisions that split and keeps us apart?

What role does love then play, in a world constantly being served up hate, differences and distinct polarities? How can we reorganise the notions, practice and expressions of love so it allows for:

  • examination of our deeply held prejudices that block love from flowing freely
  • compassion for the varied experiences of the other, completely different from the ones we know.
  • justice for those wronged by an inequitable system.
  • empathy for circumstances our privilege will never allow us to touch
    closer-knit, self-contained communities.
  • courage for a less fear-driven way of connecting with each other.
  • a broader sense of wanting a better, equitable and ecological world beyond our little cubbyholes.
  • the ability to making space for all expressions and kinds of love across the spectrum.

Just questions today. No ready-made, neatly summed up answers. Because some answers don’t come easy and sometimes we’d do well to sit with the discomfort of *not* knowing, with confronting the messy work of pulling existing structures apart, not having quick answers, immediate opinions and perfect fixes. Then, maybe we can begin to rebuild.

One year ago: Stillness
Two years ago: I choose to be happy
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts
Four years ago: Holiday vibes

Monday Tarot Messages: Befriend difficult emotions

Periods of turmoil usually bring great inner unsettlement and a loss of peace of mind. This is natural when old foundations (of anything) are being shaken to make way for the new. An essential part of authentic growth that challenges established orders — within and without. A process that is inherently not without turmoil, despair, grief and fear.

By themselves, these are not problematic. What makes us believe they are is the agitation that actually comes from resistance to feeling these emotions. The more we fight them, the more we allow them to hijack us. And they do. In that sense, we cannot avoid feeling difficult emotions if we intend to grow from our experiences of strife. What we can do instead, is learn to be agile with our emotions, befriend them, so we feel without carrying the heaviness.

Distress in times of strife comes from our inability to meet grief, which is such an integral part of renewal or growth. We fear grief as a heavy, cumbersome emotions that is best avoided. And we march on, investing a great deal of effort into being stoic and putting up a brave front. But if we do not grieve what we are letting go (good, bad and all of it) we cannot welcome what is waiting in the wings.

Learning to feel, rather than think about emotions, not judging them as conditions that need fixing, is one way to welcome them. Then, we may embrace them for the crucial role they play in making us vulnerably human. As the thinking, feeling, heart-throbbing spirits that we are.

Think about the term “falling prey” to emotions. It implies an attack that must be avoided in our attempt to be free. While actually, the avoidance lands us in conflict, distress and disease. When we meet emotions and everything that they make us feel, without resistance, there is an opportunity to grow. There is an opportunity to move through, rather than bypass the full gamut of the experience.

This might just be the single thing that differentiates feeling feelings rather than suffering them. Or as N wisely said to me last week: “being kidnapped by feelings.”

What thoughts have been keeping you up at night lately? They might carry clues about the emotions you are fighting, that are asking to be let in? What can you do to welcome them in the days to come?

PS: quite uncannily connected to my process and thoughts around befriending tenderness, so I can feel feelings.

One year ago: Away   
Two years ago: Nobody really likes us, except us 
Three years ago: Just breathe   
Four years ago: Hit by a crippling case of travel excitement

Monday Tarot Messages: Rest, in a culture of busyness

I am a product of the “grind culture” that demands, glorifies and rewards a work ethic that equates unrelenting productivity with passion and hard work. It has taken me years to realise my instinctual attitude to work is actually quite different. When I allow myself to listen, I can be productive even when I work less, slower and in short, focused bursts. When I allow myself to listen, I realised my idea of ambition is quiet and self-sufficient, more internally-focused. And that it includes the value of having ample time to rest in ways that I please.

As a result, it has been hard to find a place and fit-in to the working world. This was so difficult to digest for so many years, early on, as I bounced from one workplace to another, trying to find a fit where I could rest easy, knowing that I’d be valued for the work I did during work hours, and where I didn’t have to feel guilty for wanting and having a life outside of work. My self-worth took a severe beating, because i constantly equated it with how productive and driven I was in the workplace. And very often, I didn’t really feel as “driven” as my peers.

Only recently, I realised that everything that I believe about work, success, hard work, passion and ambition (and conversely, rest) is a construct of a capitalist, patriarchal framework. That favours work over rest, teaching us that rest is to be earned thru hard work, and that unplugging will put us behind in the race.

So we devalue rest. And we oversell the hustle. But this is unsustainable. As most current studies on this will show. Everywhere you look, a culture of relentless work has made us physically and emotionally unhealthy. With the accent always being on doing, we have forgotten to pay attention to our being.

Examine your relationship with rest today.
What is your natural pace?
How much permission do you allow for it?
How comfortable is it to rest?
Do you feel guilt, shame or like you have indulged, when you rest?
Or do you feel renewed and alive?
Is zero work-life balance masquerading as loving your work?

Most of us, women especially, carry shame around resting, feeling useless and eroding our self-worth every time we choose rest over productivity.
Today’s card is a call to reset your natural relationship with rest. To begin to release the shame around resting.

The needs of the body are a good place to start. Pay attention to your body, notice if it is asking for more sleep, or gentle tenderness, or a calming practice of some kind. Maybe tend to your sleep cycle, get some hygiene in place. Or perhaps tune back into natural rhythms — the moon, seasons, weekends — as markers of tuning down, turning in.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for permission to rest. You will not fall behind. You will not miss out. You will not end up with less. You can rest.

One year ago: Within me
Two years ago: Come on, keep me where the light is
Four years ago: The good in us

Monday Tarot Messages: Share the load

Sometimes, the burdens we carry, we carry not because nobody else will; but because we aren’t able to allow ourselves to put them down so others may have the chance to pitch-in, help, do their share of the work.

Observe and introspect on the balance of giving — physically and emotionally — in the significant relationships in your life today. What burdens do you tend to carry, what roles and responsibilities do you automatically take, what kind of dynamics do you most find yourself drawn into, across relationships?

This feels like a message especially for me, on the heels of a particularly challenging week in terms of love and friendship in my life. A week in which I became aware of my tendency to take on certain burdens that I have assumed come from my love and caring for someone, but are sometimes just my inability to say no to bullshit, or my proneness to believe I am inherently too much for my friends to handle and so to take the entire responsibility of backing away. Which is effectively me choosing inauthenticity in order to maintain a status quo. Doing this takes a lot of exhausting labour out of me, and most often doesn’t fetch me the results I am looking for. Leaving me bitter, unhappy and lonely.

Emotional dynamics in relationships should ideally be shared more or less equally, in order for the relationship to flow in a harmonious way. But sometimes the balance goes askew to facilitate something else. For example, the control or holding of power can lie with the person who does the bulk of the labour. We sometimes choose to take the entire responsibility as a means to control or steer a relationship in a certain direction.

Or it can be easy to delude ourselves about the true health of a relationship, as long as we keep engaging in “doing the work”. This labour unfortunately is then not going into healing or growing the relationship, but in keeping it from falling apart. A subtle, but important difference.

To lay down unnecessary burdens requires a high degree of honesty. When we engage with that, we are invited to get deeper in touch with our authentic selves. And we are encouraged to show up as we are. It helps us see what we can and absolutely cannot do, what burdens we can and cannot take, what roles we can and cannot perform, in a relationship. And what emerges from there is connection in a true form, free of roleplaying and people pleasing.

This process has been particularly challenging, and a painful one for me this past week as it has meant confronting some of my own judgements around the sharing of emotional labour and how I view people’s reasons for staying or remaining in relationships that have long passed their expiry date.

Taking responsibility for only as much as we can and realistically want to and should do, is an act of deep humility and respect. For the self, primarily, but also for the other. Learning this is to allow freedom, for love and connection to flow freely, and for a respectful, mutually balanced dynamic to emerge between people.

One year ago: All heart and all soul   
Two years ago: When the rainy days are dying   
Four years ago: Workspace