Tarot: Breaking down the unattainable

I had a session this evening that has stayed with me, the conversation working it’s way through my brain still. When that happens it’s usually because the message has touched some relavant part within me too. So as I’m sitting with it tonight, it inspired an impromptu post, off-schedule. Unplanned, but potent for me.

You’ve figured out your goal, your next milestone or your next stop onwards to that big dream. Your focus is on the end point, energies aligned. But before you get going, take a moment to notice your inner chatter. Stuff you tell yourself when nobody’s around. The things you think in the quiet moments. That self talk.

Often, despite having the outward behaviour in place, our inner voice has a different tale to tell. Notice the quality and tonality in your inner voice.

Are you supporting yourself? Are you tending to your needs? Or are you shaming or berating yourself for wanting that next goal?

This is of course entirely human. To waffle, to feel negative, underconfidebt and not wholly believing how worthy you are of every success you desire.

But rather than feel bad about these parts of yourself, what if you were to get curious about where they come from?

What if you approached every limiting beliefs with warmth and curiosity?
What if you broke every big, seemingly unattainable goal into smaller much-more-attainable actions?
How about we learn to look at our nebulous future dreams and see the many clearer micro-outcomes that they are made up of?

***

It’s been months since I made a monthly post like I once used to, announcing “bookings open” at the start of the month. And the other day. R messaged asking if I am open to doing a reading. So it occurred to me that maybe folks assume that I have stopped?

I have absolutely not. I continue to take bookings for sessions in both Tarot as well as Family Constellations and in fact it has been a constant through everything, keeping me grounded and going. So if you’ve been contemplating it, do not hesitate to reach out.

Additionally, this month I have pledged to donate 50% of all my earnings through sessions to COVID relief. In case you need another reason to get in touch.

One year ago: The sweet confinement of aloneness
Two years ago: Quiet
Five years ago: Things about VC that I never want to forget #16

Supporting COVID frontline workers

Unlike last year at this time when a sudden opportunity to help those in need emerged right from the chaos, I have found no vent to channel my restless helplessness at watching the widespread devastation unfold. This year, things are infinitely worse than they were last year. And this year, we are even more locked up than we were last year. It’s become obvious yet again that we have been left in the lurch to fend for ourselves. Once again, it’s on us, regular citizens to make a difference in a way that the powers that be just will not. In these circumstances, being physically unable to throw myself into any sort of organised effort to pitch in has left me feeling doubly in knots.

I sat on this “what-can-I-do” feeling for days, and over the weekend I realised I could use what I spend most of my days doing — working — to contribute. It’s the one thing I am privileged to be able to continue, uninterrupted. And so it is the most obvious and useful way that I can help at this time.

So since the Sunday that just passed, through till the end of May, I will be donating 50% of all my earnings through tarot and family constellation sessions to this campaign that is supporting the mental health needs of frontline workers at the help of this disaster.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get a personal reading, this could be a chance to do it and support my efforts to pay it forward. Please reach out to me to discuss this or any other way to help. I’m open to listening to any ideas you might have.

If you’d like to directly support the campaign yourself, this is where you can do it: https://www.ourdemocracy.in/Campaign/covid19mentalhealth

Here is also a live and constantly updated list of various campaigns and fundraisers that are supporting a wide variety of causes during this time: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eiobgyrl8iz-R1Dz7c4R5pzzzkuZLBj99vaC7T_UeVo/edit

Please give in any way that you can. No effort is too small at this time.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Working with fear
Three years ago: And love is all that I can give to you
Four years ago: Because wanting to leave is enough
Five years ago: This day, that year

You are allowed to feel

The other day I was looking back at the last year feeling a bit shocked at how far I’ve come with the tarot and family constellations practice, because honestly, this was not the plan. I didn’t really have a fixed plan, to be honest, but I know how far off from this point I felt at the start of last year (pre-covid). I was excited, but also nervous about beginning anew. Putting myself out there. Taking on the responsibilty of other peoples wellbeing. And so I had decided to take baby steps, in the company of my peers, holding hands and gathering support from classmates from my course. We’d decided to work together because none of us was ready to go solo. I was also not ready to go online.

The only loose “plan” was to go slow and take as long as I needed to, to take off and fly on my own. Somehow, the pandemic pushed me into the deep end of both those outcomes that I hadn’t prepared myself for. There are times when jumping intp the deep end happens organically, and you don’t feel the resistance as much. Things just snowballed for me from there on.

Looking back the other day, I counted and realised I have held space in 300 sessions. It’s been a week of feeling quite grim about the reality our country is going through at this present moment. And this felt like a silver lining for me. An unexpected outcome from an otherwise very shitty year. And the irony of it: a year of building many personal milestones and gains, while the world is breaking in so many ways, was not lost on me.

I’d be lying if I said I chose to move into this line of work only for the greater good and to be of service to people around me. It is merely one reason of many others. If I’m being completely honest, one of the big reasons I continue to do this work is that it brings so many gifts my way. Big and small, simple and complex, silent and booming. And there have been many (metaphorical) gifts. I was buoyed by the circumstances that played out last year. I profited from the incredible mental health challenges that cropped up in full. I cannot shy away from this.

There is quite nothing like receiving an unexpected message like this (pictured above) that slips into my WhatsApp messages, many weeks after a session. A client’s reflections in-process, looped back to me, that somehow offered me permission on a week full of feelings.

Lately I’ve seen my work morph slowly. I’ve felt quite loudly encouraged to tap into my other skills and bring them into sessions. By going where I’m being guided to, I’ve found seamless natural extensions. Working with words, written expression, images, stories and tales we hold, bringing memories to life suddenly feels like the most obvious thing. My life and identity as a writer that I had put in deep-freeze has found a new avatar, and reason to come out of hiding again.

The past couple of years have been a long-drawn death cycle for me. Even as new beginnings consistently sprouted in many aspects of my life, the overarching theme has been a slow, slow, painful death and a facing of the resultant darkness and emptiness that comes after. Death cycles do that — they strip way any manner of illusions of safety, pushing us towards the truths. Some that we know and shy away from embodying, and many that we are completely blind to.

It is like burning down a field after a cropcycle. In turning everything to dust and ashes, so it may bear fruit again. There is potential in that destruction. Hope in that death. Space, in that nothingness.

Stepping into this expansiveness sounds liberating, but is very frightening and often painful. It’s comes with quintessential bittersweetness — grieving the ends, death, finishing and letting go of so much, and stepping into new beginnings, new ground, new ways of being that are completely unfamiliar and will take a lot of getting used to.

BUT, OMG THE FREEDOM HERE. Now.
It is delicious. It is vast. It is open.

And so when I received this message and picture from a client last week, it took me back to our session earlier in February this year. I noticed how much has changed even in the short time since then. Around me, yes. But within me too.

I’m enjoying letting the edges of the process of my work that I’ve held on to so tightly as a guiding light so far, blur ever so slightly. It’s nice to trust my instincts that are gently goading me to allow my other capabilities to bleed, one in to another. It’s wonderful to be able to add to my work with tarot and family constellations, bravely. To go in without any fixed plans, and see new directions emerge as they are meant to. To trust. And to enjoy the emerging process.

One of the fundamental lessons from death has been to really understand that while I make conscious choices in my outer life, there is a lot that happens on the inside that is always guiding me, luring me, showing me what’s good, what’s right for me. This is entirely out of my consciousness. The work has been only in tuning in, learning to listen, and humbly respond with surrender, smallness and grace.

To go where I am led. It is what I have been doing this year. Who knows what leaving the shores and swimming free holds for me. I’m being mindful not to make a destination out of this, or to feel like I have arrived, and my work here is done. I’m just eternally grateful for the many resources that have come together to bring me here, and now that I am here I’m ever so grateful for people like these — friends, clients, both — who are brave to swim along with me.

One year ago: Slow, scary change
Three years ago: Doesn’t mean I’ll stop
Five years ago: Dawn to dusk

Tarot: Renewal and restoration

I don’t ever plan to make two tarot posts in a week. The monday reading is the one I try and do diligently, but if there happens to be another, it is usually because I’ve battled a brain-worm that’s been eating away at me all day, or inspiration strikes and a connection between an insight and a card is made, or I’m just in need of a message myself and so I pull a card.

Been thinking a lot lately about what a contrast this year has been for me personally, emotionally — living in the light, feeling like I am out in the world again — compared to the last few, especially 2020 which have been spent largely securing myself and getting comfortable with the dark. What is it about these periods of downtime, darkness, nothingness, slowness, that is enriching even as it is deeply unsettling and challenging?

We have ritualised fasting and rest in most of our traditions. The coming of this horrific second wave and the possibility of another lockdown (whether it is externally enforced or not, we know staying in and staying safe is the right thing to do, right?) is causing forced stillness all over again. I’m noticing how I feel very different this time around. I was just about getting to enjoy some semblance of normalcy when things turned again. And I am really feeling the pinch of having to pull back yet again. I wanted to be in denial about the numbers and the real situation out there. I am having to remind myself what this time might offer, that I am not looking at. I am struggling a little.

In my work I have been speaking to many people for whom the period of transition that 2020 represented seems to be nowhere near over. This is the thing about transitions — they don’t follow calendar years. So this is a message that puts all of the above together. If find yourself sometimes frustrated with how slow things are moving, perhaps this is something to think about?

Periods of fasting, rest and dialling down on the constant productivity are essential precursors to periods of great renewal and coming alive in a new way. If you are in the privileged segment that can afford it, what can you do to claim these time of repose? This is a time to gather resources, nourishment, iron out your future intentions, steel yourself for the blossoming that is to come. Perparation, gestation, germination — all sees slow to no movement, more being than doing, lying in waiting for the transition to complete.

The pupal stage in the metamorphosis of a butterfly offers no escape from the entrapment within the cocoon. It is where crucial growth happens. Opening up too early is dangerous, and so unfurling takes waiting for the precise moment. Once it begins, there is a literal struggle. Hectic movement, flapping, breaking out, stretching, flying — this is sometimes painful and the butterfly has to struggle to own it’s new shape, form and bring.

Perhaps this is why a long period of rest precedes this high activity? We need all the energy reserves we can gather, before we break out anew.

Identify what stillness offers you. Think about how you can it soak up. How can you gather all the reserves you will need when the wheels start moving and you are ready to bloom again?

One year ago: Work updates, lockdown edition
Two years ago: Postcard from staycation – 1
Five years ago: Satisfaction

Rest easy

When I have adequately tended to and cared for the vulnerable parts of me, I allow the overactive parts, that work hard to numb and hide them, to rest. And when they rest, I have more life to spend on living than merely existing. My days are bright and my life feels harmonious.

Not a tarot message. Just me marking a delightfully happy evening with VC in the yellow evening light of our home, conversation and much laugher, that affirmed this truth.

One year ago: Sweet relief
Two years ago: Happy days
Three years ago: You’re beautiful, it’s true

Tarot: Love and forgiveness

Lovers showed up again!

Normally, I’d draw another card if I pick a repeat, but lately I’ve been having A LOT of conversations in sessions, with clients as well as in my own life with close friends, around love, pain, hurt, forgiveness and making space for evolution in relationships. So I’m running with this today.

When was the last time a current relationship dynamic brought to the surface an old hurt that you may have buried away? Old hurts can arise not just in past significant relationships, but also friendships, our relationships with our parents, early childhood experiences with one or both of them, possible trauma in connecting with family early on in life.

Sometimes forgiveness is about healing that old hurt/s. It is about building the self-awareness to notice the stories you may be building and running off with, that are coming from an older experience of pain or hurt. Forgiveness is letting yourself hurt and grieve the old, so you can heal it and separate the two — the past and the present.

Forgiveness is understanding that you can heal the past in order to reduce the stress it causes in the present.

Forgiveness:

  • is to heal yourself
  • helps loosen the grip an old hurt has over you
  • doesn’t always mean reconciliation
  • can happen over a distance, without a single conversation with the other
  • can help establish new, healthy boundaries you need

Forgiveness takes time. And most of all, you deserve to give yourself forgiveness too.

One year ago: Transience
Three years ago: Slow change may pull us apart
Five years ago: Procrastination

Tarot: Judging our feelings

I’ve had a flat day. A long, exhausting day. On the heels of an evening yesterday, that was thick with feelings. Feelings I was judging myself for feeling. Which did me absolutely no good. So, here’s a card and a message that’s more a reminder for me than anyone else.

Intense feelings, difficult feelings, invariably invoke a judgement within us. A label, a measure, an evaluation of whether the feeling is good or bad, right or wrong, worthy or not. Our distress is compounded by judgement, and the erosion of stability, worth and identity that comes with difficult feelings.

Getting drawn into the judgement is a sure-shot way of missing out on the essence of the feeling — a valuable piece of information our bodies are giving us. At the heart of it, feeling feelings is an experience in receiving feedback.

Anger, shame, guilt, sadness, fear, rejection, abandonment, neglect, irritation — all these feelings are valid. Not good or bad, just valid. Because they tell us something about the experience we have had. Judging them makes us jump quickly to doing things to “feel better” (further implying what said feeling is not okay and requires improvement), and takes us further away from the underlying message, that is usually the only way forward.

Resist the urge to think about what you’re feeling, or what your feelings mean. Focus instead on feeling your feelings. And try to let the judgements around them go.

One year ago: Uncertain
Two years ago: Things that are shiny and new
Three years ago: People say I should forget

Tarot: More thoughts on safety

Because, Safety (physical, emotional, political, and more) has been on my mind a lot lately.

For so many of us, early life experiences that caused trauma, betrayal, abandonment may have resulted in an unconscious hyper-focus on safety as our default. This means organising an external life that is regimented, tightly bound, and allowing for little to slip through the gaps. A substantial focus on discipline, rigorous schedules/routines, overwhelming commitment to duty, rigidity around pleasure and enjoyment, and a high need to meet the exacting standards we hold on to tightly.

I’m reminded of what Peter Levine says, “Trauma occurs when we are intensely frightened and are either physically restrained or perceive that we are trapped. We freeze in paralysis and/or collapse in overwhelming helplessness.” If the energies we put into living life come from a place of fear and hyper vigilance, it could contribute to stifling our capacity to experience life in a joyful and free way.

“We die so we can live,” he says. Survival makes it hard to seek new experiences, make friends, lean into desires or respond to calls for pleasure, because our system may label them as unsafe, abnormal, or “bad”.

Additionally, much of our conditioning around seeking pleasure carries the weight of morality and promiscuity, causing us to self-censor, abstain and repress the force of life itself.

To then learn to approach life with an open heart will require understanding what experiences made us feel unsafe, how they shaped our need for safety. In holding those painful experiences tenderly, we may be able to rekindle a spark that can counter hyper-vigilance, deadness and stuckness.

One year ago: On balance
Two years ago: Out there
Five years ago: Abandon

Tarot: On strength, and taking help

I was in the mood for a mid-week pull. It’s just my state of mind, from lingering thoughts that have been accumulating from readings I’ve done over the past week.

How easy is it for you to be in a state of needing help? How does it feel to be unable, incapable, unsuccessful sometimes? What happens when you are not able to “make it on your own”?

My work lately has made me see that often our ideas of strength are rooted in deep wounds, early traumatic events that define what and how we must survive in the world. Our ideas of strength come from locking away all experiences of “weakness” in the hope of overcoming them. Many times the absolute refusal to ask for help is encoded in that idea of strength.

We grow up and live our lives through strife and difficulty, believing that it is the only way to be. And our sense of self and worth gets entwined in that struggle.

But this is unsustainable. We often outwardly wish for less struggle, but we feel completely at a loss about how to make it happen. Especially when we’ve built an entire identity around that idea of “independence” and “strength”.

Learning to ask for and receive help begins with understanding what made it difficult for us to begin with. To sit with the pain of those events, or that time in our lives. To revisit and put back together the parts of us that came undone when we were hurt. So we can understand who/what our external resources are. To make new definitions of strength from understanding that sometimes our pain is our strength too.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: On doing too much, as a way to find love
Five years ago: Our very first carnival in Goa

Tarot: On magic

It’s not Monday, but I had some thoughts on Magic. So here goes.

Making Magic usually takes some work in terms of aligning desires with actions that can take us towards fulfilling them.

But there are many times that life offers up Magic without any effort or doing on our part. Think the sweet spots that shine amidst the rhythm of mundane life. Surprises that hum through the low hum of daily existence. Unexpected gifts that were waiting to be revealed, that were chanced upon seemingly in the middle of nowhere. When we weren’t looking. Happy coincidences, chance twists in the tale, unexpected good times that somehow make our day, week, month or year.

It’s okay, good even, to take these moments of magic for what they are. With arms outstretched, to receive it in full, even when it feels unwarranted or like we did nothing to deserve it. From a source beyond our making or doing.

The end of 2020 has been nothing short of magical for me. And I’ve been trying to take it for what it is — pure goodness — without wondering if it will last, how long I’ll be before the next slump, if I’m worth it etc, and all the other thoughts I usually have that totally kill the magic.

If you need a sign, take this today. Magic received and passed on, just as is. No reasons given, no hustle needed.

One year ago: On listening
Two years ago: Changing seasons, changing reasons
Three years ago: I’m just too good at goodbyes
Five years ago: On waiting

Looking back. And looking ahead.

Somehow, it is the end of the year already. ALREADY. While I’m not feeling the usual forced new-year-new-me enthusiasm, I am feeling reflective. Because it has been a whopper of a year.

If you find yourself reflecting on the year gone by too, I’m offering tarot sessions to look back at all that 2020 has held. Without any pressure to expect anything major from the year ahead. A session to gather key experiences and emotions, reflect on what you have gained and lost, celebrate the wins, grieve the losses, mark the moments that you want to build on. And easily, gently set an intention for the months to come.

It’s been a challenging year from everybody — one way or another. I can say this with so much certainty. Maybe it raked uo a lot of previously unseen and unfelt emotions. Perhaps it asked for a lot more fortitude andn stretched you in ways you didn’t feel ready for. And through it all, maybe you unlocked unknown reserves of quiet strength and flexibility. Maybe you also saw faultlines in yourself you didn’t know existed beneath the aspiration for perfection or the need to have it together. Maybe you discovered something about yourself that you love, something else that you didn’t love so much, something else that needs work, something else that gave you peace.

Whatever your specific experience through 2020, it’s likely you’re not looking at yourself or your world quite the same way you did before 2020. Or perhaps ever.

I’ve had clients experessing a feeling of “backlog” or overwhelm from not having processed any of this. If this resonates with you, I am attempting to facilitate a space like that, even if you just an hour or more, before we step into the flow of the new year.

Give yourself, or a loved one, a session to Look Back And Look Ahead, if this sounds interesting to you. I started sessions yesterday and will be available until 6th January, 2021. Slots are already filling up, so please reach out if you’re considering, so I can accommodate you.

One year ago: Back to earth
Two years ago: Expand your mind, take a look behind
Four years ago: All the books I read this year

Tarot: Breaking routines

It seems like a tarot week, because I’ve been waking up inspired to pull a card every morning. I do it very often. But just for myself, usually. But this week, I felt inspired to move and share. So here goes.

We cultivate routine, structure and sameness as a means to experience certainty and a sense of stability. This predictable rhythm creates safe spaces within which to live. However, the energy of life is meant to flow and inevitably, the same routines that provide support can sometimes feel limiting.

Each of us has a different degree to which we require the support of that sense of certainty. And while routine and sameness has its place, it is a good idea to build the capacity to know intuitively when to break the routine and allow life to flow. Similarly, when to bring back some containment when we need it.

Developing a personal knowing of when to move in which way does an immense lot for a sense of self, knowing one’s capacity to brave uncertainty and in the process to grow.

During challenging times, often the hardest ask of us is to change something that has come to be routine — a response, a habit, a way of being, a relationship, an action. We’re called upon to break or make (new) routines, and it is not easy to do this. We come up on a lot of resistance, doubt, fear and a hundred reasons not to change a thing.

This change is harder still in a world that rewards those who live within the externally created structures that dictate what our lives should look like, how our days should flow, what an ideal work routine is and what “good” outcomes of these are.

There is merit in finding how much of that you can and want to incorporate. And to know when you might sometimes like to break the mould for yourself.

One year ago: Spiritual seeking versus spiritual bypassing
Two years ago: So we want to stay but we can’t find peace while sitting

Tarot: Meeting disappointment

Another wild card from this wild deck> Maybe the last one for this week, and a fitting add-on to the theme around embracing change that’s ongoing since the start of the week.

One of the reasons we find it easier to reject change is because it is difficult to accept the very real possibility of disappointment that any change can bring. This disappointment rests in the widening gap between what a potential future holds and the version of it we may have dreamed up in our minds.

This gap can make our desires feel like they’re too good to come true. And so we avoid moving towards change, to keep safe from that disappointment.

In truth, reality is often disappointing. Sometimes mildly, sometimes severely. To continually protect from disappointment is to sign up for a life of no movement. It could be that your imagined reality is an inaccurate version of the future waiting for you. A future you will not know unless you step forward, towards it.

Instead, ask what you need to help you feel your way through disappointment in the service of moving ahead.

One year ago: Alive, again
Two years ago: Set the controls for the heart of the sun
Four years ago: Holiday reading

Tarot: Embracing change

Busting out a Deviant Moon Tarot deck D gifted me two years ago when I was a wee little tarot newbie. It’s taken a while to get to using it because it’s so deliciously, wildly different from Rider Waite deck. But I’ve been inspired the last few weeks, and here I am. Since I have been using it in sessions in the recent past and fiddling with it in my own time, I thought it might be a good time to pick up this thread I started and immediately forgot about. Oh well.

So here’s a mid-week pull on embracing change.

It’s an aspect that shows up so, so often in many sessions. And this year, it has been a question on everybody’s mind, considering the overt and covert change that has enveloped us all: How do I move on and accept all this change?

Plus it ties in nicely with yesterday’s tarot message for the week too.

Change, whether big or small, always brings about doubt and uncertainty. Parts of us that are prone to feeling trepidation and worry might be activated at this time. Doubt about the possibility of something not working out, fear about inherent uncertainty, premature grief about the loss that will inevitably follow are natural by products of change.

This is a reminder that all of this is normal and perfectly okay. Make space for it rather than fight it. See it all rather than power through it. Ease it by asking: what do I need (and how can I get those resources in a safe way) so I don’t have to shrink away but can keep moving anyway?

Four year ago: One night in Bangkok

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