We have all faced moments in our lives when the pressure mounts beyond what we feel we can handle, and we find ourselves thinking that we do not have the strength to carry on. Sometimes we have just gotten through a major obstacle or illness only to find another one waiting for us the moment we finally catch our breath. Sometimes we endure one loss after another, wondering when we will get a break from life’s travails. It does not seem fair or right that life should demand more of us when we feel we have given all we can, but sometimes this is the way life works.
When we look back on our lives, we see that we have survived many trials and surmounted many obstacles, often to our own amazement. In each of those instances, we had to break through our ideas about how much we can handle and go deeper into our hidden reserves. The thought that we do not have the strength to handle what is before us can be likened to the hard surface of a frozen lake. It appears to be an impenetrable fact, but when we break through it, we find that a deep well of energy and inspiration was trapped beneath that icy barrier the whole time. Sometimes we break through by cutting a hole into our resistance with our willpower, and sometimes we melt the ice with compassion for our predicament and ourselves. Either way, each time we break through, we reach a new understanding of the strength we store within ourselves.
When we find ourselves up against that frozen barrier of thinking we cannot handle our situation, we may find that the kindest choice is to love ourselves and our resistance too. We can simply accept that we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and stretched, and we can offer ourselves loving kindness and compassion. If we can extend to ourselves the unconditional warmth of a mother’s love, before we know it, the ice will begin to break.
A change in perspective, behavior, or response can do so much more to help us move past issues left unresolved. Repeated bouts of adversity are an unavoidable aspect of human existence. We battle against our inner struggles or outer world forces, and in many cases, we emerge on the opposite side of struggle stronger and better equipped to cope with the challenges yet to come. However, we can occasionally encounter trials that seem utterly hopeless. We strike at them with all of our creativity and perseverance, hoping desperately to bring about change, only to meet with the same results as always. Our first instinct in such situations is often to push harder against the seemingly immovable obstruction before us, assuming that this time we will be met with a different outcome. But staying power and stamina net us little when the same choices consistently garner the same results. A change in perspective, behaviour, or response can do so much more to help us move past points where no amount of effort seems sufficient to overcome the difficulties before us.
Whether our intention is to change ourselves or some element of the world around us, we cannot simply wish for transformation or hope that our lives will be altered through circumstance. If our patterns of thought and behavior remain unchanged, our lives will continue to unfold much as they have previously. Patterns in which fruitless efforts prevail can be overcome with self examination and courage. It is our bravery that allows us to question the choices we have made thus far and to channel our effort into innovation. Asking questions and making small adjustments to your thought processes and behaviors will help you discover what works, so you can leave that which does not work behind you. To break free from those unconscious patterns that have long held sway over your actions and reactions, you will likely have to challenge your assumptions on a most basic level. You must accept once and for all that your beliefs with regard to cause and effect may no longer be in accorda! nce with your needs.
Stagnation is often a sign that great changes are on the horizon. Courting the change you wish to see in yourself and in the world around you is a matter of acknowledging that only change begets change. The results you so ardently want to realize are well within the realm of possibility, and you need only step away from the well-worn circular path to explore the untried paths that lie beyond it.
This marks a new journey I am taking, well actually not so new at all but now in the company of like-minded and good people who share thoughts in common. I am honoured to be participating in The Faerie Ring and posts with this logo will share my journey and thoughts with you all. I’d like to talk today about the natural and supernatural, or reality and fantasy as some might put it.
For me there really is no difference, or rather the supernatural and the natural permeates and blends with each other so there really is no demarcation line between the two. I suppose this might be because of my shamanic practice, where spirits abound everywhere [all that is…is alive]. This even extends to the human species – we ARE spirits in human form, and not humans with a spirit if you see what I mean. So, for me the spirit world (or supernatural as some call it) is very much a reality. Of course some might call it fantasy on my part and that’s ok – each to his or her own understanding.
However, I do believe in fantasy over reality too. For me, fantasy abounds when I do not think or act in my best interests. A really easy example would be to think that relationships always stay in the ‘honeymoon’ period and don’t need working on – that’s fantasy. Another fantasy would be to think I can just work a spell and not act in accordance with it. For example, to work an abundance spell for more money and then to spend frivolously. For me reality is that we need to be working and acting in accordance with our intention, whatever they may be.
Much of what the world sees as fantasy these days has its roots in the collective unconscious (Jung) and has built upon what our ancient ancestors once believed to be true. Everything has a kernel of truth in it. What we do with that truth is entirely up to us.
When we take ownership of our thoughts we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others. We all have issues, as well as undesirable qualities or traits that we don’t like about ourselves. Most of us realize that we are not perfect and that it is natural to have unpleasant thoughts, motivations, desires, or feelings. However, when a person does not acknowledge these, they may ascribe those characteristics to someone else, deeming other people instead as angry, jealous, or insecure. In psychological terms, such blaming and fault finding is called projection.
When we are the target of projections, it can be confusing and frustrating, not to mention maddening, particularly when we know that we are not the cause of another person’s distress. Even people who are well aware of their issues may find that sensitive subjects can bring up unexpected projections. They may feel insecure about a lack of funds and thus view a friend as extravagant. Or, if they really want to get in shape, they may preach the benefits of exercise to anyone and everyone.
While we can try to avoid people we know who engage in projecting their “stuff” onto others, we can’t always steer clear of such encounters. We can, however, deflect some projections through mindfulness and meditation. A useful visualization tool is to imagine wrapping ourselves in a protective light everyday. At other times, we may have to put up a protective shield when we feel a projection coming our way, reminding ourselves that someone else’s issues are not ours. Although it’s difficult not to react when we are the recipient of a projection, it is a good idea to try to remain calm and let the other person know if they are being unreasonable and disrespectful. We all know that it’s not fun to be dumped on. Likewise, we should be mindful that we don’t take our own frustrations out on others. When we take ownership of our thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings, we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.
Like a tree our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. As they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. In the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential.
Trees need their protective bark to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. Likewise, we need our boundaries and defenses so that the more vulnerable parts of ourselves can safely heal and unfold. But our growth also depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. It is often the case in life that structures we put in place to help us grow eventually become constricting.
Unlike a tree, we must consciously decide when it’s time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring of growth. Many spiritual teachers have suggested that our egos don’t disappear so much as they become large enough to hold more than just our small sense of self—the boundary of self widens to contain people and beings other than just “me.” Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people. With this in mind, it is important that we take time to question our boundaries and defenses. While it is essential to set and honor the protective barriers we have put in place, it is equally important that we soften and release them when the time comes. In doing so, we create the space for our next phase of growth.
When dealing with people who seem very unaware, remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening. You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here on earth to love one another. To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and it is a blessing. Nevertheless, people who just don’t get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, in positions of power. It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously. We all encounter individuals of this bent in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life. It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.
It helps sometimes to think of us all as different parts of one psyche. Just as within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, the heart and mind of the world has its dark places. The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it. We increase harmony when we hold onto the light, not allowing it to be darkened by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave unconsciously. It’s easier to accomplish this if we don’t focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead focus on how increasing our own light will increase the light of the overall picture.
When dealing with people who seem very unconscious, it helps to remember that every one must find their own way to awakening and that the experiences they are having are an essential part of their process. Holding them in the light of our own energy may be the best way to awaken theirs. At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry.
I decided to use a different oracle deck. I’ve been drawn to use Collette Baron Reid’s Wisdom of the Hidden Realms and pulled The Eagle Kingtoday.
Rather pertinent I think – about seeing the bigger picture, a vaster perspective, just like the eagle does. Sometimes I do feel like I cannot see the wood for the trees and feel as though I’m going around in circles, both in my mundane life and spiritually. Really I suppose this is sometimes necessary, so one doesn’t miss the lessons and gets another chance at mastery but it’s also good to just allow Spirit to fly like an eagle and know that one’s prayers are reaching The Source, the universe. We, as mere humans, just cannot see all – we’re too puny, but Spirit can and does. At times things might be hidden from us because it’s just not the right time, or we are not ready for the next step but rest assured that time will come, at ‘just’ the right moment.