Check out Biddy Tarot and my Guest Blog!

Are you interested in learning more about Tarot?  If so, there’s absolutely no better place to go then Biddy Tarot!

Brigit makes Tarot normal, approachable, and fun!  I have especially enjoyed the Soul Meditations Program and Tarot Foundations 1

While you’re there, check out my guest blog on using music to connect with the cards!

Much Love!

Beth

 

The Magical, Mystery Tour with Elizabeth Louw

 

 

Angels – and the Hay House World Summit

Technically I’m not finished with the series on science, but I decided to take a break for a few weeks because it’s time for the Hay House World Summit. Four wonderful, uplifting weeks of videos and lectures from some of the brightest stars in the spiritual community. This series played such an influential role in my spiritual development last year, I couldn’t let it pass without writing about it.

Yesterday, as I listened to a talk with Kyle Gray about working with our Angels, I wondered – Do I believe in Angels? Based on a lot of my other writing, it might surprise you to learn that I do… at least, I can allow for their existence. (see here for more on the concept of Allowing). And, of course, as I look up at the microwave and stove clocks, right after writing that sentence, it’s 11:11am on both.[1]  🙂

It’s like the angels laughing and saying, “Ha! We very much do exist.”

I really do love those moments of communion.

In many of my posts I talk about energy. I am familiar and comfortable with the concept of energy. (Although only recently am I more openly talking with others about this). For many, many years of my own spiritual development I was not sure I even believed in a cohesive soul (ie – that the soul was a distinct entity vs. just a collection of energy in a particular lifetime that rejoined the ‘all’ after death).[2]

Naturally, based on that belief structure, I struggled with the concept of angels as defined, individual, entities – even at an energetic level. I still struggle with that, but thanks to the concept of allowing, I don’t have to worry so much about what I believe and I can focus instead on the experiences that I have.

Kyle talks about how his own belief in angels has evolved over the past five years. Initially he seemed to crave more definition around our angelic guides – knowing his own guardian angel’s name and understanding the angelic hierarchy. However, he has moved to a place where he seems to associate them more with their energetic vibration and worry less about attaching qualities to their existence (wings, names, etc.)

It’s a thoroughly interesting and uplifting talk – you can listen to it <here> (although the link may re-direct you to a sign-up page if you have not already registered for the Hay House Summit.) For this short period of time only it’s completely free and totally worth checking out!

 

[1] In Kyle’s talk he mentions that there’s a lot of hub-bub around “11:11” and angels and I remember thinking, as I listened, I’ve never heard of that and I don’t remember any significant “11:11” moments in my own life. So, of course, the very next day I would look up at the clocks while I’m writing about allowing for the possibility of the existence of angels… and it would be 11:11 on two clocks J J According to Doreen Virtue’s angeltherapy.com “In the case of “1’s,” they represent the post of an energy gateway. The more 1’s you see the stronger the gateway.”

[2] Ironically, it was my first pregnancy that convinced me otherwise… maybe I’ll tell that story somewhere on the blog someday.

A Few Words on the Concept of ‘Allowing.’

A couple years ago, my husband came across me reading Michael Newton’s book, Destiny of Souls and asked me incredulously, “Do you really believe that stuff?” I paused, a little taken aback, since I hadn’t even thought about it. I was reading the book, it was interesting, but did I believe it? In the moment I couldn’t really answer him, but I also couldn’t explain why I couldn’t answer him.

The answer wasn’t ‘yes, I believe it,’ but it wasn’t ‘no’ either. I grappled with how to explain. The moment passed awkwardly, but this question bounced around in the back of my head for quite some months before eventually colliding with another concept that had been germinating over a number of years; the concept of allowing.

Periodically there are concepts that bounce around in the ‘connection space.’ What does that mean? 🙂  Well, basically, a concept will come and it will seem like our ‘own’ (in this case, allowing seemed like ‘my own.’), but then the concept will start to pop up everywhere. I started hearing the word “allow” in the language of various figures in the spiritual space and realized it was one of those concepts that was coming into general consciousness for all of us together.

Allow Me

When the idea of allowing originally occurred to me, personally, however, it first manifested in noticing that we can sometimes fall into patterns of behavior with each other. I experience this with my birth family. In general, my attitude and behavior towards others is fairly consistent between work, home, and social engagements. But I noticed that, when I visit the family I grew up in, especially when we were all together, I unconsciously reverted to outmoded attitudes and behaviors.

I found myself getting riled up about things that would never faze me at work and, somehow, we’d all end up having the same old exchanges; if not the same-in-subject then the same-in-type. Although we had all grown and changed in the years since we lived under the same roof, we treated each other the same.

We often want people to change, and in some cases maybe they do, but our actions towards them, the limiting beliefs we have already set towards them, do not always allow space for them to behave differently with us than they always have.

The co-worker that we think never has anything useful to say walks down the aisle and already our defenses are up – What does he want? Can’t he see I’m doing something important? Why does he always waste my time with inconsequential things? What we do not see is how our own feelings impact the way we communicate with them.

The look on our face, the impatience in our tone, the other person may pick up these subtle emotional (or energetic) nuances and it may consequently affect their behavior towards us. Our co-worker may be thinking, she never listens to me! She doesn’t even try to understand what I’m saying. I can tell just by looking at her face that she wishes she were somewhere else. Why do I even bother?

Thus we may find ourselves going round in circles, each silently blaming the other for the way the exchange is going.   We think they never change and they think we never do. If we treated every exchange as the opportunity for something new to happen, one day it actually might.

Sit Back and Relax

Allowing is a very passive activity. We tend to think more highly of taking “ACTION” than being passive, but sometimes we can miss important things by being too active in our thinking. In our rush to action, we may be too quick to either accept something or reject it. In contrast, to allow is to put an idea in a suspended space where it can still be of use without having to commit to it.

One good symbolic aid to the concept of ‘allowing’ is to think of a house. If you invite a guest into your home then they can come in, but they can only stay as long as you allow and then they are required to leave. Having a guest over does not mean they are going to live with you forever.

We can act like houses when it comes to information. If it isn’t something we understand or if it doesn’t fit into our belief system, we may not even allow it to visit – or bump around in our conscious or unconscious mind (although the unconscious mind will often make its own decisions about these things).

If we do not allow things to come into our space, then we cannot use them to make connections later, we cannot use them to create new things or build a new understanding. A wonderful example of this shows up in Lewis Hyde’s book, Trickster Makes This World related to discovery of Pluto’s moon.

“In 1978, at the US Naval Observatory, James Christy was working on describing Pluto’s orbit. One of his photographs showed an elongated image of the planet; he was about to discard it when he came upon another photo in the archives labeled: ‘Pluto image. Elongated. Plate no good. Reject.” Christy made a collection of such plates and in this way discovered that the elongation was not an accident. Pluto had a moon.” (page 99)

The previous scientists who discovered the orbit irregularities that pointed to Pluto’s moon simply did not allow themselves to consider the discrepancies they found to be meaningful. They discarded something that would have led them to a new discovery simply because they could not allow for their own findings to be true in the face of what they had previously been taught.

Impossible or I’m possible?

It was this tension that I was struggling with when my husband asked me if I believed the reports of Michael Newton’s subjects. The tension between defaulting to what is ‘commonly accepted to be true’ and opening myself up to something wildly different and new-to-me.[1]

I believed that Newton’s subjects were reporting honestly – at least, I didn’t think anyone was trying to ‘pull the wool’ over the readers’ eyes. Did I believe they were reporting actual experiences of life between lives? I wouldn’t say that I believe it, but I could allow for it to be true.

I could allow the possibility and thus I could take all those reports in and let them bump around in my consciousness and connect up with other ideas to build new and interesting pictures and since my reading of those books that has certainly happened. Ideas and concepts from those books have sparked several of my best blog posts.

Creativity and innovation flow from the space of allowing. The more ‘locked down’ our concept of reality is, the less we can dream a different world into being. About ‘80%’ of what I write about is in this “allowing” space for me. The things I truly believe are minimal, but there are all these ideas floating around that I allow for and can therefore write seriously about.

I wasn’t always this ‘open-minded,’ however. A decade ago I found myself on the other side of the coin. 🙂 At the time, the director of our small credit department at a mid-size company said, “Wouldn’t it be great if, when we got a phone call from an incoming customer if the computer would automatically bring up the customer’s account so all that information was there when we needed it?”

Voice over IP was only coming on to the scene at the time, certainly I wasn’t familiar with it, and I thought, “This crazy old guy – he has no idea that telephones and computers operate so differently that that would never be possible.” And yet, that technology was probably possible even then and it’s certainly here, now.

When I started to see examples of what he was talking about come into use, I realized that it had been me who was dreaming to small. I had rejected the idea outright, instead of allowing it to come into my consciousness and build. In this particular case it’s doubtful that anything tangible would have happened differently if I had acted differently, but it represented a pattern of behavior I would not have recognized in myself otherwise.

The next time you hear a new idea that sounds outrageous and impossible, see if you can avoid rejecting it outright. Try putting it in a suspended place where it’s perfectly okay for it to remain ‘possible’ until there is definitive evidence proving that it is not. You don’t have to believe it, but avoid rejecting it outright. (This holds true even for ideas we don’t like! 🙂 ) Over time you will find that these ideas will take on a life of their own and lead you to more interesting ideas and experiences!

[1] I mention allowing as one of those concepts that comes through connection and starts to inform general consciousness. “Tension” – as in balancing the ‘tension’ between holding two opposing ideas to be true or possible – seems to me to be the next germinating idea that is going to become relevant within the next 5-10 years…

One Quick Exercise to Start ‘Feeling’ Your Own Energy

I know I said the last installment was the end of our Energy series on the blog. However, I don’t feel right dropping a post series making elaborate claims about the nature of Energy and the Universe without providing at least a little bit of ‘how-to.’ (if you haven’t read any of the other installments in this series it starts <here>)

I’m tempted to write that it’s better to have some meditation practice before you start trying to feel your own energy, but my own history reminds me that my first introduction to energy came without any previous meditation practice. In fact, it was the informal study of my own energy that led me to meditation – not the other way around.

Becoming energy sensitive is an exercise in developing comfort with subtlety. Too often we think something doesn’t exist if it doesn’t hit us over the head. Or my personal favorite, “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”

That may be true for commercial purposes or a graduate thesis… but there are plenty of stars and galaxies and all sorts of things in the Universe we can’t measure with current scientific technology that very much do exist.

As I mentioned in the second installment of the Energy series – there are certainly times where I have struggled with my own energy sensitivity; doubting it.

A few months ago, though, as I quietly worked at my desk in the office, all I could hear was the ticking of the clock on the wall. It was so loud I couldn’t concentrate. I actually had to get up and walk away for a few minutes. In a moment of association, it struck me that the clock was always ticking – just that loud, just that way. It had been for years and years, I just didn’t always hear it.

Energy sensitivity is like this. When we’re distracted, when our attention is full of other things, we don’t notice our energy, even if we are familiar with energy-sensitivity. For people who are unaware of their energy, then, it’s fairly easy to ignore. We shouldn’t mistake subtlety with non-existence, however.

Most people actually do have experience with energy sensitivity, they just don’t think of it that way. The pain in our heart from a terrible break-up or loss of a loved one, the tingly feeling that comes with a new romance, gut feelings, some types of anxiety – the physical sensations associated with all of these are expressions of what’s going on in our energy field.

If you’re interested in starting to develop your own energy-sensitivity, I recommend the (fairly standard) exercise below.

Okay, So…. How do I do it?

Allow yourself about fifteen minutes in a quiet place (where you will not be disturbed) to try this exercise. That’s fifteen real minutes not five ‘this-feels-like-forever-surely-it’s-been-fifteen’ minutes.  🙂

If you’re the type of person to be constantly checking the clock or be worried that you should be spending your time doing “more important” things, set a timer on your phone or stove or whatever so that you are able to temporarily release the clock-anxiety.

It is critical to success of this exercise that you be able to ‘get out of your head’ – if you’re worried about how much time you have, all the things you need to do, or re-hashing some event at work, home, school, etc – you are unlikely to be able to do that.

The easiest way I have found to developing initial energy sensitivity is to stand or sit (whatever is going to be less distracting) with your palms about three-to-five inches apart in front of your heart.

Some recommend rubbing your palms together until they get all tingly and warm. This can be very helpful in the beginning as it will get your attention out of your head and into your palms – where it needs to be.

Try to move your palms as close together as you can without actually touching. Hold them there. Does it feel as if the surface of your palms or fingers are pulling together? The initial sensation to ‘feel’ for is an almost magnetic attraction between the palms of your hands.

Now slowly pull them apart… what happens to that magnetic sensation as you pull? Stop at about eight inches apart – keeping your concentration on the insides of your hands only – start moving your hands close together again.

Do you feel any resistance? (Keeping to the magnetic imagery – it may feel like you’ve flipped two magnets so that they are ‘like-to-like’ and are pushing back against each other).

Once you’ve developed some initial ‘magnetic’ sensation¸ slowly move your hands towards and away from each other, as if you were clapping in slow motion. Focus acutely on the sensation between your palms and how it changes. You should start to feel as if the air between your palms develops a ‘taffy-like’ quality.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything the first time you try. Spend fifteen minutes really trying this exercise every day for a week and I’m fairly certain you’ll feel something by the end of the seven day period.

The people that I’ve recommended this exercise to usually get so freaked out the first time they feel something that the minute they become cognizant, it’s gone.   If this happens to you, don’t worry. If you’re interested, keep trying. As with anything in life, practicing will help your energy sensitivity to develop. Soon you’ll be able to ‘hold’ the sensation with full cognizance.

Once you’ve developed a high degree of confidence working with the energy between your hands, you can move on to exploring the energy around your full body and in your chakras. I will post some exercises for those a few months down the line.

It’s important for me to disclose that I am not an energy master, by any definition. I have become familiar with my own energy and that of the “Universe” in various ways at varying levels across a number of years of casual observation and lay practice.

Energy-sensitivity is indispensable in walking the spiritual path for a number of reasons, but it is not synonymous with the spiritual path (ie – simply developing your energetic abilities does not equate to ‘walking the Spiritual Path’).

Resources for further study

If you’re looking for some teachers who specialize in energy development, you may want to check out the following resources;

Sonia Choquette – On the surface, Sonia Choquette’s work is about intuition, but get just a bit more in-depth and it’s all based in energy and vibration. I have taken some incredibly helpful, fulfilling online classes with Sonia Choquette. I’ve enjoyed a few of her books and I’ve twice gone to her for personal appointments at key junctures in my life.

Barbara Brennan School of Healing – I have never personally taken any internet or live classes with Barbara Brennan, but her book Hands of Light was the first book I ever read about energy back in 1995.

Deborah King – A well known name in the world of energy healing.  I have taken some online energy classes from her website – fascinating stuff!

What is Energy? – Part 5 – A Side-by-Side comparison between Energy and The Force

Please note: “The Force,” “Jedi,” “Star Wars,” and a host of other related terms are trademarked by LucasFilm / Disney. Additionally, the opinions and views expressed in the below article are the author’s own and not associated or endorsed in any way by LucasFilm or Disney. Lastly, the goal of the articles in this series is to intellectually compare an idea from the fictional Star Wars universe with a concept from our actual universe – not to imply that these two things are the same.

Welcome to our last (I promise!) installment in the side-by-side comparison between The Force and the concept I refer to on the blog as Energy. In this last installment we’ll take on the 2nd half of the below quote from the Wikipedia Article (see last week’s post for the first half) and we’ll end by summing up the discussion at the root of this series.

“A number of other paranormal, psionic Force powers are demonstrated in the film series, including telekinesis, levitation, hypnosis, and mind control, as well as extra sensory perception based abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and enhanced empathy.” (underlining mine)

Telepathy

Google defines Telepathy as, “the supposed communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses.”

We tend to think of our brains as a ‘contained’ space and our thoughts as private. If we return to the premise that ‘everything is made up of energy’ and add to that the idea that we are able to process the information in that energy to varying degrees of ability, our brains can be quite ‘leaky.’ I’m certain we have all been in a situation where a song is in our head and someone else in the room starts humming or singing it. Alternatively, we might watch someone else struggle to find a word, we ‘think’ the word in our mind, and suddenly they have it.

Telepathy is an obvious similarity between The Force and Energy and is one that most of us experience in subtle ways without even realizing it. Have you ever interacted with someone where there is such mutual understanding between the two of you that words seem only supplemental? Even words are energy. When two people are energetically in tune there are multiple levels of energetic communication between them; spoken words are only one level.

In contrast, have you ever interacted with someone where you had an incredibly difficult time communicating? You understood all the words they were using, but you just couldn’t understand them? Or, they seemed to be unable to understand you? When two people are not energetically in tune, the energetic dissonance gets in the way of communication and spoken words can rarely bridge the gap.

On a side note, if we are looking for irrefutable ‘proof’ of telepathy – perhaps we ought to consider that most people minds (including our own) are hardly very clear and focused. When we are not clear ‘senders’ of signals and not clear ‘receivers’ how can we expect to be able to practice telepathy in a way that would hold up to ‘lab’ testing conditions?[1]   Although it’s not as obviously experienced with Energy as it is with The Force, telepathic ability is a similarity between the two

Clairvoyance

Google defines Clairvoyance as, “the supposed facility of perceiving events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact.”

Like telepathy, clairvoyance is an obvious similarity between The Force and Energy. Our energetic connection opens a channel to perceive situations and events in a manner beyond our cognitive reference. As introduced in the initial installment of this series – if everything is made up of energy and we are able to connect into that energy, then unlimited amounts of information are available to us.

The challenge in the physical world is in increasing our awareness of this connection and broadening our ability to process the information that comes through so that we can cognitively make use of it. On a personal level, I would never consider myself a psychic,[2] however, I have experiences that would qualify as ‘clairvoyant’ on a fairly regular basis.

Enhanced Empathy

We touched on this subject in the very first section, so I won’t repeat what was said there. However, I have found that, through connection, my sense of empathy in general has increased.

Huston Smith writes in The World’s Religions, “Seeing all things under the aspect of eternity would make one objective toward oneself… Personal failure would be as small a cause for concern as playing the role of loser in a summer theater performance. How could one feel disappointed at one’s own defeat if one experienced the victor’s joy as also one’s own; how could being passed over for a promotion touch one if one’s competitor’s success were enjoyed vicariously?”[3]

To be fair, my experience of enhanced empathy has been more that I feel another’s defeat and sorrow to such a degree that it dampens any victory. In general, it has turned me into a person who is not very competitive. I am also highly moved when I witness kindness and love between people; not romantic love, but the kind that gives without any expectation of return.

I want to be careful, here, not to suggest that I have some sortof emotional mastery that abnegates the self in favor of the collective. I still very much have a self – and, in fact, I like having a self. My self still has concerns about others’ perceptions, about being loved, about doing the right thing, etc.

Enhanced empathy is not synonymous with being a ‘perfect person.’ It’s not even, necessarily, always a desirable quality. Famed spiritualist Sonia Choquette says highly empathic individuals often have weak psychic boundaries. They let other people’s emotions influence them in, sometimes, unhealthy ways. In my case that’s very likely to be true, I’m working on my energetic boundaries. In any case, enhanced empathy is a similarity between ‘The Force’ and ‘Energy.’

The Sith are able to generate a lightning-like manifestation of the dark side of the Force that can be used either in combat or as an instrument of torture, as demonstrated by the Emperor in Return of the Jedi (1983).[13]

I’ve got nothing on this one. I’ve never seen anyone control or generate lightning using energy.  🙂 I suppose it’s possible, but let’s leave this one in the ‘difference’ category for now.

Conversely, Yoda demonstrates an ability to absorb, dissipate and deflect these energy attacks in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005).[4]

What I can say about this ability, from my own personal experience, is that I tend to feel a build-up of intense, ‘crackly’ energy when a strong storm is coming (as one example). When that happens, the Energy needs an outlet, and I find I need to ‘ground’ it (by directing the flow of energy to the Earth), cry, or do something physically draining (dance, running, etc.). If I don’t do these things, I end up fighting with someone – the energy comes out as aggression.

When I direct the energy to flow through me instead of simply trying to absorb it or manage it internally, I feel much better. Based on that, I can imagine a master energy practitioner (the equivalent of a Yoda, for example) being able to masterfully redirect energy from a direct energetic ‘attack.’ I consider this capability a similarity between The Force and Energy.

Practice, Patience, and Perseverance

The development and use of Force abilities requires intense willpower, discipline, and concentration, which becomes easier with practice. Use of the Force requires considerable effort and energy, and can be physically draining.

This is definitely true of both Energy and The Force. What the Star Wars series alludes to, but the watcher does not really experience firsthand, is that working with Energy takes a tremendous amount of effort and patience. Even for people with talent in one particular area, I imagine they have to put in considerable effort to expand their experience of Energy.

In the newest installment of the Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens, the main character, Rey seems to just “come into her abilities” without a lot of training or effort. In contrast, in the initial trilogy, Luke spends most of The Empire Strikes Back in training with Yoda. The latter aligns much more closely, in terms of effort required, to my experience working with Energy.

Additionally, in the Star Wars Universe, it seems that all or at least many of the properties of The Force are available simultaneously to ‘force-sensitive’ individuals. Maybe I’m just ridiculously untalented in this area, but Energy talent does not appear to manifest the same way.

Even when people have a strong, natal talent for working with energy it seems to be higher in one or two categories rather than spread across all of them. For example, one person might be highly clairvoyant where another is highly empathic. However, it’s certainly possible, if people were to begin training in such practices on a regular and consistent basis, that we might see more people with abilities across the full spectrum.

After a side-by-side comparison, I see many similarities between what I call Energy and George Lucas’ concept of The Force in the Star Wars universe. There are certainly differences also. One obvious difference, though, is that one belongs to a fictional world where its properties can expand to whatever the plot requires.

The other is a real element of the corporeal universe. While we can all train ourselves to consult at varying levels of ability, the properties of Energy are still bound by the physical laws of the Universe.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. Now that we’ve gone through the basics on Energy, hopefully it will make more sense (if it hasn’t already) where it comes up on the blog.

[1] See the paragraph in ‘The Art of Finding’ about how ‘performance anxiety’ can interfere with tapping into our subtle abilities.

[2] See the post “What does it mean to be psychic” for more details on this

[3] The World’s Religions; Smith, Huston; 1991; Harper Collins; p23

What IS this concept I call Energy and How Does it Compare to The Force from Star Wars?

Please note: “The Force,” “Jedi,” “Star Wars,” and a host of other related terms are trademarked by LucasFilm / Disney. Additionally, the opinions and views expressed in the below article are the author’s own and not associated or endorsed in any way by LucasFilm or Disney. Lastly, the goal of the articles in this series is to intellectually compare an idea from the fictional Star Wars universe with a concept from our actual universe – not to imply that these two things are the same.

“I put The Force into the movies in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people. More a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system.” George Lucas as quoted in the Wikipedia Article on The Force

A long time ago, in a post far, far away[1] I noted that the Universe is made up of Energy. I then went on to say that I wasn’t going to dwell on the subject since there are many other works in both the spiritual and scientific space that explain this better than I can. Perhaps as a result of seeing the new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens in the theatre a couple months ago, though, I feel an awakening desire to discuss this topic in a little more detail and on a little more personal level.

I started out writing one long post, but now that I’m on a weekly schedule, I’ve decided to break the topic up a bit. The first installment (this one) is a high-level comparison of The Force and Energy with a minor discussion of dark side / light side, the second will detail my personal story related to Energy, the last three entries will feature a ‘side-by-side’ comparison between the powers associated with The Force as depicted in Star Wars and those associated with the concept referred to as Energy on this blog.

So what do I mean by Energy and how does it compare to The Force concept in Star Wars?

To explain, I’ll return to the starting statement from that previous post and we can unpack it a little bit. First, the Universe is made up of Energy. Acknowledged, there is disagreement in deep physics about what form this Energy takes. For example, is the smallest unit of energetic existence a particle? Or a vibrating string? Or something else entirely?

To participate in our everyday existence, the form this fundamental ‘building block’ of Energy takes is not that important. When I use the term Energy on this blog, I am simply referencing that fundamental ‘building block’ of the Universe which is at the heart of all existence. Whether we talk about atoms or quarks or neutrinos or strings, we, and everything we know to exist, is rooted in some kind of energetic substance.

According to the Wikipedia article on The Force, “In the original Star Wars film (1977)… The Force is first described by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi [as] what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.[1]

Although The Force is an “energy field created by living things,” when it comes to ‘Energy’ the category is much broader, it’s all existence. For example, when I drive, I tend to extend my Energy into the car such that it becomes like part of my body. This doesn’t mean that my car is ‘conscious,’ but that, at an energetic level, my car is available for me to tap into. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Racecar drivers, for example, have this same experience at a more intense level where they may feel, in a way, one with the car.

Although things made up of energy appear widely dissimilar to us on the ground (ie – a tree and water hardly seem the same energetically), because of the energetic connection on a fundamental level, it is possible to ‘tap into’ this energy for information or influence. In fact, I believe (and this belief is not that uncommon in the spiritual space) that there is some base level of communication and connection possible among all existence on an energetic level.

Reach Out and ‘Touch’ Someone[2]

If it helps, think about a wireless network. There is data around us all the time that our devices can process into content which we are able to use via our phones, computers, televisions, etc. Imagine that we could tap into and process that information directly.

We probably could, although this wouldn’t be as awesome as it sounds. You might not care, for example, that your neighbor is searching the latest sale on a children’s clothing website or that the person sitting next to you on the train is watching an old slasher film. If all the information in the wireless networks around us came crashing in at once it would be overwhelming, and certainly not very useful.

To make matters more complicated, the Energy I refer to is broader than that of wireless networks, because it is the Energy of all people, all animals, all existence (living or not). When we tap into this Energy and process its content into usable data – we have potentially unlimited information available to us.[3]

One secret to using this ability wisely, however, is being able to consult the energy in such a way to get only the information you need – not everything. Unfortunately, when we add all our fears, insecurities, and filters into the equation – it can be highly challenging to process and interpret the information we receive from energetic connection without putting an interpretation on it.

One of my favorite quotes from Sarvepalli Radakrishnan (in reference to the mystical experience) puts it this way,

“…there is no such thing as pure experience, raw and undigested. It is always mixed up with layers of interpretation. The alleged immediate datum is psychologically mediated.”[4]

We can tap into this Energy source for information, but once our brain starts processing it into thoughts, interpretations and judgments start to sneak in. This is one reason why doing deep self-cleaning is so important.

If we review the Wikipedia article on The Force it notes that, “The Force is naturally stronger in some people than others, and some who are not significantly gifted can still be sensitive to The Force in varying degrees.”

This quote makes me think of psychics. Based on my own personal experience working with Energy, I believe that people we think of as ‘psychic’ have a particular talent connecting with and processing this Energy into usable material. While we don’t all have such ability in equal measure, we can all develop our skills in this area. I have had a number of ‘psychic’ experiences although I would never call myself ‘psychic’ because (to me) the term implies an amount of control over this ability I simply do not have.[5]

Obviously, there’s a big gap between what most people think of as a ‘psychic’ and a light-saber wielding Jedi. However, I want to save the ‘side-by-side’ comparison details of “powers” associated with The Force versus Energy for the third installment of this series.

Dark Side / Light Side

We can’t complete a comparison between The Force and the concept I refer to as Energy without touching on the dark side / light side concept.

According to Wikipedia, “The Force has a negative and destructive aspect called the “dark side“, which feeds off emotions such as fear, anger, greed, pride, jealousy and hate. Jedi Master Yoda explains to his pupil Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back (1980): Anger, fear, aggression! The dark side of The Force are they … a Jedi uses The Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack.[2]

In the Star Wars films The Force is highly polarized, is the same true of Energy?

The similarity or difference here depends on the answer to a simple question about The Force. Is it The Force that has a dark side or is it that powerful Force-sensitive individuals, who retreat into their ‘shadow’ selves, use The Force in dark ways? To put it another way, is the apparent polarization of The Force a projection of the perceived light side / dark side dichotomy of the human psyche?

The above quote from Yoda seems to indicate that a key element of The Force is how it is used. Does the dark side of The Force “feed off of” negative emotions as the Wikipedia article suggests, or is it that those emotions lead to using The Force in ways that are destructive to life and love?

The Universe is a place of creation and destruction. At the most fundamental energetic level, it is impossible to create without destroying. Thus, I believe, that the Energy of the Universe itself is amoral; defined by Merriam-Webster as, “lying outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply.”

Some believe that there is an inherent morality built into the Universe, I do not think that is true, per se. However, our actions do have re-actions, energetically, and our own feelings and interpretations of our actions at a soul-level[6] based on our own (and others) understanding of morality can cause karmic consequences that we interpret as ‘the Universe’ itself having a morality[7].

In other words, we perceive certain actions as ‘good’ and other actions as ‘evil.’ These perceptions influence the action / re-action karmic sequence. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone to hurt the people I love – I’m not ‘above’ making moral judgments of my own and others’ behavior, but I recognize that my own concept of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ has a lot to do with the people, ideas, and things that I value.

Thus, it is certainly possible to use the Energy of the Universe for purposes most would consider nefarious. The Universe itself would not ‘stop’ this, but, interestingly enough, just as one of the biggest blockers for us tapping into and processing this Energy into usable data is our own psychology, on the flipside, one of the biggest blockers of using this Energy for destructive purposes is our own “conscience” being unwilling to do so.

I believe this is the same with The Force and that this is why we find Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens agonizing over the assignment to kill his own father. He is not battling with The Force, he is battling with himself. His use of The Force is a reflection of his own internal state.

I hope you enjoyed this high level introduction to what I mean by Energy on the blog and the comparison to The Force for illustrative purposes. In next week’s installment, I’ll cover my own journey of discovery and understanding this concept of Energy. I would love to hear your thoughts related to these two concepts (or how you think / refer to it. 🙂 )

[1] The Double Agent of Change

[2] Insert reference to the telephone ad

[3] It’s possible that, at the most fundamental level, the Universe is re-creating itself every single moment based on the ‘instructions’ from the moment before. Did that just make your head blow-up? It makes my head blow-up when I think about it. However, even though there is broad understanding that the only moment that actually exists is the now, I think we still haven’t worked through all the implications of that. If there’s no tangible past or future that actually exists, for example, how does existence persist from moment to moment? How does the new moment relate to the previous moment? One possibility could be spontaneous regeneration of the universe based on the instructions of the prior moment. If that is true – then we have the possibility of a very high amount of influence on the next moment based on the current moment. As you can see this idea is still very raw, I may work through it more in a future post… depends on how things develop.

 

[4] A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy, Radakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Moore, Charles A., pg 623

[5] I discuss this in more detail in one of the earliest posts on this blog ‘What does it mean to be Psychic?’

[6] We’ll talk more about ‘what the soul is’ (From my perspective, of course) in an upcoming post

[7] The flipside of this would be to assert that – if the Universe is God (as I believe) then its actions determine morality, but as such this is really the same thing as being ‘outside’ of morality. In either case, the element in question operates by its own rules and is not subject to our human notions of morality.

Find Lasting Love – Step 3 – See THEM

Welcome to Part three of this three part series on finding lasting love. If you haven’t read the first two installments of the series, I highly recommend doing so as the elements build on each other.

One of the biggest obstacles to a happy, lasting relationship can be that our own insecurities (as covered in step 1), and filters (as covered in step 2) get in the way of even seeing someone else for who they are. If we’re hiding behind our own walls, how can we possibly see anyone else?

Whether we are looking for new love or in a long-term relationship, if we can’t see our partner, we can’t engage with them in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Our fears and insecurities as well as filters inform many of our emotional interactions. All of our relationships are impacted by this, but since our love relationships are often characterized by emotional interactions, they tend to see the heaviest impact.

We should expect that our partner (or potential partner) has just as many fears, insecurities, and filters as we do. Perhaps a previous partner told them they were a boring lover and now they’ve researched every kama sutra position and aphrodisiac there is. No one will ever call them boring again!

Meanwhile, you’re thinking I don’t want to do gymnastics in bed! Can’t we just have sex? Or perhaps you’re even intimidated by all this expertise – what if they think you’re boring? When both partners are operating from a place of pre-existing (or even newfound) insecurities and fears without sharing them with each other, it’s a recipe for discontent.

Before we go further, though, a gentle warning. Seeing our partner for the whole person that they are is not the same as psycho-analyzing their every action and delivering a diagnosis with little to no input from them. ‘Seeing’ your partner is not an excuse to avoid a difficult conversation, it’s an invitation to have one.

‘Seeing’ your partner is recognizing they have their own fears and insecurities about the relationship and creating a space in which you can share that information with each other. Obviously, in a brand new relationship this would be heavy first-date conversation, so it’s enough in such a case to be aware that your date is a human being who comes to the situation with their own “baggage” and that what they carry is no less valid than your own “baggage.”

If we want to see our partner clearly, we need to train ourselves to enhance our observations of behavior and reduce the ‘spin’ our own filters and fears put on them. In Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication, he notes that, “Judgments of others are alienated expressions of our own unmet needs.”

He goes on to say,

“When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism. And when people hear anything that sounds like criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack.” [1]

If we’re going to change the way we see our partner, we must do more than change the way we communicate – we must change the way we think. We need to train ourselves, internally, to separate behaviors from our interpretations of them independently of when we feel a need to talk to our partner about a particular behavior.

This way, when we do feel a need to communicate on a behavior, we can approach from a point of open curiosity not because we’re trying to lead them to a particular point, but because we genuinely feel that curiosity – “I notice that you do ‘x,’ why is that?” This is an invitation for both partners to understand more about each other, versus one partner having a particular ‘view’ of a behavior that they are trying to ‘help’ the other person understand – no matter how compassionately phrased.

It’s important to me that you know, as a reader, that I do not share this advice from a superior position. All three of these steps are continual work I have to do in my own relationships; all of my relationships. Sometimes I do this really well, sometimes I fail miserably. I feel good about myself for trying, though, and that’s the key thing to take away from this series – the importance of making an effort.

Early on in our marriage, my husband used to wake up on Saturday mornings and agonize about the state of our apartment. “This place is a disaster, we need to be cleaning right now.” I would look around totally dumbfounded, there was nothing different about the ‘mess’ we had on Saturday morning versus Friday night – or Monday afternoon for that matter.

We had many, many weekend arguments about this until one day, after a particularly tumultuous fight-and-make-up series I observed, “You know, I notice this only happens on Saturday mornings. Is there something particular about Saturday mornings that causes an acute sensitivity in this area? Why don’t we have this same fight on like a Tuesday evening, for example?”

After some quiet reflection, my husband shared that when his family moved to this country, because they could no longer afford a maid, his mom would get the whole family up in a frenzy on Saturday morning and they would spend the early part of the day cleaning. Subconsciously, when he saw our apartment as a mess on Saturday mornings, he felt anxiety that we weren’t following this cleaning pattern he had become accustomed to.

That was one half of the mystery. It takes two to fight though – why did I resist his impulse so strongly? The apartment was a mess, why didn’t I just accommodate his wish to spend the Saturday morning hours cleaning?

I shared, for my part, that on the Saturday mornings I grew up with the family slept in and took it easy. It was the first day of the weekend after a long week of school or work and the last thing we did was more work at home. So I had been reluctant to give up what I viewed as my relaxation time.

The important thing to note is that this was also a pattern. These two conflicting patterns, meeting on Saturday mornings, triggered many explosions.

Once we had come to these realizations about our own behavior, we were able to choose how to move forward. I agreed that the apartment could benefit from more frequent cleaning and my husband agreed it would be nice to relax on Saturday mornings. Once we had freed ourselves from these unconscious influences, we never fought about cleaning on a Saturday morning again.

The exercise for this week is a bit more long-range than the two previous installments. Over the next few days and weeks make an effort to observe your partner. Not judge, just observe. Try not to creep them out! J

How do they get up in the morning? Do they seem well rested or always tired? How do they come home from work? Energized and happy? Disappointed and drained? How do they interact with you? How do they interact with others? What are their regular habits and how comfortable do they feel breaking those?

I can’t say this enough (because we all do it naturally), but really try to avoid judging or interpreting. For example, we want to avoid moving from “My partner hasn’t done the dishes in the month we’ve been together” to “My partner is lazy.” The first is an observation of a behavior, the second is a judgment on the cause of that behavior.

The goal of this exercise is not to deliver any kind of evaluation, but to start really seeing your partner in an effort to understand them better.

Even better than just watching your partner is to watch yourself watching your partner. Notice when you have an emotional reaction (especially a negative one) and ask yourself why you feel that way. You may find connections to some of the fears, insecurities, and filters identified in the first two exercises.

It can be invaluable to have this exchange with yourself before you address a behavior with your partner as it will allow you to explain to them “where you’re coming from” versus representing your viewpoint as an objective or obvious “truth” that they seem to be ignorant of.

Keep in mind that, at heart, most people don’t really want to be seen at this level of detail. At least, not by just anyone. However, if you see your partner from a point of love and compassion and not-at-all from a point of superiority, they probably won’t mind being seen so much.

All’s fair, though, and you can’t see them while hiding yourself. If you allow them to see you with just as much clarity and openness, the two of you will have the foundation for a relationship where love is supported by the kind of learning, growth, and sharing that makes relationships last.

I hope you found reading this series worthwhile and maybe found a tool here or there to try in your own quest for love or in an existing relationship. This post was inspired by my own experience with relationships, but the books Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen and Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg provided an excellent and helpful framework for organizing and thinking about my own relationship experience. I can feel their influence in the series overall and this post specifically. I highly recommend those books if you are looking for a more thorough and well-developed structure for the ideas in this series.

[1] Both quotes come from Rosenberg, Marshall Nonviolent Communication loc 1234 on Kindle

Find Lasting Love – Step 2 – Clear Your Filters

Note: This is part two in a three part series on finding lasting love, if you haven’t already read it, please see last week’s post. Each step builds upon the previous one

Roughly ten years ago, I was in a very bad place. My marriage was on the rocks and I was terribly unhappy in it. Whether or not my husband and I would stay together was, at least for me, a day to day question. Then I heard some advice I really took to heart and it changed our relationship for the better, forever.

I can’t recall whether it came from the pages of a book, the sounds of the radio, or if I overheard it in a conversation, but the advice was this, “Never let your idea of marriage, get in the way of your actual marriage.” This stopped me short. It was exactly what I had been doing, not just during this tumultuous period, but for our entire marriage.

I had all these ideas about what married life would or should be like and I constantly compared our marriage to them. When it became obvious our relationship was not going to be the idyllic love cocoon I’d imagined, disappointment, self-doubt, and depression set in.

I was angry with myself (Why wasn’t I attractive enough? Loveable enough?) and angry with him (Why did he act one way when we were dating, but differently now that we were together full-time?)

Idea Overload

The ideas we have about love, or anything really, can become like filters. An applicable definition of filter here comes from the Merriam Webster online dictionary, “Something that has the effect of a filter (as by holding back elements or modifying the appearance…)”

We think love, a relationship, a marriage, should flow along particular lines and the occurrences and behaviors that align with those pass through the filter. Everything else positive is left at the curb. In contrast, we use the events, ideas, and occurrences that don’t align with our ideas as evidence for what is not working about the relationship.

This can be unhelpful for either finding a new partner or for the longevity of an existing relationship

The concept of clearing our filters builds on last week’s exercise in self-love. Not only do we have many fears and insecurities about ourselves in love and relationships (the focus of last week’s post), but we also have many ideas about how the relationship itself should be. Sometimes these can be completely independent of our fears and insecurities (although you’ll undoubtedly find some influence of your fears and insecurities on your filters).

Maybe we think our partner should do everything with us, or conversely, we think they should let us be free to live our own life and do many things without them. Maybe we think a good relationship is characterized by lots of sex, or copious cuddling, long walks on the beach, or lots of intelligent conversation.

Regardless of what we think, these are our ideas of what makes a good relationship and not objective truths. Any partner we meet is going to come to the relationship with their own ideas of what makes a good relationship. Many of these, on both sides, will be hidden from view until after the honeymoon period is over.

Get a Heart Exam

One thing we can do to combat the detrimental effects our ideas of relationships have on our actual relationships, is to start looking at those ideas with a clear mind and eye. Take a moment to write down everything you can think of that makes a ‘good’ relationship or an ‘ideal’ partner. I recommend avoiding generalities like “mutual trust and affection” and being as specific as you can.

For example, do partners in a good relationship share the chores? Do they avoid nagging each other about housework completely? Should your partner take care of all the housework? Should you? Do partners in a good relationship allow opposite sex friendships? Do they not? How are finances handled? Should you or your partner take care of making sure the bills get paid and the mail gets opened? What about cooking? Eating? Political alignment? Etc.

As you can see, there are lots and lots of ideas that one can have about what makes a ‘good’ relationship or an ‘ideal’ partner! Although you don’t have to get quite as specific as I have above, you probably have more specific ideas than you realize. The more of your specific expectations that you capture, the more your own filters will start coming into view.

For example, you may expect your partner (or potential partner) to ‘clean up after themselves.’ For you, this may be an obvious basic. Your partner on the other hand, may have grown up in a household where a parent always cleaned up after them, or maybe they had a maid, or maybe they’re happy to live in a total mess. Your partner may not-at-all see this as a ‘basic’ component of a healthy relationship.

You may feel (when your partner doesn’t pick up after themselves) that they don’t respect you or that they treat you like a maid. Meanwhile, your partner may be perfectly happy living in unkempt conditions – they didn’t ask you to pick up after them – and completely dumbfounded why you ‘freak out’ about this all the time. Which one of you is ‘right’?

Neither. You both have different expectations. Even if ten people agree with you and only two people agree with your partner, it doesn’t change the fact that you have different expectations. The gap will be easier to navigate, though, if you recognize that this is one of your filters.

Let it Go

Once you’ve written down everything you can think of (and you can always come back and add more), see if any clear patterns emerge. Take each idea (or relevant group of ideas) and ask yourself why you have this idea about an ideal partner or a good relationship.

Is this idea representative of how you were raised? Is it something you saw in your parent’s relationship? Maybe it’s the opposite of how your parents interacted (if their marriage ended in divorce, etc.)? Is this something you saw on TV? Or read about in a book? Advice from a Friend?

All of our ideas come from somewhere. When we allow ourselves to see that, we may not feel so attached to them. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but many of my own deep ideas about romance and relationships came from fairy tales and, in my later teens, romance novels. When I was willing to see that about myself, it became easier to let those ideas go.

Unlike the subjects we study in school, our ideas about relationships largely come from our own life experience, making them especially subjective and especially entrenched. On top of that, we are all subjected to a fair bit of gender-based societal and media conditioning around relationships (although, thankfully, that is starting to ease up).

Bringing it back home

After you’ve explored where your ideas about relationships have come from, it’s time decide what you want to keep and what you want to let go. To be fair, this exercise will probably be an ongoing one, but it can be helpful to spend some time taking a first crack at it.

Recognize that it is entirely up to you which ideas about relationships (or an ideal partner) to hold on to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having ideas about how a relationship or a partner should be. It is your awareness that these are your ideas and not “the gold standard” that will make it easier to deal with relationship interactions that don’t align with your expectations.

Practicing the self-love from last week, you can feel good about your willingness to take a look at this part of your life with a critical eye; it can be a challenging and emotional exercise.

Once you’ve gone through your list, you are ready to take a closer look at your relationship (assuming you are already in one). Pay attention to all the things your partner may be doing that are beneficial or positive in the relationship that you may not “count” because they didn’t necessarily “match” one of your ideas of how a relationship should be.

For example, maybe they make sure all the bills are paid on time. Maybe they warm up the car for you in the morning. Maybe they share cooking responsibilities or maybe they’re a really good parent. I had a co-worker who lost a dearly beloved husband and told me that one of the hardest things for her (practically) after he died was realizing all the things he just ‘handled’ that she never even knew or thought about.

Working on our filters is a continuous process throughout our lives. When we start this crucial work, though, we can look at our relationships, and our part in them, through a clearer lens. We may find unexpected elements that we really like and we may find the things we thought we didn’t like help us learn about ourselves, our partner, and relationships in general.

When we’ve started to clear our filters, we’re one step closer to finding lasting love! Check in next week for the final step in this series!

Find Lasting Love – Step 1 – Love Your Self

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we can’t help but think about love. Not the universal, ‘brotherly’ kind, but the very human kind of love, the kind that (usually) involves physical contact and fluttering hearts. Whether we’re looking for someone new or are in an existing relationship, we can benefit from attending to these three steps to find lasting love. This week we cover Part 1;

Love Your Self

We are not very good at self-love. It seems to be all the rage, and we certainly pay lip service to it, but most encouragement around this idea is watered down to the point of a platitude. As a result, it’s difficult to understand what self-love is, much less practice it.

Based on my experience, Self-love is not seeing everything we do with a rosy glow, or ignoring feedback we don’t like because we don’t want to damage our fragile self-esteem.

Self-love may have to be tough love sometimes. If we think about a healthy relationship between a parent and a child, or a mentor and a student; what the parent / mentor wants most in the relationship is to see the child / student grow and find happiness in success.

At times, this will require course-corrections, admonishments, suggestions, etc. While this may be painful, at times, for the child or student, it is a necessary part of learning.

With self-love, we perform this role for ourselves. Rather than glossing over what we’re not doing right or dwelling on it so much we can’t see outside of it, we need to be able to look at our unhelpful behaviors with both a critical and compassionate eye.

The Devil you know

This holds true for any aspect of life, but since we’re focusing on love in this post let’s take that as an example. Let’s take a moment to write down all of our fears and insecurities around finding new love or about our current relationship.

These might be physical qualities, like our weight or the proportions of various body parts associated with physical attractiveness. They might be personality qualities we think inhibit a lasting relationship; ‘not playful enough’, ‘too controlling’, ‘too anal’, or –on the flipside – ‘too messy.’

It is okay if you cry during this exercise, I have often cried during such exercises. When we’re pulling up our deep fears and wounds, we should feel emotionally moved. If you don’t feel an intensity of emotion around what you are writing, it may be a sign you are not digging deep enough.

Once we’ve exorcised all those ghosts in our hearts, we are ready to really see them; to evaluate how they affect the way we feel about ourselves and the ways they get in the way of having a healthy relationship.

When we are bogged down by our fears and insecurities, especially when we haven’t taken the time to really be conscious of them, they can inhibit us from having healthy and fulfilling relationships. For example, if I’m insecure about my weight, I may project that insecurity onto my husband.

If he says, ‘let’s not eat out tonight’ I may interpret that to mean he thinks I’m fat and if we eat out again I’m only going to get fatter. Or if he says “We need to start going to the gym more.” I may think he means I need to go to the gym more because I’m getting fat.

Truthfully, my husband may think none of these things. I simply don’t know, and even if I ask, because I’m already projecting my own fear onto him, I’m unlikely to believe anything reassuring he says. We put a healthy relationship in jeopardy when we look to our partner to reassure us on the areas where we already feel vulnerable and insecure.

Each of us has different areas of sensitivity. Many people are insecure about their weight, but some are not. Some are insecure about their desirability or how good they are in bed. Others may be insecure about their intelligence. It doesn’t matter what our areas of insecurity are, it’s a key first step just to find them. If knowing is half the battle, we can’t even begin to fight if we don’t know.

Now What?

Now that we’ve flushed out our relationship fears and insecurities, we’re ready to work on the self-love part. First, we need to be compassionate with ourselves about the fact that we even have all these fears and insecurities. We can also feel pretty good that we were willing to admit them to ourselves, and bravely write them down!

Secondly, we should take each item individually and evaluate whether this is something we can (or want to) do something about or if it is something we just have to accept about ourselves or our situation; it may be both.

I engaged in this exercise before the birth of my second child. I had many fears and insecurities about the upcoming birth, especially given my last birth experience, and I really wanted to work on them. One of the fears I wrote down is that I would ‘run out of energy’ and be unable to deliver. My first labor had been thirty-four intense, long hours and I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough energy to go through that again.

When I looked at this fear I realized there were some reasons why my labor had been so long. I could ensure that my midwife and the hospital staff were well aware of the difficulties that happened the first time around. Too keep up my energy, I could ensure my diet leading up to labor was healthy and full of energizing foods. I could make sure we had lots of healthy ‘early labor’ snacks and that I was getting a good night’s sleep.

Writing down these ideas and putting them into practice greatly reduced the influence of this fear.

On the other hand, another fear I wrote down was that we would have a child with high-needs that we were unprepared to fulfill. Our first daughter requires so much energy and attention, my husband was very wary of having a second. I really pushed for the idea and I knew it was something that I wanted much more than he did.

As a result, I was terrified that this second child might make our lives even harder and cause my husband to resent that I had pressed so hard to have one. What if we found it hard to love the second child? What if we were never able to spend time being together as a married couple again because our lives were so full of childcare responsibilities?

Unlike the first fear, this one I had to accept. The many tears I cried over this fear helped me come to terms with it, though. Once all the tears were cried out, I was able to accept this potential reality and move forward knowing deep down that whatever happened, there would be support, love, and help from the Universe.

I offer these examples, knowing they may cast me in an unflattering light because it is important to be honest with ourselves about our fears and worries, even if we would be embarrassed sharing them with someone else. Even if we are embarrassed to even have them.

I recommend going through each of the fears and insecurities you’ve identified around love and relationships and making an effort to understand them at a deep level as just modeled. What are you willing to change? What are you unwilling to change? What do others have to accept about you? What do you have to accept about yourself?

Now that we have made an effort to identify, understand, and come to terms with our fears and insecurities, we should promise ourselves that we are going to avoid projecting them onto potential (or existing) partners. In order to avoid the projection, we had to go through the painful exercise of identification and reconciliation first.

It’s important to find and keep a supportive partner. However, we must recognize that no partner, no matter how wonderful, can heal our wounded sense of self-worth. We can only heal ourselves and we can only do so by truly loving ourselves. Allowing our conscious mind into the dark and hidden corners of our own hearts will help us find a path of healing.

When we really understand and internalize this lesson, we will naturally stop expecting our partners to bridge the gap between their own love and the love we should feel for ourselves. We will be one step closer to finding lasting love.

Tune in next week for the next step in this three part series on how to find lasting love!

Why I Love Mercury Retrograde and You Should Too!

If you know anything about Astrology, you’re probably familiar with the concept of “Mercury Retrograde” and you probably also know we’re smack dab in the middle of it. According to Astrology, Mercury influences (broadly) the area of communication. By extension, Mercury influences any field where communication is key; travel, technology, diplomacy, really almost everything.

Astrology websites usually feature a list of ‘don’ts’ or ‘avoids’ for Mercury Retrograde period. Don’t travel. Don’t make detailed plans. Don’t implement technology releases (actually, that one is just from my boss 🙂 ). I’ve even seen some caution against going out at all. There’s a perspective out there (not all, but certainly a few) that if you can hide in your house until it all blows over, more the better.

I used to be one of the doom-and-gloomers. Certainly, I’ve personally experienced the effects of a Mercury Retrograde from time to time. Recently, though, under this new Trickster paradigm, I’ve started thinking about this period a little differently. Before we get into that, though, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Mercury Retrograde, let me explain a little first.

What is Mercury Retrograde?

“Retrograde” is a term used by Astrologers, primarily, to describe when it looks like a planet is going “backwards” in the sky. All of the planets appear to go Retrograde at some point or another. Do any of the planets actually ‘move’ backwards in their orbits? No. However, most websites that champion science (like the NASA one) will explain this phenomenon in a way that’s mildly unfulfilling.

These websites often use the (very helpful, I think) example of people running around a track to explain Retrograde motion. They explain that, when a planet with a faster orbit laps a planet with a slower orbit, the planet with the slower orbit will appear to be moving backwards to the planet with the faster one. This makes total sense for the outer planets, but not at all for Mercury.

Mercury has a tighter and faster orbit than Earth’s, revolving around the sun in just 88 – 116 days (depending on the source). This is why Mercury retrogrades three times a year. The above race example doesn’t work for Mercury’s retrograde motion. Although when Mercury laps us, we will appear to be moving backwards to Mercury, Mercury will still appear to be moving forward to us.

So when would Mercury appear to be moving backwards in Earth’s night sky?

If we continue to use the example of people running around a track, the runner on the inside track would appear to be moving in the opposite direction of a slower runner on an outer track when they are in fact moving in the opposite direction.

They’re far enough ahead in the curve of their orbit that they’re ‘looping back around.’  This doesn’t mean they’re moving backwards, they’re moving forward for them, but in the opposite direction of us.

So, unlike the outer planets, where at least some of the retrograde motion is truly an illusion, Mercury’s “Retrograde” period does reflect an actual change in the energy of motion for the planet in relation to us.  The planet is not moving backwards, but it IS true that Earth & Mercury are moving in opposite directions which might be why the energy around this period feels so “oppositional.”

But Wait, Who Actually Believes in Astrology These Days?

Astrology is often the victim of the centuries old belief; if we don’t understand how it could happen, it must not be possible. But consider this, the gravitational pull of the Sun is so strong it keeps our planet in orbit. The moon dramatically affects the oceans on this planet via the tides, and the gravitational pull of Venus and Mars help keep our planet in it’s orbit.

Considering the observable impacts our space neighbors have on our planet at a macro level, it’s certainly possible that there are impacts at a micro level that we just haven’t studied closely enough to see.

So what does all this mean for me?

As noted earlier, Astrologers tend to strike a cautionary note around Mercury Retrograde period. This is warranted. It hardly feels like a blessing to be on the receiving end of delays, mix-ups, and miscommunications. However, if we approach this period from the perspective that we ‘learn more from failure than success’ it can be a time of incredible personal (and communal) growth.

Mercury (Retrograde) unearths the weaknesses in our systems and helps expose the areas where we aren’t paying attention. As a result, we are presented with opportunities to improve the way we do things.

As I write this, I’m also recalling a line from the Dao de Jing that advises us to be like the reed that bends in the wind, rather than the tree that stands against it. I can’t think of better advice for a Mercury Retrograde period. It’s a good time to work on our flexibility, adaptability, and (as featured in last week’s post) resiliency.

When things grind to a halt, how quickly can we get them started again? Do we get stuck or are we able to adapt, change perspective, troubleshoot, and move on? Remember that Mercury is a Trickster and one of the lessons the Trickster can teach us is to find value in disruption and uncertainty because of what they teach us about ourselves.

If you’re getting bogged down by the crazy issues that a Mercury Retrograde can throw your way, remember that, whatever the culture, Trickster stories are often funny, and the ability to laugh – especially at the self – is in itself a type of flexibility. If we can find the spirit to laugh during this time, we’ll weather it much better.