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New York Times Tag

Sun in Libra September 23rd

dreamcatcher-1030769_1280“Be glad. Be good. Be brave,” wrote Eleanor Emily Hodgman Porter in her best-selling novel, Pollyanna. The year was 1913. This simple statement resonated in the matrix of the Collective Consciousness as the dark war clouds blotted the sun over the Balkans and young men were soon to drown in their blood in the trenches of World War 1. Ninety-nine years later, we continue to enlist in our private battles for survival—financially, emotionally, or spiritually. When everything around us seems to be falling apart, this steadfast statement bids us first and foremost, to be grateful. To conduct our lives with integrity and valour. The fortitude and unwavering optimism of eleven-year-old Pollyanna offered the comfort of hot-buttered toast and a cup of sweet tea at a point of impact in western civilization when there was no going back. When to be glad, good, and brave, was one constant beacon amidst cataclysmic change.

So often we hit a wall. Collide with an immovable force that profoundly alters the trajectory of our life: the accident, the lawyer’s letter, the termination of our employment, the conversation with our doctor that leaves us hemorrhaging hope. We stand at the door unopened. We tremble; we know with every fibre of our being that there will be no going back. When we cross this threshold, this crossing will reverberate across future decades of our lives – and the lives of those we love so fiercely. When we take those fateful steps, we feel in the deep silence of our heart, that we have to choose: to be angry, bitter, desperately powerless to change or control what has gone before. Physicist Stephen Hawking who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his twenties believes. He once told the New York Times, “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was twenty-one. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

73859.ngsversion.1466467572965.adapt.1190.1The Sun moves into the sign of Libra on September 23rd, marking the Autumn or the Spring Equinox. The turning of the Great Wheel of the Year. The Scales of Balance are poised. Compromise or polarisation. Quiet desperation or the grace to remember that this is precisely what we have come here to do. In scales of Libra we hold the tension of opposites. Light and shadow. The paradox of our humanness in the eye of the storm.

Rivers Dark 3Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche, writes, “Our time is pervaded by a great paradox. On the one hand, we see signs of an unprecedented level of engaged global awareness, moral sensitivity to the human and non-human community, psychological self-awareness, and spiritually informed philosophical pluralism. On the other hand, we confront the most critical, and in some respects catastrophic, state of the Earth in human history. Both these conditions have emerged directly from the modern age, whose light and shadow consequences now affect every part of the planet.”

63782.ngsversion.1467253445414.adapt.1190.1Pollyanna is a virtuoso at making deliciously sweet lemonade from the tart lemons in her life. She adroitly gathers comfort and joy from the shards of pain and misfortune. And she is skilled at playing The Glad Game. The rules are simple: find something to be glad about in every circumstance of your life. She’s a waltzing in the moonlight Libran as she gazes about her, finding beauty in the world she sees.

Our evolutionary challenge this month is inner serenity and a selective, deliberate focus on those things that are right in the world and in our relationships. Lévy-Bruhl and, later, Jung, wrote of the Participation Mystique. That mystical participation that can manifest in situations and material things in our lives. That sense of wonder and magic that is inherent in small children and has been codified as The Law of Attraction. We are required to “always look on the bright side of life” as we bravely embrace the contradictions, the baffling complexity, and buckle up for those roller coaster rides that leave us whip-lashed, aching and bruised.

Happiness, and her twin sister, Joy, dance in Gratitude, in the “little things that are the hinges of the universe” according to newspaper columnist and novelist, Fanny Fern. Gratitude is a spoonful of sugar to crankiness. Gratitude is like a garden. It requires careful tending if we want it to flourish. It may require gentle coaxing back into bloom after a storm or the cruel crush of frost. It certainly takes a good sprinkling of imagination and a stir of magic to feel it sometimes, and yet like the fairies that sit on our garden wall and fly about our heads as we water the rose bushes, it is always there if we look. If we believe.

Melody Beattie believes,“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

Gratitude, like Love, is a choice. It’s an inside job. If we feel like Cinderella, no pumpkin carriage, no diamond tiara, glass slipper, or handsome Prince will make us authentically, radiantly happy. If we play the Glad Game, and cheat because we don’t truly believe, we can’t evoke the magic. We cannot fake it ’til we make it. We cannot buy, Botox, or bargain our way to Gratitude and contentment. We cannot pretend to be Little Miss Sunshine if we feel like The Snow Queen.

Gratitude must become habitual for the magic to work.

So, observe those wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings. Give thanks that the silver white winters will melt into springs … And hold steady in these challenging times. Encourage ourselves and each other to keep moving, keep focused, as new life emerges from the dead leaves of change. 71645.ngsversion.1467253694265.adapt.1190.1

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The Chain

463px-We_Can_Do_It! January is a month of fervent resolutions and brave new intentions. A month of planting seedling new habits that require careful tending to take root.  Shakespeare wrote that “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  Yet our morning rituals settle over our lives bringing a sense of comfort and continuity in an often chaotic world. Our habits frame the frayed edges of our days and wrap the weeks together seamlessly.

A habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Most of us spend most of our lives cruising along on autopilot. Self-destructive habits keep us chained to the rock like Prometheus while the hungry Griffin picks and pecks at our liver day after day: negative thoughts cycle round and round like vultures over the carrion of the past, repetitive behaviours that harm our bodies and sabotage our relationships. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that “insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” So often pain, physical or emotional, is the fuel that burns away our inertia and creates a new sense of momentum in our lives. But it takes willpower and heartfelt intention to break the chains that bind us to the past.

We are not the sole creators of our reality. Would it were that simple. Millions of human beings endure cruelty and abuse, are taken hostage, imprisoned, scapegoated. But when we can see in the often fated challenges, opportunities to awaken to the fierce flame of our Higher Self, we unchain our potential to heal and realign our energies.

It takes kindness and compassion to look around our personal space and acknowledge that we have chosen the clothing we are wearing, the food in our refrigerator. On some level we do choose our partners, and our friends. We choose to love and we choose to feel happy. We do have the will to change and befriend our belief about the world we see. And it is will that ignites the fierce flame of power.  It is will that breaks the chain of “have tos and shoulds” that cloud our connection to our own volition.images2J2ZP8HQ

Psychologists who still work on a mechanical reductionist model of the world see a linear, causal curve for making and breaking of habits. New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business proposes that first there is a cue – a trigger for a certain routine. Then the routine – the behaviour. Then the reward. So when we can diagnose the cues, witness our routines, we may be more conscious of why we keep doing. And change the behaviour. Our willpower and self-control are like muscle strength writes psychologist Jeremy Dean in Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick. Willpower varies from person to person. According to our emotional state and even our energy levels during the day our willpower muscle will tire of pushing and straining. And when it does, we will be more susceptible to gorging on chocolate or having that midweek glass of red wine, or saying something harsh to our partner, despite our best intentions.

What if  changing our habits is more about self-love than muttering mnemonics to prompt us into new ways of cruising on autopilot? What if habits hide our Light, though we wear them like the garments that conceal the bodies of nuns or priests in certain religious orders.nuns

Perhaps habits belong to the realm of the heart. Perhaps they wander like itinerants through the crowded landscape of the mind? Perhaps changing habits is more about stillness and a dignified refusal to be part of the momentum. At least until we can access what gnaws in the darkness of our gut or makes us reach for a cigarette or turn on the telly. We might ask ourselves what our habits serve. What they cover in the folds of familiarity: the feeling of loneliness, invisibility, the  pain of our submissive silence?

Many of us see power as outside ourselves – the Universe, or the gods or the angels will tell us what to do. We seek guidance from others which may cloud the voice of our own true self and exempt us from the terror of our own responsibility.

Perhaps the human heart is far more complex than lab-rat behaviour in its many-splendoured manifestation.  Perhaps habits are about congruency and a deeper sense of purpose.  Perhaps habits will flower from the tap roots of discipline. If we are willing disciples we can fix our fluctuating feelings and will ‘o the wisp whims to a desired outcome, a larger purpose. Perhaps habits are about a commitment to our heart’s desires not our pained egos that fear the radiance of living too gloriously, too fearlessly. More about staying in authentic communication with our True Selves.

Perhaps it’s our heart that will perceive the true path for our journey this New Year. And the task of our Will to honour that path and stay in  communication with our True Self.

Private Moon by artist Leonid Tishkov

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

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