Ace of Wands with The Moon

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

Simple question: Who doesn’t like to be tantalized and titillated, mesmerized and mystified, enthralled and enraptured?

Did you raise your hand? Did you say “No, I’m not one for wonderment”? Probably not. I didn’t. I like to have my senses all atingle. I am much like most people I know; we love to find ourselves enthralled by some stimuli that widens our eyes and pries our mouths agape.

This might come in the form of a plot twist in a movie or tv show, it might be the high conflict in a novel or a story, perhaps it is a juicy piece of news about some big event that happened to someone famous, or innocent, or notorious.

Maybe our senses were stimulated by something new in the form of the material; we bought a new car, we tried on a new fancy wig, a puppy was introduced into our home, we just powered on the latest version of the smartphone we just received.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or a human condition thing, but we are addicted to newness. New events, new circumstances, new things, new technological advances, even new concepts and ideas. We love the moment when we cross the threshold from the banal to the thrill, we love to gasp at the reveal.

The problem is, the eternal stretch of the jejune that lives between the moments of delight inevitably rises up. It is during those lingering moments when we leap out of staying in the present like a cat walking across a hot stove. We play in our mind the highlight reels of the past events which tickled our senses, or we drum our fingers on the table waiting to be delightfully surprised again.

We as present-day people are jaded by peace and quiet and solitude. The irony is that true inspiration is found in the still space beyond the senses. We believe we are moved by all the little twinkles of delight that we so fervently seek, but these really are just distractions.

In all honesty, we are quite often afraid of those quiet moments where we are left with nothing but our own thoughts and feelings. The unspoken and unseen recesses beneath our senses are regarded like under-the-bed monsters. We live in fear of facing the part of ourselves that is meant to be grounded indefinitely without tv, phone, or dessert. We do anything to avoid having that long overdue nonverbal conversation with our subconscious. We know it will tell us what we need to do to be who we want to become, who we need to become, but it requires of us the work we aren’t willing to sign up for. It requires ripping the bandaid off our tender ego to reveal the shadow side that comprises our wounds and begs to be washed, rinsed, and exposed to the air in order to heal.

If we find ourselves frequently uninspired, with an insatiable itch to be tantalized by the next distraction be it through acquisition of the next latest and greatest thing or through a volley of escapisms, that is our queue to seek out the quiet space within. That realm may seem like it offers nothing but void and formlessness, but in all actuality it is the source of that which propels us toward our own rich becoming.


Active relaxation

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing some significant tightness in my shoulders. Although I’ve done my best to address this through introspection and self-reflection, it seems to persist. In fact, there seems to be this persistent very low grade body tension that I can detect in myself if I focus enough.

This seems to have manifested itself in my recent disposition from yesterday morning, as well as moments throughout the days of the last couple of weeks where the easy-going veneer has been peeling like cheap wallpaper in the heat of my smoldering tension. Yet I can’t seem to pinpoint it any better than the ownership of other people’s issues as I had discussed previously. Whatever personal insecurity is fanning this particular set of embers, it must be hidden below a thick and deep brush pile of the ego’s self defense mechanism.

So I’ve decided this may be a cue for me to reconnect with my regular meditation practice. The meditation has definitely been quite welcome and well needed, but the pervasive tension continues. During my meditative state the aches simply vanish will all other distractions, but when the music of life starts up again and the dance of daily living continues, the neural sidewalks along the streets of the neck and shoulders are littered with protestors picketing against some life condition I can’t seem to recognize, or at least acknowledge.

Perhaps I’m going about this whole thing backwards. If the mind and the body are truly synonymous, why do I always approach it from a position of having to deal with the mind first? What if it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog?

I decided the relaxation couldn’t wait for that one period of the day where I turn inward in stillness and silence. I took a mental scan of my body and found all sorts of little places where I was holding tension. My eyebrows, my lips, my cheekbones, my arms… even my breath. Especially my breath. I simply allowed these areas to release. I asked them to release.

It was an interesting study indeed, because oddly enough, relaxation took a lot of effort. It took constant focus and reminding to mentally check for tense areas that seemed to spring right back to their taut state like a soldier called to attention once mine was otherwise distracted. More so it was a wonderful reminder that being calm, focused, and centered by staying in the moment, being present, and claiming the space is not merely reserved for that 20 minute session of silent meditation. It may even be more valuable to take those moments to be completely aware of body, mind, and self in the most distracting of environments.

The irony of having to work harder at relaxing…