Friday, December 14, 2018

Working with the active imagination process

Among the many things that Carl Jung is remembered for, the process of active imagination may be one of the most interesting and helpful. Jung believed in the power of dreams to guide us and he taught himself to relax into a meditative state and then dialog with the characters who showed up in his dreams. In some of his writings he talked about this council of advisors who assisted him in making decisions.

After my dream about the Gypsy Woman, I began practicing active imagination. I'd sit quietly for a few minutes, watching my breathing. Then I'd picture her the way I'd seen her in my dream or in the last imagination session. And ask her questions or let he speak to me. Here's a poem I wrote after one of our first sessions.

The inner Gypsy woman
Holds out a ring of keys.
Her empty hand outstretched
To beckon me
Was not enough
To pull me
From my father’s grasp
His love for me, his pride in me
A gift and a velvet chain
Tying me to the past.
Ah, but the ring of keys.
It was as if a cool hand
Touched my brow, my heart, my body
And I believed her
When she said
He does not have the answers

Friday, December 7, 2018

Exploring the feminine from a new perspective

I have long struggled against the concept of feminine, buying into the prevailing attitudes that equate it with girly, pink, submissive, weak, indecisive, manipulative, a whole host of things I don't want much at all to do with. But studying mythology and archetypes has given me some very different perspectives.

  • The ability to move with the creative impulse without trying to force it is an aspect of the feminine.
  • Trusting the mystery of manifestation is one of the deep teachings of the feminine journey. 
  • Finding out about being instead of doing is the sacred task of the feminine.
  • Woman is nurtured and healed by grounding herself in the ordinary (warmth, security, human relationships).
  • The major task of the feminine is to protect human life and the sacredness of nature.
  • Embracing the feminine requires a conscious sacrifice of mindless attachment to ego power, financial gain, and hypnotic passive living. 
All of these things resonate with me and are giving me a whole universe of new ideas to consider. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Revisiting my values

The fourth module of the course I'm taking on finding or reaffirming our calling has focused on values. I've done values exercises before but never with this particular focus: am I manifesting my values in my life in a way that fulfill's my life purpose, my birth?

We had a long list of values and were asked to circle all that applied to us, then copy that list of circled items into groupings of our own design. My groups were mind values, heart values, and spirit vales. But I was left with a large number of others, including hard work, perserverance, discipline, productivity, persistence, etc., that didn't fit in any of the groups.

It was then that I realized that these values weren't native to me, but rather had been imposed by family, culture, schooling. Then I realized that they weren't values at all but rather tools that I could pick up and put down. This new understanding was so helpful for me.

What values or beliefs do you have that could be reclassified as tools, useful but they don't have to run the show?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Welcoming the Gypsy Woman into my life

I've been reading Maureen Murdock's fascinating book, The Heroine's Journey, her take on the vast differences for modern women in the trajectory of their lives. She speaks for all of us who rejected our mothers' stay-at-home lives and moved out into the man's world to be successful. She describes in a lot of detail how we have benefited and all that we have lost, both for ourselves and for the world in rejecting the feminine take on life.

As a Jungian, Murdock leans heavily on mythical archetypes and dreams, and one night during a workshop, I went to sleep asking for a big dream, an obvious dream. Here's what I got:

A tall beautiful woman in middle age is sitting in my father's office. She wears a lot of silver jewelry and a long purple dress. She is clearly a gypsy. I ask my father what she wants and he says she is waiting for a reply. To what, I ask. She wants a job and we don't have one for her, he says. I do, I think, and I smile at her and hold out my hand to shake hers. Instead, she clasps my hand at the finers curling them back on my own. I feel an instant bond.

I wrote the dream down the next morning first thing. Then got dressed and went for a walk in the residential neighborhood of the retreat center that was hosting the workshop. As I was nearing my return to the center, I saw a piece of paper on the sidewalk and picked it up to throw away. When I turned the paper over, I laughed out loud. A nudge from my guides for sure.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

A vote for non-'splaining

When I was a kid back in the Dark Ages, we watched a hilarious TV show called I Love Lucy. Lucy's Cuban husband was always on her case when she screwed up and would say, "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do." 

But I've become really conscious lately of how little 'splaining is really needed, how seldom we need to justify our actions or decisions. I've been noticing, both in casual conversation and in more transactional situations (shopping, working with clients), that many of us explain way more than we need to, me included. I'm not sure if we are insecure in our decisions or unsure what the other will think of us.

Here are some examples.

Q: Would you like something to eat?
'Splaining answer:  No, I don't eat between meals because I know that's not good for my digestion. I've lost seven pounds this week and I feel so much better. You ought to try it.
Non-'splaining answer: No thanks. 

Q: I have an extra ticket for the concert. $130. Would you like to go with me?
'Splaining answer: No, I refuse to pay that kind of money for an event. I can buy a dozen CDs for that. Can you believe what tickets cost these days. It's a scandal.
Non-'splaining answer: No thanks, but I appreciate you asking.

What I'm discovering is that these explanations almost always contain a criticism, blatant or veiled, and they negate the value of the invitation or offer. At the very least, they are a complaint (I'm too busy, I don't have the money) and this adds to the negative energy in the world, while a simple thank you is an affirmative acknowledgement of the offer.

Where does too much 'splaining show up in your life?