Friday, December 28, 2018

How do you make decisions?

I spent a week with a good friend recently who is a nomad. She has no fixed abode, visiting, traveling, and housesitting instead. She travels lightly in the world and is therefore open to opportunities when they come her way. In a group conversation, she shared with us how she makes decisions and I thought it was a genius idea.

Here are her criteria:
  • She feels authentic enthusiasm for the idea (a hell yes!)
  • She knows it is financially viable.
  • All the logistics around it flow easily (no big obstacles).
  • It is of service to her or to others.
  • It supports her awakening.
I love these criteria and even more, I love this idea of having criteria, of making decision-making easier and clearer. Even if I used only the last one as a guide, what a difference that would make.

What would be your criteria?

Friday, December 21, 2018

The tyranny of should

One of the readings for my Deep Vocation class is a chapter from a 1950 seminal text by Jungian analyst Karen Horney titled "The Tyranny of the Should." Horney could have written this just for me. It's about the neurosis of perfectionism, of continually striving to be something we aren't or aren't enough of (kinder, slimmer, more fit, more generous, more patient--you name it).

It's not the desire for improvement that is the problem, says Horney. It's ignoring whether what we want is even feasible. Often times the demands we place on ourselves (or others) are too rigid and too difficult. What's more, they don't take into account conditions that must be met beforehand (support, environment, stress, etc.). The demands may not be unrealistic in themselves, she says, but they can show a complete disregard for those conditions needed to fulfill on the demands: for example, trying to be patient and kind with everyone when we're exhausted.

Two other ideas of hers intrigue me. First, we can easily distinguish between shoulds and genuine desires because shoulds "always produce a feeling of strain," which just gets worse the harder we try to change our behaviors. Second, self-hate lurks behind most shoulds that we impose on ourselves and a need to control lurks behnd most shoulds that we impose on others.

As a One on the Enneagram, perfectionism can be my middle name. I'm looking at these ideas now when shoulds pop up. 

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.