Sunday, June 23, 2019

Letters Not Sent: The Long Goodbye

It's been a while since I have done one of these. I have come to understand that when someone is on my mind, it's probably because I am on theirs. It's never an accident.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's been months since our last contact and I gave you nothing. I saw you in public that day, fawning over all of these people from your past. It's nice to think about all of the forgiveness you were given. It's nice to think about all of the forgiveness you begged from these people who only have to see you for show, right?  I was different, though. Wasn't I? You begged for my good will. You begged for my forgiveness. Why didn't I joyfully give you what you so desperately desire? The short answer is because your whims and desires no longer affect me.

The long answer is that I don't owe you forgiveness despite your demand for it. I do not owe you forgiveness for acting in such a manner as I told you that you would act. I warned you that your actions have consequences and that once people you were mad at were out of the way, then you would find some inane reason to be mad at me. I warned you against the childish stomping of your feet and angry fists on hips demands that you made. I warned you that would keep being your response until you alienated everyone in your life. I warned you that pettiness would be your cloak for some time to come. I warned you that your lack of self-respect and addiction would ultimately be your undoing. I warned you that your need to control everything and everyone around you would come at a cost.

Well, that cost is a lack of respect and trust. You want so badly to be trusted, but you aren't trustworthy. You want so badly for people to see the person you wish you were instead of the person that you are. You can't seem to understand that when you open your mouth, your whims and desires spew forth veiled in frustration and vanity, trying to lead people to believe that you know more and are more than you actually are. Your words gush forth in a waterfall of victimhood. You don't understand how your words and actions affect other people and you don't want to know. You expect them to give you forgiveness because you do not believe that you have done anything wrong and that they are unreasonable. You expect others to simply allow you to create havoc wherever you go and to simply allow it to happen because you refuse to open your eyes to your own destructive behaviors. 

The truth is, though, I kind of miss you. Yes, you were an addict. Yes, you were demanding. Yes, you were blind to all of the people you hurt because of your selfishness. All that said, you lived pretty authentically, despite the fact that you thought you were a good person. You wanted to be a good person as long as that meant you could have what you wanted without acknowledging who you hurt in the process.

Even now, your apologies consist of 'I was addicted and out of control' and 'I was such a slave to my substance of choice that I didn't know what I was doing'. We both know that isn't true. Your substance of choice simply gave you an excuse to say and do whatever you wanted. Now, you do what you want without that excuse and people still dislike you. Just like when you were an addict, they tolerate you because you can be useful. You make them money. You take up space when they need quiet time. You are their place holder when they have better things to do.

Love, you are still the same person. You are simply more in control.  You still act within the very nature that made you an addict. It still makes you angry that I do not acknowledge your 'sorrow' and your 'regret'. Your program has done a great many wonders in your life. It has saved you from plenty of messy situations. What it hasn't done is saved you from yourself. Oh yes, I still hear from people about you. I hear that you haven't changed. These people don't know that I know you until after they tell me about the way you treat them. These people don't know that 'sober' you is just like 'addicted' you, but less fun and creative.

I want you to know that I never hated you. I still don't. I don't even dislike you, honestly. I'm not angry at what happened between us. I never have been. I was angry at your pettiness (and you know what I'm talking about. Twice!) but I never expected anything less, addicted or sober. You should also know that twice your pettiness didn't work and I suspect, even backfired on you, because we both know that I have a will of iron and you do not.

I want you to understand that, of all the people you know, I am the one who saw you clearly. I am the one who saw your you-ness and despite it wanted to be your friend. You need to understand that I did not accept your weird 12 step program bid for forgiveness because, despite what was between us, that forgiveness is not for me to grant. I have never held any ill will toward you for being who you are. Asking me to forgive you for who you are is not something I can do. You must find that place within yourself that acknowledges you aren't the person you want people to think you are and you must make peace with that. I always saw it and I was always okay with it. It was that person I warned you about knowing that you wouldn't listen.

One day, I hope to discover you have seen this and read it. I hope you understand it is not a judgment against your person. I have no doubt that you will one day do great things and get the recognition you deserve for being who you are. I hope life treats you more kindly than you treat most people. I hope that you find more people who see you clearly in times to come.

Blessings,
River

Sunday, May 26, 2019

On Karma

There is this idea about karma that has crept up in the last half a decade or so in the pagan community. The idea is that karma is some kind of sentient being that preys on people, no matter their actions, simply because of a series of unfortunate events. Karma does not work like that. Our actions (or inaction) does incur karmic debt, but first, let's take a look at how karma works.

At its most simple, karma is cause and effect. If one does "a", then "b" is the consequence. Spiritually speaking, we see people every day who do sketchy things and don't seem to ever get caught. There's a reason for this, a couple, actually. First, as people, we want to trust that everyone is going to do the right thing. Everyone is not. Second, those people who are not willing to do the right thing always seek out the first group.

When that happens, those sketchy people manipulate those around them into getting what they want and by making each person feel a little paranoid and foolish, so as to not alert anyone else. This behavior can go on for years, literally. This behavior can also rack up a lot of karmic debt. If karma is cause and effect, then sometimes it takes a lot of cause to finally create the effect. The above is a prime example.

Years of half-truths and a pattern of people coming and going in their lives is a big indicator. Eventually, a person comes along who notices the pattern. It is always the same: small inconveniences or needs that suddenly lead to larger tragedies, which always lead to "life-changing emergencies" that, months later, were just really some kind of terrible scare and everything is actually fine. Rinse and repeat.

Well, that pattern happens over and over again until someone notices it. Usually, I am that person. (Go figure, right?) When I was a wee baby witch, I despised being that person. Nobody wants to be the one to ring the warning bell. Nobody wants to be the one to point out all of the little inconsistencies. No one wants to be the one rocking the boat. That boat rocking usually turns into some pretty negative stuff, but eventually, those karmic scales come into balance. Often times, that rebalancing is subtle. Publically, no one 'believes' you, but they all start backing away and privately, some will even support you.

Then, there are those times when the karmic scales tip completely over and everything spills out onto the ground in the most glorious manner. It is a good feeling to watch this happen, honestly. No, I never enjoy the bad fortune of another, however, sometimes the 'karmic whip' leaves one quite battered.

We, as witches, are the instruments of karma. (Whether or not we want to be.) Modern practices would lead us to believe that the Wiccan Rede and the Three-Fold Law prohibit us from being those karmic instruments, but I would have to disagree. Here's why:

The Rede does not prohibit us from protecting ourselves and others from harm.

The idea of doing no harm does not make us pacifists. The idea that we can not and should not expose those who would harm others, in effect, clips our wings. Our grandmothers knew their power and non-witches were afraid of it

The Three-Fold Law does not prevent us from doing the right thing because 'karma'.

It clearly states, 'three times bad and three times good'. Blowing the whistle on the bad stuff, if you are sure and have proof, is good, even if it doesn't, necessarily, feel like it at the time. 

The above stated, if you don't follow those two tenets, then you know you are an instrument of karma and you understand why.

Karma isn't some kind of punishment or some kind of sentient creature following you around waiting for you to make a mistake. Karma is more like a cumulative aspect of cause and effect. One dishonest act may not be noticed and, indeed, it may embolden you to do another, but eventually, the dishonesty catches up and the scales balance out. Sometimes it is a minor inconvenience. Other times it is a major ordeal.

In the end. do not be afraid to do the right thing, no matter the apparent cost. You could be saving someone else a headache and a world of hurt.

Blessings,
River

Friday, May 10, 2019

Witchcraft on a Budget

Imagine this:  You’re tooling around online and you see a really cool spell meme that includes a list of ingredients. Those ingredients include some kind of special Peruvian salt, 13 perfect jasmine flowers, a single rose quartz, and a Lemurian crystal. Some of those things you have never heard of and the other things you don’t have the money to buy. Do you wait to perform the spell when you have access to those things? Do you never do the spell? Do you substitute?

The reality most of us live is one of frugality, much like our witch grandmothers. We are conditioned through advertising that we should have a whole different set of tools for Craft than for living. This is a load of bull shit in most cases. For those of us practicing low magic, the tools do not matter as much as they do for those practicing high magic. People wanting us to buy expensive and unnecessary things want us to believe that it matters.


Things like salt. It is not ‘more spiritual’ to use pink salt or some rare and expensive imported salt. Cheap iodized (or not!) table salt will do. I tend to use my specialty salts and salt mixes in my kitchen craft. Again, this isn’t because it’s ‘more spiritual’. It’s just because that’s what I cook with. If I am using salt to smudge and throwing it on the floor before I vacuum, I am definitely using cheap table salt. It gathers dust and negativity as good or better than large rock salt.

Things like pepper. There is no need to buy special peppercorns for magic. Coarse ground store brand pepper is just as good magically as it is in your smashed potatoes. The same goes for cayenne.

You can also use cinnamon or cinnamon bark, Italian seasoning (which I will get to later), garlic salt or garlic powder, turmeric, and pumpkin pie or apple pie spice straight from your kitchen cupboard. Olive oil, vinegar, and cornstarch also need not be bought separately.

Which brings me to something that will give most people an “Aha! Moment”. Italian seasoning, cajun seasoning, poultry seasoning, all of these mixtures are things that my mother and grandmother always had on hand. (My grandmother also kept bricks of chewing tobacco for poultices.)

Italian seasoning is a mixture of basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano. A basic Cajun seasoning is a mixture of garlic, onion, black pepper, and cayenne. As well, poultry seasoning is sage, thyme, nutmeg, black pepper, rosemary, and marjoram. So, what do each of those mixes do magically?  Let’s see:

Italian Seasoning:

Basil: Protection, cleansing, love, luck, fidelity, wealth
Thyme: Wealth, good fortune, purification, love, courage, sleep
Rosemary: Protection, purification, love, clarity, lust, healing, cleansing
Marjoram: Love money, happiness, protection, health
Oregano: Protection, happiness, luck, marriage, prophetic dreams

Just opening up your spaghetti seasoning, you could use it to anoint a candle for wealth, fortune, love, health, and protection.

Cajun Seasoning:

Garlic: Protection, healing, favorable weather, courage or exorcism
Onion: Protection, purification, exorcism, and healing
Black Pepper: Banishing, exorcism, and protection from evil
Cayenne: Repelling negativity, cleansing, and purification

So, a sprinkling of that generic cajun seasoning on my doorstep is excellent at giving protection and banishing bad juju? Looks like it.

Poultry Seasoning

Sage: Wisdom, immortality, protection and to alleviate sorrow
Nutmeg: Health, money, fidelity, love, luck, and clairvoyance

(I didn’t see the need to relist the other herbs already listed.) So, from the looks of it, generic poultry seasoning can be used for health and protection as well.

I use these three mixes because most people who cook have them in their kitchen and they are easily attainable and relatively cheap.  They can be bought from a large chain store for less than $1. You know, the one with the blue sign and yellow star thingy in its logo.

It should be noted that you can also use these in your recipes with the same effects.  Another thing witches on a budget can do is take their used eggshells and crush them and make cascarilla powder with them. There’s no need to buy it if you use it.

Candles, which seem to be a big deal on a budget, can be bought at the Dollar Tree (or a similar store). Some of my favorites to use, if I need a longer burning candle, are white emergency candles that are 6/$1. White candles substitute for every color. Also, if you need black candles, the best time to get those are at Halloween. The ones they sell at that time are, typically, solid black, where many of the cheaper black candles you get year around have a white core. (If the white core doesn’t bother you, then you don’t need to worry about it. It bothers me, but I’m a weirdo.) If you are more into quick candle magic or spells, birthday candles are the best thing ever.


As well, places like the Dollar Tree sell smooth river rocks by the bag. Those can be used to create earth elemental altars or they can be used to create divination sets, like runes.

Witching on a budget is much easier than expected. A fire pit can substitute a cauldron for fire magic. A crock pot can substitute a cauldron for kitchen craft. A coffee grinder can be a substitute for a mortar and pestle. The idea that we must have a whole other set of everything dedicated to Craft is unnecessary. It’s also more fun to work with what you have to see what you can do with it.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Toxic Positivity Culture

I see a lot of posts on social media where a person is having a bad day and they apologize for being in a bad mood. I see these posts where people have a chronic illness and apologize for having a bad day. What do they have to apologize for? From where I sit, nothing. In today's world, there is this idea that one must be positive no matter what. There is this idea that one must smile through the tears or joyfully endure the illness, abuse, or other bad thing happening. Why? Is it to show how strong one is? Is it to show how much one can take before breaking? Is it simply this weird positivity culture that we live in? The idea that there is so much bad in the world, so each individual must be the good?

The idea that bad things only happen to "vibrationally low" people is insane. As well as the idea that all negativity "lowers vibration." These ideas permeate open-minded society. Again, why?

Now, before I get ripped I would like to point out that, yes, affirmations work. Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy works. These are not the things I'm referring to. I'm referring, specifically, to the damage we do to ourselves within toxic positivity culture. The idea that one must apologize for feeling something other than positive. Apologies that begin, "I'm sorry, and I always try to stay positive, but..." But nothing! You are allowed to feel this emotion. You are allowed to spend time with it. You are allowed to release it.

Apologizing for feeling an emotion can do more damage. Would you allow someone, when you're feeling down, to say, "You should try being positive. It works for me." No, you wouldn't. I wouldn't, either, because that's a form of gaslighting.

Be aware of your thoughts. Listen to your body. Do not use your feeling down to lash out or blame other people. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you feel. There's no reason to beat yourself up. Find something that comforts you when you feel this way, music, poetry, art, a nice tea. Allow yourself to enjoy this thing and repeat an affirmation. With some training, your thoughts on not being 'allowed' to feel that way change. They change to a type of self-comfort.

I write these things because positivity can change the brain. This is known. However, the idea that just saying vaguely positive things changes the brain, especially if they are backward compliments, defeats the idea. Not believing the words also defeats the purpose. We have to stop gaslighting ourselves into being positive. If there is a health issue, we must address it. If there is an emotional issue, we must address it. Not addressing these things from all sides, spiritual, physical, and emotional, leaves us only partly healed.

Listen to the words to speak to yourself. Are you healing or are you sorry you feel bad? Are you doing the best you can or are you a failure? If you wouldn't let your most hated enemy say these words to you, then why do you say them to yourself? Don't let someone else's idea of positivity be your yardstick.

Blessed be,
River

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Love and Light: Veiled Abuse and Bullying in Paganism

We all know someone who is eternally happy and never has a bad day, even if it is through gritted teeth. These people are always espousing 'love and light' in their practice and encouraging everyone around them to turn their face toward the sun so that the darkness falls behind them. . .  Or something of the sort. While some of these people have genuinely made peace with their inner demons, most others have not. We have all been conditioned that 'love and light' is good and is an expression of a supreme good while those who embrace their own darkness and, therefore, humanity should be watched.

The reality that I have seen over and over is that those espousing 'love and light' the most are the ones who need to fall into the abyss of their own darkness the most, as well. They tend to be some of the most inauthentic people I have ever met and I mean inauthentic toward themselves, not necessarily, others. There are certain behaviors that are present within the vast majority of the love and light crowd.

First, I notice that may within the 'love and light' crowd like to use guilt as a motivator. Now, this only works if the person on the other end harbors feelings of guilt or some insecurity that can be linked to these feelings. One thing I hear from these types is, "You may not like them, but you have to/should love them anyway." Well, no. I am not required to waste my energy on anyone. I do not like them. I do not have to like them. I certainly do not have to love them. I can look at that person and feel absolutely nothing. I am not required to speak to them, touch them, or interact. There is zero requirement for me to entertain that notion.

Second, I notice that these types often get frustrated and very angry when other people refuse to be controlled. These types will often 'call out' an individual in an effort to shame them, another emotion that one must espouse for these types to manipulate another individual.  If one is not ashamed of one's actions or is not in the wrong, then this tactic doesn't work, thereby creating more anger and frustration for the "love and lighter". This is especially prevalent online. It happens quite regularly, as a matter of fact, in social media groups.

Indeed, it happened recently in a group that I was a member of. One particular poster wasn't very nice. I didn't like her and most everyone else didn't, either, however, she was a pretty good source of basic information. Something happened off of the group and the moderators flipped the fuck out and one decided to bring it into the group with this post:


Now, I have done nothing but block out the name of the poster, the group, and those mentioned in the post here. This is a screenshot of the post by a moderator who always espoused how much love and light she had for everyone. Here's what I see:
1. Calling the offender out in the group. This is poor taste and not in the least bit what a leader does, not even with an unreasonable poster. (And, I promise, the offender was unreasonable.) This is an invitation to the group to start bashing said offender because the comments weren't even turned off until the bashing began. Again, nothing love and light about that.
2. This is an intimidation tactic. You are telling everyone who sees this that if they step out of line then you'll do the same to them, tag them in a horrible, hateful post and leave it open for others to bash on them as well. (And, in the meantime, doing exactly what you say others are doing.)
3. You are telling everyone that there are a 'few others' you are after, as well. Waving a veiled threat around to people not mentioned in an effort to scare them into acting and being a certain way.
4. This is venting one's proverbial spleen in a group that has no idea what is going on. This kind of anger is going to seriously upset some of the more timid people. So much for all of that love and light, right? Real leaders simply don't do this.

Third, when guilt and shame don't work, these 'love and light' guys turn to projection and veiled threats. They project their own insecurities about being respected onto others as a lack of respect and they see every question as an insult to their person and their allies. One of the mods posted something, stomping her proverbial foot about being disrespected and she was going to ban the next person who said anything snarky.

Until this point, I didn't even realize that this, particular, person what even a moderator. So, she's suddenly going around threatening to ban people? I, genuinely, thought she was suddenly the group banning bitch or something. So, I asked for clarification:



As you can see, I wasn't the only person who took that comment to mean that said moderator was just going to start banning people willy-nilly because she was extra butthurt that someone disrespected her authority. Of course, my comment was taken as threatening and sarcastic.







Here is the, again, veiled threat.  The moderator was working under the impression that anyone and everyone was being sarcastic
and threatening to her as a moderator. She absolutely refused to believe that someone might be sincere and not be challenging her authority (which, by the way, was all in her head, as she couldn't even close comments on a thread without asking permission.)

So, again, another poster responded in kind to my question and her unreasonable knee-jerk response. The moderator then began (again) projecting passive-aggressiveness onto my comments declaring that there was 'a lot' going on, which there weren't, except said moderators.











You can see here, the accusation of my being passive-aggressive, even after apologizing. It was somehow my fault that she took things wrong when I asked her to clarify and she threatened me with banning. Again, these 'love and lighters' like to use people as examples. They hate it when their authority is challenged, which as you can see, she 'closed' the discussion by, as I stated above, asking the administrator if she could and getting permission first.

This kind of behavior goes on for several days, veiled threats, projection of sarcasm and being passive-aggressive, and foot stomping, demanding that everything get back to normal.

Bullies don't like it when people question them. They don't like it when a person ignores their fits. Bullies like to be in charge and have people just a little bit afraid of them. It gives them a sense of power when they feel like they have none.

So much of the 'love and light' crowd feels this way: powerless. They think that if they are good and kind and happy and all of the 'good' things in life, then they can hide from their out of control rage, fear, sadness, and cruelty. They can't. Those emotions they try to suppress, that Shadow raises its head in a multitude of ways, including manipulation and a bizarre sense of entitlement.

We tell our children not to bully each other, but as adults, how can we say this to children when we, ourselves, behave in such a way? Is it any wonder why children would rather kill themselves than live in this world? Do you take people where they are or do you try to force them into your little box of expectations? Do you project love and light or do you use it to your benefit to get people to do what you want?

When you work with a group of people, in real life or online, keep in mind that not everyone is all love and light all of the time. Keep in mind that some people use the 'light' in a bad way. Keep in mind that love, real love, has no conditions. Love sees you where you are and takes you as you are, only pointing you in the direction that is most beneficial for your own growth, even if that means kicking you Spartan-style into the abyss of your own darkness occasionally. Unfortunately, we humans don't often example that kind of love.

Brightest blessings,
River


P.S. I actually kind of expect some hate mail over this, people crying about how I have the 'love and light' crowd all wrong, etc. If you feel moved to respond, please feel free, however, I don't expect to be proven wrong, and in all honesty, I expect comments to prove me right. If you feel moved to respond, I hope that you are the exception. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

On Sending Energy, Distance Healing, and Other Well Meaning Magicks

We live in a community where everyone thinks they are an empath or a healer but few of us actually are. Social media allows us to send 'healing', 'good juju', or 'thoughts and prayers' to everyone we come across, if they ask for it, however, is this type of helping a good thing?

I bet your first reaction was, "Of course! How could you even doubt it?" Well, I do doubt it for several reasons and, realistically, some of these doubts are why I rarely send energy and if I do I send it with a very specific intent. (Though, until a conversation came up last week, I couldn't actually tell you why I had these doubts until I was shown a different perspective by a complete stranger.)

First, let's get the 'thoughts and prayers' out of the way. This is a big one on social media. I could be looking at your situation and thinking that you got what you deserved and praying that you get more of the same. I could be thinking that you don't deserve whatever you're getting and praying that it stops soon. They both can sound altruistic, sure, a person deserves/ doesn't deserve a break in life, or deserves/doesn't deserve death/poverty/illness/winning the lotto. Whatever.

Now, let's talk about all of that healing we send out. What are we sending when we send 'healing'? Some of us send Reiki. Others send healing energy, which is different but achieves a similar end. This difference can be significant.

As a Reiki practitioner, I can attest to the fact that Reiki is different from healing energy in two ways. First, Reiki is a blessing. Being a type of love energy, it is very highly vibrational and will get through any shields, wards, or other protections due to its very energetic nature. The spirit or higher self is not going to deflect this type of energy unless specifically instructed by the Self to do so and if we are asking for healing, we aren't going to turn 'good' energy away.

Healing energy achieves a similar end to Reiki, but it often comes from the Self or is drawn up from the earth (or down from the heavens), charged, and sent to the person in need.  This energy is often tainted with our own energy signature and can be deflected, rejected, or sent back if the receiver wants to, but again, often doesn't because of being 'open' to that intent.

So, then, what happens when someone is having an illness and they ask for healing? Depends. If it is a broken leg or post-surgery request, boosting up the healing for them will, hopefully, get them up and about quickly. It should keep the infection down or knit the bone, and in general, be a big help.

What happens, though, if this person has cancer or an autoimmune illness? The cancer is growing because the body does not recognize it as an invader or as an out of control growth of cells. What is 'healing' doing? Does it knock down the side effects of the chemo/biotherapy? Does it do its best to flush the chemo/biotherapy from the sick person's system? (In an effort to make them 'well' from the therapy?) Does it simply help the person along to die because their body is simply too worn out? Autoimmune illnesses already deal with an out of control immune system. Why would one want to boost an already overworked immune system with 'healing' when it is likely that suppression is likely what is needed? Another excellent example of 'healing' gone wrong is the flu.

How does the body 'heal' the flu? High. Fucking. Fevers. Now, why would you want to boost someone's immune system with 'healing energy' when the only way to beat something like that is a fever? Those fevers lead to things like dehydration if they aren't monitored. Sure, I know you're thinking that I'm missing the obvious to get the fever down, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, however, keeping one's fever down is inhibiting the body's ability to fight that infection. Fevers are good, at least to a point (and then we go back to the hydration/dehydration fever cycle.) Also, I'm not going to do more than mention things like seizures, deafness, and other things caused by an out of control fever.

Finally, I want to discuss pain as a growth factor. For some people, what they are going through is 'growing pains'. Do we really want to wish pain (or more pain) on someone who is already hurting? There are times when we, as human beings, are required by this life to find a new perspective through pain. Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional, the pain gives us what we need to grow. I know that I certainly don't unless I know very explicitly that I am giving this person pain in order to find a new perspective.

These are just a few examples of how our ideas of healing can go awry. When we send energy, Reiki or otherwise, it must be with the complete understanding that what we are doing may not have the results we expect. While we often sympathize or empathize with the person asking for help, sometimes their pain is both deserved and needed to help them along in this life. We must also understand that our helping can kill them if it is their time to die or their body is just too weak to keep going.

Next time, when a friend asks for healing, Reiki, or juju of any kind, remember to send it with the knowledge that it will help, but it may not be helpful in the way you expect or want it to.

Brightest Blessings,
River

Saturday, February 3, 2018

When Meditation Is Not the Answer

As pagans, we often look to each other for advice when it comes to energy work.  Among the new and old practitioners alike, the answer is often, "Meditation could help you with this." While this statement is true about 90% of the time, there are times when stilling your body and mind is not what is needed to produce more awareness. (Even if all of the new age hoo-ha tells us that meditation is the ultimate.)

So, when is meditation not the answer? Meditation is not the answer when you need to be more aware of your Self. A recent conversation I participated in online is a good example. The poster wanted to know how to strengthen his will. He recognized that it was more iron-clad when he was angry than when he was not and stated that he had a difficult time holding his intent. This is an excellent example of meditation not being the answer. (Have you ever stopped yourself from being angry by meditation? No? Join the club!!) Meditation will teach this posted how to recognize triggers that make him angry and it will teach him how to not react to those triggers unless he chooses to.

If the poster knows his will is stronger when he is angry, then he recognizes that it has a different sensation. Our emotions create physical sensations in our body. The problem we have is that we are usually too emotional to feel them, so we ride along that roller coaster. When we 'get into our feelings' we become enslaved to our emotions for that moment.

When we begin to cultivate self-awareness (first through meditation and then through life), we begin to notice these triggers. We begin to notice the physical sensations that go along with fear, anger, jealousy, joy, love, gratitude and even resentment. We begin to notice the physical sensations that trigger the emotional response. When we discover the trigger and the sensation, we can choose (eventually, at least) how much energy we expend on that emotion. This is the essence of cultivating the will and while this process begins with meditation, it can not be fully realized through meditation alone.

The moment we begin to choose how to spend the energy we have built up emotionally is the moment we, as practitioners, can choose how to wield our intent. Recognizing the physical sensations that go with certain emotions is the first step to that. How does one do this? It is both simple and not.

First, one must cultivate an awareness of one's body. To do this, I use a simple exercise taught to me by a very wise elder. I call it the "Let It Go Technique" and it is 4 steps:

1. Sit at a table, such as the dining room table, and hold a coin in the palm of your closed hand with your arm out in front of you, larger is better than smaller (such as a quarter or half-dollar instead of a dime).
2. Feel that coin in the palm of your hand. Close your eyes for this if you choose, but feel its weight, temperature, texture. Read it with your physical senses.
3. Turn your hand palm down and open it, dropping the coin. Notice the sensation.
4. Pick the coin up and repeat.

You will know you are successful in this exercise when you can feel every muscle, tendon, and ligament move, the pressure of the coin sliding from your hand, and if any of the tiny hairs on the backs of your hands and wrists are affected.

This simple exercise cultivates awareness of your body. If it is done enough times, one will begin to notice the tiny movements of one's hand or forearm muscles during other activities. This awareness then will translate to noticing the various sensations of our bodies as we move through life. Ultimately, this exercise opens up our awareness to the physical sensations that go along with emotions. Once one can feel the emotions physically, meditation is a good time to recall the sensation and explore it. This will also help to cultivate the will.

As practitioners, we tell each other to meditate all of the time. Meditation is not the answer for every situation. Meditation is not even the answer for most situations. Realistically, most practitioners these days don't actually do true meditation, so what we are suggesting to each other are different techniques for different practices that we all just call meditation, but that's for a different blog.

Have a blessed Imbolc. May the seeds you plant in the coming season flourish in the coming year.

Blessings,
River