After this election I feel HUMBLED. Truly. Part of being a spiritual person is to acknowledge that larger forces are at work. Many things are of my control even though my tiny little ego wants to throw itself on the floor, fists shaking, and have a tantrum. My job is to remain positive and hopeful that good will come. Blessings to all.
I recently moved from San Francisco to Athens, Georgia. I lived in San Francisco for about 16 years and couldn’t have any pets. Since I got to Athens, I’ve accumulated 3 cats. And they have helped me so much in my daily spiritual practice. Being constantly interrupted by a cat that that wants to walk on my laptop or crawl into a cupboard that I opened or sit in the sink when I’m brushing my teeth (I could go on) has made me stop many times throughout my day and practice patience and love. I mean, how can you not love them? And you can not rush through, you need to stop and pet and say sweet things to them; you must be patient.
We all know the effects of holding grudges and bad feelings toward ourselves and others–it weighs us down and holds an icky place in our heart. But how do we let that stuff go? I used to be a big grudge holder. I came to find out that this was the result of my own insecurities, feeling like what other people did to me was about me instead of simply being about their own human limitation.
To let all this go, I wrote down the name of every person who I felt had wronged me on a little slip of paper. Then I held it over my sink and thanked this person for what the experience had taught me, like how to be stronger or more compassionate. Or how to take the high road, or how to trust my intuition. I found one positive thing. Even if it was just giving me the chance to practice forgiveness. Then I lit that little paper on fire while blessing this person and myself. My anger literally went up in smoke! Instead of anger I felt love for them and myself. That bundle of burdens that I had been carrying for so long was released. And my life changed profoundly.
Compassion is a big thing in Buddhism and pretty much any other religious or spiritual practice I can think of. How do we put ourselves in the frame of mind to choose compassion over feeling irritated, angry and judgmental toward another person? And how do we choose compassion over disappointment in ourselves?
For me, if I am feeling irritated or angry at someone, it helps to first make friends with the feeling (not push it away), give it a little space, and be kind and gentle to myself. As I take care of myself and this feeling of irritation, I feel my heart open a little and I’m able to soften toward the other person. It’s an opportunity to thank them, really, for giving me the chance to love myself.
Image from Tarot de Saint Croix
It’s Capricorn Season (December 22nd to January 19th). In Tarot, Capricorn is manifested through the Devil card.
The Devil is a heavy card. But us Capricorns know how to handle heavy and most of all–we know the value of work. The aspect of the Devil card that I want to focus on is the work and the compassion that is the fruit of that work.
The Devil’s task for us is to acknowledge aspects of ourselves that we want to keep hidden. By acknowledging these not-so-nice parts of ourselves we acknowledge our humanity. We give ourselves the gift of compassion and when we encounter the same traits in others, its easier for us to forgive and be compassionate to them.
Here’s an example from my life. I’m a Capricorn, by the way. When I announced to my friend that I bought a house, her comments were really negative. I was taken aback. How could she throw cold water on my accomplishment? After my initial hurt, I tried to see the situation from her point of view.
My friend has a growing family and is probably in need of a bigger house. It’s very possible that she can’t afford one, and that hearing about mine was painful for her.
Was my friend feeling and projecting jealousy? Eww! Jealousy is so icky. Who wants to claim that? But wait, thinking back through my life, I can come up with many times that I’ve been jealous. And there have been times when I have projected that ugliness on to others. That’s not easy to own up to, but acknowledging that jealousy in myself allows me to forgive and have compassion for my friend who is suffering from it. And it the process I forgive and have compassion for myself.