Stress Free Living, Part 4: The Biggest Part
The biggest part of living a stress-free-life is you, who you are, how you think, your general attitude and approach to living. We all know people who seem happy and easy all the time. We complain about how they don’t plan ahead or worry or do things according to the rules, and yet marvel at how everything always just seems to magically work out for them. Sometimes society views these happy-go-lucky types as fools. In Tarot The Fool is looking up, completely at ease and unaware that he’s about to step off a cliff. He’s smelling the roses, he’s playing with the dog. He’s also protected by his innocent, childlike trust. When he steps off that cliff, he’ll land in a soft, cushiony pile of daisies.
On the other hand, we also all know people who worry so much, often over things that seem less than worry-worthy, that we wonder how they manage to focus on anything else. We all, probably, on some level, wish we could be a little more like Person A, and a little less like Person B. But many of us think we are who we are, and that we can’t change. How many times do we hear that excuse from one another? “Sorry, that’s just how I am.” The message of this blog post is that it doesn’t have to be. Change is easy, and I’m going to tell you how. The worrier would never have made it to the edge of The Fool’s cliff. He wouldn’t have smelled the roses because he feared an allergic reaction. He wouldn’t play with the dog for fear it would bite him. He wouldn’t have started on his journey because he would never finish planning for all the potential obstacles, and so he would never leave his house. And if he did, he certainly wouldn’t be enjoying the journey. Which of those images looks as if he’s having the most fun? That’s an easy question to answer. But I want us all to really get that having fun is the purpose of life. Relishing and fully exploring every experience is the reason we came. Because that’s how we add to the understanding and expansion of the Whole. Everything we go through in life gets added to the mix, and informs and enlightens everything that’s a part of it. (And there’s nothing that is not a part of it.) So how do we change our understanding so that we can stop worrying? We start small. We start with understanding where our stress comes from. The chief source of stress is the belief that we cannot be happy until and unless things become different than they currently are. We are straining constantly against the very reality we are living. We want to change our bodies, our jobs, our incomes, our credit scores, our environments, our governments, our families. We want to change the people in our lives into versions of themselves that we could be more happy about.
And the second biggest source of stress is fear of change. I know, we’re contrary things, aren’t we? We worry that some big bad thing will come in and change the life we have (the one we’re not happy with.) Maybe robbers will steal all we have. Or the banks will crash. Or we’ll get cancer. Or our spouse will die. Or our kids will be abducted, or break a leg playing football. Or the air will become so polluted that we can’t breathe it anymore, and the polar ice caps will melt and put us all underwater, and global warming will bake us all to death even if we do survive the upcoming floods. We worry that our car will break down or that we’ll get Shingles because we had chicken pox and didn’t race to the doctor the minute the drug companies released their huge money making Shingles Vaccine and accompanying ad campaign. We worry and we worry and we worry. Here’s the thing. At best, all that worrying isn’t doing us any good. If we want the vaccine, we should get the vaccine. Worrying about whether to get it is useless. We can all agree on that, right? At worst, worrying will create in our experience the very thing we’re worrying about, or at least, something that matches very closely with the things we’re worrying about. Something that carries the same vibration. Because my worrying makes ME match that vibration, and so I become a magnet for anything else that does. Maybe not everyone can agree on that. And that’s fine. At best, worrying does no good. At worst, it bring us what we’re worrying about. Somewhere in between the two, it’s pretty clear that eliminating worry from our lives would be a very good move. The Dark Mirror Exercise
To begin breaking the worry habit, let’s try a new way of thinking. Instead of struggling against what is, accept what is. Look at it from a new perspective. Look at your life experience, everything going on around you, as if it is a mirror. Because that’s exactly what it is. Your life outside you, is a mirror image of what’s going on inside you. It is reflecting back at you the vibration that matches your own. Everything in your life experience has grown out of who and what you are, your habits of thought, your attitudes, your expectations, and your intentions for this lifetime. Intentions that you hatched before you ever arrived on Planet Earth. Every single thing. When you get that, you get a lot.
Once you have that down, you can begin to learn from what your mirror (your life) is showing you. That’s what it’s here for after all.
In magical practices, there’s a powerful tool known as the Dark Mirror, or the Black Mirror. One gazes into this glass in much the way one would gaze into a crystal ball, in search of insights, revelations, clues about the future. In this case, though, we will use our black mirror to explore our own lives.
You can buy a black mirror, or (more fun and more powerful, I think) make your own. Get a picture frame of the size and shape that appeals to you. Remove the glass. Clean it thoroughly. Sprinkle it with some holy water or moon water, cense it with some burning sage, scatter it with sea salt. Drizzle it with an infusion made from mugwort and eyebright, do whatever feels right to you. The point is to cleanse the mirror of every impurity and empower it to show you what you need to see.
Next, paint one side of the glass black. Let it dry and paint it again, and then once more.
You can return the mirror to the frame from which you took it, or you can buy one of those holders for special plates and set it up in one of those. I keep my mirror covered with a black cloth at all times, (unless I’m using it) and the only light sources I ever exposed it to are moonlight and candlelight.
Now, when something unpleasant enters your life experience, sit in front of your dark, enchanted, magic mirror. See your own reflection there, hazy and less sharp and darker than you’re used to. Ask the following questions as you soften your focus, and let your vision relax so that the mirror goes hazy and the images are less clear. It’s hard to explain how to do this. It’s as if your focus is on some point in between your eyes and the mirror, rather than on the mirror itself, if that helps. Practice is good for this.
As the mistiness comes, ask the mirror to show you the situation that’s on your mind. The unpleasant thing. And once you get a good visual of that in your mind, even if not quite in the mirror itself, ask the mirror to show you this situation’s reflection inside yourself. And look now, unfocused, at your own image. Just let things float past, either in and out of your peripheral vision or in and out of existence in the mirror or your own mind’s eye. Everything is valid. Don’t try to force it. Relax and just let everything float by. Don’t grab onto anything to explore it, just make a quiet note of it in your mind and let it pass on by.
As the images slow, ask the mirror to show you what is good about this situation. Ask what it has to teach you. What habits of thought do you think might have attracted it to you? What life purpose might it be coming to fulfill, or at least, to move forward? Has this experience come in order to show you where your attitude could use an adjustment? What good things have happened because of it? How have you grown wiser, or stronger because of it? Can you? How has it helped you to understand more deeply?
Use this list of questions or make up your own. But after each question, go quiet, let your focus go soft again, and await answers to float by in images. You might want to focus on just one or two questions per session.
As soon as you’ve started to get fidgety and restless, as soon as your busy mind comes back online to start reminding you of your endless to-do list, let yourself return to your normal state. Grab a notebook and pen and make notes of every image you remember from this meditation, and which question they came to answer. Take your time about it, but don’t neglect this part of the ritual. It’s vital. You’ll forget, no matter how sure you are that you won’t. Cover your mirror, extinguish your candles and turn the lights back on. Stretch and get your bearings. And have a grainy snack to ground you. Phase Two: Moving On
After this careful exploration of what your current situation is, and why it is, and what it means, and what it has come to teach you, it’s important to move on to the second phase. Begin to shift your focus about the current situation away from how unpleasant it is and how much you hate it and can’t wait for it to go away. Stop complaining about it to everyone you know. Stop retelling the story. You don’t need to do that anymore. Now that you know the purpose of it, you should focus on that. Focus on the lessons you are learning from it, and really try to hold onto them. Only by doing this can you begin to step into that stronger, wiser version of you.
Focus on becoming the person you know you will be on the other side of this situation. Become that person now. That’s the only way to get there.
Become the post cancer survivor, the reborn, empowered divorcee, the once-unemployed but now successful entrepreneur, the money management expert, the ex-smoker, the health-nut. Become her now. Identify with her now. Let your focus on the situation you don’t want just dissolve. Once you’ve learned what it came to teach you, you don’t need it anymore. And only when you stop noticing it so much can it fade away from your experience.
If we stop seeing things that are in our life as problems to be overcome, and start seeing them as opportunities for spiritual growth, increasing wisdom, expansion of understanding, and a sharp, precision guide for adjusting our attitude, we’ll stop stressing over them and even stop complaining about them. We’ll bless them and let them go with love and gratitude for what we’ve learned.
Every one of the things we bitch and worry about is actually a blessing, and until we can see them as such, they will remain. But the minute we can begin to see each “problem” as it is, just another life experience pushing us forward toward where our higher self wants us to be, they will fade away.
And here’s the bonus. As we get better and better at noticing what our “problems” really are, we’ll take the lessons they bring us when they’re still small, and let them go before they grow bigger. What About Those Future Worries?
Yeah, what about them? Once we get over stressing over what is, and wishing it could be different, how do we stop worrying about potential future problems? We’re going to delve into that in our next installment. So come back soon!