The thing about plants

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There are so many days that I look to my plants in my sun-room to prove that I am actually growing beautiful things.

Some days, I look at myself – my thought processes, emotional state, ease with which I can re-center myself – and feel like I’ve made zero progress. I still worry to the point of obsessiveness. I equate living with heart to living with loss, which spins me out into the stratosphere. Want to make me freak out and panic? Throw a little dash of “you’re going to lose this” or “you’re not doing the right thing” into my mental state and I’m there.

Hannah Brencher wrote a beautiful post recently about growing into “hell yes.” For me, I know that this applies to almost all areas of my life.

For a year now I’ve been craving a feeling of deep rooted-ness in my life. I was the wanderlust girl, the gypsy soul… but so much of it was just running away from myself, and I knew it. Last year I got hit with the worst depression I’ve ever experienced, and I didn’t even want to move off my couch. I stopped running and that was what barreled into me.

But along with that depression was a craving to feel the soil of my life, to really know my life by tending to it as I would a plant.

That was when the plants started showing up.

First, I bought an English ivy and a pretty little succulent. My kitten murdered the succulent right off after tasting the delicious leaves. But the ivy thrived. Then a friend gave me a creeping Charlie that I kept out on the porch all last summer until I realized it was dying out there. I brought it inside and put it on my altar and started watering it every day. I put my ivy next to it so it had a friend.

Somewhere in there I bought a basil plant so I could have my own basil. As a artisan chef of caprese salad (I could bathe in caprese, haha) I needed my own basil. So I got a basil plant, too.

Then I got a philodendron for my kitchen. I felt my little kitchen needed a spot of green, so I hung it from the roof there. But I kept forgetting to water it, so I finally transferred her to a spot in my sunroom, where she’s blissfully wrapped her vines around my reading chair.

My boyfriend gave me an orchid as one of his first gifts to me. It had a few beautiful blossoms, but part of the stem broke off because I was a little rough. I felt remorseful for my ways and so I patiently fed it water and watched in amazement as I saw it sprout a new leaf. I thought I’d killed it by breaking that part of the stem. Not so. Turns out it just needed some TLC.

Soon into my yoga teacher training (quite aptly named RootEd – obviously) I brought that same orchid to the communal altar. That weekend when I left, my teacher gifted me an amaryllis plant that she had that looked like it needed love.

I kept care of little Missy ‘Rillis and on the Spring Equinox, a green shoot popped up gloriously. I love synchronicity like that.

At this point I was catching the planting bug. I added in an African violet, a plant that I’ve had notorious issues with growing in the past. I almost killed her by putting her in direct sunlight. Now she’s slowly coming back from the grave after I set her a bit further away and stopped watering her so much. I’ll get her yet.

There’s a tender consistency that comes from growing things. You have to be patient. You’re training a new way of being, you’re coaxing a seed or a plant out of its shell. You need to give them just the right amount of water, just the right amount of sunlight. And when they burst up out of the ground, there’s a profound sense of satisfaction that you kept something alive.

Sometimes things die, too, but I’m mostly finding it’s for lack of care rather than from some mistake I made. I had a thyme plant that I killed 2 months ago because I didn’t water it enough. Poor baby. I just didn’t care enough to keep her watered.

My petunia right now is laying dormant after blooming all winter. She looks dead, but I know she just needs a rest. She had her growing season and now she’s a bit quiet. She’s an annual, so she’ll come back. I’m not worried.

I was sitting during my morning quiet a few weeks ago, asking myself what I really wanted (a question that haunts me, and that I’ve recently let go of to make more space). What came was that I wanted rootedness. And tomato plants on my balcony.

I am now the proud owner of 2 tomato plants that are lapping up sun on my porch. One has produced a few tomatoes already – it’s a yellow cherry tomato plant that’s more like a vine. Not surprising, I have an affinity for vines, there’s something about the way they twine around things like they just want to stay forever. The other plant I’m carefully tending to – water, fish fertilizer, sunshine – and hope-fully waiting for a harvest come August or September.

I’m learning a lot from my plants. About how to be consistent. To water gently every day, to pay attention to what they need, to care lovingly on a regular basis. It’s amazing how much grows in that environment.

It’s teaching me to be the same way to myself.

Just Keep Following (the heartlines on your hands)

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/zionfiction/
Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/zionfiction/

Oh the river, oh the river, it’s running free.
And oh the joy, oh the joy it brings to me.
But I know it’ll have to drown me,
Before I can breathe easy.
And I’ve seen it in the flights of birds,
I’ve seen it in you.
The entrails of the animals,
The blood running through.
But in order to get to the heart,
I think sometimes you’ll have to cut through.
But you can’t…

We will carry…
We will carry you there…

Just keep following!
The heartlines on your hand!
-Florence and the Machine

I’m now down to the last couple of weeks of my yoga teacher training (say it isn’t so!). We’ve just moved into learning through the lens of the heart chakra. Each time we move to a new chakra, I’m surprised to learn the deep ways in which it is applying to me right now.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been seeking more silence to let my heart arise, as I spoke about in my last post. My mind has this little habit of getting in the way. A lot. It chatters all day long, just nonsense. Or whatever I happen to be worrying about at the time, it chews on over and over. It reminds me of how they talk about the locusts in the Little House series, the constant chewing that Laura heard all day every day, eating up all the plants. It gives me a crawly feeling.

There’s a sutra by Patanjali that is translated by Nischala Joy Devi to mean “Yoga is the uniting of consciousness at the heart.” It is elsewhere known as “Yoga is the state of cessation of the whirling of the mind.” I like Nischala Devi’s version. Instead of focusing on what Yoga ceases to do (what I need to cease doing), it focuses on the outcome – uniting of consciousness in the heart.

This focus is helpful for me, too. I can focus on ceasing the constant chewing fluctuations of my mind, OR, I can focus on uniting my consciousness at my heart.

To those not in the Yoga world, that language is high falutin and heavy. I’m not one to want to always use the language of the group I find myself in at the time; I think it’s limiting to other’s understanding. Instead, here’s what I’d like to tell you about uniting consciousness in the heart, based on my own experience.

I have struggled with anxiety for years. It came to the forefront when I stopped drinking, but it was there beforehand. I just had no awareness of it. When I stopped drinking, I got to see my anxiety front and center. I’ve had the chance to observe it the past almost 3 years. And as I do I realize it’s plagued me since I was a small child. I grew up in an atmosphere where I was only allowed to do things if they followed “the family rules” which were inconsistent and hard to determine. As a result I developed a ridiculously sensitive conscience and what I think is the origin of my anxiety.

Doing things in a self-empowered, heart-centered way is extremely foreign to me. Beginning last year in May/June, I started switching to this mode of life. It’s the reason I stopped going to 12 step recovery, stopped my love addiction recovery, started my yoga teacher training. I selected this teacher training mainly due to the empowerment aspect of it. I’m not seeking another person to tell me what to do. I’m seeking an empowered life.

It’s not easy. Because it requires finding the “still point in the turning world” (as e.e. cummings says) and rising out of the dark of that silence to quietly pursue what my heart prompts of me.

I have a different view of the heart, also. There’s millions of life coaches on the internet right now preaching following your desires, finding work you love, that kind of thing. While this has its merit, I think it can get a little skewed. Because in many ways I think you first have to reveal the heart. Which is another reason I took up Yoga. Yoga is all about learning to reveal the heart that lies beneath.

So yes, follow your bliss. But first – clear the mirror so you know what your bliss IS. That’s the message for me. Follow the bliss, from the True Self and the true heart center. Easy? Not necessarily

(maybe it is for you, each person is different in their journey). But worth it… most likely. I don’t know yet, honestly. I’m still learning. I just know that I’m really tired of living by the dictates of other people and I want to empower myself.

Maybe that means walking in the dark for awhile before I find myself, but maybe the unknown, silent, dark is where it’s at. As one of my favorite poems says,

 There is in God (some say)
A deep, but dazzling darkness; As men here   50
Say it is late and dusky, because they
        See not all clear;
    O for that night! where I in him
    Might live invisible and dim.

– Henry Vaughan

Sometimes God/the Divine/my Higher Self is found in the dark. So I’ll just keep following these heartlines on my hands.

How I Use Tarot In My Spiritual Practice

Since I’ve started offering tarot readings here on the blog, I thought I’d write about how I use tarot in my daily life.

For me, tarot is a way that I supplement my current spiritual practice. My current spiritual practice includes daily meditation and yoga asana. I use both of those as a way to remember my true Self. I am sure some of you will be confused by that terminology so let me explain how I see it.

There’s the ego self – the one that craves, desires, wants the wrong things for the wrong reasons, gets neurotic, gets grasping, or I suppose in Christian terminology you could say it is the “sinning” side of me. I’m okay with that definition, if we are defining sin as “something that separates us from the Divine.

I see the Divine as a couple of things. My perception of the Divine is that it is an entity – one that I cannot describe but I feel like it appears in many aspects. I have seen it portrayed as woman, man, wind, animal, energy. It’s mainly for that reason that I don’t ascribe to a religion. I also see the Divine as my higher Self. A way that I think of this is, it’s my future self, whether my older self in this life, or if reincarnation is a thing, my future self in many lives ahead of me. It’s a higher aspect of me that grants wisdom to this current iteration of who I am.

Now that that is explained… tarot does what for me, now?

Okay, if we are defining “sin” or “ego” or the “small self” as that which separates us from the Divine or from Oneness (which is also me), then I would say I use Yoga to reunite with the Divine/my higher Self. Yoga in itself means “union” or “to yoke”, so this makes sense. By the way, I mean Yoga in the grander sense – not just the physical form but the entire philosophy and way of life.

Tarot reading for me, is an extension of Yoga in the grander sense, a way that I remember and reunite with my Self and the Divine. It’s a reminder to me of which path will be the most nourishing and sustaining for me.

For instance.

This morning, I did a daily draw, partially for me and partially for my Instagram account (@bornsirius – follow me!). The draw turned out to be very significant:

tarotabundance

After I drew this, I knew instinctively that I have blocks to abundance in my life. Abundance? It is not showing up much for me at the present. I’ve got bills galore, for one thing. So I drew clarifying cards, asking, “how do I remove the blocks to my abundance?” The deck didn’t answer me straight. Instead it gave me Laziness, Conditioning, and Exhaustion.

I only knew this related because I’ve been noticing a tendency of mine. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down and I act like I’m tired. I’m really not tired; I’m really just avoiding something that’s hard for me. To me, the deck was saying that the way I’ve been doing things, the shutting down and pretending it away and working really hard until I collapse into the ground, was not working.

Well, what would work, then?

I knew I had to relax. To rest. I had just gotten a massage this morning. My muscles were so tightly wound that even I was surprised. I was a massive ball of knots, especially in my shoulders. Hilariously, also, my massage therapist (also a lovely friend – Hi, Beth!) kept telling me, “Stop helping me!” I kept tensing up; she was telling me to stop helping her and just relax.

All these things flashed through my mind as I looked at the card I’d pulled. Then something occurred to me. I had been thinking about even my massage in the light of “Oh my gosh. I’m so tight, my body has all these problems, I wonder what it means, blah blah blah.” In other words, I’d been seeing myself as broken. In an instant I understood what the Abundance card was asking of me – “Stop seeing yourself as broken and remember that you are whole, holy, divine, and ENOUGH right now in this moment. You don’t have to be fixed to be good enough.

This shifted my outlook for the rest of the day. It shifted my energy even. Previously, I’d been stuck in a dark hole of thinking that I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy, I should be better, etc etc. I’d been focusing on things that made me feel small, constricted, and dark. This reading shifted it to, “I am good enough, I have more than enough, and what if I were to live from that perspective?” My body instantly felt lighter, more expansive, more fertile, able to grow and take in beauty.

That’s what tarot does for me. I have experienced profound reminders of the truth from tarot, profound moments that bring me healing. It’s a way for me to extrovert what I am processing through my Yoga practice. Through the cards, I can tangibly see the things I’m emotionally processing.

Today, it just happened to bring a whole mental shift. And I’m left feeling lighter because of it.