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Tag: consciousness

Zodiac illustration of Aries

What astrology has taught me

I first discovered astrology at a time in my life when I was stuck.
For one, my obsessive desire to be a successful artist seemed to have run aground and I wondered was the Universe working against me? Was I just unlucky? Or just plain ‘not good enough’? Was it a sign that this wasn’t meant to be?

Can you relate to that kind of situation where it feels like an uphill battle and things we have no control over keep blocking the path?

Ah, such a human dilemma! As a species we’ve been chasing that elusive control over our fate since the time before time. Whether it involved inspecting the entrails of chickens, or visiting the priestesses at Delphi for some incomprehensible gibberish, we’ve pursued this hope that if we could just unravel the signs they would reveal the secrets of what the gods had in store for us.

Astrology provided fuel for my obsession to decode the mystery of who I am. (Notice this theme of obsession running through my oeuvre?? And yep, it can be seen in my astro-chart). I’ve always felt different – you know, the weird kid at school, the oddball who didn’t know how to do things right – and I desperately wanted that difference to make me distinctive, instead of a victim of ‘not good enough’.

So initially, like many others, I was drawn by astrology’s promise to reveal destiny.
And I had really high hopes of what I would find – although I confess I was a bit disappointed. It felt like Alice’s rabbit hole and I could keep digging forever without finding definitive ‘answers’…

Now, 20 years later, and with the comforting retrospection that only time affords, I recognise that astrology doesn’t hold all the answers, but it does give us the ability to develop tremendously useful wisdom of the most practical kind.

In fact, there are 4 very useful things that astrology has taught me.

1. Perspective.

Or what I like to think is ‘the God’s-eye view’ – that view from a great height or depth or distance.

What the soul knows that the brain doesn’t.

When we understand how certain qualities we possess create our expectations of what we’ll meet in the world, we can cultivate the ability to ‘step outside’ of the frame and get that ‘big picture’ view.

Astrology gives me perspective on how I ‘operate’ – not only my character traits, but also what my soul is learning in this lifetime.

Ironically, I only developed perspective after I stopped relying on astrology for all the answers to even the little things. Because astrology’s greatest promise is to be a map for the soul, and maps give us a perspective we don’t have when we’re on the ground with the road in front of us. That’s why I refer to the astrology sessions I offer as soul-mapping.

If we start to believe astrology offers all the answers we lose the ability to access the truth it really does offer.

So now I think of our charts as our own personal sacred geometry, a map we can use to navigate life.

Capricorn and Sagittarius
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

2. Compassion.

With perspective comes compassion. Too often in the age of psychiatry we’re fond of blaming others (especially mum or dad) for our foibles and failings.

Astrology shows me I’m not a victim, and what I’ve experienced is what my soul expected to experience.

It also shows what’s to be learned through having that experience.

I can’t tell you how huge a leap this enables. It helps move me move through resentment and blame, even in the most challenging experiences.
And so perspective has helped me cultivate compassion – for myself, for my parents, or for anyone who’s presented me with challenges  – in way that is completely natural, not forced or obliged.

3. What to do when things get challenging.

Perspective and compassion underpin the ability to know when to act and when to wait patiently. (Or in my case, as a rampant Aries, how to learn patience!)

Astrology not only reveals where I need to be paying attention when the proverbial hits the fan, but also the nature of a challenge – and it’s ‘reason’.

It provides the shortest route to the heart of the matter.
And shows how this challenge fits into the much larger play of time, and my own personal mythology unfolding over a lifespan. It’s even possible to see where it fits the collective challenge of a generation or an era.

4. Repetition is necessary

And in respect to the ‘play of time’ – do you find yourself still doing things that you think you should be over by now? Like perhaps you’re always ‘choosing the wrong man’. Or you could be in a work situation and suddenly feel like you’re reacting in a way that takes you straight back to some high-school horror story…

We think we should be past that by now, but repetition doesn’t mean you’re stupid and you’ve learned nothing.

Astrology has helped me to be OK with repetition because I recognise that when I’m repeating myself it just shows where I’m not really awake yet to what I’m supposed to be learning about this particular theme that keeps recurring in my life.

So that means I really know I’ve ‘got it’ when I don’t repeat it anymore. And maybe that’ll be never!!

 

Aries the ram
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

 

Essentially, astrology shows me a more wholistic picture of who I am, and how to be more of me – to accept myself as I am.
It helps me get comfortable with being both the shadows and the light.

I don’t need to ‘overcome’ some bits of me in order to be a better human.
Because in every quality there is an advantage and a hindrance.

Of course developing the above skills doesn’t mean life is easy… but it sure makes it easier to deal with.

(P.S. If you want to know more about my astrology technique check out the Body + Soul Code sessions.)

The pleasures of bodyfulness

3 things I no longer believe about my body

From when I was a teenager until well into my thirties I believed the usual amount of guff we women are fed about our bodies and their general unworthiness. Too fat, too skinny, thighs too big, breasts too small, hair all wrong etc, etc. I’m betting you know this story, because you have one of your own.

Simply enough we learn we are supposed to be worried about our bodies and their general lack of perfection in comparison to some ideal. And then as we get older, it’s time to start worrying about how our bodies are letting us down, as we begin the apparently inevitable decline.

Basically, we’re encouraged from a young age to be at war with our bodies.

And ultimately this means we are at war with ourselves.

We force our bodies into shape with diets and the gym, and eye them in bathroom mirrors with unconcealed disgust!

Yet as a jeweller, the body is my gallery. And the more fascinated I became with the way that bodies and jewels work together (indeed, conspire together – but that’s another story), the more I decided that as a society we just have it all screwy when it comes to attitudes around and about ourselves.

I had an inkling there was something way more mysterious and wondrous about bodies.

And not just the female body which has the ability to actually create a new life (dismissed by the powers-that-be as merely ‘reproduction’). But all bodies, everywhere, of all shapes and sizes and genders.

Curiously, I’ve started to find that the frontiers of science increasingly support my suspicions.

And fundamental beliefs that underpin ideas of our self, and ideas about our health, are being shaken loose and discarded.

It can happen with these 3 small shifts in what we currently believe about bodies.

1. That the body works like a machine.

Humans started building machines, then thought “hey, what a great metaphor for how the body works”. But somewhere along the line the metaphor became the fact and now this meme shapes everything from medicine to physiotherapy and how we train. Then physicians realised that it’s not just fluids being shunted from here to there, and joints grinding away from wear and tear, there’s also lots of electrical activity going on. So now the computer has become the new analogy for body functions.

But despite comparing bodies to things that humans have built, science still cannot fully explain how it works.

We’re only beginning to understand that it’s not a computer, or a mechanism, it’s a living eco-system.

To describe it as mechanical is similar to saying a rain forest is like a machine. Because, we’re more like the rainforest with an extraordinary complexity of things going on in our bodies.

And while all the cells are producing energy and vitality, this is also being translated into emotions, ideas, and dreams.

Scientists have dealt with this complexity that is life by considering all the stuff of mind (visions, language) as separate to the stuff of the body (blood flows, cell divisions), and then confounded themselves with questions such as “how does consciousness arise in the brain?”

Which brings me to the second thing I no longer believe.

2. That the brain is in charge

In fact, the mind is not the brain. Plenty of scientists continually refer to the brain as the mind, and they keep looking in the brain for how consciousness can exist in ‘grey matter’. So far, no success in locating it.
Because they’re looking at consciousness the wrong way.

Neurons that produce the neurotransmitters associated with emotions and thinking are also found in the heart. And in the 2-way communication between heart and brain, the heart sends more information to the brain than comes back in the other direction.

We humans love hierarchies. It’s a tidy way of organising things to have a simple centralised control. And so we’ve come to believe our brains operate rather like a monarchy, where a single boss tells everyone else what to do.

Aside from all that information our hearts are constantly sending to our brains, there’s plenty of other bodily systems ‘thinking’ for themselves and influencing what the brain does.

You may have heard of ‘the second brain’, the digestive system, with it’s superhighway of nerve cells making judgement calls about whether what we’ve just eaten is useful and nutritious, or needs to be sent off to the garbage. And then there’s the community of microbes in our guts that are actually impacting the thoughts our brains are busy creating.

Our body is not controlled by our brain just because it’s ‘on top’.

While language and thinking are shaped in the brain, everything we know comes through our body and our presence in the world.

Without your body you can’t know anything.

The parts played by all the elements, cells, organs and systems in the body are relevant and equally important.

Think of it like a movie. Even though the director and stars get top billing, there is a plethora of worker bees without whom that movie would never exist. And these people bring their own skills and imagination to creating the whole.

Once we move away from the meme of the singular “I” (or brain) at the centre of things it’s necessary to let go of another belief.

3. That I am an individual entity

There’s a multiplicity of ways in which I am not a single, individual entity held in place by my skin. However the simplest example is found in the ‘human biome’ – the colony of microbes, viruses, macrophages and what-not that live with us, in and on our bodies.

Depending on how you run the stats each one of us humans is only 40% to 10% human*.
The rest are the kind of creatures we’ve been fighting against since Pasteur invented germ theory. (*If we count the red blood cells we’re 40% human. The reason some don’t count them is that red blood cells have no nucleus. That’s a lot of cells being ignored…)

Since most of these trillions of cells aren’t ‘human’, how can you be an individual?

You’re actually a collective. And the story of life is the story of the triumph of the collective.

It was the banding together of those original life-forms, single celled organisms, and their decision to co-operate, which created the more complex life forms and eventually the complex life form that is the human. For example, mitochondria in your DNA are an early bacteria that agreed to help out. They now shape genetic destinies.

Therefore, strictly speaking, ‘self’ is not an ‘I’.  It’s a ‘we’. A confederate of us. A united states of being.

Because there’s the percentage of us that is ‘human’, and then there’s all the microbes that are not ‘us’. But they live with us, inter-dependently. Bringing the outside world inside, the ‘other’ into ‘self’. Basically you and I are composed of multitudes: 10 trillion+ cells, all working together.

 

You’ve heard that “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything”.
In the same way, how you think about one thing (like your body) reflects how you think about everything.

You might consider these little changes of perspective I’m talking about as just mind games.

And yet they have the potential to create a social revolution.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that how you’re trained to hate your body’s imperfections and fear its potential for disease is your own problem, disconnected from the larger story that creates inequality, violence against others and destruction of our environment.

When we recognise that our body is not a machine but an eco-system it erodes the modern idea that we humans can just live in an urban bubble separate from nature. (So no, Stephen Hawking, moving to Mars is not the answer to the environmental mess we’ve made).

The natural world lives inside us as well as out. Our health depends on it’s health.

When we understand that intelligence isn’t located in brain or language, it’s diffused through our whole body, this sets in motion a new meme of co-operation.

A meme with the potential to dissolve old authoritarian thinking currently running the world.

And once we recognise what we consider as ‘self’ is actually a collection of diverse beings not an isolated ‘I’, it allows us to see difference in a new way.

Xenophobia no longer makes sense.

Thus, a few small shifts in how we understand our bodies create ripples that begin to re-weave the defining elements of our current reality.