Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Monday, September 17, 2012

For the Files: The Perspectivist's Cure for Drama or, "Really, How Big Is It?"

A powerful storm rolls in...  How will you weather it?
A powerful storm rolls in...  How will you weather it?

The following visualization/meditation has saved my mental & emotional hindquarters more times than I remember. I was reminded of it recently while considering the stormy seas of a few friends. Circumstances being what they are in the world, I thought it might prove to be of value to someone who wanders across this page. It is also something I have wanted to save here for my children, for the files. It comes with an unusual backstory -- I received this tool, this insightful gem, from a most surprising & peculiar source. As I said before,

...wisdom resides in the most curious places.

Many, many Moons ago, I was a member of a women's "service organization" which today is considered by many to be a cult. (Indeed, it has the been subject of exposés both written & televised.) I personally never felt that I had been coerced, manipulated or brainwashed into participating, but I will confess that some of their members behaved as if they had. I involved myself by choice & took my leave, with some sadness, when other obligations demanded my full attention. I am thankful to the women who cared for me & taught me so many valuable, life-changing lessons & my hope is that those who were unhappy found the strength to walk away while those who had found their home remain there to this day, nurturing others.

In order to be accepted as a member of this organization, women (there is a men's version too) must attend a relatively expensive, weekend-long, sleep depriving, emotional roller-coaster of a conference which could be best described as EST joining forces with Mars & Venus (of the "men/women are from..." variety). The bulk of the women-only event involved an often inspirational & sometimes demeaning monologue by the organization's leader/guru (ironically, a man) who had spent most of his career as a counselor & therapist. 

As a result of his counseling work, he determined that a great deal of the unhappiness in human life results from lack of purpose & perspective. In a nutshell, he argued that when a person is serving only their own immediate needs, their personal struggles & problems appear very large. However, if a person chooses to serve a higher purpose (one that serves a cause beyond their own) their personal problems appear diminished. He further reasoned that the greater the purpose for which someone works, the smaller their own misfortunes will appear & they will experience them with less drama... Drama. It's all about perspective.

Despite its dubious origins, this meditation/visualization is a fabulous exercise in perspectivism (an approach for which I have much fondness):
perspectivism |pərˈspektiˌvizəm|nounPhilosophy the theory that knowledge of a subject is inevitably partial and limited by the individual perspective from which it is viewed. See also relativism .the practice of regarding and analyzing a situation or work of art from differentpoints of view
-- Apple Dictionary 

First, a couple of notes: 1) This is written in my own words, from my own aged memory -- a memory which has been modified over time because I have been using this technique for upwards of twenty years. To say that this is the work of the "guru" would be untrue. What follows is a permutation of his exercise which has evolved over the years while loitering about somewhere in my psyche waiting to be dusted off & embraced whenever drama threatened to outstrip sound thinking. But, quite honestly, I think my version is better. 2) I learned this before we humans had the internet. Well, at least before we had the internet with pictures. Although I haven't done this yet myself, I suggest taking advantage of the Goo-goo Goggle mapping system to enhance the visuals of this exercise. Or, stay old-school & don't. 3) I used this exercise liberally when I worked in a neurotically idealistic cooperative. I did the same as a cog in a hopelessly bureaucratic machine. In both circumstances, it worked wonders... magick even.

  • The Perspectivist's Cure for Drama: 
    A Meditation/Visualization

    Make sure you are comfortable & begin by taking some deep breaths. Take a moment to look about you, where you stand, sit, recline, before closing your eyes. Ground & center if that is a familiar process for you, otherwise, relax & breathe slowly & rhythmically until you feel very calm & focused...

    Now, take some time to become very aware of how you feel inside your body. Be present & conscious of your physical person, your position & placement in your immediate environment. What is your relationship to the space around you? What surrounds you? How does your body feel in this place? How do you feel emotionally in this place? Think about this. What is is like to be right here, inhabiting this space, right now?

    Next, you will need to shift your visual perspective. Step outside of yourself & observe your body in situ. View yourself from the outside, taking note of your person in relationship to your surroundings. Then, shift your angle of view slightly to see yourself as if you were hovering beside & slightly above your body. (Those with experience in astral projection, lucid dreaming & various other techniques will find this comes easily. If this is an unfamiliar process for you, begin by imagining yourself as a mirror image, imagine your hair, clothing, posture, position & once you have formed that image, work on shifting your perspective to a slightly overhead location.) Carefully observe the details of your surroundings. Are you indoors, or outdoors? Do you see rocks, books, cats, trees? Furnishings & concrete? Carpet or grasses? Is there a body of water nearby? A hill or building? Think about them.

    Then, begin to rise. Slowly, comfortably, drift above your physical person, your body-self & view your position in place from about the elevation of atop a three, four, five-story building. How do you appear from there? Look at your surroundings. How have they changed? After a moment of consideration, rise further up to reach the height of a very tall building, a soaring bird or an airplane just prior to landing. Observe yourself in the context of neighborhood -- a local perspective. How do you look from here? 

    Begin to gradually pull yourself way back, gently, as if rising in a hot air balloon. As you do this, watch how the scale & pattern of everything in the environment continually shifts & adjusts to accommodate new perspectives. View yourself, or rather, your position & surroundings (your person will no longer be visible), from a regional view. You might be in an urban area -- look at your place in that city, look at how it spreads around & beyond you... a system with so, so many parts. The same applies if you are in a rural or a remote area. How does the greater region relate to your place in it? Where are you located & what does this mean for your position in this much larger space? 

    Continue to drift upwards & away from your self-in-place, taking time to consider larger geographic & political boundaries such as counties, forests, coastal areas... where are you, how do you fit in to the increasing large & complex places? How do your worries & struggles relate to this bigger picture? Drifting higher & higher, see your place in the world at the state or provincial level, if you are in a smaller sized country, you might be gazing down upon your political homeland. Alternately, if you are aware of a larger geographical unit, such as the Great Basin, Pacific Rim or the Sahara Desert, perhaps you would prefer to consider your place in this ecological context. What is your place here? How do you contribute to this larger entity, this network of numerous smaller webs & loosely related beings, space & events?

    Rise & rise & rise until you can see the outline of the continent or ocean wherein you reside. These are great, vast spaces, teeming with activity. They are alive, how do they relate to you? How do you relate to them? You are engulfed in a place with more species than we can identify, more beings than we are even aware. The systems are rich, complex & ultimately unknowable. Can you still pinpoint your position? Can you determine how your cares & concerns relate to the world on this scale?

    Keep ascending, floating back until you can see the blue curve of our beautiful planet Earth. See how the atmosphere touches the surface of this living sphere. It is our blue blanket, our lifeline -- a thin blue line which sustains everything we need. How is this possible? How can we rely entirely on something so expansive, yet fragile, so potent, yet intangible? Finally, pull back, separate yourself from our planet & view yourself, your position, from the vantage point of our lady Moon... What an extravagant arrangement of creatures & spaces... how & where do you belong here? In what ways do you participate in this system? Think about your drama. How does it apply to how you see yourself now? 

    Consider for a moment that the bulk of the universe expands much, much further beyond this vantage point. It is not necessary to attempt to reach these perspectives in this exercise, just pause & take note. When you are ready, descend gently, gingerly back into your personal space, into our physical body & breathe. Take some time to become very aware of how you feel inside your body. Be present & conscious of your physical person, your position & placement in your immediate environment. Complete any lingering thoughts & reflections before returning to your terrestrial human day. When you feel calm, focused & prepared, open your eyes & take a good look at your place. 

    The storm has passed... How have you fared, Small One?
    The storm has passed... How have you fared, Small One?

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