I didn’t think I was going to write a newsletter this month. I felt that nothing had changed. We’re still in this stupid pandemic. I don’t have anything inspiring or thoughtful to say. My energy had hit a major low the past couple of weeks, and I was spending most of my time lying in bed in exhaustion, heavy emotions, and wondering where the heck my life was going.
But today I started to feel lighter.
I thought I’d share my Tao oracle cards from this year. They were messages specifically for me, but it can probably apply to most of us in our experiences the past several months.
During my New Year’s retreat in Mexico, each of us had a chance to choose an oracle card that would offer a personal message for 2020. I love oracle cards. It has an uncanny way of showing synchronicities that I’m experiencing or a truth that I already know or will be revealed. Much to my surprise, I pulled the card with the message STANDSTILL. The very depressing picture and words held absolutely no positivity and stopped me cold. Stalemate, stagnation, withholding, grinding to a halt, insensitivity, mistrust. I thought there must have been some mistake. I was angry and confused. How could I be celebrating the end of 2019 with so much joy and gratitude and have it all come to a halt? Of course, the message is quite clear now. Time stood still for many of us with the pandemic— closing doors to our freedom, plans, community, work, finances, and human connections.
The next card that I pulled was during a February retreat in Thailand. I asked for a message for what was next as I prepared to leave Chiang Mai, my home for 3.5 years. I pulled card #29, ABYSMAL with an image symbolizing everything crashing down and more foreboding words. Again, I was in disbelief. I never get “bad cards.” And it’s so embarrassing choosing such negative cards in front of a group that I was leading. But the cards don’t worry about whether I am saving face or not. They just deliver the message that is asked.
Incidentally, I landed in San Francisco on 2/29, was going to spend a few weeks in California to visit my family before traveling to Mexico for a few months, and then relocate to Kyoto, Japan by June. I. HAD. IT. ALL. PLANNED. However, quarantine soon went into effect in California, followed by the international travel advisory ban. Yes, things got abysmal. I was stuck in the US— a country that I grew up in but had not lived in for over 15 years. I was more in my element being nomadic, traveling, and living abroad. Over these past 4.5 months, I have moved eight times within the San Francisco area based on places that were available, within my budget, and that had my own room. Just as the card stated, I experienced insecurity, overwhelm, unpredictability, dark emotions, facing fear, and finally courage.
Next, we come across card #23, which I pulled in late May. If we add those digits together, it’s 5— the month that George Floyd was killed, and 2, 2+3 makes 25, the date of his death. On the global level, but particularly in the US, here’s where we start to see things SPLITTING APART. Impermanence. Deterioration. Eliminate the old. Collapse. Death. Separation. Let go. Surrender. On the personal level and for the collective, my view is: In order for transformation to happen, we cannot hold onto what is not working. Yet, there can be much resistance to change— fear, uncertainty, and the work it takes to build something new.
Before we start to feel too hopeless, I did pull two cards for the remainder of 2020. Again, this was a message I asked for myself but could apply to many of us. #13 COMPANIONSHIP: friendliness, mutual respect, shared goals, interdependence, agreement, strengthening bonds. To me this speaks about the call for unity and working with each other instead of against. If you are tempted to first (or only) see how you are different from another person, try to see where there is common ground. Click here for a beautiful guided meditation based on Ram Dass’ “Just Like Me” narrated by Sean Fargo.
Companionship is also about the importance of having community. During these times of isolation, I am grateful to have regular practice groups and peer sessions that I meet with every week online. It's different from having a friend to talk to since it is based on a common interest/focus and has structure. This can be a meditation group, a yoga class, a writer's club, or a support meeting such as 12 Steps. If/when lockdown starts to ease, volunteering is a great way to contribute your energy to a community and take the focus off of yourself.
As for "inner" companionship, notice if you are working with your emotions, body, mind, and spirit in a respectful way. Is there interdependence in supporting and nourishing these parts of ourselves instead of seeing it as disconnected or isolated? This was a fascinating constellation exercise that I participated in recently. For some people, the body hid emotions from being seen. For others, the mind was exhausted from trying to control the other aspects of the self.
And last, we have #32 DURATION: constancy, continuity, endurance, perseverance, maturity, strengthening, stability, a deep commitment. Since the word “strengthening” came up twice for both cards, my message is to stay strong as we weather through the rest of the year. Do what makes you feel grounded— a morning ritual, taking time for gratitude, and/or connecting to nature. The seasons will change, and like Mother Nature, we learn to adapt, be resilient, and show up as we are.
Trust that there will be better times ahead.
Tammy is a location independent yogi.