The Road ahead (in a Chariot year)

You know that feeling when you’re just starting to fall asleep, and your thoughts begin to flow into more dreamlike sequences? The night of solstice, after a day heavy with ritual and ending with a very high intensity Rinse & Repeat group (for me anyway), I started thinking about the idea of soul mates as I was meditating before bed.
I was wondering and wandering through this question of what it means to determine if a connection is originating from the “soul level.”
Though on a superficial level I don’t mind the idea, and I’ve always believed that we can have multiple soulmates, I have never personally resonated with the term.

In many ways I would consider myself pretty lucky with romantic love, I’ve had a few great loves throughout my life and I never really struggled so much to find a mate when I wanted one. But alongside that I have certainly experienced quite a lot of heartbreak. I went through a period where I didn’t really believe in long-term partnership, and I’ve had my own “dark night of the soul” experiences where I didn’t trust anyone. I’m married now, 6 years as of last week, but that definitely wasn’t something I expected to happen. Marriage is a strange experiment in scale, the prioritization of longevity and a commitment that feels more like family than simply romantic partnership.

But that isn’t the thread that unfolded as I was half dreaming that night.

I saw myself walking through a wooded area, and thinking about this question of why certain people seem to find potential matches so easily, only to dismiss and reject them, while others long tremendously (and have so much to offer) but struggle to make those connections. I gazed upon streams of water, channeling out and around each other, and I wondered can this stream of water see that there is another right beside it from that vantage point? Does it need to know, need to join the other?

This is my big issue with soul mates as a concept: it suggests that we need a mate to be happy and fulfilled on a soul level and that it is somehow a natural consequence of being a good enough person. (This is a small detail of a larger issue I have with a lot of the writing about karmic healing, trauma recovery, and overall mindfulness even by some of my favorite authors.) It assumes that acquisition of skills is enough to improve all the areas of your life that contribute to being happy. It assumes that if those things you’re told you should want aren’t happening, you must be standing in the way somehow. It’s part of a larger story that tells you what your happiness is supposed to look and feel like. And it ties into this push for continually bettering yourself; I know that perhaps my own writing sometimes leans into that proclivity. I see a key distinction between wanting to improve one’s sense of connection and meaning, and “fixing” yourself so you can be better and “good enough.”

The relentless pursuit of regulation, resolution, and completion can become a trap, a continuation of a trauma narratives of brokenness. These words are verbs, not end states.

It’s not that I don’t agree with learning self-regulation- it’s essential. It has been some time now, but I do remember a time when I had to keep my eyes open during meditation because when I closed them and looked inside I felt waves of terror coming over me. And I also remember times when I could be triggered into a complete state of panic from the most minor everyday triggers and feel completely unable to come back to the present, having to just “ride it out.” I’m not advocating “white knuckling,” we need effective strategies to cope and reduce our reactivity so that we can be in the present

But I also think that for many people, speaking to those with trauma and grief histories specifically, there is a point where you have learned the skills but the reactions don’t stop completely. Learning to move away from the idea that there is something foundationally wrong with you, the belief that your nervous system is “all fucked up,” is necessary for what I would describe as soul level healing. Learning how to work with your nervous system as it is…adapting to its changing states, new capacities, new triggers and fading ones, is just as important as learning how to regulateBecause regulation is relative. It’s always suited to the conditions, internal and external. I try to approach collaborating with one’s nervous system as an act of honoring and respecting it rather than fixing it.

Relational satisfaction is relative too. Turning to karmic patterns and healing, we all hold the complexity of having free will, certain energetic patterns were entrained towards, and living in the outside world full of obstacles (and other people with their own free will and energetic patterns). Sometimes we correct an unhealthy pattern through changing our behaviors, and sometimes it is more a matter of changing our perspective.

A skilled hiker/survivalist may have greater capacity to thrive in different environments but what that looks like would depend on the conditions.
Being a skilled navigator of life (of the multiverse even!) does not mean you are free of challenges. The Secret might tell you that all you need to do is change your mind and stay on that high vibration, but often times you also need to make changes in your life for your life to change. Every person has choices of which path to take, but sometimes all the paths are hazardous or unsure. Indeed it can be hard to untangle what happiness really feels like from the versions being sold to us in the form of advertising, film/television, propaganda, and sometimes our own families and communities. Finding that balance of trying to actively better yourself and the world around you, and learning how to enjoy living can be a hard one. Sometimes surviving is enough.
One of my teachers once said to me that finding your path is like choosing a river, you have to find the one going in the right direction, and when you do it carries you rather than the other way around.

Imagine the freedom you could feel if you gave yourself permission to define satisfaction, happiness, regulation, healing on your own terms, based on what actually matters most to you.

Can you be curious about what kind of acceptance it would take to not lament aspects of your life that are completely outside of your control, while cultivating the boldness needed to take unknown paths in search of your liberation, your destiny as you define it?

Or to take the hard roads that hold our collective needs in equal standing with the personal?

Maybe you don’t quite believe in destiny, and in that case, how do you define a meaningful connection to the web of life around you?

For those of you who utilize the tarot archetypes of the year (based in numerology), 2023 is a Chariot year. It’s about making moves, forging the path ahead, choosing the “right path” (for this moment) and navigating obstacles. The Chariot holds the totality of change and “progress”, the good and the bad, the slow and fast, easy and hard, direct routes and unexpected detours. It’s about knowing when to tighten your belt and keep going even when it’s hard, and turning back to try another way. It’s cooking with all four burners, and either finding the flow or burning dinner lol.

Change is coming if you’re ready or not 😅⚡️this is the time to reflect on the past year as you feel into the future. Our willingness to be flexible, and resist falling into well-worn patterns that have past their prime, are the keys to allowing the energy of this year to change us in the ways that need changing.

How do you want to feel looking back on 2023? 

Where would you like to be, what needs to go and what do you need to activate?  

What does happiness, contentment, a life of meaning feel like for you personally, how would you know?

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