December 2018 Meditation: Be the Caretaker of Your Heart

December 2018 Meditation: Be the caretaker of your heart
Card pull: Journeyer of Lakes (aka the Knight of Cups)

December has a huge task ahead: to be the culminating month of an unbelievably intense-is-too-mild-of-a-word-more-like-dumpster-fire year.

But if anyone is up for this task, it is the Journeyer of Lakes. They are here this month to lend us their good-natured and just-riding-the-waves energy.

I think it’s safe to say that this year has been full of massive change, upheaval, healing, shedding, and surprise twists and turns. I have experienced this in my own life and have witnessed it in the lives of those around me.

Even if some of that change and upheaval was positive—in the form of new jobs, moves to different states, babies being born—it was a hard year. That’s because shit got real in a different way. If we were paying attention, it was time to get rid of business as usual. Because it wasn’t working for us anymore.  

In the end, that’s good news.

In the midst of change though, it feels pretty terrible.

I’ve recently been intentionally engaging in some new behavioral patterns in my life, and I’ve been joking with my friends about how fucking terrible it feels. It’s horrible!

I know that ultimately the change will move me towards the outcomes I am desiring, but hanging out in this new and in-between place is hard. The awkward and painful parts of change and growth don’t get talked about enough. It’s messy, it’s triggering, it’s tender and vulnerable.

We are in a liminal time right now—we’ve done a lot of shedding and letting go, but what’s next is still taking shape—and the Journeyer of Lakes is going to help us hang out in the discomfort of that this month.

The more non-traditional interpretations of the Knight of Cups resonate most with me, which are informed by my studies with tarot reader and human extraordinaire, Lindsay Mack; my own life experiences with this card; and the Zen Tarot, Animal Wise, and Slow Holler tarot decks.

The very essence of the Journeyer of Lakes reminds me of equanimity, which is defined as “mental or emotional stability and composure, especially under tension or strain.”

One of Four Sublime States in Buddhism, equanimity helps us roll with the ups and downs of life with presence, openness, and balance.

Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach has a “duck meditation” to practice equanimity; the gist of the meditation is this: “When we trust we are the ocean, we are not afraid of the waves.”

This month, the Journeyer of Lakes is going to help us ride the waves instead of getting tossed about in the current. That will require us to stop struggling against and judging whatever’s going on and become one with it instead. Or at least make room for it to be there.

Two essential components of equanimity are radical acceptance and self-compassion: we have to courageously name what is happening/coming up for us and then make space for it in a loving way.

Equanimity does not mean that we don’t get upset, that we don’t have feelings, that everything rolls off of us. No. The Journeyer of Lakes is not about spiritual bypassing, numbing out, denial, or avoidance.

Just like in the image of the Knight of Cups from the Slow Holler deck (named Traveler of Vessels), the Knight holds their heart in their hands and their horse travels above the waves, not getting caught up in them.

They are the caretaker of their heart. They are responsible for their own emotional processes and healing. They recognize all that swirls around them, and they hold themselves with gentleness and compassion as they seek balance.

Not only is December the culminating month for this year, it is also home of some winter holidays! Which brings swirls of many flavors and triggers and wounds up for many of us.

I know that as queer and trans folks, this can be an especially fraught and painful time for us. I walked into my apartment building on Thanksgiving day and immediately started crying because it smelled like Thanksgiving and made me feel nostalgic for family.

I know that when we’re talking about trauma and being in the body, balance and equanimity can be fleeting or complete strangers to us. I know that triggers and feeling unsafe threaten to pull us under into the waves at any given moment. I know that after this year of change and loss and transformation that so many of us are feeling raw and vulnerable and exhausted.

Yes yes yes.

Allow it. All of it.

Like any other state of being, equanimity and balance are not static states. They are aspirational. They are states we practice and move towards.

The Journeyer of Lakes isn’t here this month to judge. They’re here to remind us of balance, to step back and see the entire ocean, to be gentle with ourselves, and to be the best caretakers of our hearts that we can possibly be.

That may mean that we need so much quiet and stillness this month to integrate all that has happened this year and the lessons we learned (and are still learning). That may mean that we ask our friends to cuddle and hold us in our exhaustion. That may mean that one day we are filled with joy and gratitude and the next day it’s hard to leave the house.

Make space for all of it this month.
When you’re thrown off balance, reset and move back to the center.
When the waves rise, feel yourself rise with them.
Remember that you know your heart best.

Questions for reflection as we move through this month:
-What grounding practices do you already have in place / how do you return to your body?
-What makes you feel centered and balanced? How can you give yourself those things?
-How do you deal/react to feeling uncertain, out of control, or in the dark?
-What does your heart need most right now?

Want more reflection and guidance on how the use the energy of the Journeyer of Lakes this month? Listen to my free meditation here or below.

Want more reflection on what comes next? Join me next weekend at my workshop “I. The Magician: Embracing Our Magic as Queer and Trans Folks.” This liminal space is the perfect time for reflecting on what you want. More information about the workshop here.

With much love and gratitude,

Embodiment is radical. Experiencing is radical.
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