Although I must confess that I know very little about the Chinese New Year, that we have recently -on February 8th, the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice – entered the “Year of the Red Fire Monkey” hasn’t escaped even my attention.
I like blogger/author Noelle Vignola’s description of it the best:
This is the Chinese year whose focus is about letting go, shaking things up a bit and transformation. It bodes of possible chaos, tumultuous turn arounds and the need to go with the flow more than anything else. I suspect for many of us we’re thinking, “Wasn’t that the last five years?”
In my case, more like three years than five perhaps, but otherwise: Yes.
But the Red Fire Monkey has already started to reveal some of its tumultuous turn arounds and sound its clamorous call to chaos as, less than two weeks into the Chinese New Year, I turn my life upside down and inside out; disrupting the flow of my life and others’ with what I can only describe as the single biggest act of self-sabotage I have ever enacted.
I’m leaving the finer details for other posts when I’ve had more time to absorb and process the loose and hanging threads.
Suffice it to say that my initial (fear-based) reaction left me nauseous, clammy, cold and physically shaken for a good couple of days.
Self-love is actually what my journey these past three years has been all about. Unlearning my outmoded ways of thinking that don’t serve and support me and my greatest and highest good; swapping them out for ones that do.
To be honest, I’m still not sure if the incident in question was more an act of self-sabotage or the Universe shaking me up, giving me a chance to look deeply into what is it that I really want.
Whichever way the ensuing fallout was tumultuous to say the least – real Red Fire Monkey stuff. Throughout the entire experience of upheaval, discomfort and distress it was the things I’ve learned through my self-love practice that upheld me; giving me the courage to confront the situation head on.
Ultimately, to walk through the combat zone with far more grace, presence of mind, more compassion for myself and the “mistake” I’d made than I ever would have managed to summon before my journey into self-love.
This translated directly into action that honoured both myself and the other person involved; the result being that however the situation pans out – and it’s still not quite clear – I am proud of myself and the way I interacted with my experience.
There is gold to be found there. I know that I have interacted with the situation with integrity and done my best to integrate the lessons it has brought into my life.
And I am at peace with that.
The timing of it was perfect in some ways, for to my great good fortune I was able to use the exercises in Reba’s Imagine Self-Love book to help me move through the experience.
Reba’s book is a treasure trove of ideas for people new to the practice of self-love and self-confessed self-love aficionados alike. My experiences this past week have, however, reiterated for me that however much work on ourselves we may have done, there are always new practices we can integrate to help us as we expand and evolve into more and more of our potential.
I’d like to take a few moments to mention a couple of the activities from the book – it’s a very practical book and you work on yourself as you work through it, doing journaling and taking self-love action steps – that supported me the most; literally helping me to navigate my experience in more self-sustaining ways.
First, a journal prompt that encouraged me to “look at the themes presenting themselves in (my) current experience… (and) … unravel the illusions and arrive at a core of truth.” The journal prompt being, “My life is asking me to notice…”
Well, as is likely the case when we are experiencing some kind of conflict, my life was asking me to notice quite a lot!
Journaling around this really helped me to get clear on my own feelings about the situation and my motives, as well as empowering me to uncover some deeply rooted patterns of interaction that had been influencing my relationships with others without me even being aware of it. Talk about a good journal prompt!
Now that the light of awareness has revealed these patterns it’s up to me to mindfully – and with great compassion for myself – find ways to interact in ways that don’t repeat the pattern. But you can only begin to do that once you’ve become aware that such a pattern exists. In that sense, this journaling prompt was invaluable in supporting me over the weekend, and it’s one that I’m definitely going to continue to work with.
Second, the action step of taking a mini-vacation “in the midst of your busy life.” I have to admit that I did this one rather unintentionally, only realising halfway through that that was what I was actually doing.
Some customers of a cafe where I display my pottery had asked if they could meet the artist, so, despite the rather climactic nature of my weekend, Sunday morning saw me setting off with some pots carefully loaded in my car and ascending the mountain to reach the cafe at the top.
It was a beautiful day with more than a hint of spring in the air, (for those of you who read my last blog post – again!), and they were the sweetest and loveliest couple. As I talked to them I felt my heart space expand and relax. I decided to stay and have lunch there, and as I ate the delicious and nourishing food and gazed out on the mountains I felt my calm return.
This space I took for myself in the midst of all my turmoil allowed me to return to center. It was a much needed space of self-nurturing and upheld me to such an extent that that night I was able to focus on and finish a work project that had also been looming on the horizon all weekend.
Third, the action step of consciously changing your perspective so that you view your challenges through the lens of “not(ing) your progress; prais(ing) yourself for learning; applaud(ing) your growth; remember(ing) that you are mastering life’s lessons.”
Well, I have literally been doing this all week; celebrating myself for showing up; for being brave enough to acknowledge my shadow side and dive into its depths; for being open enough to learn the lessons it has for me – or the ones I’m ready for at least.
It’s largely thanks to the practical application of this action step that I’m now able to say that although this has been an extremely painful week in many ways, it’s also been an incredibly important one. This entire experience has allowed me to see where I’m still being controlled by my past, and heal and release. I’m glad for this experience now, for it has given me the opportunity to evolve on so many levels.
Hurray for simple, supportive and effective actions steps!
Fourth, another action step – this time about consciously choosing to manifest opportunity in your life. I loved this one, which asks you to recognise yourself as deserving and actively ask the Universe for what it is you would like to see show up in your life in a written message. I had actually written my request to the Universe and put it on my bedside table before all the “drama” showed up in my life. But I promptly forgot all about it in my absorption in my pain body.
Well, my note happened to catch my eye the next morning. I decided to rewrite my request in the light of the events that had since shown up in my life. “Today I find the opportunity to experience clear and true guidance, and awe and wonder at just how much I’m being supported by the Universe all the time,” I wrote. I read it back to myself and put it in my pyjama pocket, and promptly forgot about it all over again as I got sucked back into the drama…
I didn’t even remember it until the next morning when, back in my pyjamas, I put my cold hands in my pockets again and found the folded square of paper there. Taking it out and unfolding it, I was absolutely amazed at what I saw.
I may have forgotten all about my request, but the Universe certainly hadn’t neglected to do its part.
The preceding day, true to my request, I had received clear and true guidance from both a kind of spiritual mentor and an older friend who has lived and learned and grown and evolved from her mistakes, and is always willing to generously share her wisdom with me.
As if that wasn’t enough, at the end of our time together she said to me, “Julia, do you have any rice? My neighbours gave me some I’ll share with you.”
Only a couple of days before I’d been thinking about how I need some more rice…
What an awesome demonstration of how the Universe loves and supports us in just the way we need. As I’m sure you can imagine, this action step is another one I’ll definitely be using again!
Imagine Self-Love: A Journal is 80 pages absolutely jam-packed with journaling prompts and practical exercises that nudge you towards a deeper understanding of what it means to practice self-love.
As you work through it, you’ll see how much more alive you feel and how many doors open up for you as you begin to integrate more self-love into your life. You can download a free chapter at http://rebalinker.com/imagine-self-love-free-chapter/ and the book is available for purchase on Amazon.
Reba has also been kind enough to put together a self-paced e-course “9 Self-Love Keys to Change Your Life,” which is currently being offered through the Daily OM on a pay what you wish basis. If it speaks to you, check it out here.
I highly recommend both the book and the course, and can personally testify to Reba’s generosity and commitment to helping people experience for themselves what it really means to engage in self-love.
However you decide to do so, I hope this inspires you to consciously embody more self-love in your life.
Do so, and you’ll watch the miracles start to unfold.