Last year right around this time a trip to the post office may have changed my life.
I was online and noticed a sign for stamps celebrating Chinese New Year. I picked up my phone to look up the date. Friday, February 12, 2021. I wondered why Chinese New Year wasn’t based on the calendar.
Later, at home, I popped that very question into Google. I learned Chinese New Year was based on the new moon and I read quite a bit about the traditions and celebration.
Still, I wondered – Why this time of year?
A few days later during my morning meditation routine I had some interesting thoughts.
This time last year I set an intention during my morning meditation to quit drinking. I would do some EFT (tapping) and imagine burning up the energies getting in the way of doing so.
For the New Year of 2021 I placed a Shiva statue on my meditation table and switched my daily mala mantra to “Om Namah Shivaya”. I also placed a wooden sign I painted above the door frame of my meditation space with this same mantra.
Each morning felt fresh and new. I optimistically thought “Today is the day I don’t drink”. By mid-day I’d decide to drink, but that would be the last day. It was a futile merry go round and I couldn’t seem to make it stop and find where the exit back into the amusement park was.
I needed a push. I chose Shiva for that push. Stick with me about why…
In yoga teacher training I learned a little about Hinduism and the 3 main deities of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer. In Ayruveda they can be likened to Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter.
Shiva destroys the season of summer each year and ushers in Fall, then Winter. At some point Brahma takes over and creation starts over. Spring begins. Simple enough concept.
This particular morning of 2/8 on my meditation cushion, I looked up at this piece I created in 2019. It may literally look like “Chinese” to anyone but me – however; it represents my own conglomeration of beliefs/knowledge regarding Taoism, Hinduism, Ayurveda, the seasons, the directions of the earth, time, and the color wheel.
I thought about Shiva and my question of why Chinese New Years falls during this time of year.
And while looking at my art I saw how I incorporated the 3 primary colors with the 3 Ayurvedic doshas into 4 seasons.
Was there is a distinct point in which Spring really begins and Winter ends? A time when Shiva’s work ends and Brahma’s begins? How could it not be at this very time of year?
While the ground is frozen and the leaves are long gone, it’s only 3 or so weeks away from crocuses coming up. Clearly flowers can’t pop up above ground without some underground work below right?
Buds are already on the trees at the Equinox.
Mother Nature silently begins her work as the days become noticeably longer but it’s still very much winter.
She must start around now. And why not with a mid-winter New Moon? Seems like good timing to me! Perhaps that is when the bulk of Shiva’s work is “done” for the season.
Still with my conglomerate story?
Shiva is a “destroyer” but simultaneously/alternatively known as a change agent or transformer. When Shiva is involved, it is apparent.
In this famous statue, Shiva is shown dancing. He is known as the cosmic dancer. Stomping and keeping the beat of the universe moving. The stomping and dancing represent moving things along, transforming life and matter, keeping it all going and preventing it all from being stuck.
It’s why I was meditating and attempting to tap into this energy.
Side Note: In Christianity – Do you know who else is known as the Lord of the Dance?
This particular Monday morning of 2/8 I lamented on how another weekend went by and I did not stop drinking. Chinese New Year was that Friday 2/12. A new start, a new beginning. I would stop by that Friday with the Chinese New Year NO MATTER WHAT.
I went through my morning routine: meditate, tap, mantra; with the strong intention of quitting the drink woven in.
Be careful what you wish for. And even more importantly how you wish for it.
That Friday did not arrive, at least not in the way I had planned. I wanted to stop by then and by golly some forces came in like a lion and made darn good certain that by Friday I was not to be drinking.
I drank that Monday. Forces were with me. There were four very irritating things taking place around me; four really tough things that would irritate and worry just about anyone.
Did I face them? No I didn’t. I drank instead.
So what happened?
I lost my mind. I had a strong and violent PTSD episode. It wasn’t the first time. I had a lovely trip to the Emergency Room until the wee hours of the night because I was simply unable to stop hyperventilating in an elevated panic attack.
It was on a gurney in the middle of the night on the morning of 2/9/21 at Yale New Haven Hospital, by myself. In the middle of a pandemic with a mask on and the future unknown in every way.
I KNEW what had happened wouldn’t have happened if I did not drink. I couldn’t drink anymore. There can’t be any more “tomorrows” when I’ll quit. It had to happen now. Not Friday. NOW. I looked up a service I kept seeing on TV during my soap opera where they come into your home to help you with addiction issues. I put in a request for information and I began enrollment the next day.
The next few days and weeks were an absolute mess. I made a mess of my life. I didn’t live in my house again until April. My husband and I didn’t live together again until June.
It was the worst of times.
It was the best of times.
I prayed for a Shiva-like intervention. A Shiva like intervention is what I got.
It’s not how I would have imagined I’d get there, but it happened.
I don’t know if anything else would have given me pause to really self-reflect and evaluate where I was in my life, how I’d gotten there, and to really acknowledge and own the mistakes I made along with way.
I knew the moment I made the absolute decision to quit that no matter what came next, things would be better even if everything fell apart and my future life would be unrecognizable.
On the one hand my whole life, every decision I made and experiences I lived through led me to where I was (the bottle). On the other hand, in trying to quit and going to therapy and learning about PTSD with the intention to become a better person for the prior 10+ years; I felt I had been training for this moment for a long time.
I’d learned and understood deeply before then that life goes on and everything happens for a reason. I learned how to meditate and breath through it. I knew where to look for resources, who in my life would be helpful, how to fall asleep in the face of pain and how to channel the influx of both good and bad overwhelming energy into something creative.
I knew from mistakes past that I had to stop and rest when my body called for it. I knew I had to forgive myself when I really took the veil off about how I had hurt others. While it hurt to know, see and feel this pain, I knew ultimately it was ok because I had faith and know my creator doesn’t make mistakes. I was not supposed to be in any other place in space or time other than where I was.
It wasn’t AS easy as I am writing it out to sound. But it was easier than I thought. I knew no matter what happened that I would be ok, and eventually even better. I had preferences on what I would have liked and put the intentions out there. But I was careful to also put out the intention to accept whatever did happen, especially if it is ultimately for my own good.
Good things happened to a handful of others in my immediate circle as well. Based on some of the realizations and choices I made, others were able to ultimately respond to me in healthier ways and evaluate themselves with a new set of eyes.
If I expanded what I just wrote to those I have met in the past year from various recovery avenues; I have been unbelievably inspired and have been told that I have inspired many others too.
While not quite a picnic, everything that transpired put me and my loved ones in a more enlightened and accepting place.
There are some folks in my outer circle who might not see it that way, but I trust in the powers that be that if those individuals were willing to look, there is a gem in there for them to uncover as well. Something we were meant to bump into one another for to better ourselves and each other in some form.
The Coelho’s The Alchemist, the boy searches the world for the treasure, only to learn it’s been within the whole time. One of my favorite lines from that book is:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Thank you Shiva?
However, the universe will not give you what you want directly. It will provide for you the intention that you have behind that desire.
If your intentions are less than desirable, selfish, or towards only your kind/posse/etc, that will come to you just as it was put out. The Lord’s Prayer tells us this in the line:
“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
You will only get from the universe what you give.
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
If you strive to become better – and your intentions are pure, you will see how clearly this plays out and notice how you are creating your own life with your own thoughts.
It’s TRICKY. Pure doesn’t mean “I want to be rich”. Being rich means someone else loses or you have more than others. That isn’t pure and even if it happens, it will not manifest in ways that feel good.
While tricky, little can go wrong if you are good and have respectable intentions. Also, it is important to be and be clear about what you want, because as you vacillate the universe is equally vacillating in giving it to you.
I learned a lot this past year. Especially how I can enjoy life more by controlling my thinking which is so much easier when it is never clouded by alcohol.
My life is different, but you’d hardly notice. Good and bad things can and will always happen. But it has been easier as I learn and remember to accept what is and I’m not pining and wishing for it to be any different.
While I still may instinctively want things another way – I need to know that I really don’t want it any other way. What happens as my response to it – that is ALL on me.
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