Visualization: Not as Easy as It Looks

There's more to it than just contemplating your navel.

There’s more to it than just contemplating your navel.

A Facebook friend of mind recently posted about the trouble she was having visualizing things and making them manifest.  Her post went something like “I’ve been visualizing like crazy, but all I have to show for it is a big pile of … dirt.”  The comments offered very nebulous advice.  “Keep trying the Goddess will provide.”  “The universe will always give you what you ask for.”  “You need to visualize your desires more clearly.”  None of the advice seemed very helpful to me and I’ve been successfully visualizing things and having them manifest for years.  Many new practioners have similar problems so I decided to write out my tips for successful visualization.  I hope they are helpful.

We make it sound so easy. ‘Just visualize what you want and the universe will give it to you.’ What a bunch of bullshit! It ranks up there with the love advice “As soon as you stop looking for a boyfriend, you’ll get a boyfriend.” and the psych 101 game of “Stand in the corner and don’t think of a white elephant.” AHHHHH!!!!

I will tell you what helped me crack the ‘visualize it.” riddle.

First was advice from my friend Bob. Do something concrete to aid in your visualization. Bob had me write out a sentence in the present tense of what I wanted. {Here is what it is “I live in a three bedroom house with a basement, backyard and garage which I can comfortably afford). Then he told me to write that sentence once a day and to move 1% toward that goal every day. Another thing I did was build my “New House” playlist filled with songs that captured what I wanted in a house and home. I listened to that constantly. Finally, I made up a game with my sons. When we were bored or unhappy with the house we were living in, we would discuss decorating, organizing and furnishing our dream house. (Note – you can only do this with kids old enough to know that the dream house isn’t going to be the house you get. For example, even if everything works out perfectly we are never going to have a zoo in our backyard.)

No matter how big my dream house is, it will never have a zoo in the backyard.

No matter how big my dream house is, it will never have a zoo in the backyard.

Another good way to visualize something is to make sure you see it frequently every day.  This can be a picture that you put up where you will see it often – on your cubicle wall, by your bathroom mirror, or taped to your front door.  It can be a picture you draw, print off the computer or cut from a magazine.  If it is an abstract idea – love, abundance, balance – try using a Tarot card or other symbolic image.  So lesson one – do something physical to help keep yourself focused on your visualization.

A lot of times when we try to visualize bringing something into our lives we accidentally focus on the lack thereby reinforcing the absence and calling more of the same into our lives. This is a particularly huge landmine in money spells/visualizations. When trying to call money, we focus on what we need the money for and we summon more of the need to us instead of the money to fill the need. It took me forever to get past this hump.  What finally did the trick was the Cherokee parable about the two wolves. The grandfather is teaching the children and tells them a story. ‘Inside each person are two wolves locked in a constant battle. One is filled with joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, goodness, joy, courage, strength and love.  The other is filled with anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false-pride evil, grief, bitterness, and hate.’ His grandson pipes up, ‘Which one wins?’ and the grandfather answers, ‘The one you feed.’

I love that story and the first time I heard it, it made me think about all the things I feed with negative talk, hyper-critical self-talk and just everyday run of the mill griping. So I learned to monitor my thoughts and my speech and even my Facebook posts. When I’d catch myself feeding something negative, I would stop myself and switch to feeding the opposite.  I’ll give you an example. When I would drive, particularly in the rain, I’d constantly fuss ‘Will I get pulled over?’ ‘What if I get in an accident?’ ‘What if something bad happens?’ You would not believe how many bad things I drew to myself with that self-talk. So when I catch myself beginning that mantra of evil, I say out loud. “No, I’m not going to feed that.” Then I’d say a quick prayer to the Goddess. “Mary, please bring me safely there and safely back.” The incidents of bad things happening while I drive has gone down dramatically.  Lesson two – be careful what you feed with your energy.

Finally, write a mantra.  This is similar to the sentence described above.  However, this is something you say out loud to yourself several times a day.  Mantras need to be positive, strong and in the present tense.  They can be direct and concrete like “I enjoy eating healthy foods” or abstract and intricate like “As I see the deeper meaning, of what happens in my life, I let go of blame for all the pain, as my growth is worth the price”. (from the Pele Report by

Kaypacha's Mantra for March 27th of this year.

Kaypacha’s Mantra for March 27th of this year.

Kaypacha.)  Rhyming can help if you have that gift.  I don’t so my mantra’s are more like the first example.  Whether you go for basic or flowery, a strong mantra can give your visualization the power boost it needs.

There are many ways to improve your visualization skills.  You can find books, videos and blogs galore to help you improve.  These few tips should give you a good foundation to start.  The main thing to remember is that just like a lot of seemingly simple things in life, visualization is a lot harder that it appears.  So give yourself a break.  Be patient and keep working at it.  You’ll get better at it and then life really will bring you what you need.

Blessed be.

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Music, Harmony and Heaven

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Imagine how beautiful it will sound when we can all hear the music of the universe.

When I was in Catholic High School at Rosary, Sister Mary Paul laid out an idea that I found baffling.  It wasn’t that I disagreed with it.  I often disagreed with Sister Mary Paul.  I often agreed with her, too, but that’s another story.  This idea just confused me.  I couldn’t get my head around it.  The idea was this: People were the ones who would make “Thy Kingdom, come”.

It took me years, decades actually, to understand it.  Heaven isn’t a place where people get sent.  It’s something we make.  Living well isn’t something you do in order to get a prize at the end.  Living well helps turn the world into heaven.  That is our job as people and as a species.

I finally understood this idea when I finally made the connection between music and the universe.  Everything is in motion.  We know that.  The entire universe is in motion.  Motion creates vibration.  Vibration creates sound.  Therefore the entire universe is making noise.  We see the beauty of the motion of the stars, the changing of the seasons and other wonders of the natural world.  Therefore we imagine this noise to be in music, harmonious music.  We hear the phrase, “The music of the spheres.”

“If that is the case,” my reasoning went, “Then evil must be discord.”  Evil is evil because it throws the music of the universe into discord.  I immediately had an image of a cosmic guitar player tuning his instrument.  The image immediately inspired a vision of the Big Bang.  I saw this young male guitar player jumping up on the stage in his garage and strumming out a beautiful power cord while his band mates and their audience of parents and neighbor kids looked on.  {Yes, I imagined God to be a long haired, lead singer of a heavy metal garage band – you got a problem with that?}

So the universe is a beautiful guitar solo into which some disharmony has crept and God is surreptitiously tuning his guitar to bring it back into harmony.  We are part of that music and we honor God most when we are in harmony.  How do we know we are in harmony?  It has been my experience that if you let yourself come to a quiet place of stillness and you open yourself up with meditation/prayer, music, trance work and other methods of ‘zoning out’ you can hear the music of your Self and you can hear your own harmonies and disharmonies.  Then we can set about the business of ‘tuning ourselves’ by changing our live and our actions to bring ourselves more into

Today the part of God will be portrayed by a young James Hetfield.

Today the part of God will be portrayed by a young James Hetfield.

harmony.

So God is a heavy metal guitarist.  The universe is the music He plays.  Evil occurs when the guitar slips a little out of tune and God has to tune it.  Goodness is everything that brings the universe more into harmony.  Evil is that which further slips it out of harmony. When everything is in tune again, that will be heaven.  This metaphor makes so much sense to me, I am baffled why I didn’t think of it before.  It fits my Catholic faith like a glove and it fits my pagan beliefs the same way.  It is why “man is not saved by faith alone.”  And it is why recycling and trying to live in tune with Mother Earth is a sacred responsibility.

The reason we do this is because if all of human kind can come into harmony at the same time.  Even if it just for a nanosecond, we might be able to hear that which we have only heard the faintest of echoes of so far.  If we can create that harmony we might be able to hear, in all It’s Glory, the music of the Universe.  If we can do it, that nanosecond will be heaven and it will last an eternity.

*** The use of the male pronoun to describe God/dess does NOT indicate a belief on my part that God/dess is male or has any other human limitations.  It is merely the image that came with this metaphor.

What is Success?

The World from the Morgan-Greer deck

The World from the Morgan-Greer deck

What is the value of your life, Grace Mary?  You don’t have any money and you live just on the edge of poverty.  Without the help of your friends and family, you never would have survived.  So how can you say that you are successful?

The fact is that material possessions and social status and salary have never been my chosen measuring sticks for determining success.  I developed a different measuring stick at Rosary and Loyola.  I mention the names of my schools because I believe that those two institutions had a profound influence on the measuring stick I developed for my life.  My journey is not about acquiring stuff.   It is about self-actualization and trying to find Truth and understanding it and trying to serve the Good as best I can and trying to enjoy myself in a deep and meaningful way.

I have gotten lost many times.  The times when I have been most deeply lost have been when I have misplaced my measuring stick.  Often I have accidentally picked up the measuring sticks of salary, material possessions and status.  I used to move from house to house (and I moved a lot – sometimes twice a year) carrying truckloads of boxes of stuff.  So many things I thought I would die without.  Souvenirs of my life.  Things that belonged to my mother.  I clung to her things as if they still held her scent and I would somehow keep her if I just kept her stuff close.  That, of course, was an illusion.  Mom’s presence in my life was not and is not contingent upon holding on to that green bowl with a pear on it that she bought when she and my step-father went to Texas that one time.  She is with me and I am with her.  She is alive inside me and her voice comes out of my mouth all the time.  With my voice she passes on her wisdom to my younger brothers and sisters and to my children.  This is good because we all still need her wisdom.

I carried boxes of souvenirs from my childhood.  Records I rarely listened to, books I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t read again, knickknacks whose meaning I barely remembered.  Jewelry, make-up and elegant dresses which no longer fit me.  It was not just my body they didn’t fit anymore.  They didn’t fit me anymore.  They belonged to the teenaged Grace and the college girl Grace Mary.  They were not the dresses of Mom.  Nor were they dresses of Grace Mary Kathryn.  But I couldn’t let them go.  So I dragged them from place to place.  Until Oshun reminded me to not make promises and forget them.  She stripped me of most of my stuff and in doing so she showed me that I still had my mother, my family and my younger selves even without the tangible objects to which I had tried to anchor them.  I have collected another houseful of stuff, but I hold it more loosely now.  If all of it was taken from me tomorrow, I would not lose anything that matters.

I spent years ashamed of my failures.  Ashamed of my poverty especially since so many of my peers made more money, had more stability and had more of the souvenirs of status than I had.  I have yet to go to one of my class reunions even though I loved the women with whom I went to high school.  I have been afraid of the looks in their eyes when they see my old clothes and my beater car.  There are two problems with that.  First, my high school sisters would see the true me immediately because they always did see her even if they didn’t understand her very well.  I am, in fact, insulting my Rosary sisters, by believing them to be so shallow.  The second problem with those fears is that I am only a failure when I measured my life by those foreign measuring sticks.  In reality, I am as successful as any of them by my own standards.

Miserliness is always about fear.

Miserliness is always about fear.

The false measuring stick I pick up most frequently is the measuring stick of salary.  I carried this one for years after I had children.  I felt I had to focus on making X amount of money because I had kids to support.  So I focused on finding jobs that would pay me X amount of money, which gave paychecks every two weeks because kids need stability, which were reliable and practical.  The big joke, the cosmic joke, is that because I was pursuing the wrong kind of success those jobs never fit me and I never kept them.  So we never had the income or security that I was trying to provide.  I was so lost.  I say that with a rueful chuckle.  I was.  That time wasn’t completely wasted.  I learned a lot and tasted an array of flavors of life.  My children never starved and we usually had a roof over our heads.  Thanks in large part to the generosity of my friends and family and the tax payers of the state of Illinois.  However, I was lost and miserable and stressed and angry and my children felt those things and it hurt them.  They all bare the scars of those lost years.

It took me a long time to put down that false measuring stick.  A large reason it took so long to put it down was fear.  I was afraid that if I followed my own desires, that if I lived as I believed I should, that if I used my own measuring stick, my children would starve.  That I would fail and I would face the judgment of all the people disapprove of or don’t even see my measuring stick.  Some of these people where real people.  Many of them were just in my head.  The judge, jury and executioner named ‘What other people think.’  All my life I have denounced paying them any heed, but they are hard to exorcise from one’s own mind.  Finally, in the end, I realized I was too unhappy for words in my latest ‘sensible’ job.  I was angry, stressed and hateful both at work and at home.  It was making my family miserable and it was a terrible example for my children.

I woke up and realized how wrong I had been.  I realized that my failures were all coming from using these wrong measuring sticks and I realized that there would NEVER be any happiness for me working in the white collar sweatshop.  I quit my job with nothing else lined up.  I quit my job with only a vague promise of writing work from a friend.  I told my family and they were thrilled.  They knew we would be a lot poorer than we already were.  They knew we might get evicted and terrible hardships might come, but they wanted me to be happy and they wanted to be happy.  So all together we took this great leap out of this airplane of faux security hoping our parachutes would open.

Happily they have.  We are still crazy poor.   I make a hodge podge of a living as a freelance writer and massage therapist.  I have needed a lot of help from friends and family.  We are back in a communal living arrangement.  None of that matters.  We are all happy.  We are all

When a person finds balance, she really does have a chance to achieve the World.

When a person finds balance, she really does have a chance to achieve the World.

focusing on becoming our finest selves.  My work feeds my soul and my happiness makes my family happy.  Plus, I am a better mother.  I am no longer angry all the time.  I have the energy to help with lemonade stands and home work.  I can spend an hour discussing which character in The Lord of The Ring each of us would be.  I can watch Total Drama Action and care about whether Cody will win.  (He didn’t and I was seriously bummed.)

So to answer the question from the top, a question which no one but the ghosts in my head has ever asked me, ‘What value is my life?’  It is of tremendous value.  I live according to my principals the best I can.  I search for Truth and try to understand it.  I try to find Joy in life and drink deep from its cup.  I am working on becoming the truest Self I can be and I try to serve the Good and teach my children to do the same.  If, when I die, it can be said that I gave the world a little more Wisdom and I made the world a little Better, then I will count my Self successful.

The “Five Things” Rule

"Titania and Bottom" by Edwin Henry Landseeroil on canvas 1848

“Titania and Bottom” by Edwin Henry Landseer
oil on canvas 1848

The best dating advice, indeed the best lifetime advice I ever received was from my mom’s best friend.  I call her Penny for the Queen of Pentacles.  The Queen of Pentacles is a mature practical woman who is generous and intelligent.  She is the bountiful mother that sees to it that everyone has plenty to eat and clothes on their backs.  She is less concerned with abstracts and more focused on concrete practicalities.  This is Penny to a T.  I came home from college one weekend and went to see Penny.  She was overjoyed to see me and asked me all about my life in college.  She also asked how Benjamin, my first serious boyfriend, and I were doing.

“Well, we just had this huge fight and I just don’t know if we’re gonna make it.”  I replied.

Penny tried to look concerned even though I knew she didn’t like Benjamin at all.  “What did you fight about?”

I sighed and replied with complete seriousness, “Artistic integrity.”

Penny burst out laughing.  I was amazed and sort of annoyed.  I was ready to tell all about our fight and how Benjamin was a complete jackass and totally wrong, to boot.  Penny just kept laughing.  Then she called to her husband and told him the subject of my fight and he laughed too.  By now I was completely annoyed and a little confused, too.  I was a young art student and integrity was pretty important to me.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.”  Penny said wiping the tears from her eyes.  “I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but…” she started to laugh again, but controlled it.  “In my life I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about their relationships and NEVER have I heard of an argument over artistic integrity.  People fight about money and bills and if you’re cheating, not about artistic integrity.”

“Well, you always knew I was special.”  I said with a laughing smile.  This launched a long discussion about relationships and dating.  I was a late bloomer and kind of new to the dating scene and needed some guidance.  Towards the end Penny gave me a tool that has helped me throughout my life ever since.
“Gracie, here’s the thing.  When you’re dating you got to know what you’re looking for.  Before you even start looking around, you need to figure out your 5 things – five qualities that you want in a partner.  You can have as few as four or up to six, but keep it around there.  Now, if you’re just dating casually they can be missing one or two, but any guy you are even thinking about marrying has to have all five.”

That sounded like good advice to me, so I thought for a while and came up with my five things.  Now since I was young and idealistic (did I mention I was an art student), my list was heavy on ideals and WAY short on practicality.  He had to be intelligent.  He had to be creative.  He had to follow a spiritual path or at least respect my spirituality.  He had to have integrity and he had to make me happy.  Notice that there was nothing about responsibility, income or having a job.  I told you that I was an idealistic artist.  The partner that I had for fifteen year, not Benjamin, did have all five and we were pretty happy.  I did learn that when both partners in a couple are impractical idealists things are rough financially.  However, when my relationship of fifteen years ended, it was NOT because I had any false or misguided ideas about what he was or what he brought to the relationship.  Needless to say, my list has changed as I have grown older.

In the years since Penny passed on those wise words, I have shared them with friends, family members and countless Tarot clients – male and female.  Those who took the “Five Things” rule to heart may not have had perfect relationships thereafter, but they knew what they were looking for.  Now that I think about it, many of them did have solid relationships that lasted pretty long.

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Years later after I got fired from a job I hated, I finally saw the obvious fact to which I had been blind for years.  The “Five Things” rule works for more than just relationships.  If, instead of taking the first job offered out of financial desperation, I had a list of Five Things I MUST have in a job, maybe I would have better luck in my job hunting.  That very day, as I drove home, I decided upon the first item in my new “Five Things for Work” list.  My new job had to have flexible hours.  As a single mother, I needed to be able to leave work for doctor’s appointments and to stay home with sick children.

My “Five Things for Work” is actually four things – Flexibility, a small company, $X00.00 per week and work that I find interesting.  Just like with dating, if I find a job which is missing one or two items, I might take it for a year or so.  However, I job I plan to be at for more than five years needs to have all four.

We like to think of Love as being something that just happens to us.  Cupid shoots us with his bow and BAM we love the next person we see like Tatiana in Midsummer Night’s Dream.  However the truth is that we pick the objects of our desire.  It is just that usually the choice is made by our subconscious.  In today’s workplace, most job seekers feel even less in control that a teenage girl in the throws of her first crush.  A person submits his resumes and waits passively in hopes that the employer will pick him.  In these days of online applications, their usually isn’t a way to contact the employer to follow up.  All the job seeker can do is wait and hope.  The “Five Things” rule empowers a person whether they are looking for the love of their life or just a job.  If you want to be more in control, before you date or job hunt make sure you know your five things.