Navigating your late 20s, Part 3; visioning the future



I’m officially on maternity leave and in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

This article is part 3 of a series on the Saturn return, the period of transition between ages 27-3o. In part one we talked about what the Saturn return is and why you should care, in part two we covered the importance of clearing away old patterns and habits in order to move forward. In this section, we tackle what may be the most challenging part of this whole process: coming up with a vision for how you want to live your life as an adult. It’s challenging because we live in a culture that highly values critique and analysis. It is very easy for us to articulate what we don’t like about something, it’s not so easy to imagine how it could be different. We also live in a culture that is rampant with pessimism. The idea that if I set my expectations low, I will never be disappointed. Well that just isn’t true. If you set your expectations low, chances are you will only accomplish the bare minimum. Visioning the future in the way we want to live it requires us to take responsibility for what it is we want, and to admit that we are ready to get it. Neither of those things are easy.

How to begin: Start with the work we did in part two. In that article we talked about letting go of limiting ideas, habits and relationships. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want can be a good starting point for figuring out what you do want. Remember that list I asked you to make about all the things that are no longer true about you? Well you can take that list to re-craft the things that are true about yourself. Start with all the things that you got rid of and think about the opposite of them. Try to craft statements about yourself based on what you are. If one of your statements that is no longer true was something like: I’m socially awkward. Try turning it into something like: I’m a person that values community and works toward making community bonds stronger. I know it sounds cheesy, but it can be really empowering, and remember no one else has to read this stuff, its just for you. Make a list of all the things that you are now, even if you don’t totally feel like you are those things all the time. Keep this list somewhere where you can look at it often, daily if you can.

Think about what you want from life: Wanting things is somewhat of a taboo in our culture. On one hand there is the commercial/corporate driven ethic that more things will bring you happiness. Many of us have rejected that value and repleaced it with ethics that prioritize justice, community, and not destroying the environment. During the process of saturn return it is really important to be as honest with yourself about what you want as you can. Pay attention to desires that may be different from how you felt 5 years ago. When I went through this process I found that I finally had the energy to settle down in one place. Prior to that, I had really valued travelling, and felt that putting down roots would just tie me down. It was a big shift, and I had to let go of how I saw myself living, and replace it with a new vision. The same process can happen around how you feel about relationships, jobs, raising a family, making money. The challenge then becomes reconciling your new desires with your values and ethics and figuring out how to be the kind of person you want to be. For instance, in my own process there was a part of me that viewed settling down as a form of selling out. For me, the challenge was to figure out how to live a settled life with the kind of integrity that reflected my ethics.

What are you good at, what are you here to do?
This is a huge issue, and lies at the very heart of the transformation you are going through during Saturn return. Unfortunately one blog entry isn’t going to help you solve this one. But spending some time searching, and pondering this question, will help you immensely during this process. And remember, you don’t have to figure it all out by age 30. Actually, I see most people figure this one out in the years that follow the Saturn return. But is it is the work you do now that lays the ground work. This is the area where getting some outside help can really make a big difference. In Five Element Acupuncture the goal of treatment always to help a person become more fully themselves. Five Element treatments help us make peace with the things we are ready to let go of, and strengthen our inner core self, so that we can manifest our greatest strengths and values.

Navigating your late 20s, Part 2: clearing the slate

I’m officially on maternity leave and in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

This article is part two of a three part series on Saturn return: the period of transition between the ages 27-30. Click here to read part one, and learn more about what your Saturn return means. In this article we will talk about the process of clearing away things that you’ve out-grown, or that are no longer good for you. Since the Saturn return is a turning point, it is necessary to clear some of the old stuff away, before you can be ready for new things in your life.

If you are in your Saturn return, the process of clearing out old stuff has probably already been happening on it’s own. The most obvious way it might be showing up in the feeling that things aren’t working anymore. Your standard methods for coping, and getting your needs met, seem to stop working for you. Maybe its a job crisis, and you find yourself sick of working the same dead-end jobs you have been surviving on since your early 20s. Maybe you find yourself in what is supposed to be a good career, but totally burnt-out and uninspired. Maybe the techniques you have used to cope with the emotional scars of your childhood are finally catching up with you. Maybe your relationships and friendships all seem to end in the same way. Whatever the reason, life just doesn’t seem to work anymore. You can keep trying the same old methods, and chances are you’ll keep getting the same results, or you can use this time to re-evaluate and take stock of your life.

Ask yourself what isn’t working. You don’t have to know what you are going to do about it yet, you just need to know what isn’t working. In fact, often not knowing how to change something is what keeps us from being ready to let it go. But here is the secret, you don’t have to know what is coming next in order to aknowlege you are ready to let something go. It might be a good idea to get some good perspective on this part, either from a counselor or a trusted friend. Often, others can help us identify what our repeated patterns are, and what we might need to get rid of. We might be too close to the issue to be able to see it clearly.

Let go of your limits: What are the stories that you tell yourself about what is not possible? What hopes and dreams do you carry that you tell yourself you just can’t have? There are lots of reasons we tell ourselves that things can’t work: money, fear, or the fact that we’ve never seen it work before. Chances are, that a lot of the limitations that you carry with you came from your childhood. During this transition you have two choices: take these limiting ideas with you, or let them go. I’m not saying it is easy, but think about it this way: the universe is handing you a tremendous opportunity to reinvent yourself, what kind of person do you want to become: someone who is daring, courageous and able to live out their dreams, or someone who is scared and stuck by the limitations in their own minds?

Let go of old ideas you hold about yourself that aren’t true anymore. We all have stories around about who we are. Some of them were given to us by our family, some we invented ourselves. Make a list of all the things you often tell other people about yourself. It can include serious things or silly things. Then go through the list and really examine the things that aren’t true about you anymore. Write down a new list of things you are ready to let go of about yourself, and release it using one of the ideas listed below. Keep a record of what you released to review later, (we will come back to this idea of self-concept in part 3 of this series.)

My tried and tested way of releasing old patterns is to set my intention, and use ritual. A simple way to do this is to write down what you want to release, find some quite private space, and safely burn your list. You can be creative, and make up your own ritual by releasing something into flowing water, burying it, or letting the wind take it away. (Please remember to make sure anything you release into nature is biodegradable) It sounds too simple, but intention setting can be a powerful way to send a strong message to your subconscious that you are ready to move on. Before you do it, be sure that you are really ready to let something go. I always recommend waiting a few days between writing the list and burning it. Get some perspective on how this pattern/relationship has helped you in the past. Its always easier to let something go with an feeling of gratitude rather than anger. You adopted this way of being in the world to get you to where you are today. Even though it doesn’t work for you anymore, there was still a time when it was helpful to you. Letting things go with gratitude is a way of practicing self-acceptance and forgiveness, this makes the transition into something new much smoother and easier.

I’ll say it again, it is not easy, but you can do it. Start with what isn’t working, and get rid of it. Dealing with issues from your past that are too much for you to handle alone? You may need some help:

Counseling can be an excellent way to change emotional patterns that aren’t working anymore. See the links section of this website for some great counselors in Portland.

In Five Element acupuncture we have several treatments geared specifically towards releasing old patterns. These are called Dragon Treatments. They were used in the past to deal with what was once termed ‘possession’. When we talk about it today it sounds mideval and antiquated, but think about if you’ve ever felt so affected by something that it seems to be ‘haunting’ you. These are the types of situations that Dragon treatments can be most effective for. You can be haunted by an event, a relationship, something from your childhood, or simply an emotion like anxeity that you can’t seem to get rid of. Dragon treatments are a combination of 7 p0ints on either the back or the front of the body that help to clear the way so that you can begin moving-on from past events. They are not miracle treatments, often when an event is that significant it takes time, thought, and real work to heal from it. Dragon treatments can be the first step towards that healing, and I often think of them as getting the door open, so that we can clean out the rubbish.

Whatever your method, clearing the slate can be a great way to get you through your Saturn Return. In part 3 we will talk about setting intentions to build the kind of life you want to see yourself living in the future.

Navigating your late 20s, Part 1: your Saturn Return

I’m officially on maternity leave today, in honor of the up-coming birth, and to make life a little easier, I’m reposting some of my old material here.  I originally ran this post back in 2010, but many of you may not have seen it.  I think its worth another look!

If you are between the ages of 27 and 30, you may have noticed life getting a little harder lately, or maybe it hasn’t been difficult, but it is getting more complicated. In our culture, the time span between ages 27-30 marks the transition from youth into adulthood. This time period is known as the first ‘Saturn return‘, based on the astrological position of Saturn in your natal chart. I’m not an astrologer, but I have noticed common themes among my patients and friends who belong to this age group.

Commonly people in this age group find themselves needing to face long-held patterns, or finally decide on a life path during these years. Many folks I speak to, view the Saturn return as a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be. The following is part one of a three-part discussion of what I have learned in my own process, and in helping patients through the transition. In this first part we talk about what this transition can mean, and how you can work with it to make it a positive experience.

I think of the Saturn return as being an opportunity for much needed change. Like any rite of passage, there is both a component of sacrifice and of tremendous gain. Someone once described the process to me as being a time of reckoning, between those things from your past you are going to carry with you into adulthood, and that which you will leave behind. This can take the form of emotional patterns, relationships, habits, even the ways you view yourself. In my own experience, I also found it to be a time where I gained an immense amount of energy. For me, this came in the form of stamina. Suddenly I had energy for long-term projects that had not interested me before, or that had seemed to daunting. It is common for people to return to higher education, form life-partnerships, or decide to become parents during this period. Not that you have to do any of those things, this process can be about whatever you need it to be.

Your Saturn return is not without struggle, however. Often to move forward, we need to let go of the past. This can leave us feeling like we don’t know who we are any more, or that we have nothing left to stand on. While this can be really scary, it often only lasts a short time, and then we begin to build new structures for our lives based on the kind of values we want to embody in the world.

Whatever you do, it is a good idea to pay attention to the issues that are coming up for you during this time. Work you do now, will impact your life for the next 30 years. Why not make sure that you use the momentum for a positive change, rather than staying stuck in patterns you have outgrown? There are lots of resources you can call upon to help you navigate this transition. Astrology, counseling and even acupuncture can help you get clarity about where you are headed and how you want to get there.

Acupuncture? yes that is what I said. There are several modalities of acupuncture, that can help you with emotional or spiritual processes. One such method, called Five Element Acupuncture, is based on the theory that we all have innate talents and innate challenges. Using the template of the 5 Chinese elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) we can use acupuncture to strengthen our innate talents. Then we can get in touch with what we are here to do with our lives, and better deal with our challenges. In this series I will also discuss the various ways this form of acupuncture can help with the process of Saturn return.

In the next part of this series we will discuss the process and importance of letting go of old patterns, negative relationships, and destructive habits.

If you want to learn more about astrology check out Turning Wheel Astrology.

Are you blocking the most valuable tool you have for creating magic in your life?

our own heart is our most important magical tool

our own heart is our most important magical tool

I used to play this game with things that I wanted, and maybe you can relate to this.  When I wanted something, I would pretend like crazy that I didn’t want it.  I’d create a whole list in my head about why it wasn’t that great, or how I’d be better off with something else.  I would even go as far as denying it to other people, even when they offered it, or asked directly.  Why did I do this?  Because somewhere deep down, I believed that if you admitted you wanted something, you would never get it.  That to desire something was wrong, so the best way to get it was to pretend you didn’t, and then wait until it was close enough to grab, and snatch it up.  Sounds crazy when I write it down, but I know I’m not alone.

When I played this game I often missed out on getting what I wanted, and when I did get it, I felt kinda guilty.  Talk about a recipe for misery.  I’m going to share with you today the one thing that helped me unlearn this pattern of guilt and denial, and what I discovered was the best tool I had for creating magic in my life.

The most important magical tool we posses

I wasn’t even aware that I had this pattern until I learned that the most important magical tool I had was my own heart.  By magic I mean the ability to create and affect change in the world around me.  Why the heart?  Because our heart is the one organ in our body that feels that magical thing we call desire.  Desire is absolutely necessary if we are going to create happiness.  Here’s the key:  the first step to getting what we want, is knowing that we want it!  When we get real with what it is that we truly want, we become more powerful at making that truth a reality.

It sounds so simple, and it is, but it’s not always that easy.  We are shouldered with so much baggage about desire that it’s hard to see past it sometimes.  It’s wrong to want things, desire paves the road to hell, if you just do what you want everything will fall apart. Sound familiar?  Think about it:  What unspoken beliefs do you have about desire?

Whatever they are, and where ever they came from I’m here to tell you that most of them are just plain wrong, and they are keeping you locked in misery.  Here are some thoughts about Heart’s Desire to counter all that cultural baggage that we carry around with us.

Our heart connects us to the Divine.

In Chinese Medicine, which I practice, the heart is understood as the seat of consciousness.  It is often referred to as the emperor of the body.  I like to think of it as the queen.  The implication behind this is that the heart is the part of us that is closest to the divine:  The part of us that has direct access to our own higher calling.  The part of us that is most capable of knowing why we are here, and what we are here to do.  Why would you mistrust that part of yourself?

Our heart keeps us grounded in the present:

I like to think of the heart as being the only part of us that is truly capable of being in the present moment.  Our brain likes to dwell in the past or the future.  Thinking ‘if only’ or ‘what if’, but the heart knows the truth of every single present moment.  Have you ever made a wrong decision and just known in your heart that it was wrong?  Your brain couldn’t explain why, but your heart just knew.  Why? Because your heart perceived the present moment in its full truth.

The Heart is undeniable.

I think this is why it scares people so much.  We can learn to change our thoughts, we can learn to change our habits, but when we try and change our desires we make ourselves sick.  The longing of the heart always finds a way.

The heart always seeks the highest good.

When I hear people argue that following desire creates pain and misery I think of this:  Whenever I’ve done something directly hurtful to someone else my heart did not feel good about it.  The heart does not take joy in misery.  But it also doesn’t sit well when I sacrifice my own desire’s for someone else’s’.  Our heart challenges us to be true to ourselves, but also to serve a greater good.  Sounds a lot like a queen right?

How do you know when it’s not heart’s desire?

Heart’s desire is hardly ever a physical object, a material good, a specific person or even a particular situation.  Those things can all be good indicators of what lies in our hearts, but they are rarely the thing itself.  There is a certain line of spiritual thinking that states that material objects are somehow lesser than spiritual riches.  I disagree, but I do think we need to recognize the limited nature of material things to really satisfy our hearts.  Usually the object of our desire is just a clue, a doorway into what we really truly want.  So as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else,  it is never wrong to want that new piece of jewelry, that fancy computer, or that vacation to Hawaii, but we must ask ourselves what lies underneath that desire or we will be missing the point.  Do we want to feel beautiful? Do we need re-charge? Do we need to feel the power of being capable and having more access to the world around us?  Those qualities all strike closer to our heart’s desire than the objects themselves.  And by all means, go for the jewelry, take that vacation, get the computer, but also take the time to recognize the deeper desire the fuels that want, and give it some attention too.

Here is the divine paradox of the heart:

If we cannot find that which we seek inside ourselves, we will never find it without.  The path of the heart is a circular one, always leading us back to ourselves.  So while we see manifestations of our heart’s desire all around us, eventually we realize that what we seek is inside us all along.  The desire to feel beautiful? It is ours to give ourselves, and while jewelry, a lover, great clothes, or a new haircut can help us awaken to our own beauty, if we never realize that we are already are beautiful, those external things will never be enough.   In this way, our heart leads us in a dance of divine union with ourselves.

Discovering these truths about the heart, and getting real with my own desires was the single most important step I took towards creating a fulfilling life for myself.  When you open to desire, always means you open yourself to disappointment too, that’s just part of life.  But getting and enjoying the things you truly want, and creating a more satisfying and fulfilling life is so worth it.

Want to get real with your own desires?  Leave a comment below about how cultural baggage has affected your heart’s desire.