Every year on my birthday, I do an in-depth tarot reading to gain clarity on the most important lessons from the past year and guidance on the lessons that will be most prominent in the year ahead.

One of my major lessons came in the form of the Hermit, and in the deck I chose to use, The Wild Unknown Tarot, the Hermit is depicted as a turtle with a lantern on its shell:

While this card carried many messages for me, the one I want to focus on here is the lesson of patience.

This tied into an experience I’d had in meditation earlier in the year when we were deciding whether or not to buy a particular house. I saw the turtle on the sidewalk in front of the house, slowly, slowly, slowly making its way up to the porch. When I tried to help it along by picking it up and carrying it, the lantern fell off and the scene went dark.

When I try to force solutions, I lose sight of my inner guiding light.

This led to more meditations, journaling and self-inquiry around my relationship to patience, and I began to see a number of threads emerging:

  • I recognized that I have considerable will to get shit done, and while this can be a wonderful asset, it can also accelerate me towards goals that, deep down, I don’t actually care about, and sometimes I disconnect from what I truly want when I’m more concerned with crossing things off my to-do list.
  • I began to see a pattern: When I felt impatient, I would whip out my will and move things along, and there was a predictable side effect. The outcome was either something I didn’t feel all that enthused about or fulfilled by, and often changing my mind at that stage took even more work and time than simply letting things move at a natural pace to begin with.
  • I also noticed how judgy I could get in that head space. If I perceived other people as preventing me from whipping along at an accelerated rate, my thoughts tended to be, er, less compassionate toward them.

And underneath all of this activity, I finally began to reach what was at the core: fear. Fear that, if I didn’t pounce on this opportunity, I’d blow it.

If we didn’t get this awesome house, there’d never be another house quite this awesome.

If I didn’t take this class, I’d have a critical, irreparable gap in my knowledge.

Dramatic much?

Well, that’s the voice of the ego. Every choice, no matter how small, is a matter of imminent life or death. [dum, dum, DUM!]

It was time to tell my ego to chill the eff out.

As I sat with the fear, I also noticed something else: In that space when I was trying to force a solution, what I was really trying to do was to regain a sense of power. In those moments I was feeling disconnected from my inner power (my lantern), and in an attempt to get it back, I would exert power over external situations.

Contrast power over something versus empowerment: power within. When we’re not plugged into our inner power, we often try to replicate that feeling of power by being extra controlling with external circumstance, or even extra controlling with ourselves (think: addictive behavior). But control does not equal true power.

In meditation, one of my Guides helped me narrow in on one aspect of this control-patience-fear dynamic to work on right now: My perception of time. When I’m feeling like things are moving so damn slooooooooooow, she said, “Time is relative. You control how you experience time.”

With these words, I felt a deep peace wash over me, and I sat in silence for–well, I don’t know how long; I wasn’t keeping track of time. It became so clear that my perception of time was instrumental in my experience, something we have all intuitively felt. Contrast the experience of time when you’re with someone you love, engrossed in fascinating conversation, versus when you’re stuck in traffic.

My intuition is telling me that regaining the knowledge that I have a choice–I get to choose how I experience time–will help me reconnect with my inner power in those moments when I might otherwise be tempted to find that feeling through controlling behavior.

My new mantra: “Things are unfolding at just the right pace. What perfect timing!”

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