By Amanda Moreno
This week I have been thinking about patterns. I’ve been noticing old patterns coming up again in many spheres of my life. It’s kind of annoying, really, but life seems to be built on these patterns. I feel fortunate to be able to bring awareness to them even when I’m frustrated by the fact that simple awareness doesn’t seem to change them.
I’ve also spent some time reading The Soul Speaks: The Therapeutic Potential of Astrology by Mark Jones. As is always the case, Mr. Jones’ work resonates at the deepest core of who I am, speaking to just about everything I’m interested in.
In the book, he references the work of James Hollis, a Jungian analyst. Hollis discusses the expectation that a person tends to have upon entering a therapeutic container, be it traditional therapy or an astrological consultation: that some magic will occur as the therapist traipses into the client’s psychic space, exorcising personal demons and promoting instantaneous healing.
In response to this expectation, Hollis points out that there is no guarantee against future suffering, that we have to be willing to disassemble our defenses in order to make progress, and that that progress will likely be slow going. Our original issues tend to stay with us through our entire lives, even if they change form. Jones takes the commentary further to illuminate the perils of having the astrologer-therapist accept the role of being magician.
Not really a strong platform for advertising therapy, is it?
As resistant as I’ve been to the idea that change is so slow, I also hear a truth in it. Especially when I combine it with my understanding of karma.
In the Vedantic teachings they talk about Samskara and Vasana — two kinds of karmic imprints. Vasana is more like a subtle tendency, whereas Samskara is a wound that is associated with the concept of karmic gravity. Samskara is based on trauma and is repetitive karma. It is based on impulses that we could not complete in past lives and that therefore get replayed over and over again. This is the essence of most of our karma, and part of the reason patterns change so slowly is because there is a weight to them that causes repetition.
According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, when consciousness leaves the body and is no longer rooted in the dense structures of the body, it is able to create reality based on thought instantaneously. This is why the Tibetans put such emphasis on ‘dying well,’ and on being aware of the transition: so that as our consciousness transfers out of the body we are able to traverse the afterlife states in a way that facilitates our healing, and transfer into another life without the weight of so much karma. A truly incredible documentary on the process can be found here.
The theory, as well as my experience in past-life regression work, would say that when we die unconsciously (as so many of us do), we transition with all of that weight. We die thinking, “why did he leave me” or “I never have enough,” or “I’ll never get out of this.” These thoughts create reality in the afterlife. We transition through the afterlife often without knowing what’s happened. The weight of the emotional and physical content remains as imprints in our energy bodies, which reincarnate with us in the next life. The cycle continues.
So yes, patterns change slowly. They have a weight to them.
I have a particular relationship pattern I’ve been working with consciously for about five years now, surrounding my fear of abandonment and loss. I’ve done ritual around it many times, worked on it in therapy and regression, and gotten understanding about it through astrology. It retained a charge for a long time at all levels, however. I would have physical reactions when it was triggered, in the form of back and neck pain; emotional reactions in the form of sobbing breakdowns; and mental reactions in the form of my mind racing, which just increased my anxiety.
A few weeks ago something happened to trigger the pattern. Afterwards, I found myself walking down the street, thinking about what had happened, when I suddenly realized: I wasn’t in pain. I wasn’t struggling to breathe under the onslaught of anxiety. I didn’t feel like crying at all. All that still remained was my awareness of the fact that my mind was trying to engage its loop of racing thoughts. The emotional and physical charges, however, were no longer there. I clapped my hands with glee and ran off to the metaphysical store where I work to share with a friend.
That’s not to say the pattern is entirely gone. I’ve felt it rearing its head as life has continued throwing me triggers. The astrological counseling, ritual work and everything else I’d done to try and change the pattern had all combined together with time and perseverance to help me move through the pattern. It’s not gone, not forgotten — but something has shifted.
My experience of that shift goes a long way towards mediating the frustration I sometimes feel when I seem to be stuck in a loop, with outside forces exerting the same pressure in the same spots over and over again. Time will tell as to the long-term effects. But for now, it felt like a great example of the Virgo-Pisces axis that is so emphasized right now: recognizing a pattern, and letting it go.