Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Yi and times of crisis

I see I have made no posts here for over a month.

Eep.

Why? Erm, let me give you the short version. My Mum-in-law was admitted to hospital as an emergency (this is not the same admission I wrote about before). That was all very intense and dramatic… and it was not the hard part. The hard part is that although she’s physically recovered, she is left very depressed and anxious and has needed my care, so I’ve been staying with her for some of the time. Also, when not staying with her I’ve still been finding it extremely difficult to concentrate on anything else.

So… here I am quietly at my desk, hoping my mind and nerves will presently get the ‘no current crisis, settle down to some work now’ memo, and mulling how Yi has helped me over the past month or so.

Two days after Mum-in-law was discharged, one day after I’d come to stay with her, I cast my reading for the week – and received Hexagram 39, Limping, changing at line 2 to 48, the Well. This reading really set me up to come through the whole thing in one piece. There I was as the sole support for someone suffering from acute anxiety, something of which I have (lucky me) no personal experience at all. And it was all down to me…

… well, you can see how Hexagram 39 was what I needed. I’m very, very familiar with the practical message of this one: THIS IS HARD, SO GET SOME HELP. No, there are no prizes for doing it all by yourself. If this is an impossible uphill struggle, that’s probably because you are going in the wrong direction. Turn round.

And there was also the Well, the reminder of resources that are ever-present – you just have to put in the work to keep access to them. And the moving line – the Well-moment of Limping – which I reckon has to do with appreciating that there is a larger context and most especially seeing that it is not all about me.

I didn’t have internet access, but I could make brief trips out to the local library with my laptop and get online there. I simply sat down, opened the email and started writing messages asking friends for help. Some who would have useful advice, some I could just vent to. And my friends responded, bless them. Paula even replied so fast that I had her invaluable, much-needed EFT advice to take back with me after just the one session at the library.

Wasn’t that just common sense, asking for help, and wouldn’t I have done it anyway? Well… no. I mean, yes, it is probably common sense, but not any that I possess. Knowing me, I would have spent any available time researching Things To Do. (In fact I did that, too. Read up on panic and what to do about it, and took notes of a whole list of useful suggestions.)

So I spent that whole first week thinking repeatedly about what help was available, for both of us, and how I could reach and draw on that help. Friends, EFT, meditation, music – oh, and not least essential oils. (I created a blend and used it to provide a nightly foot-rub.) I am convinced that essential oils are a Well. They offer direct, clear access to the many-layered healing power of the plants – and just as powerfully, they opened the channel to allow a direct, clear flow of love that overwhelmed all my stuttering frustrations.

That was the foundation. Later in the same week, I asked for ‘advice for me’ and received 41, Decrease, changing at lines 1 and 2 to 23, Stripping Away. I was a bit slow on the uptake with this one in practice (members of Change Circle helped me to get the message, for which thank you), but it did help me to understand and learn as I went along. My presence helped. My ‘things to do’ (from that lovely list I’d compiled of oh-so-helpful suggestions!) did not. Yi nudged and prodded me to counteract my natural tendency to do stuff to make things better.

(I’ve had hexagram 25, line 5 since then, and 41 again this week. The tendency in question takes quite some nudging.)

Readings… gave me much-needed advice, and helped me develop some insight into what I was doing. They work in synergy with the wise advice of other people – basically, they make it possible for me to hear what’s being said. (There’s some magic in the combination of familiar gua with new ideas and advice.)

Yi is the opposite of the joke about the rustic type who, asked for directions, begins by saying, ‘Well, I wouldn’t start from here.’ It gives me some understanding of where I am – and some permission to be here, which I need – and then just as many directions as I can take in, delivered in very simple terms. 39. 40. 41. Get help. Let go. Do less.

Also and in the longer term, beyond the surviving-the-crisis part, it lets me learn from experience. I actually cast a reading on ‘what do I learn from this?’ which I think will help me to take in what I’ve learned. (Another tendency of mine: ‘learning’ something, only to forget it until shortly after remembering it would have helped.) That’s an unusual question for me, though (and maybe it shouldn’t be): generally the weekly reading does the job, because it points up patterns I might otherwise have missed.

That’s another way readings help: they nudge/shove/kick, they provide insight and support, and they also point.

Which reminds me… though that would be a neat and tidy place to end this post, I must tell you about the stock. Last week’s reading, as I tried to get back to work: 25.5.6 to 51. The 25 was not hard to see; nor was the line 5. (See tendency #1, above.) And line 6 I could see as having to do with re-engaging with the spirit of my work – with people, with Yi, with the reasons why I do this. To be called away from work for a while is one thing, but to drift along in a detached way so that ‘giving myself some time’ merges seamlessly into ‘where did the week go?’ is something else.

So that made sense in an intellectual sort of way. And then… well, I put the stock ingredients in the slow cooker on Thursday. I took them out on Saturday morning, strained the stock and set it boiling in a pan on the stove to reduce from about 4 pints to about 2, for storage. Then I sat down and played a computer game.

‘Without entanglement. Acting brings blunders.
No direction bears fruit.’

You can imagine, I suppose, the kitchen-full of smoke. What you certainly can’t imagine, unless you’ve met it personally, is what results from boiling stock down to a stage between jelly and carbon. Something gelatinous, bubbled, brown-black and gloopy slithers thoughtfully out of the pan. (It has moved to the compost, where I hope it will be very happy.)

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