I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’m going. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been. I sometimes take the time to think about where I am now, and when I do I think of how I’m being perceived, how I perceive, how I’m speaking, how I’m projecting, and so on. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Thinking of the ties that bind and thinking UP these binding ties as I spin on and on and on.
Even as I write that, I’m thinking, “did that even make any sense?” But if you’re another being prone to overthinking and analyzing in excess, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
I thought about using the Nine of Swords as the imagery to express this train of thought, but then I remembered the imagery of the Eight. I actually had forgotten for a moment what the Eight of Swords looked like, but remembered that it is a beautiful and painful expression of the ties that we bind around ourselves, especially when we are at times unable to break away from destructive, hypercritical, or otherwise negative patterns of thought.
The ties that bind us. The Eight of Cups came to my mind, too, as the inspiration to share this came up. I posted about it on my Instagram a while ago and explored the ideas releasing, letting go, and separating ourselves from people, places, or things that we need to evolve separately from. In that post, I explored physical and relational ties that bind — so what happens when those ties are within ourselves? Within the ways we perceive ourselves? Within the ways we imagine we are being perceived? I think you get where I’m going with this.
The ties that bind us. I keep repeating this because I sometimes forget that thought patterns, and especially for me those that are anxiety inducing and hypercritical, are ties that we have either learned to uphold or created ourselves along the way. Ties that bind us, as in the imagery of the Eight of Swords, that we may or may not be aware that we can work to separate ourselves from. A quote that I heard in a class as I was finishing up undergrad comes to mind — what happens when the ties that bind us are no longer as compelling as they used to be?
We don’t think of self-deprecating thought patterns as compelling ties, but why we so attracted to them and often reluctant to let them go? We keep going back to them, knowing that they aren’t serving us but somehow unable to let them go. I’m using “us” and “we”, but I can really only speak for myself. If anyone out there resonates, then you know how challenging it is to kindly walk yourself away from unhealthy constructions of thought, rather than repeating patterns of shame and other feelings that drag us down as we find ourselves unable to step away from these figurative ropes. There is sometimes a comfort in our standard ways of thinking and sometimes the destruction is easier to deal with than the work it takes to let those patterns go. And this is not to call myself or anyone else in the collective that finds themselves in this position. All I’m saying is, sometimes the work is exhausting and difficult and the most clear way of operating is by going nowhere at all.
If you have a moment, consider the ties that bind you. Ask yourself, where do you go once those ties are no longer as compelling as they used to be? Who do you get to be once you’re no longer bound? Where are you then allowing yourself to explore? Take your time, be gentle, release yourself from those (mental) ties, and see where that allows you to grow.
A last note/piece of advice: I did a guided mediation earlier today that said, when you find yourself stumbling down a train of thought (I’m paraphrasing), think to yourself the word “thinking” over and over until you can bring yourself back to the breath. As a meditative strategy and as it can be brought into daily life, I find this to be a gentle way to interrupt the pattern and invite our minds to refocus and recenter on the present. It’s about being gentle and kind, not forceful, negative, nor restrictive. Invite yourself back to the present moment whenever you find yourself gripped by your ties. In time and in practice, you may find it easier and easier to find your release.