Monday, December 13, 2010


Want a quick reading based on one of the world's oldest advice columns (the I Ching Book of Changes)? 

We'll look at #5 of the 64 hexagrams that make up the I Ching: on Waiting/Nourishment.  

First, you might want to check in: is there something particular you're waiting for? Maybe jot down a question about handling the wait.
And, pick a number between 1 and 6. Write that down too.

Read below about the hexagram, or, scroll to the bottom of the post to see the suggestion/pointer corresponding to your number. 


"This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows 
and to provide mankind with food and drink.
The rain will come in its own time.
We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it.

--Hexagram 5, I Ching Book of Changes, Wilhelm/Baynes trans.

What are you waiting for?

For a lucky break? To find out what happens? To finish something so you can get on to something else? For an ordeal to be over, a danger to pass? To get to the head of the line? 

Waiting has been on my mind. I'd been working on a picture that meets the suffering side of waiting–a portrait in fabrics and paint inspired by a sketch called 'Woman Waiting' that I saw in a book of artwork made during the Holocaust.

Woman Waiting

More recently, I'd been fidgeting while waiting to find out whether something I really hope for will happen. 

I've noticed that this wait is only a problem when my impatient mind rushes ahead trying to stack up future decisions on the shaky foundation of the not-yet-known.

When I wait impatiently, I wheedle for insider information from the Universe--come ON! Give me a hint? My hungry mind is like a kid badgering for candy at the checkout. This is tiring and not-nourishing. The I Ching reminds me to conserve my energy for later when there's something to do.

 "We should not worry and seek to shape the future 
by interfering in things before the time is ripe. 
We should quietly fortify 
the body with food and drink 
 and the mind with gladness and good cheer. 
Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready."
--I Ching Hexagram 5 Wilhelm/Baynes

 A quick way to fortify the body-mind

Sometimes good cheer isn't so easily come by during a wait. Here's something that usually helps me when I remember to try it: Instead of seeking to drop impatience, simply shift attention to the space behind my back.

No matter what fills it, there's always just as much space behind your body as in front (likewise above, below and to the sides). What happens if you just notice that back space, and allow the body to settle into it instead of pressing forward and up in a posture of rushing towards the future?

There is a comfort in letting yourself be exactly where you are, as you are, even when it's not comfortable. And it helps to recognize that your state is always changing. You might watch your breathing for a moment, noticing its shifting qualities, without trying to alter it. Give yourself full permission to rest here and let gladness restore itself even before you know the outcome you're awaiting.  

It is also possible to wait too patiently 

Sometimes I catch myself putting life on hold while waiting for something important to play out. If I endure in limbo for long enough without agitating, will my enforced 'good attitude' somehow be rewarded?

Circumstances don't often bend to fit this fantasy
. The antidote the I Ching advises? Self-honesty--get real.


"One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing.
It is only when we have the courage 
to face things exactly as they are, 
without any sort of self-deception or illusion,  
that a light will develop out of events,  
by which the path to success may be recognized. 
This recognition must be followed 
by resolute and persevering action."
--I Ching Hexagram 5 Wilhelm/Baynes


Consult the Oracle

So, did you consider a question you may have regarding waiting? And did you pick a number between 1 and 6?

Read the suggestion corresponding to your number and explore how you might relate it to your question or situation.
  • 1. A challenge is coming, but it is not yet close. Go on with your life in a simple, alert and open way. Don't waste your strength on anticipation or rehearsals. Enjoy your present.
  • 2. Impending change is stirring up some insecurity. Take care not to indulge in blame (especially self-blame) or defensiveness. Remind yourself that it really is ok to not know what is going to happen yet, even if you don't like it.
  • 3. Don't hold back from fully completing a needed change. Half measures will not work now. Be vigilant about not following fearful or despairing thoughts or acting from their influence. Fears can make things appear stuck or impossible.
  • 4. There is nothing else you can do right now. Stop trying to force solutions or to figure anything out and remain calm, trusting in heart knowledge to get you out of danger when the time is ripe.
  • 5. Even though everything isn't resolved yet, now is a good time to pause and enjoy yourself. If you are waiting for something to be over with, you may be missing the true nourishment available in the present. Everything can't happen at once.
  • 6. Your good fortune may come in disguise. Question the thought, "I have to do it all" and remain alert and available to receive help in unexpected forms. All goes well in the end.
Want to reconnect more deeply with your own wisdom, clarity and ease? Creative Mind Coaching might help: