Our most difficult decisions are probably when both choices seem absolutely equal — in rewards and risks, benefits and sacrifices.
This is, of course, what makes them so difficult! When presented with unequal choice, the decisions are not usually so difficult. We may still not necessarily make the “right” choices, due to a number of factors, but the choice is nonetheless easier.
It is the choices we face where no matter which way we go, we stand to lose and gain equal amounts — often what is gained from one choice is lost from the other and vice versa — that are the most difficult. Facing this kind of decision can make us feel stuck, frozen, or blind.
We become trapped in our minds weighing the pros and cons… but some decisions, it seems, become even more difficult the more we ponder them. The mind is eclipsed by indecision, and we may be so stifled that we choose neither, only to later regret not taking a path at all.
These kind of mental decisions are what is often represented by the Two of Air (Swords), so let’s use the Two of Air itself as inspiration for our draw!
This pairing builds upon the previous method regarding choice, but we will use two actual cards, rather than the one in our head and the one on the table. Where the previous method relied on the deep knowledge revealed at (or immediately before) the moment you turn over one card, this method reveals that knowledge in the face of both possible choices.
So, here we go:
Shuffle well and cut the deck into two piles. They needn’t be totally equal, but assuming that the decision has choices of equal weight, try to make the piles also as equal as possible in a single cut.
We’ll only be working with the top card from each pile, so take those off the stacks and set the rest of your deck aside — but no peeking! Here you can also “shuffle” the two cards until you can’t remember which card came from which pile, and set them side-by-side.
Sit with the two cards in front of you, keeping them face-down, and determine which card represents each choice.
Now, here’s the catch: you only get to choose one card.
Sit with the two cards and the choices they represent — choice x on the right, choice y on the left.
Wait until the impulse to select one card arises in your body: you may feel heat or tingling in one arm, or a rising force up one side of your body from your abdomen to your shoulder, and then into that arm. Conversely, you may feel a shrinking, descending, or cooling sensation. Whichever side the sensations are strongest on, select the card on that side, turning it over before your mind has a chance to override your body’s impulses and sensations.
You’ve still not necessarily made your decision, you’ve only chosen to look at one option in more depth. Again, observe your bodily sensations as you reveal the card. Try to stay with your body, so that you can observe the sensations before thought interferes — and it will, almost immediately!
Like the previous method, this method hinges on cultivating internal knowing and attempting to circumvent discursive thought, because that very mental process, while helpful in some ways, can also be confining in others. Your body will give you just as much information as the cards will, if not more.
If there was warmth, expansion, and/or a rising sensation before turning the card, was that the warmth of comfort, eagerness, or was it anxiety, anger, or stubbornness? If there was coolness, constriction, or a descending sensation as you made your choice, were the sensations those of fear, calm, release, regret, or ease?
These sensations can reveal your fears, your desires, your hopes, your comfort, your anticipation, and your expectations around the decision you’re about to make.
How did those sensations change as you revealed the chosen card? Were you excited to see it? Did the sensations widen and release upward, or was there a cool calmness that washed over you? Did heat increase and then get stuck or did your body shrink in cold retreat?
These sensations may be similar or totally different from those before turning your card. How many times do we dread making a decision, only to find it was the best opportunity; and how often do we make an enthusiastic decision that we later regret?
This exercise may show you that potential shift, and is like a trial run for taking that course.
As a trial run, once you have observed your body sensations both before choosing, after choosing but before turning the card, and after turning the card, now visualize yourself taking your choice into the card’s various meanings.
How does the card modify the outcome of your choice? In that modification, what are the sensations? Does your breath get caught in your chest or throat, or does it rest into your abdomen? Are you more aware of your feet and legs, or less so? Do you feel yourself twisting toward the choice you made, or away from it?
Is your choice clearer now, and have you made your decision?
So OK, I lied… kind of.
If your decision is now clear to you, pack up the cards and stop reading.
But if — after having observed your body sensations, your reactions, through the entire process of choosing one of the two cards, one of the two options, and after having taken that choice through the card itself — the choice is still not clear to you, bring your attention to the other card, still face down.
Before continuing with the second card, first be certain that you really have fully explored your initial choice, in light of the card revealed for it — from your body’s sensations and your reactions, to the possible outcome and ramifications of following that choice through.
After that full exploration is truly finished, follow the same exploration for the second choice through the second card.
Again, sit with the card face-down and observe your body sensations. You now have the knowledge of one option, so explore how your body sensations are different in light of that knowledge: is there heat now where there was coolness; expansion where there was contraction; ascending or descending; left or right; arms, torso, or legs?
Like earlier, these sensations can reveal things about your choice that may run below your thinking mind: are you relieved to have the second option to explore? Are you dreading the second option, but unable to avoid looking? Does your desire for control make it unbearable to not look at the second card, and explore the second option? Look at these questions deeply before “cheating” and looking at the second card.
Of course, if you had wanted to ensure you wouldn’t “cheat” and look at the second card, you could always have placed it back in the deck and shuffled it in before looking at the first card. Exploring the second card is not really cheating, though, as it is Pairspectives after all. We just set that parameter so that you could fully engage in your choice, without having a bailout option.
At any rate, follow the same exploration that you did with the first card:
- Watch your body sensations before turning the card
- Watch those sensations change as you turn the card
- Take the second choice into the second card
- Explore its possible outcomes and ramifications
Is your decision clear now?
Remember that the thought process behind this exercise is reflective. The trap of the Two of Air is that we get stuck in thought, and we need to circumvent that in order to get un-stuck and make the mind clearer — the tension between options eclipses the mind, and one of the ways around that is settling into your body to reveal mental clarity.
Use the mind to observe and question, the cards as a mirror, and sit back to let the body answer — listen to what it says to you.
(Image: 1st edition Wild Unknown from Kim Krans)