Consider Meditation to turn Old Habits into New Beginnings

Treasures of Tarot

Seven of Swords

 “Everything begins in the mind. If you want to see clearly, you need clear vision.” ~Sri Swami Satchidananda

I recently went to my tarot cards to answer a question that began, “What do I need to know about…?” The subject of my query wasn’t as important as the answer I received from of the most challenging cards in tarot for me to interpret. Seven of Swords.

I chose to spend 15 minutes meditating with the card. As a taroist you may think it is an unlikely card to meditate on; but if this was the message I received from the universe, then it needed attention.

I settled in to breath, relax, feel, watch and allow. Below are the random thoughts which came to me, as well as added introspection from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – aphorisms and texts of Raja Yoga. (The Yoga Sutras are also commonly known as Raja Yoga, the Royal Yoga. They earned this noble status because they present spirituality as a holistic science, universally applicable to people of all faith traditions.)

When you see the Seven of Swords consider delving deeply into the thoughts that are stirring and trying to take hold in your mind. Are they stealing you away from your truth?

Sutras 2.15 – 2.17 of the Yoga Sutras of Sri Patanjali teach about causes of suffering that are the result of samskara, a Sanskrit work meaning habit. You suffer when you knowingly or unknowingly repeat patterns or behaviors that don’t serve you or that cause you harm. Prevent the suffering that is to come by beginning to change your perspective and envision the future you want to live in. Use the challenges you face on your journey to your goals as opportunities to begin a process of inquiry and self-connection to guide you to right action, compassion and avoid suffering.

Where can you release old habits in order to create new beginnings?

Meditation allows us to remain intimate with the flow of our moment-to-moment inner experience. Ride the Wave and use the compassionate witness to resist the tendency to censor uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. ~ Richard Faulds, Kripalu Yoga

 

  • Take care when listening to your mind, it can trick you into a false sense of beliefs.
  • What are you reaching for or focusing on that is taking you away from the realities of your daily life? If you can’t see, touch, feel, smell, or taste it, does it really exist?
  • How, when and where do you spend time focusing on things that don’t serve your goals?
  • Why have you turned your back on your True Nature? Why have you chosen to deceive yourself by not accepting yourself as a perfect being just as you are?
  • Why have you chosen to turn away from what you need most to be aware of or take care of in your life?
  • In what ways have your fears (produced in your mind as random thoughts connected to must have’s and wants) conned you into believing more is better? What if more is “bitter”; because you have not taken the time to envision and plan for what needs to happen next (today, tomorrow, next week, next month) to be “pain” free and avoid needless suffering.
  • Karmic actions will unfold out of today’s inaction and lack of focus.
  • In what ways have you been dis-honest with yourself?
  • How can you reset, relax and calm your wandering busy mind to find the clarity you need?

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  ~Isaiah 30:15

 

Images from Gateway to the Divine Tarot  ©Ciro Marchetti, 2009. Used with permission of Llewellyn Worldwide, New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, http://www.llewellyn.com/
Paraphrasing from Inside the Yoga Sutras, Reverend Jaganath Carrera

Purify the Mind by Opening the Heart

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Four of Swords

“Her limbs are composed in the attitude of death, but this is not the final sleep. It is just a moment of rest and recovery. Her mind floats free. … Close your eyes, and find that still and silent place at your core, where inner strength resides. Draw from that reserve in the times to come.” ~ Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

The Four of Swords tells us it’s time to take a break from our troubles, real or imagined. It asks us to lay down the betrayals, hurts, and sorrows of the Three of Swords and seek silent meditation for a deeper awareness in order to find our answers.

The figure in this card holds a sword in vertical alignment with her body’s energy centers or chakras. Her hands hold the sword above and below her heart chakra as if protecting herself from words not spoken represented by the throat chakra and the mouth and the tightness of fear (“flight or fight”) represented by the solar plexus chakra and the feet. When we get stuck in our thoughts and aren’t able to express them, we create our own cage around ourselves and find ourselves continually trapped as in the Eight of Swords.

 

In my yoga practice I can open the heart chakra by doing backbend postures. These poses help to develop trust by allowing me to lead with my heart and surrender my fears. As my heart moves away from my head and my chest opens I give my troubling thoughts to the universe thereby allowing my mind and body to relax.

Deva Parnell, founder of Discovery Yoga, describes Kripalu Yoga as a metaphor for life. “When you come to your toleration point during the prolonged holding of a posture, you encounter your self-perceived limitations, and learn to consciously respect them and accept or transcend them.”

The Four of Swords asks us to let go of those thoughts that are constricting our ability to open our hearts, still our restless minds, and seek guidance from our higher power whatever we conceive that to be.

Images from Shadowscapes Tarot ©Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

With Awareness you will Receive Life’s Gifts

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Six of Pentacles

 For it is in giving that we receive. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

When I think about sharing, giving and receiving, the tarot gate card of the Six of Pentacles comes to mind. Meditate on this image from Shadowscapes Tarot and you may discover something about your true nature as one who gives, but more importantly as one who receives.

When I lead a yoga class I am sharing my knowledge, my time, my voice, my spirit, my body, even my mind as I bring my voice to the mat. I am giving.

But as the giver, I am also the receiver. I strive to mindfully and graciously accept the energy my students bring to their mats.  It is during those final moments when I invite them to consciously thank themselves for showing kindness and compassion to their bodies, and to recall their beginning practice intentions for themselves, a loved one or the world, that my heart and soul grows. I experience their energy organically as a gift of warmth, wonder and welling up in my body, sometimes even as soft tears of joy.  I am receiving.

Giving is all about receiving. But it’s not what you want, or think or expect, it’s what the universe needs you to know and absorb. Just as flowers need water to grow and bloom, we grow when we allow the gate of our soul to open to grace and receive whatever is out there waiting to come in.

 

 

 Shadowscapes Tarot ©Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Release the illusory script of your life

Treasures of Tarot

The Tower XVI | Yoga Tarot

 “Stop identifying with your thoughts. Then solutions will appear, and conflict and disharmony will dissolve.”
~Richard Miller, PhD; Yoga Nidra

Consider the message of the Tower, a major arcana card that appears in readings when there is about to be a shake-up in our lives. Sometimes that upheaval is the result of getting too caught up in our own thoughts, creating drama. Drama we’ve invariably created to assuage our egoistic needs. Drama that closes us off to the peace and joy we are meant to experience fully in this lifetime.

At times we live in the illusions we created out of our personal drama. The result is a destiny that at some point in the future we wonder in amazement just how we got to this place of frustration, sadness, exasperation, emptiness. It’s as if we wrote the lines and scenes and actors into a script. As such we begin performing the role we created derived from the personal drama we created, imagining the others saying their lines and sticking to a script that supports our self-denial. The self-denial limits our growth because we fear something unknown in our potentially new experiences.

When we reach the denouement where all is revealed the drama we expected to unfold from our (illusory) script isn’t there and we are surprised at the outcome. Life feels unbalanced and out of control as if the earth is crumbling beneath us. We are tense, irritable, sad, quick to react with anger or negativity at the situations unfolding around us. It’s as if we are “chicken little” running around wildly because we really believe the sky is falling. We live in the illusion of the drama of the world of our own making.

But the Tower guides us to right action through Upheaval and Revelation. It puts us on notice that what is needed immediately in our lives is compassionate self-awareness. It asks us to re-examine those habits and patterns of behavior that keep us stuck in the mire, forever repeating a stifling way of life that doesn’t allow the growth in spirit that will bring true joy. The Tower offers us the opportunity to Re-Examine, Re-Invent and Re-Claim A New Life.

  • Upheaval – Where is there unbalance in my body, mind and spirit? How am I ignoring or engaging my body? Where am I ignoring or engaging the world (my world) – my home, my family, my friends, my earthly place?
  • Revelation – What will be revealed to me? Am I capable of tuning in to the subtle messages in my daily life? Will I make time to reflect on the potentials or possibilities of my actions toward (rather than away from) what has meaning and purpose to me?

Visualize this card:
The figure appears to be contemplating the mountain. Is it rising out of the misty clouds, or is it imploding into itself? The crescent moon illuminates only half the sky, while fully illuminating the figure and the mountain. Are we one and the same: Moon, Mountain and Man? What has yet to be revealed?

“We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn it is God who is shaking them.” ~Charles C. West Tarot

Let the tower guide you toward a change that will create a new world for you: a journey that is open to whatever happens and accepts life’s revelations with grace, compassion, humility and humour. Just as you guide a child away from danger, guide yourself away from destructive habits and thoughts and actions. Put yourself on a new path and experience love and light in your life with a whole new perspective – one that sees the myriad opportunities in your life instead of one that continues to blindly follow the dramatic script of your own undoing.

The Tower ~ Being suddenly exposed, emotionally shaken; learning the hard way; sudden and violent change.  A blow to the ego, a time to re-examine belief systems and long-established patterns. Let go of fantasy and illusions of personal drama and open your heart and mind to every moment of now.

Yoga Nidra ~ Yoga Nidra teaches you how to recognize and disidentify from your core negative beliefs, and habit patterns which hinder and cripple you from leading a truly contented life free from dissatisfaction and suffering. The Sanskrit word “duhkha” describes dissatisfaction or suffering, which arise when you mentally attach to expectations and outcomes that are other than what life is offering.  ~Richard Miller, PhD, author Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing 

Images from Yoga Tarot Deck used with permission of Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy. © 2008 Copyright Lo Scarabeo

2015: The Year of Self Inquiry

Treasures of Tarot

Nine of Pentacles | Yoga Tarot

As an alternative to the New Year’s resolution, I offer you the concept of a New Year’s Theme. For several years I have approached the beginning of each New Year with a theme – resolutions always seemed so final. Five years ago, when I was 49, my theme was “Journey to 50”. If you’ve been to 50, you understand this life milestone. During that year I began making small changes in my health and embarked on new interests born out of hobbies – such as learning tarot and building a regular yoga practice. My theme for 2015: “The Year of Self Inquiry”.

Along this year’s journey I will use my tarot cards as one of the ways to delve into the emotions and thoughts that well up in a mind, body and soul journey to discover anew what has meaning and purpose in my life now. The cards act as messengers, whispers on angels wings, bringing new thoughts, ideas, or goals into consciousness. Most often what comes up is something that was there all along, but only needed the prompting and unfolding of a new interpretation; possibly something in the periphery of thought, unable to articulate or bring into focus.

“The traditions of yoga and tarot are two different paths that lead to the same place: a profound knowledge of the self.” ~M. Filadoro, Yoga Tarot

My blog focus this year will include Yoga Tarot deck. Yoga offers me a physical as well as meditative and sometimes spiritual way to tune in to what I need to source balance between choices and compromise in my life. I also have a personal goal to achieve my yoga teacher certification this year.

The Nine of Pentacles ~ Balancing the material with the spiritual, accepting new visions, creating a Self out of the material given to us by the circumstances and conditions in our lives, and courage to enter the gate of abundance, yet to come.

Yoga Posture ~ Prasarita Padottanasana (Spread Feet Posture) provides a deep and invigorating stretch for the legs, stimulates the digestive system and helps to clear the mind.

Images from Yoga Tarot Deck used with permission of Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy. © 2008 Copyright Lo Scarabeo

2014 in review

I am excited to share the 2014 annual report that WordPress.com stats helpers prepared for my Treasures of Tarot blog. I look forward to sharing more about what Tarot has to offer us and hope you will join me on a Tarot inspired journey of self inquiry in 2015.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Homecoming

Treasures of Tarot

Ten of Cups

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. ~Charles Dickens

The Ten of Cups represents family support and bonds which are important to being able to enjoy the blessings of life: the abundance that comes from seeing ourselves, our loved ones, and all of creation, with deep appreciation. The Ten of Cups evokes feelings of deep abiding love, serenity and peace.

These past four months I took a break from my life abroad to visit family and friends in America. This tarot card, Ten of Cups, perfectly expressed the emotions I experienced. My heart overflowed with joy and love, and my soul was filled with the warmth and light that comes from divine love abundantly shared in earthly hugs, smiles, kisses and laughter.

Thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me. I have just returned from an extended holiday and am ready to share my gift of tarot readings and blog musings.

Shadowscapes Tarot ©Stephanie Pui-Mun Law