The first thing that popped into my mind when I read that was, "Are you getting enough sleep? Enough dreamtime? Enough earthing and centering breaths?" All of those things help reduce stress, remove fatigue toxins, and restore energy. Meditation does those things too, but while sleep is not a substitute for meditation, neither is meditation a substitute for sleep.
In our modern rush-rush society we often neglect one the most energizing and healing processes we have available—simple sleep. And the more it gets neglected or short-changed, the harder it is to rest, even when we have the opportunity. We are too wound up to sleep restfully, assuming that we can get to sleep at all. On several occasions in the last few years I've read doctors and psychologists bemoaning the fact that many people suffer symptoms of sleep-deprivation—and they don't even know it.
Tired when you wake up in the morning? Scattered thinking? Tossing and turning instead of falling asleep? Waking in the wee hours and unable to get back to sleep? While these can be symptoms of physical illness, they can also be symptoms of sleep-deprivation caused by stress. One of the nasty spirals in nature is that stress causes sleep disorders, sleep disorders are sleep-deprivation, and sleep-deprivation causes...... stress.
There are probably things you can do to break this cycle. Sometimes five or ten minutes of simple breathing and deep relaxation are helpful. Instead of trying to go straight to sleep or trying to meditate (which we may be too tired to do properly), it can be helpful to say, "I'm breathing in relaxation" with each inhalation, and "I'm breathing out not-relaxation" with each exhalation.
See if you can be aware of tension flowing out of the body, especially particular muscle groups, as you exhale. You might start at the feet, letting your toes and feet relax with the first exhalation. Then work your way up, the calves on the next breath, the thighs on the next, the lower back and pelvis, the upper abdomen and stomach, the chest, the neck, the head. Then start with the hands and fingers, the forearms, the shoulders, the neck again and the head. Then start with the toes again. Just keep doing it until you naturally drift off to sleep. Be aware: the longer you do it, the more relaxed you get, the better you will sleep.
So don't fuss at yourself if you're still awake and breathing in relaxation and breathing out not-relaxation. The longer you do it, the better you'll sleep. On the other hand, if you fall asleep, you'll probably continue doing the exercise in your sleep for a while. You can't lose—sleeping or waking, as long as you're breathing it's a win-win thing.
Begin to see if you can guess what you'll find before you check it, just by the way you feel. It's a little soon to get much that way yet, but the more practice you have been doing the sooner you'll just know where it is, how it is changing, and what is affecting it. It can be a little startling the first time you meet someone and immediately feel your energy responding to them by changing in some way. This is where our "at first glance" feelings come from, and you can learn to tell a lot about yourself and others by learning to 'read' this energy in yourself.
As we already have seen, it can tell you a great deal about yourself and the effect that things and people have on you. Additionally, as we go along we'll be adding practice preparing you for healing others, including animals and plants, and for discovering a great deal about the world around you via the subtle energy. So, basically, we are going to learn more and more about sensing what is happening in ourselves and in the world, and, sometimes, being able to influence that energy in positive ways.
In this class, we're going to be using your oracle to help with a lot of things. It will be a tool to help develop mindfulness, it will teach you how symbols work as a way for our intuition to tell us things.
A tarot deck is an oracle, but not all oracles are tarots. In order to be a tarot, a deck must have 78 cards—22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. The minor arcana are divided into four suits, and each suit has fourteen cards—ten number cards and four court cards. The court cards were traditionally page, knight, queen, and king, but modern decks may use different names for them depending on the creator's philosophy.
An oracle, on the other hand, may have any number of cards or objects. It may be made up of cards, bones, stones, runes, leaves, stars and planets, tree bark, birds flying... anything in this world at all. The Universe talks to us with so many voices that we can't begin to ennumerate them all.
To begin with, you'll need a deck of cards—cards that have pictures on each one that tell stories, in the way that the tarot cards do. (In fact, not all tarot decks have illustrative pictures on the numbered minor arcana—please make certain that the one you're getting does have pictures. Later on, you can go for numbers only if you wish, but for the things we're doing in the beginning, they won't work.) There are many other oracle card decks besides the various tarots. There is, for one, the Faeries' Oracle, drawn by Brian Froud and herded and written about by me (and yes, it was like herding cats, but cats with wings and the ability to disappear at will). However, faeries are not for everyone, and you may prefer animals or plants or oracles based on various philosophies or myths. There are a lot of choices.
The best way I know to choose an oracle is to go entirely by "feel"—Do you like the way it looks? Is there a wide range of color and shapes and symbols? How does it feel in your hand? Is the deck too small to see well or too big to comfortably hold? Do you like the way it looks? On good way to check is to test the energy between your hands and see how that changes before you pick up the deck and after you've been holding it a bit.
If you want a recommendation for a simple, straight-forward, fairly classical tarot, I'd suggest the Universal Rider-Waite.
We're going to start with two things. One is that we'll be giving you a chance to get intuitively acquainted with your oracle—to learn to let it speak to you without the book. We'll be learning to use oracles as a tool for listening to your intuition and relating it to your daily life. And as a part of that, we'll be developing both inner and outer mindfulness—the ability to really observe what we are thinking, comprehend what we're hearing, know why we are doing things, and better understand what is truly going on around us.
For now we're going to do something quite simple, right after after your meditation and grounding, hold the deck and consider this one question only: what do I need to pay attention to today?
Then, draw one card from the deck. Look at the illustration on the card and write down the first three words or brief phrases that come to your mind.
These words are not to come from the definitions of the card in any book. They are simply what first comes to your mind. For example, there is no card I know of that is defined as meaning "flowers" but there are many cards that do have flowers in the picture. If, when you look at the card, the first thing you notice or that comes to your mind is "flowers" then that is the word you write down. Suppose, then, that the next word is "sword" and the last word or brief phrase is "a sunny day". Write them down as well.
These are just an example of three things for you to notice and pay attention to as you go through the day. You're will be different each day. Whatever they are, notice them, be aware of them, but don't analyze them. For example, the flowers—see them, smell them if you can, notice the colors, the shading on the petals, the way they look in the distance or wherever they are. Notice their presence. This is NOT a question about what they mean or what they symbolize—they are simply flowers. Pay attention to them. This doesn't mean you have to stop your car and investigate flowers by the roadside—unless you want to. It just means to notice the presence of flowers as you go about your daily activities. Observe them as well as you can as you move on. Notice as well, who is like a flower? Who has a flower-like face? What other flower-like objects or qualities do you notice?
Now, if one of your words is something like "sword" you are not very likely to encounter many swords during your day, but this is still a concept for you watch for. What "cuts like a sword" or is "as pointed as a sword"? It's not just things, it's ideas and concepts. Who do you encounter who is being "as sharp as a sword" in either a helpful, intelligent, or possibly even cruel way?
The same thing applies to the "sunny day" concept: the day may or may not be sunny, but what do you encounter that is like a sunny day? What qualities to you see that are sun-like—warmth, fire, friendliness? What else?
The words or concepts that spring to your mind as you look at the card may not be something you actually see pictured in the card. It could be a feeling like fear or love or kindness or loneliness, it could be something like adventure or danger or celebration. It could be an actual phrase like "have a heart"—really, it could be anything at all. Don't worry about how it relates to the card.
This is an exercise in beginning to see how the symbols of the oracle are expressed in ideas, feelings, concepts, et cetera. This knowledge is going to be very useful to you as we go along, especially when we start actually reading the cards and doing things like inner journeys and stuff like that.
© 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.