India

What’s all the hype about meditation?

Meditating is probably the number one thing I recommend to my clients. Meditation can be used for grounding, stress relief, for sleep, and for peace. An old zen saying goes, “everyone should meditate for ten minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour a day.” But lets get real here, sitting cross legged on the floor is not the best method for everyone. I hated the idea of meditating everyday, until I realized that there are hundreds of ways to meditate.

Anytime that you work to clear your mind, you are meditating. Focusing on the breath, relaxing the mind, quieting the voices – its all part of programming your own mindset. You can meditate while walking, while washing dishes, or listening to music. My favorite form of meditation is yoga and dance. Moving meditation can help you get in the zone mentally.

Movement was a big key to unlocking my own meditation practice. I spent a week in Vermont at a reclaiming Witch Camp last summer, and I took a workshop on meditation. We meditated in the forest for about three hours per day, learning different methods of meditation. My favorite is what I call, “mindful meandering.” Dropping into your belly, taking on a doe-eyed stare, and just wondering around the woods. Its amazing how much you can learn from nature. I was quite taken with the mushrooms, fungi and mitochondria at work in the forest; breaking down the old and fertilizing the new.

On a yoga retreat in India, I really ignited my love for movement as a part of meditation and spirituality, through my yoga practice. I’ve invested so much into my yoga practice this year, as my daily meditation break.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~Rumi

The Science of Meditation

One of the most interesting studies on meditation in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down.

In 2011, a team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. A program of yoga and meditation called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. 

Meditation is great for kids as well as adults! Children benefit in all the ways that adults do, if not more. A school in San Francisco introduced meditation to their students, and saw a lift in attendance and over all grade point average (source). Meditation has been proven to improve attention, focus, memory, and resilience to stress and other negative emotions.

Mindfulness Resources

Here are some of my favorite tools, whether you are starting a new meditation practice or diversifying your current routine. You can find free meditations on youtube and wherever you find your podcasts.

Focus Five cards from SERP Institute

A series of meditations that can be done in under five minutes. The cards can be downloaded for free. They are meant for kids to lead meditations in the classroom, but they are classic strateiges that work great for adults, too!

Insight Timer

A free app with guided meditations, music and a timer that will gently wake you from a meditative state with a gong or a bell sound.

Deepak Chopra

Offers a number of free guided meditations on his Youtube channel.

Yoga with Adrienne

She spins together yoga with soulful talks and meditations. You can choose videos based on mood or theme.

Do you want one-on-one coaching?

If you want to start a daily meditation practice, become more mindful and boost your happiness levels, consider signing up for my three month coaching program. We will use science to idenify your happiness areas that need improvement, and cultivate tools and resources around a mindfulness practice. I can incopororate tarot, astrology, reiki and guided meditation as part of your program.

The experince is individualized and focused on you and your unique path to your higher self. If you’re ready to level up in your vibrational awareness – contact me! I’m here to hold space for your growth and transformation.

Astrology and Tarot, Holidays

How to celebrate Lammas and the Sturgeon Moon

The themes of the Sabbat and the full moon are really speaking to me this year. This weekend marks the beginning of the harvest season, and my garden is just about ready to burst forth with all sorts of veggies. I haven’t picked anything but herbs and lettuce yet, and now it’s time! My first tomato is turning red. My peppers re just big enough to pick. My turnips grew so fast, dewy purple bulbs are pushing up from the soil. The first green beans are as pretty plump. I’m planning a Sabbat dinner with some of these home grown goodies. For some top notch vegan recipes, sign up for the Arrow tarot newsletter here! I include seasonal recipes that I’m really digging.

Lammas and Lughnassadh Sabbat- August 1st

Lughnassadh is an ancient Gaelic festival to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. It falls on August 1st, and its a time to feast to break bread,and to grateful for the abundance of the earth. Some Pagan and Wiccan traditions celebrate Lammas, a very similar adaptation of the festival that falls on the same day. Sabbats fall at the half way point between solstices. It’s the height of summer, the heart of the season. celebrations honor the Son God, during his most sacred month. August is considered an auspicious month for handfasting and weddings.

The harvest is depicted as the Grain Mother.Like the vegetables in the garden that are ripe with seeds and abundance, the fullness of the mother holds at her very heart, the seed of all future harvests. The mother is pregnant not only with her daughter within her, but also her daughter’s ovaries, which contain all of the seed for all future generations. As the harvest is gathered, there is food to keep the community alive through winter.

The Full Sturgeon Moon – August 3rd

The names of moons were created by different Native American tribes, and are deeply tied to nature and the cycles of the year. The full moon in August (this Monday, the 3rd) is called the Sturgeon Moon because it was the time of year that it was easiest to catch these big, fresh water dwelling fish. They were abundant, a key resource for survival in the summer. Now, Sturgeons are extremely rare to find due to over fishing and habitat pollution. Some tribes call the August moon the green corn moon, the fruit moon, or the barley moon.

Ways to Celebrate

This weekend and into Monday, you can celebrate the spirit of the season in many different ways. You can find or make yourself a corn dolly, or a grain mother doll. They are made out of stalks of wheat, oats, barley, corn husks, whatever is available. Here’s a video on how to mak corn dollies. The doll is usually kept until Imbolc festivities. Made during Lammas, the corn dolly are believed to hold the spirit of the corn, and were burned or buried at Imbolc, to symbolize the retern of the corn spirit to the earth, thus ensuring fertility for the year ahead.

You can decorate with colorful Indian corn, wheat, red and orange flowers, like sunflowers and marigolds. This is a good time to set protective spells around your home. Create and bury near the entry way to your home: a witch’s bottle full of broken, sharp, pointy things, and a bit of urine (I know crazy – but a powerful protection spell!).

Have yourself a nice dinner on the night of Lammas or the full moon. It is traditional to have cornbread and seasonal vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers. You can make a dessert out of blackberries which are growing ripe and wild this time of year. Or perhapes have some blackberry wine, mead or beer.

This is a traitionl song that would be chanted at Sabbat dinner:

The Earth Mother grants the grain;

The horned God goes to His domain.

By giving life into Her grain;

the God dies, then is born again.

For this month, I invite you to work with Red Jasper, which resonated with the root chakrah. Red Jasper has been used for protection for thousands of years. It is believed to create and help balance aggressive, dynamic energy. A good yoga pose to embody these elements of the season is warrior three (Virabhadrasana III). One leg is extended back, long while the other roots down straight in support. Here’s a video of how to strike this pose. It stretches, the chest, shoulder, neck, belly and groin, complementing your work with red jasper. It clears energy from the crown to the tail. While holding the pose, I invite you try on the affirmation, “My strength is my foundation; my mind is limitless.”

I hope that you are growing full with the season and enjoying the warmth and bounty of the year. I know it hasn’t been an easy one for many of us. If you want to explore your own abundance, and capture the power of your spiritual harvest, I am here to create space and provide insight with tarot and coaching.

Astrology and Tarot

Connection to the Midsummer Buck Moon

What a powerful time of year. You’ve fully defrosted from the Winter now, and perhaps your flaunting some sun kissed skin. Spring gave you abundance, fresh foods, and a time of new growth. You’ve grown in some ways, and you have a better sense of how this year is going to go.

It’s time to revisit your goals and update your intentions. Like a young buck stepping out into the field, your antlers have grown from stubs to almost full grown. But, they’re still fuzzy, soft and easily damaged. During this time of the year, bucks form bachelor groups for the summer, much like our quarantine social bubbles.

Bathe in the energy of the new moon on June 21st

The Buck Moon represents your abilities, and your comprehension of how those advantages can help you navigate the world. It’s a time of fine tuning sills and taking a chance with your talents. If you’ve never shared your art or your dream with anyone before, it’s time to put it out there! For this reason, I’m going to work with this affirmation for this moon cycle:

I face challenges with grace; my courage rises up with ease.

The crystal of the month, to put a little zing in my affirmation meditations, is… Amazonite! Amazonite is good during times of stress, it can help you chill out. It helps you hear the truth, even if it hurts. Its a powerful throat chakra stone, and can help you move beyond fear of confrontation or judgment so you can express yourself fully.

I’ve been trying to examine myself is some tough ways lately. I’m learning about anti-racism, which requires some serious introspection. I’m balancing that with a new gratitude practice to help me find more happiness on the daily.

My jam for this moon in my yoga practice is chair pose (Utkatasana)! This pose is so much harder than it looks, right? It lights a fire in the thighs and the shoulders, and it requires you to keep reaching up, no matter what. Striking this pose takes some courage, too because you need to stick your but out there and feel the shake.

I invite you to adopt these practices and make them your own. How will you rock this new moon?What is opening to you?

Astrology and Tarot

The Strawberry Moon

Nothing connects me to my childhood quite like strawberry season. I loved strawberry everything – strawberry ice cream, strawberry milk, strawberry shortcake. I remember those frozen strawberry shortcake ice cream bars they sold at the convenience store at the top of my block, which combined all of my favorite things on a stick. But fresh strawberries were the best, and when Grandma took me strawberry picking, I would get caught putting more in my mouth than in my basket.

Friday, May 22nd, we welcome a new moon in Gemini, called the Strawberry Moon. It will be full on June 5th. This month is also known as the Rose Moon, the Hot Moon and the Mead Moon. The new moon in Gemini is a good time to commit to personal goals that express positive energy. It’s a time to explore relationships by taking on new roles, communicating openly, and being brave enough to be vulnerable with your partner. This leads to a sweeter outlook on life, like looking through rose colored glasses.

The strawberry is a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love because of it’s heart shape and red color. It’s a member of the rose family, and it is unique because the seeds grow on the outside rather than the inside. The ancient Romans used strawberries to alleviate melancholy, fainting, inflammation, fevers, sore throats, kidney stones, gout and diseases of the blood. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants, high in vitamin C and potassium.

Strawberry Quartz

For the strawberry moon, it was clear the that crystal of the month should be strawberry quartz. This crystal strengthens and balances the connection between the physical body and the aura with a gentle vibration. It brings blockages and hidden intentions to the surface to help you overcome problematic situations. It’s a great crystal for your meditation practice because it can stabilize unbalanced energy and bring guidance to your heart. Strawberry quartz is used for uncovering past lives, and for astral travel because it it expands consciousness and grants wisdom.

I am fruitful

I invite you to adopt this new moon affirmation, “I am made for more. I am fruitful. I am special.” Breathe it into your day. You can write it on a few sticky notes and place them where they will remind you. The new moon is the ideal time to start fresh and set an intention for this new phase.

If you have a regular yoga practice, you might start your session with a few minutes in staff pose (dandasana). Here’s a good video about how to do staff pose from my girl, Yoga with Adriene on youtube. This one is super simple, you can also use it for meditation.

Just sit on the floor with you legs straight out in front of you and your hands on the floor by your hips. Lift your chin up just slightly, and sit up straight so that your chest opens. Close your eyes and repeat the affirmation, “I am made for more. I am fruitful. I am special.” It’s so important to say it out loud so the universe can hear you!

Astrology and Tarot

The Flower Moon

May the Full Flower Moon shine blessings upon you. This moon is also known as the Milk Moon because it arrives at a time where spring babies are nursing from their mothers. This is the time for fertility, rebirth, creation and abundance.

I chose to call upon The High Priestess archetype this month. The High Priestess is the spiritual feminine, she is the inner knowing. The crescent moon lays at her feet; she asks those who follow her to trust in the lunar cycles. The columns of Boaz and Jachin represent the gateway to inner wisdom of the Temple of Solomon, the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem. They also represent ying and yang: assertive and receptive energies.

The High Priestess is linked to the mysterious universal truths; she is the mistress of unconscious knowledge. Pay attention to the wisdom of your dreams. You know what you are, and you know what you want. Be open to manifesting some good opportunities to get there. What if everything that is happening to you is the universe trying to give you what you asked for?

Carry a piece of citrine with you this full moon to harness the power of your free will and manifest what you want. Citrine is a stone of abundance, attracting prosperity, success and money. You can hold citrine in your hand while you mediate on this moon’s affirmation, “I am constantly in bloom. I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and reborn.” You can also write this affirmation on a slip of paper, read it every day and burn it on the next new moon to release your spell. This is also the perfect time to start a moon journal. In a moon journal, you make an entry for each phase of the moon. I suggest starting with the new moon and the full moon, that’s just two entries per month. You can make up to eight entries per month for all of the moon phases. Follow Arrow Tarot on Pinterest for more moon musings!

If you’re looking for a yoga pose for your mediation and moon work, try flowering lotus pose. I have not mastered this pose quite yet, but I find it fun to try! If you’re a little too tight like me, work on some hip openers before adding this to your practice.

The full moon is a great time book a tarot reading that reflects on the past and gives perspective on the future. Readings can be done over the phone and online. Contact me to talk more about how remote tarot readings work: Jamie@arrowtarowreadings.com. Wishing you peace and love in this Beltane season.