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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.

Holidays

Online Yule Celebration: Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year (and the longest night); solstice meaning, “sun stands still.” From this point on, the days will get longer. Ancient Pagans believed that the sun was reborn on this day, and they celebrated the light of the world. The same sun that warms the earth and makes it possible for us to survive today.

This time of year is associated with powerful Goddesses and Gods. In Celtic theology, this time of year is ruled by the Crone, Cailleach, who rule’s the Winter’s half of the year between Samhain and Beltane. The Oak King is winning the battle against the Holly King, but the tides will turn again in summer. These ideas focus on the dualistic battle between light and dark, characterizing it as a cycle that must be maintained in order for life to continue.

On December 21st, 2020, a “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn will occur, meaning the two planets will appear just 0.06º apart right after sunset. It’s not happened since the year 2000 and won’t happen again until 2040.

There have been a number of powerful conjunctions in 2020, and the more exalted planets and constellations that are in conjunction at the same time, the more influential the energies will be for us.

For this reason, I invite you to join in an online celebration of celestial energies at play!

During this event, you will:

  • Enjoy seasonal recipes, crafts and folklore
  • Meet the Gods and Goddesses associated with this time of year
  • Learn about ancient ways of celebrating
  • Hear more about astrology
  • Participate in a dancing meditation
  • Receive long distance healing energy
  • Have your tarot cards read

Register early for a discount. Bring a friend!

Holidays

Give the gift of tarot for the holidays

This time of year is perfect for tarot readings. The Winter solstice, or Yule celebration, falls on December 21st. This is the day that the sun’s journey through the sky is the shortest. From this day forward, the days will start to get longer again. Ancient festivals celebrate the rebirth of sun as a time of rest, reflection, and rebirth of ourselves. It’s as though the slate is wiped clean and we get to start fresh in the new year.

This year during the Winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be aligned in a great conjunction. After this, the two planets will appear to trade positions, as Jupiter overtakes Saturn and draws farther and farther away from Saturn for the next decade. There have been a number of powerful conjunctions in 2020, and the more exalted planets and constellations that are in conjunction at the same time, the more influential the energies will be for us. This is the closing of a major shift. From the beginning of January 2020 to December 2020, we have the very rare conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto. The last time this happened was three thousand years ago!

So there is so much celestial energy for us to tap into right now! Consider giving your loved ones a tarot reading for the holidays. It’s believed that a tarot deck given to you as a gift is more powerful and auspicious than one that you buy for yourself. I believe the same is true for tarot readings. Some of my most insightful readings have been with clients who were dragged to the psychic by a friend. So often, others can see when we need insight and reflection before we can see it for ourselves.

For all of these reasons and more, I am offering gift certificates for a special Wheel of the Year tarot spread. The Wheel of the Year spread shows a card for each month of the year with one card for your overall theme of the year in middle. It reveals insights and cautions for 2021 and helps us rebirth and transform ourselves as the wheel of time turns into the new year.

You can book a Wheel of the Year reading for two ($150), or purchase a gift certificate for one ($80). All readings will be set up on Zoom with video so you can see me and your tarot spread at the same time.

Parties and readings for two are great because you can hear each other’s readings and help interpret the meanings together!

To purchase a tarot gift certificate and book an appointment – email me at Jamie@arrowtarotreadings.com; call or text 401-744-5644.

Holidays

Secrets of Samhain and Shadow Work

This time of year, with Samhain, All Hallows Eve, and Dia de los Muertos, the veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest. It’s a good time to release what is no longer serving us and protect the blessings that we want to hold onto. A simple protection spell is to write what you are grateful for on a piece of paper, place the paper in a jar and fill it with salt and herbs, like nettle for protection, and dill for a bit of good luck. You can seal the jar with black candle wax while whispering your intention into the smoke.

Samhain is the very end of the year in the Celtic Pagan tradition. It’s a time to reflect on how you have changed, to harvest and stow away for the future, and to release the old. Ancestors come to visit, and you can work on helping them heal from hardships they endured to move the family forward in this world. It is believed that the traumas of our anestors impact us today.

You can preserve your favorite summer treats and stock up your pantry. You can also have a releasing ceremony to release yourself from attachment to something that is no longer for you. You can clean and purify a space in your home that isn’t serving you. For a cleansing spell, boil herbs like clary sage, bay leaf, lemon balm and/or lavender. Let the water cool a bit, and then use it to mop your floors. Hum or sing a little chant while you do so!

Because Smahin is all about reflecting, moving forward and evolving, it is the ideal time of year to work with your shadow side. This is called shadow work, and it is about becoming well acquainted with your dark side. It’s about uncovering every part of you that has ever been silenced, shoved down, or rejected. It’s the parts of you that you sweep away to the corner of your mind, hoping they don’t turn back up again, at least not for awhile. It’s the you under the mask. It’s the expectations that you are obedient to. It might be hurt, scared, anxious or held hostage. Acknowledging the shadow self can be a rich source of emotion and self discovery, leading to deep healing. 

For me, this is an important time of year to soak up the sun and spend time in nature before the winter blues start to set in. I tend to get small bouts of seasonal depression when my world turns gray. It’s usually as Fall gives way to Winter and the clocks turn back. Then I adapt for a while and it creeps back in around March when I can’t bare the gray ground any longer. By getting to know the way my shadow side works, I’ve found ways to balance the blues. This is a very light-handed example. Shadow work is very personal and can run very deep.

This year, Samhain falls on a full blue moon, on a Saturday, the same day we turn the clocks back. Whether you have big plans or you’re staying in for the weekend, it’s going to be dense with energy, and emotions will be running high. It’s important to stay grounded and protect your energy. You can ground your energy by walking barefoot on the earth, mindfully sipping a hot beverage, or spending time in the sunshine. You can protect your energy by making sure you get enough sleep and water, meditating, taking a bubble bath (with some epsom salts), or getting a reiki treatment.

At dusk on November 1st, the veil will draw closed again. This is the precise moment when I am hosting an online Samhain ritual class, to help you ground and protect at the perfect time. We will send one last message across the veil before it closes, we will play a divination game using apples, and pull tarot cards for guidance. We will meditate and send reiki healing energy to the group. If you want to feel the magic of Samhain and learn some pretty cool stories, then join me! 

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.