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Meditation for Tarot

A Meditation Practice Can Help Your Intuitive Work ~
Learn to meditate so you can clear your head before readings.

This morning before drawing a card for the day, I sat and let my mind empty by first visualizing clouds. From recent memory I imagined the clouds on a mountaintop, high clouds that appeared more like fog or mist. On a mountain it is magnificent to watch these clouds move around slowly, then in a wind be blown off with quickness. Visualizing clouds was an effective way to absorb all the thoughts going on in my head, and then whoosh - watch them disappear when I chose to. Then my mind was empty and clear and I drew a card without any attachments or expectations.

Usually I do not visualize when I meditate. I learned to meditate a long time ago, a Taoist practice of breath control and shining mind. Over the years I have tried other methods, including kriya exercises and visualization, and have kind of settled into a very simple way of sitting. Today I felt I needed a bit more help. The past few weeks have been hectic for me, and presently there are many things going on in my life. The busy-ness can begin to seem overwhelming, when trying to release it all.

Meditation is an excellent practice in itself, but I am not going to get into the spiritual potential in this article. All I am going to focus on is how meditation can help your tarot readings, or other intuitive work. Perhaps if you try meditation, you will eventually expand your practice and it will genuinely enrich your spirituality. For now though, let's just look at how it can work with tarot.

It is important, maybe I should even say crucial, that tarot readings be done with a sense of detachment, or suspension. Whether reading for yourself or for a friend or client, it is necessary to suspend any specific desire, hope, fear, or expectation, while handling the cards.

Let me explain why through a little exercise. Take your tarot deck and pick a card, one of your favorites. You can pull the card out of the deck and look at it for a few moments, or just think about it. Think about why you like that card, what appeals to you, what significance it holds. Recognize that you have some "attachment" to it - not an emotional attachment, but a psychological or spiritual bond. Okay, you got that. Now shuffle the deck thoroughly, including your chosen card, and cut the deck as usual. Now fan the cards out in front of you, face down. With eyes open or closed, select a card. Repeat this a few times, and see how many times you select your chosen card.

This is just one game I have played with my own decks. Games are a fun way to get to know your cards and your own intuition, and deserve their own article. The point of doing this game now, is to demonstrate how easy it is to turn up cards that are already on your mind. Even if you aren't picturing specific cards, the specific answers or outcomes you desire could possibly turn up in a reading if you have not cleared your mind first.

And rather than waiting until you are ready to do a reading to practice your meditation, it's a good idea to establish your practice at other times of the day.

So, a little bit about meditation ...

Basically, when you meditate, you want to clear your mind; but you want to do this gently, with compassion for yourself, and without getting attached to a set goal. Keep these things in mind before you begin:

    Gently ~ You are going to let your thoughts go. Forget about the bills, your hectic schedule, arguments with your family, social responsibilities. Let it slip away. This can be extremely difficult; which is why we often begin with little exercises. When a thought pops up in your mind, don't attack it or force it down. Acknowledge it, say "hello, worry!" then say, "good-bye, worry!" I'm kidding, but you could do that! Breathe in, acknowledge the thought, breathe out, let it go. This will likely keep happening for a while, but don't get hung up on it. Just be gentle with yourself and let the thoughts come and go. Eventually, your mind will clear.

    Compassion for Yourself ~ Guess what? This time is just for you. It is you and God/Goddess, or you and your Higher Self, or you and Christ, or you and Buddha, or you and nothingness, or you and the supreme source, whatever. Before you begin your practice, forgive yourself. Because in meditation you are releasing everything, you are sitting alone with that higher sense (whatever you happen to name it). Meditation is ultimately a process of oneness. In meditation, guilt has no place or purpose. You're letting it go. Do not feel guilty for this time you give yourself, or for your spiritual aspirations. Remember, just you and "God" (or who/whatever). It is also very important that you do not judge or criticize your practice. This isn't a race, nor is it a competition. This is you, growing, becoming spiritually whole. Veterans of meditation continue to have difficulties in their practice. None of us is enlightened yet! Don't beat yourself up if your mind constantly fills itself with new thoughts, or if you are continually distracted. Just continue your practice regularly, and don't get hung up on it, and don't assign it a label. Meditation isn't "good" or "bad". If you are doing it, you are doing something good for yourself, and ultimately for those around you. This all leads me to ...

    Don't Get Attached to a Goal ~ Although Eastern writings obviously express a certain "goal" - as nirvana, moksha, or enlightenment (which can be compared to unio mystica, oneness with the Divine of the Judeo-Christian traditions), meditation should be viewed openly, as a fulfilling process in itself. For the purpose of this article, all we really need to concern ourselves with is the ability to empty our mind, to become open and receptive, to be able to listen, intuit, and comprehend. With regular practice you will learn to effectively empty your mind, so when you begin readings, this empty mind will be automatic. Again, don't criticize your practice, progress, or seeming lack of progress. Don't worry about a big goal of "Empty Mind." It will come.

    Timing and Schedule ~ I have read before that 1oz of yoga practice every day is better than 10oz once a week. The same goes for meditation. If you can only do three minutes a day, do it. Avoid jumping into hourly sessions, unless you really have the time and motivation. Give yourself something you can do now, and that you can continue to do. If you know someone else who meditates and they laugh at your three minutes, who cares? Their meditation isn't bringing them much spiritual insight if they belittle someone else's spiritual efforts. In other words, whatever you can do with dedication is great.

Now, the meditation itself. What could be easier? Remember a day when you sat by the ocean, or by a river, or on a mountain, or perhaps beside your child or spouse, and you were free of thought, just sitting, breathing, being. This is what we are going for. The only real difference is that your meditation practice will be intentional.

This is how I practice:
Quiet your house. No tv, radio, phone. Make sure everyone is content and will not disturb you - children, dogs, husbands (I often meditate while others are sleeping, in the early morning). Choose a nice place, a place you like. I sit in my kitchen; I like the early sunlight (in the summers anyway). Choose a blanket (folded), cushion, or pillow. I always do some Taoist yoga before meditating so the stiffness I wake up with will not bother me. Sit on your blanket, crosslegged, in the Lotus position if possible (feet on opposite thighs). Take a few deep breaths. Sit with your spine straight, but relaxed; head tilted forward, slightly bowed. Bring hands together, placing left on right, middle knuckles of each hand lining up, thumbs touching at the tips. Let hands rest easily at navel, elbows loose. Keep your eyes either closed or just slightly opened and focused a few feet ahead of you; breathe through your nose. This is a very serene position for me.

Breathe naturally. Some breaths will be short, some long, some deep, some shallow. Just breathe, let yourself breathe, without controlling the breath. "Watch" the breath: feel incoming breaths move into and through you, turn around, and new breaths go out.

Rest, in this quiet mind. Rest, in simple joy and simple stillness.
This is a very simple way of meditating. It is calming, refreshing, and spiritually renewing to me. I do it daily, and I do it in times of severe frustration or crisis.

There are so many other ways of meditating. If this doesn't work for you, explore others. Hopefully, meditation will provide you with a method of successfully emptying your mind before intuitive work, and maybe it will even become a powerful component of your spiritual path.

The wonderful Pema Chodron says:
"Gradually, through meditation ... We recognize our capacity to relax with the clarity, the space, the open-ended awareness that already exists in our minds. We experience moments of being right here that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.

"... By simply staying here, we relax more and more into the open dimension of our being. It feels like stepping out of a fantasy and relaxing with the truth.

"It is only when we begin to relax with ourselves as we are that meditation becomes a transformative process. When we relate with ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception ... we finally let go of harmful patterns."

from "Resting Completely", Shambhala Sun May '01; © Pema Chodron

Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
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