Meditation and the Tarot

A On my 2012 holiday vacation break I began a new soul / meditation practice that inspires me each morning.

Using Aleister Crowley / Lady Frieda Harris’s Thoth Tarot Deck I choose my SOUL, MIND and BODY cards.

Then using The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien I read the spiritual interpretations.

Next I take these cards into my meditation using this great little meditation app called Insight Timer Meditation. I allow them to infuse their meaning deeply into my soul. As a result, I am reaching new levels of joy in my life.


There are three other books about the Thoth Tarot Deck worth mentioning:

Here are other depth psychological books on the Tarot:

Rudolf Steiner’s Meditation Practice

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) philosopher, esotericist, one-time Theosophist, and founder of the Waldorf School and Anthroposophy suggests a more western style of meditation. For him, meditation is a communion with your higher self, to become a witness of one’s life. “Consciousness by its nature witnesses and bears witness.” Thus, the purpose of his meditation is to access the wisdom of the higher self. He writes:

We enter as deeply within ourselves as we can. Sense impressions, memories, associations, thoughts, hopes and dreams, all fade away. In the inner silence, peace descends upon the soul. It become receptive, opening to and receiving what spirit gives.

The Steiner Meditation*

Steiner recommended that we start our meditation by selecting a verse from a sacred text or use a sacred image, anything that interests you that you would like to explore deeper.

As in the eastern meditation practice, choose the right time and place to quiet the ego mind. Find a comfortable chair, place a pen and notebook beside you.

Besides that there are no rules. Be experimental by seeing what works best for you.

Once seated, take a few deep breaths to relax. Slowly and methodically relax your whole body. Then think to yourself, now I am going to begin my meditation.

Fill yourself with a mood of reverence and devotion by orienting to your higher self. Then carefully place the text or image in the center of your consciousness; ponder, associate and amplify, exhausting all possibilities.

Then collapse it to a single word or image and concentrate. Keep your attention as focused as possible. If you wander off, simply return to your theme and refocus.

When it feels right release the theme so that your mind is empty. Try to keep it is empty for as long as possible. See what happens, what comes down.

If images occur, follow them and let them unfold.

At some point the meditation will naturally end.

This meditative style has a long history in western culture from the alchemists to the lectio divina of the mystics; it even shares a little of the wisdom of Jung’s active imagination technique. I used this method of meditation to write my dissertation.

* Taken from START NOW! a book of soul and spiritual exercises

A PATH WITH HEART: Difficult Problems and Insistent Visitors

As you continue your soul work you will eventually discover the repeated patterns of thought, feelings and sensations what Jack Kornfield called the “Insistent Visitors.” In this video/audio blog post I take you through four basic principles for dealing with these difficult and repeating problems.

The four principles are: Expand the Field of Awareness, Come to a Full Awareness of the Feelings, Discover what is Asking for Acceptance, and Open through the Center.

Eastern Spirituality and Western Egos

I’ve been asked many times about the differences between what Carl Jung taught and the lessons in Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. So I thought I would get out a quick blog post explaining the differences as I see it.

Perhaps the most important difference concerns the development of ego in the west as rugged individual versus in the east as one part of a greater whole, be it family, society, or universe.

This difference is why Jung said almost a century ago that par søker kvinne i Elverum westerners cannot slap eastern spirituality on top of a western ego and expect enlightenment.

I make a strong distinction in my teachings about the ego and the soul as two distinct and different entities in the psyche. (See previous blog post about Ego and Soul.)

In the east transcending the ego is part and parcel of their cultural development; in the west we are our egos. Therefore, it makes sense to heal the ego and bring it into relationship with our souls; this is the path of Jungian individuation. As earthlings we need both, ego which is responsible for our physical being and soul which is responsible for our spiritual being.

In Jungian circles we call this dialectic relationship the ego-soul axis. Everything Chopra is talking about refers to the soul part of this equation.

As I’m sure you have experienced in your meditation ego is bouncing around all over the place with plans for the future, or ruminating on past events. Your experience of the eternal soul and its connection to Source occurs in those fleeting spaces between ego’s obsessions.

Meditation is a practice to increase the spaces in your psyche where soul can enter your life.

There is one last distinction between Jungian thought and Chopra’s teachings related to Source. In Jungian Psychology the Self or Source has intentions for our soul on earth which becomes our purpose in life to fulfill. Chopra’s teachings has ego intentions asking Source for fulfillment. I believe the truth lies between these two extremes. We have a distinct purpose to fulfill on earth, and if our intentions align with this purpose then Source will fulfill wishes.

A PATH WITH HEART: Turning Straw into Gold

When facing difficulties our automatic response (our egoic response) is get rid of the difficulty. Ego uses defense mechanisms like repression, denial, intellectualizing, reaction formation, projection, acting out, sublimation etc, to distort reality. In contrast, Buddhist and Jungian thought teaches us to turn these difficulties into alchemical gold. They teach us that our wounds that ego is protecting with these defenses are the very pathways to our soul and our highest potential.

Here is the latest audio blog post:

A PATH WITH HEART: Necessary Healing

In this audio/video I take you through chapter four of A PATH WITH HEART: Necessary Healing by pointing out the four fundamentals of mindfulness: healing the body, healing the heart, healing the mind, and healing through emptiness. I pull from Ken McLeod, Rollo May, and Christine Caldwell to deepen the material.

I took longer than usual to complete this audio blog post because I wanted to make strong distinctions in regards to body, heart or emotions and mind. The very essence of psychological work is in this chapter. An entire book could be written (probably has but I have not read it yet) on the hot dating sites Four Foundations of Mindfulness. They are: “awareness of the body and senses, awareness of heart and feelings, awareness of the mind and thoughts, and awareness of the principles that govern life.” Kornfield continues,

The development of awareness in these four areas is the basis for all of the Buddhist practices of insight and awakening.

And I would add it is the basis of psychological insight and awakening.

Here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 4, Necessary Healing. I had to break it into two parts.


PART ONE

PART TWO

A PATH WITH HEART: Take the One Seat

To take the one seat in the center is to commit to meditation as your central spiritual practice. Kornfield warns against the practice of trying many different spiritual practices which move you left and right, forward and backward without ever drilling deep into the depths of your being. In this blog post, rather than, re-capping the chapter, which I hope you read, or recapping my audio comments, to which I hope you listen, I am bringing in another Buddhist book I often recommend — Wake Up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention by Ken McLeod.

In Chapter 3, “Cultivating Attention”, McLeod describes in great detail the practice of attention which is a critical precursor to meditation¹. McLeod distinguishes two types of attention: active and passive. He wrote,

When an experience absorbs emotional energy, whether the experience is a flower, a thought, a feeling, or a belief, attention goes passive and we are less present with what’s going on. Emotional energy shifts to a lower level. We are, in effect, passive participants in the experience.

In contrast, active attention occurs, “when attention remains directed at an object and there is a shift in clarity and vividness.” He goes on to say,

Active attention is volitional, stable, and inclusive. We choose to direct attention; we aren’t simply reacting to stimulus. Active attention is not disrupted by sounds, thoughts, sights, or other events in our experience…. Because active attention is not disrupted by habitual patterns, the more we live in attention, the less we fall victim to the reactive processes that are operating us.

With out further adieu, here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 3, Take the One Seat!

Footnote:

¹ In the audio portion of this blog Lucia René in Unplugging the Patriarchy: A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age tells us the practice of attention (or concentration) precedes the experience of meditation.

A PATH WITH HEART: Stopping the War

In this chapter (chapter two) Kornfield likens the war in our head between all the ego voices to the wars in the world. He suggests the way to have peace in the world is to stop the war inside. He suggests that adapting to our society leads one into denial and addiction saying

We use addictions to support out denials.

To wake up to these voices can be overwhelming and depressing, but if you persist you will eventually find peace inside. The most important thing to remember when you begin to pay attention to the voices inside is to simply notice without judging. It’s important to NOTstart a war with these voices for that only exacerbates the war.

In Jungian terms the process of paying attention and accepting “what is” is called taking back one’s shadow because what gets denied gets repressed into our unconscious. It distorts reality. So to take back one’s shadow is to see wholly.

Another important point in this process of “stopping the war” is to NOT identify with the voices. You are the observer of the voices; that is your true self. The voices have created the false self or what Jung called the persona.

Here is the audio portion for chapter two.