How Tarot Taught Me Mindfulness

In all of my years working with tarot, my bane has been the Suit of Swords. The Suit of Swords is all about the mind and most of my self-sabotage occurs on a mental level. 

I’ve done a lot of cognitive therapy and self-work to become aware of and change negative self-talk, and I continue to work on it, but it doesn’t take much for negative self-talk to slip back in and sabotage.

If I feel shamed or pick up on the judgment of others (and give a crap what they think) and am not present to the thoughts and feelings that occur immediately as a result, it takes zero seconds for a self-destructive mantra to take over and influence my mindset.

Another habit of self-sabotage that I am prone to is the misuse of my imagination. 

Recently I kept pulling the Nine of Swords in my personal tarot readings and, realizing that it kept popping up because there was a message I was obviously not getting, I did a reading to find out what that message was. Guess what card came up? The Ten of Swords. For the first time it struck me that (at least in this instance) the card depicts an impatient woman who has jumped to the worst conclusion based on little to no actual evidence.

I catch myself thinking this way, but when I don’t realize it’s happening the cards will be the first to point it out.

Do you deal with an overactive mind and self-sabotaging thoughts too? 

If so, you may find these ten lessons from the suit of swords helpful. 

1.)  Get clear on your thought patterns

Clarity of mind is the dawn of a new perspective that comes from paying attention to your thoughts and how they are making you feel. It comes from rising above the mire of unkind thoughts and deciding that you will adopt a new way of thinking: a way that is loving and compassionate toward yourself (which will extend into how you treat others). 

The challenges come when you’ve got a million thoughts pulling you in a hundred different directions. Instead of attaching to any one of them and getting riled up or depressed, commit your mind to stillness so that you can hear and follow your inner truth (your inner truth won’t make you feel like crap, by the way). 

2.) Let That Shit Go 

In order to experience mental freedom and joy, you have got to stop replaying the same old stories that drag you down. Stop licking old wounds. To heal mentally, recognize that what happened is over, the moment is new, and let that shit go. You’ll never be happy if all you think are unhappy thoughts, or about regrets. Practicing forgiveness doesn’t justify what you or anyone else has done, it gives you back the power over your thoughts and feelings. 

3.) Show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and don’t be attached to the outcome
Ok so the tarot didn’t teach me this directly, I learned it from Angeles Arrien (a pretty awesome author). Each of these steps is necessary for peace of mind and is an act of mindfulness that leads to peace. When you show up and pay attention you are present to yourself. Being in the moment and observing your thoughts helps you to catch unkind (and often untrue) thoughts before they sneak into your subconscious.

Telling the truth about what you feel and think is the first step in changing what isn’t working for you anymore. 

Making those changes without attaching to an idea of what life is supposed to be like or look like, keeps you from projecting, and keeps you open to receive good things. I’ve been practicing this one to keep my inner control freak at bay. 

4.) Meditation is key 

Seriously. Take a minute to check in with yourself. Taking a deep breath and focusing on the moment will do more to reorient you than journaling ten pages (I’ve tested this).  The practice of meditation gives you more control over your thoughts, effectively making it easier for you to think the kind thoughts you want to think (which are hopefully uplifting and filled with love). 

5.) Ego is Not Bad Really, it’s not. It’s how you identify your boundaries. It’s how you know where you end and another person begins. When you feel like you need to compare and compete with someone else or control them, your ego is presenting you with an alarm to check that mental track. When did the lie that you as you are aren’t good enough slip in? When did the ridiculous notion that there isn’t enough love to go around take root? 

6.) Patience is Paramount 

Patience is the prerequisite to kindness. It’s also a staple of mindfulness.  It’s ok to let things happen in their own time. When you do, you’ll find that it’s harder to engage in a fussy, self-criticizing thoughts and it’s easier to be happy with your life. Learning to be patient is a transformative to the mind. 

7.) Self-Acceptance is Freedom

Drop all those ideas of what you should be, they’re too heavy a burden to carry around. Don’t hide who you really are out of fear for what others might think or say about you. Be truthful about who you are and what you need without apology. When you accept yourself, it no longer matters what anyone else thinks, and the right people will come into your life and support you. 


8.) Limitations Are Lies 

Most limitations are self-imposed boundaries we think up for ourselves. We decide what we can’t do and then we complain about how stuck we are. We bind ourselves and blame the world. This is the “million reasons why it won’t work,” mindset. 

Meanwhile, all around us are ways out of the situation we are in. Perspective is key. Recognizing this pattern gives you back your power by reminding you that you are responsible for the quality of your life. That recognition is the first step to breaking free of situations you’ve been feeling trapped in. 

9.) What You Focus Your Thoughts on Matters

Say you’ve got a goal that you really want to meet and then a couple of wet blankets come around and tell you all the reasons you can’t and won’t meet that goal. Sometimes the wet blankets are actually people you should ditch, but most of the time they are thoughts you need to ditch. When you commit to a goal the universe commits to supporting you in achieving it (Henry David Thoreau said that, albeit in a more eloquent way). Anxiety, fear and self-criticism try to convince you that it won’t work out. Focusing instead on what *is* working out and believing in yourself and your dream is a way to take back your power and actually achieve you goals. 

10.) Anxiety fueled by Impatience is your mind being a Drama Queen!
Overreacting to FEAR (false evidence appearing real) is a surefire way to ruin your zen. Do not project a terrible outcome especially if things are moving more slowly than you would prefer. Seriously, just don’t. It serves no purpose other than to make you feel like total garbage and force you back into self-imposed limitations and unkindness toward yourself. 

You’ve got this, girlfriend. Don’t be a slave to your mind. Make your mind work for you. 

Thus concludes my list of lessons. So, what mental thoughts do you struggle with? 

(Images in this post are from the Joie De Vivre Tarot by Paulina Cassidy, published by US Games). 

2 thoughts on “How Tarot Taught Me Mindfulness”

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