What is in a Name

I’m not a marketing expert.

Changing the tone, tenor, content, and name of my Tarot identity was mildly terrifying. “Re-branding” doesn’t begin to capture it, probably because name, nature and self-identity are so enmeshed. Changing from Modern Oracle to TaoCraft Tarot was certainly one of those life learning expanding experiences which triggered several posts musing about names and labels.

It is a little bit of that same process here. This blog & website has always been a catch-all side project. Initially I envisioned it to be an “about the author” promotion site for the back of books. Natural health services were added after my dissertation and things only got more scattered and less focused from there. It is time for this site to get a makeover too, new blog name included.

On one hand, I want to keep this blog neutral, nonthreatening, and a little milquetoast to serve as an online resume of sorts. On the other hand, I want this blog stay the friendly, welcoming, chatty catch-all that it evolved to be. On the other other hand I want it to be fierce and fearless, unafraid to difficult subjects. Of course, there is no reason it can’t be all of that. If an employer doesn’t hire me because of the views expressed rather than the quality of the writing expressing those views, then that discrimination is on their heads.

So friendly fierce fearless chatty catch-all blog it is. Welcome.


 

“…being normal is not necessarily a virtue. It rather denotes a lack of courage.”

– Alice Hoffman

“If you’ve got an idea you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it”

– Stan Lee

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(creator unknown)

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Update July 2019

If you are new here – Welcome.

If you have visited before, or followed the blog for any amount of time, you have probably noticed the new look.

In 2018, I officially re-launced Modern Oracle Tarot as TaoCraft Tarot.  This website and blog is being streamlined to match. Here are the key changes

  • All of the Tarot content has been moved to the Modern Oracle Tarot / Tarotbytes Archive (posts prior to October 2018) or to the current TaoCraft Tarot Blog
  • From here forward, Reiki, Meditation, and Taoism related content will appear on the TaoCraft Tarot Blog
  • The Vampire Diet, Baihu’s News Haikus, Merry Monday, Tao Tuesday, and Browncoat Whovian Epiphany content has been discontinued.
  • This blog will be any eclectic, random or natural health posts that do not fit with the Tarot/Meditation/Reiki/Taoism/Magick milieu of the TaoCraft Site.
  • Some posts may deal with sensitive or controversial subjects. Reader discretion is advised. Comments are closed.
  • Constructive reader feedback and Natural Health questions are welcome via email at rondajsnow@gmail.com
  • Not all emails will receive a reply. There is a zero tolerance spam policy

 

Please read disclaimer below before submitting Natural Health Question. This is for general interest ONLY. No information on this website or by this author can diagnose, treat, or cure any disease and does not in any way replace professional health / mental health care. No liability of any kind real or implied is accepted. Use rondasnow.com, taocrafttarot.com and all information or entertainment services entierely at your own risk.

Meditation in the Media (Pittsburgh)

Meditation In The Media

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Please visit “Quirk & Flotsam” on etsy.com for handcrafted meditation beads, how-to beginner’s meditation book and more…click HERE to enter.

Would you like your own tutorial to get started? click HERE

Meditation and Spongebob’s Grandma

Making and Meditation

Mindfulness can make a meditation of anything.

Mindfulness is at once the simplest and one of the most challenging things in the world to do.

Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Were you aware, just for a moment, of were you are, aware of yourself reading a screen instead of focusing what is on the screen? The easy part is slipping into that here & now mindset for a moment. The more challenging thing is sustaining that presence for more than a moment.

Stress or any activity that takes skill and concentration makes that kind of sustained mindfulness even more difficult. The classic way to counteract that is by using the exact opposite. Instead of thinking and doing, meditation teaches us to sit and do nothing – even thoughts are released in favor of experience the moment. We counteract thinking with being.

Or not.

In our typical first-world lifestyle, it is very difficult to shift gears quite that far. It is a challenge to go from full mental throttle to full-throttle off.  Sitting in traditional meditation is still an effort because it takes a certain vigilance. Our mind wanders very far very easily when it suddenly has nothing else to do.

There is a middle way. Another strategy is gentle, repetitive activity that takes a little bit of mental engagement. Something that keeps your mind focused on what you are doing, but isn’t over taxed either. Some activity keeps you here just enough that you still have “processor capacity” to put it in computer terms. A meditative activity keeps you engaged enough that your mind doesn’t wander quickly, yet is automatic enough to let you focus on something else. If you make that “something else” that feeling of mindfulness, or at least make the “something else” some positive emotion such as compassion or contentment…then that low grade activity becomes meditation, just as certainly as traditional seated meditation.

My favorite example is a recent episode of the tv show “Mythbusters” where Adam Savage describes the process of making a prop bull whip, and remarks that the repeated braiding is in a way “meditative” (I’ve heard rumors that he practices meditation and would know that quality in its fullest sense, but of course can’t know that for sure). In “Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain” author Betty Edwards describes a phenomenon where artist experience silence as they work. As the non-verbal parts of the brain are engaged in creative, spatial-relationship kinds of activity, the verbal parts profoundly quiet.

Whether you think of it in terms of spirituality and enlightenment, or in terms of neuroscience, meditation quiets the mind and lets us focus on here and now. It lets you connect with a simple, repetitive task on a different level.

When my daughter was young, “Spongebob Squarepants” was one of her favorite tv shows. There was one episode where Spongebob visits his grandmother and somewhere in the episode she knits a sweater “with love in every stitch”.

As a knitter, I get that. After watching that episode together, I’ve told her  that everything I’ve made for her has ‘love in every stitch’ just like Spongebob’s grandma. Now an eye-rolling teenager, she thinks its a rediculous reference to an old tv show

Actually it’s true.

It doesn’t have to be knitting. Any easy repetitive activity. It might be easy to ‘zone out’ doing it..but what if we don’t? If we keep our mind and heart on what we are doing, it will benefit more than one person.

This might be a little woo-woo for you, but just for argument’s sake let’s assume that material things can carry a subtle energy signature. That’s why grandma’s cookies taste better than store-bought. Maybe there really is love in every stitch of the old gal’s sweaters.

Making with mindfulness IS meditation. Making with mindfulness benefits the person doing it (gracing them with all the benefits that meditation can offer) AND it benefits the person who uses the thing they made through it’s elevated energy and the good feeling that is transferred. Try it experiment. Bring a bit of homespun science to the notion. If you pray or meditate, try wearing the same jacket every time you do (Ted Andrews suggested this in one of his books). Then put on the jacket some other time. Do you notice any difference in how you feel? Do you notice any shift in your mindset just by associating the jacket with the good feelings of your prayer or meditation experiences? Think of the long tradition of wearing rosary beads or wrist mala. Positive energy is believed to inhabit the beads and comfort the wearer at other times too.

Knit a sweater holding thoughts and feelings of love and compassion for the person who will wear it. Hold thoughts and feelings of health and love for those who will eat the food as you prepare it. Do you notice a difference? What do you observe in others? Observation is a legitimate scientific technique. Try it with and without the intention and mindfulness. What differences do you see? What differences do you FEEL? If it helps YOU to feel better, than the practice is worth while just for that aspect alone.

They say creation is a sacred act. In the case of simple day to day tasks, it can be a meditative and loving one too. You can live life with love in every stitch.

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The Lighter Side of Meditation

Shared with permission from www.daily-tarot-girl.com 

I love Kate’s “Fridays With Veronica” series. Such fun! I highly recommend it!

VeronicaVeronica is my evil twin/alter ego who reads Tarot on my blog every Friday! In between reading Tarot you can find her getting day drunk on her balcony, snoring in a yoga class and on AshleyMadison.com, pretending to be married.

meditate

Are you one of those people who think you shouldmeditate, but never seem to get around to it?

Here’s a tip: Meditation is just doing nothing.

Everyone thinks it’s some mystical thing requiring discipline and spirituality. It isn’t.

I would say it’s just like being lazy but it’s so much more than that…..it’s being lazy on purpose!

The reason you’re having trouble meditating is because you’re associating it with monks and jerks who do yoga. Stop it!

Meditation is the ultimate freedom – better than rollerskating with no underpants on or calling in fake-sick to work and staying home to eat chocolate-peanut-butter Coconut Bliss ice cream while watching Vampire Diaries re-runs on Netflix.

Want to meditate more? Start thinking of it as a time when you don’t have to do shit. You don’t even have to think! Which is probably why you watch all those stupid TV shows in the first place! Am I right?

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Kate, author of the /http://www.daily-tarot-girl.com blog and “Fridays with Veronica” is co-host of “Menage A Tarot” podcast along with David Dear of www.myownminister.com and Ronda Snow of www.ModernOracleTarot.com

Q&A: Pressure in the Forehead after meditating

Q&A: pressure after meditating

Q: I just started meditating. I keep getting a pressure sensation in the middle of my forehead when I’m done. What does that mean?

A: There are several small things that could be contributing to it. This is one of those questions where it needs to be helped in person, or with at least some sort of one on one conversation. Are you working with an instructor or meditation coach at all? Meditation isn’t rocket surgery as they say, but it really does help to have someone experienced to go to with questions like this, especially as a beginner. I’d be happy to help if you are in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, or willing to work via Skype. If that’s not an option, and there are no meditation coaches in your area, you might want to look for a Zen or Ch’an monk or teacher, a classically trained yoga instructor, or if you are following a particular style of meditation like TM, then finding a teacher in that style would be the best option.

Here are some GENERAL ideas. These may or may not apply to you, so use your discretion about using them (see the use at your own risk part of the small print policies page).

  • Check your posture. No slouching! A straight but relaxed back is important two ways. First it is important for proper energy flow. If energy is blocked or accumulating at the third eye chakra (more about that later) that may account for the pressure sensation. Second is just plain ordinary muscle tension. There are muscles in the neck and shoulder that connect under the scalp towards the front of the skull…that’s what let’s you look up, like at fireworks or an airplane. Schlumpy posture held for a time as in a meditation session could cause some tension in those muscles that is most felt at the insertion (connection) point giving a forehead sort of ache
  • You are trying to hard. Meditation is about a quiet mind. Sometimes that means giving our busy mind something to do, like repeat a mantra or repeat a sequence of numbers.. Sometimes visualizations can help channel busy thoughts into something quieter. For others, the important thing is to release…let the thoughts go, and emotions with them. Don’t stress about meditation…like my favorite phrase. “it is what it is”. If thoughts flood in, that’s ok. If you catch yourself holding on to them instead of letting them go, that’s ok too…at least now you know that you do that. If you are a visualizer now, try a mantra or a more release-type meditation style. No big. Not every style suites every person. That pressure you are feeling just might be pressure you are putting on yourself about meditating, just in a different form.
  • Be aware of your body focus. People who need meditation the most are people who tend to “live in their head”…are very thought and mind oriented in the first place. An intense focus on the third eye (the point in middle of your forehead between and just above the eyebrows). Energy goes where your attention goes. Keeping laser focus on one spot, like the forehead could cause tension there. If you ever catch yourself thinking from that spot, or focusing on the spot where the ache tends to start…then stop, take a deep breath, let go of what you were doing, and shift your focus. Look at a spot on the floor a few feet in front of you…but then let it go out of focus. Keep your eyes still, but not focus on anything too clearly.
  • Chakras are energy centers in the body, that are believe to help regulate life energy, the subtle esoteric, not-so-hardwired kind of energy the same way that transformers on electric poles adjust electricity from transmission power to household power. If you think there may be a blockage or imbalance within the third eye chakra, then that is definitely something to be handled on a personal, one-to-one basis, customized to your individual needs.

I hope that helps a little. If you have other questions the contact form for free answers is here

 

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Head Pressure or Pain after Meditating – revisit

Head discomfort or pain after meditation – revisit

A while ago, I was asked about the sensation of head pressure or discomfort after “intense” meditation sessions.

With his permission, I shared the question with you in this Q&A post, but it is hard to translate an individual situation into a general interest / general information post. Particularly since one the big advantages of holistic health is how acutely it can be individualized.

The question of head discomfort after “intense” meditation has come up again, in a different context, so I’d like to add a few more thoughts.

One key difference is the location of the discomfort. Later mentions have the discomfort in different places on the head and face…no big surprise that would clue us in to different causes, different solutions.

In the first case, the discomfort was behind both eye brows and under the eyes, more face than head. That is smack dab over the frontal and maxillary sinuses, so that is why those were such a focus in the last discussion. The location is a key detail that built the case for a strong connection between the complaint and mainstream medicine. It was a situation where allopathy might be a key tool to bring out of the healers toolkit in this particular case.

In later instances, the location was a whole other story. This time mind-body connection was at the forefront. This time mind and spirit would be the focus, with less of a ‘body’ component. In fact, some of you might think this time the answer is too “fringe”, but the proof is in the pudding as they say…individual experience is still valid data, especially to the individual experiencing it! An open mind goes a long way when it comes to stress management.

Another person might indicate a tightness or pain in the head, less so in the face. A tight cap-like or band-like feeling often is simple muscle tension. (Mainstream medicine will agree with me there). If meditation relaxes you, how can it give you a muscle tension headache? Mind-body connection of course. If someone is meditating to relax, that can heap a lot of expectations on the meditation experience. Expectation is a big stumbling block to anyone working with meditation, intuition, visualization, imagination etc. That goes double if you are new to the process.

Meditation works in its own time in its own way…that is one of the biggest lessons it can teach us. Meditation is about letting go of those kinds of thought-bound expectations. Meditation is about being right here, right now, and letting things be as they are…NOT about getting your blood pressure down to X by Y date,  or by expecting to feel peaceful and blissed out NOW DOGGONEIT! It is very very easy to let those cultural expectations and old, well-established thought habits slip into relaxation time. It is a hard switch to turn off. The solution is persistence, and a whole lot of patience for yourself. Even in tea and mint candy commercials, wise gurus are seldom young. It takes a while to get the hang of the peace and serenity thing, especially in a ‘normal’ fast paced modern life.

The solution to this kind of head discomfort is easy to say, a little harder to enact. Let go. Don’t put any expectations on your meditation.

In the category of “when you hear hoofbeats look for horses not zebras”: if you are feeling muscle tension in you head after meditation, pay attention to your posture. Don’t slouch, but don’t try to force yourself into a full lotus zen master sitting position if you aren’t ready for it. Keep the spine erect, but comfortable. It is OK to sit in a chair that way if you aren’t comfortable cross-legged on the floor. It is even valid and effective to lay down…but I don’t recommend it unless you are fairly experienced or well-rested. I don’t know about you, but the laying down and relaxing thing is a fast-track to a NAP for me! Stretch, do a little yoga when you are not particularly meditating if you want to work your way into a pillow sitting zazen thing but aren’t flexible enough right now. Just like in the last post, working with a meditation mentor or teacher (Shameless plug: I offer meditation tutorials) can help sort some of the posture issues out.

The other scenario that I’ve heard lately is even more esoteric – this is where things get a little fringe-ish for some people.

In Eastern medicine and philosophy, there are energy centers (some might say nerve clusters) in the body that help regulate energy flow. You might have heard of “chakras”. Entire books have been written about that, and explaining it all is way outside of a blog post. Each chakra is assigned a specific location, and the one for the third eye, in middle of the forehead just above the eyebrows, is associated with meditation. If the pressure after mediation is in that location, then this is way way into mind-spirit territory.

Improper meditation (for you) can take that energy center out of its natural balance. It might become drained, or overcharged. It might just be a matter of adjusting your habits…meditating for a little less time, or changing the focus, or redirecting the energy to other things. Even little things like wearing dark blue (the symbolic color of the chakra) or making sure to drink adequate water after a session can help. The key here is to individualize your mediation practice to your particular needs if discomfort appears here. Get a little help and arm yourself with knowledge.

Meditation should be a comforting, relaxing, pleasant experience. Even if these head-discomfort problems come up, they can be handled. There are many different way to meditate, many schools of thought. If problems like these turn up, then it is just a clue to make an adjustment or slight change…don’t give up!

Sources /suggested reading:

“Wheels of Life” by Anodea Judith, Ph.D.