As someone who has had her fair share of mental health struggles, I know how hard it can be to feel like you can’t get in touch with your own emotions, thoughts, or intuition when you have a problem that needs solving. Feeling stuck and helpless in the face of a problem is so discouraging, and it can take an even greater toll on your life than the problem itself would otherwise.
This mind-body disconnect can happen to anyone, so if it’s happening to you, just know that you’re not “weird,” and you’re not alone. For most people, it’s something that ebbs and flows as we go through stages in life, and it’s understandably most noticeable when we’re facing stressful situations or serious life choices.
One unconventional thing I’ve found that helps is using tarot cards. I don’t fuss with creating complicated spreads or trying to divine a solution from some higher power, however. Instead, there are a couple of simple methods that I use as a way to help me “connect the dots,” so to speak. The visuals that the cards provide help me engage my mind and emotions to get to the root of an issue or gain a fresh perspective.
Before I dive into the subject further, I want to be clear: This isn’t a replacement for professional therapy! If you’re struggling mentally, the right therapist can make a world of difference, and you deserve that treatment. What I’m talking about today should be viewed as just one tool in your arsenal when it comes to living your best, happiest life.
I like to use this strategy when I need help focusing. Sometimes, I don’t have a specific problem that needs solving, but I just feel out of sorts. Maybe I’ve been pushing myself too hard, or maybe I’m just feeling stuck in a rut (hello, quarantine life!).
When this happens, I decide to meditate on a single tarot card. In some cases, I’ll just shuffle the deck and pull a card at random. Other times, I’ll spread the cards in front of me and pick up the first one that catches my attention.
Once you have your card, take the time to really study the images. It’s helpful to have a journal nearby to jot down what sorts of thoughts and feelings come to mind as you view the card. It’s okay if you don’t remember what the “official meaning” of the card is; that’s not the point. For now, it’s enough to let your unconscious mind spin its own story. This highly focused exercise lets you get in touch with your own mind and emotions pretty quickly, and you’ll likely find that your thoughts and ideas start flowing freely onto your journal page!
When I have a specific problem that I’m struggling with, I use what I call the “three-card strategy.”
In tarot, a three-card spread is common. The precise meanings of each position in the spread can vary quite a lot, so there’s no single, “correct” way to view each card.
I know that feels vague! If you need a starting point, try asking these questions of yourself:
Card 1: What block or problem am I facing? (This could be physical, mental, or emotional. Try to stick with a single problem, and do a separate session for each problem you have.)
Card 2: What aspects of my life could be causing or contributing to this problem? What have I overlooked about this situation? (If you can, take time to consider if these things have caused issues for you in the past too. Making more mental connections is often helpful.)
Card 3: What can help me work through or overcome this problem? What insights about my situation can I gain from this card?
With each question, don’t rush yourself. Ask it silently or out loud (you can even write it down), and then just give yourself time to take mindful breaths and view the card. The more that you can slow down and focus only on the imagery of the card, the more opportunity you give your mind to feel less frantic. You’ll notice that words, images, and sometimes even entire stories will start flowing out of you.
Using tarot cards for this works so well because they are based on archetypes. These concepts and images are universal, so it’s easy for our minds to project personal meaning onto them. Our brains also have a much easier time finding meaning in pictures rather than words, so this is kind of like a “cheat code” for accessing helpful insights that otherwise feel unreachable.
You Are Capable
Using tarot cards to grease the proverbial gears is a great way to unlock your intuition and problem-solving skills. The more that you practice and permit yourself to experiment with understanding what your mind is trying to tell you, the more you’ll feel like you can trust yourself to get through difficult situations.