The Importance of Solitude: Reconnecting With Your Inner Self
Our lives are so inundated with communication it’s overwhelming – text messages, emails, phone calls, the internet. And we’ve read a million articles reminding us how addicted we are to these things, yet it’s difficult to free ourselves from the clutches of these distractions. Maybe, it’s time to consider the benefits of solitude and carve out time to isolate ourselves from the interminable notifications of our interconnected world.
Sitting with One’s Thoughts: A Shocking Statistic
In 2014, a study published in the journal Science found that most people would rather shock themselves than sit undisturbed with their thoughts. Even after experiencing the shock before the trial and saying they would pay money not to be shocked again, 25 percent of women and 67 percent of men chose to shock themselves while sitting alone for 15 minutes. One of the participants even decided to shock himself 190 times in that period, but that person’s masochism is beside the point.
Unsurprisingly, results showed the majority of subjects did not enjoy their time sitting alone and being asked to simply think. Half of these participants rated their experience at, or below, a level of “somewhat enjoyable,” while most ranked it highly on a boredom scale.
Why is it so difficult for us to go inward and block out external stimuli? One theory claims it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. Known as the Scanner Hypothesis, some researchers believe that as mammals we’ve evolved to monitor our environments for both danger and opportunity. Therefore, our brains consider doing nothing a waste of time.
But we evolved to be more than mere mammals behaving on natural instinct, or at least we have the ability to transcend those instincts if we consciously choose to do so. That’s what separates man from beast, right?
Unfortunately, our lives aren’t always conducive to the ascetic lifestyle, and taking a sabbatical to go live like a certain civilly disobedient poet at Walden Pond isn’t always in the cards. So, what can the average person do to escape the torpor of our stimulus saturated society?
Unplugging from Technology
How many times have you been waiting in line at the store, or sitting in a waiting room scrolling through social media before realizing you’ve retained almost nothing you just consumed? Think about it next time you’re casually scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, try to remember what you saw five posts ago – our mindless consumption is scary sometimes.
Alas, we must stay connected — we’re expected to. But if we devote an entire hour every day to rid ourselves of those connections, the psychological benefits may be pleasantly surprising.
The next step is to sit alone with your monkey mind, as the Buddhists refer to it, and go inward. Not so shockingly, the minority of subjects in the aforementioned study who enjoyed spending 15 minutes doing nothing, often had experience with meditation. Learning to accept the endless flow of thoughts and opinions crowding our minds is the first hurdle of meditation and mindfulness, and it’s not easy. But there’s no learning or achievement in anything easy. The work is in the pain and struggle; that’s the only way to grow and accomplish anything in life.
Sensory Deprivation Tanks a.k.a. Isolation Tanks
John C. Lilly invented the sensory deprivation tank in 1954 in an attempt to isolate the mind from all external stimuli. Lilly was interested in studying the depths of our psyche, and throughout his life frequently transcended numerous realms of consciousness. He even devised a scale for it based on the Buddhist enlightenment concept of Satori.
Today, sensory deprivation tanks have seen an explosion in popularity, especially over the past decade. Filled with hundreds of pounds of salt, these tanks allow for maximum buoyancy and are typically pitch black. Users experience disorienting weightlessness, where physical sensation disappears, leaving only the mind.
Most find float tanks pleasant and therapeutic; an environment for introspection, meditation, and tranquility. This abandonment of all sensory perception can lead to psychedelic experiences and profound personal insight. And floating around in a dark tub of water prohibits technological distraction, forcing the confrontation of the monkey mind.
Retreats and Isolation from Society
Those in need of a life-changing event or paradigm shift may need to devote a little more effort to finding solitude. Silent retreats are one way to disconnect from the world and they’ve become increasingly popular with the rise of Eastern spiritual practices in the Western world. Participants in these retreats take a vow of silence for days or weeks in order to go inward, while also cultivating self-discipline.
Jesse Itzler took the isolation retreat to the next level by temporarily living in a monastery in upstate New York. Itzler’s goal was to radically disconnect himself from the chaos of modern society and his fast-paced life as a successful entrepreneur. So, he spent two weeks living among a group of Russian Orthodox monks who spent much of their day in silent contemplation.
On his first night at 6:00 p.m., Itzler was brought to a modest room called a cell, with nothing but a desk and a bed. He was told to be ready the following day for prayer, meditation, and reflection at 7:15 a.m. Asking what he was supposed to do in the 13 hours until then, he was simply told to think.
Itzler had some experience with meditation, so to assuage his initial anxiety and boredom, he did so. After closing his eyes and attempting to silence his mind, Itzler believed he had meditated for hours until he looked at his watch and realized only three-and-a-half minutes had elapsed. Thus, began the longest two weeks of his life. In the end, he said the disconnection from society changed him for the better and improved personal relationships with his wife, family, and friends. But it wasn’t easy.
No matter which method is best for you, the scientific benefits of solitude and disconnection from the world are countless. Solitude is proven to boost productivity, build mental acuity, increase empathy, and harbor creativity. So, whether you decide to commit an hour, day, week, or even months to finding your solitude and reconnecting with your inner self… do it, especially if it’s difficult.
Watch Hide Away, a movie telling the story of a successful, but emotionally drained businessman who finds solitude on a journey into the refuge of nature:
How to Use Divination Cards
When I first began doing readings, I would rely on intuition alone and delve deep into the Akashic Records to deliver messages from Spirit. The session could last 1-2 hours and covered every aspect of their current life situation. I soon discovered people were a bit dazed and unable to absorb the deluge of messages offered. I was guided to pick up a Divination Deck – as a place where people could turn their attention to focus on the information at hand. The images capture what words alone cannot. Thus a new realm of my intuition opened and I have even more ways to connect with my Guides & Angels.
Divination Decks, or Oracle Decks, are cards with rich imagery and clear messages that spark the intuition. The blessing of the cards is they offer easily accessible information which can support your path and guide your decisions. Often the message of the card will appear directly on it. This makes divination decks a compassionate starting point for those wishing to deepen your intuition and expand your relationship with Spirit.
I was delighted to discover the cards gave me information much faster and with clearer messages! Divination cards offer a way of peering into the future to gain guidance or illumination. The artwork is often majestic and inspiring. Even meditating with the art alone offers a profound connection.
What is Divination
Divination is a way to unite with the Spirits to request guidance and information that soothes the human experience.
When we can pull a card and it affirms our decision, we are comforted to move forward with confidence. Wikipedia defines divination as “the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.” Almost every culture has a form of divination– the Chinese use the I Ching, Runes are the favored means for the Norse while cowrie shells are used throughout the African and Carribean traditions. Divining is an honored tradition which requires skill, patience and trust to become proficient. Some people chose to become students of the tools, dedicating countless years devoted to the path of mastery. This serious regard is not necessary however to gain the insight and blessings that divination cards can offer.
In the last century Tarot Cards have become readily available and are a trusted means to connect with the messages from Spirit.
Different than Tarot Cards
The Tarot is a complex system of teachings and symbolism. One cannot simply pick up a deck and hope to receive clear insight. Those who devote themselves to its study take the relationship quite seriously and can spend a lifetime to know its intricacies.
Tarot is a specific set of 78 cards that each convey important teachings. The meaning of the cards is hidden in rich images and symbols. Divination cards are more gracious and can be deciphered with ease.
Artwork – the Blessing of Divination Decks
Many divination decks are masterfully illustrated.
Luscious details and beautiful images, the cards use the art to inspire. This is a distinguishing characteristic of oracle decks. Unlike the structure of the Tarot, these decks adhere to no set of rules. The art is the main means of transcendence and guidance.
Simply gazing into a card can open portals that unlock your intuition. Beyond words, the art itself imbues the teaching of the card. All art can transcend the limits of language. Divination decks offer the same.
Gaze at Quan Yin in the deck by Alana Fairchild and you’ll get it! The radiance of the goddess is welcoming, an invitation to sit with her for a while and bask in her compassionate bliss. This is a reason I love working with Oracle Decks! The art emits a blessing, a healing, that brings us comfort even in our darkest of moments.
A Doorway to Enhance Intuition
Divination decks are a spiritual tool. They offer a place to get to know and connect with inner guidance. Many times we have an intuition but are uncertain whether to follow it. The cards act as an affirmation from Spirit to move forward. Using the deck takes the burden of responsibility off of us and gives us a cosmic blessing that we should listen to ourselves. Most of the time the cards will confirm what you think you know. Quite simply divination cards give us the courage to act, to honor our own heart and trust our intuition.
My favorite decks are those with Angels, Ascended Masters and specific deities. These cards introduce us to the Guides and allow us to deepen our connection to their wisdom. When I first began, my relationships to the Masters was new. Divination cards gave me a moment to meet each guide and experience their mastery. The images gave me a face to connect with in meditation and more teachings followed!
We all have many Guides devoted to loving and protecting us. Divination decks expand our knowledge of our spiritual team and invite us to know them more deeply. We become sensitive to their presence and can more readily recognize when their benevolence is at play in our lives.
Choosing a Divination Deck
This will be the first miracle in the use of your new tool! The perfect deck need not be found, it will find you. Recently I offered a new type of reading. I knew the deck I had didn’t quite jive with the messages I was asked to share. Within the week, a friend showed me her new divination cards. I immediately ordered my own online and thanked spirit for bringing them to me so quickly!
Don’t get too analytical, rather feel which deck calls to you. If its Angels with whom you want to connect, Doreen Virtue offers the mother load of options. Ascended Masters are devoted teaching spirits and can be found in Kyle Gray’s deck. To work with Power Animals and Earth Spirits, check out Steven Farmer’s offerings. Alana Fairchild is my go to and I learn so much from her companion books. No matter which relationship you are seeking to develop, there is a deck out there.
The art may linger in your heart or you may have a dream which brings you to the right deck. Check out your local bookstore or peruse through Amazon’s massive selection. Don’t be in a rush but let your heart sit with which feels the most significant for you. In many cases, the deck you need will demand your attention and will find its way to you. And not to worry, you can never have too many. Every oracle will offer you a perfect blessing which expands your connection to Spirit.
How to Use your Deck
You will use your divination deck much like any other sacred tool. With love and respect, the guidance will flow to you and you will vibrate higher because of its influence.
Before you jump right in, it is a good idea to allow the deck to resonate with your frequency.
Clear your deck
It is always a good idea to clear any ceremonial tool! You may clear it as you would crystals with smoke, sound, or a full moon bath.
Synchronize the Energies
As most cards are mass produced, a couple of extra loving steps can make your cards super spiritual power tools! You may sleep with the cards under your pillow, carry them around in your bag or purse or bring them into your meditation/yoga space. I love praying and singing over my cards so the vibrations of my voice may bring the energy of the cards up to my frequency. Allow the cards to blossom in their own time once they arrive in your sacred space.
Before you bust out the cards, be clear in what you are hoping to gain. This is a good practice for any spiritual journey but especially helpful when we are blessing new sacred objects. Tell spirit what you need so they may serve you best.
Doing Readings with Divination Cards
Unlike deciphering the meaning of tarot cards, divination cards are joyous to work with for they begin working right away. The images may speak volumes and if not, there is usually a book that expands your understanding of the message.
Ask a Question
The bliss of these cards is when you ask a question, you will usually get a clear answer. Just ask a question and pull a card. It’s astounding how the right card will address your concerns and soothe your heart.
Get Guidance on the Future
The purpose of divining is to get information about the future! A 3 card spread will offer you guidance on the past, present, and future of the situation. I also see these 3 as: the shadow (or underlying influence of the situation), where I am at currently, and what the outcome (or necessary steps forward) shall be. With these three laid out, I know where I should focus the energies within myself.
Turn to the Cards for Comfort and Inspiration
Often I am not seeking anything concrete but just need a little support from my Guides. You can pull a card with a simple intention of “what guidance will serve me best right now.” The ways spirit offers support through these open forum questions is enlightening!
You are Magic, not the Cards
The cards are not magic but rather they offer a channel to develop your soul. Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect the cards to fix your problems. It is your spirit, your higher self, communicating to you through the cards. If you can follow the guidance they offer, you will find the places within to be healed.
If the cards aren’t “working” try clearing them or allow them to be still a bit longer. If you find the images challenging, take a step back and see what specifically your eyes are drawn to. Where intention flows, energy goes. You may receive more messages from what you notice than the words written in the pages.
While we should never put our trust in anything outside of ourselves, divination cards often will give us the encouragement to follow our own inner knowing. They are just pieces of paper after all and we never want to give our power to anything other than the truth of our own heart.
Divination decks offer us certainty, love, and inspiration! They are a subtle reminder we are not alone and oftentimes the synchronicity of the card is uncanny. You can use the cards as a solo means of guidance or in combination with tarot cards or other decks. As with all sacred tools, they offer a means of influence and support that encourages us to follow our heart.