15 Quiet Minutes: Tarot Prayers and Affirmations

The Halloween Tarot and Agate Wolf Pocket Prayer Beads (available in my Etsy shop)

I’m very excited about this 15 Quiet Minutes practice because it combines two of my favorite things—tarot and prayer beads!

For this practice you will need a tarot or oracle deck, and a set of prayer beads if you have them, as well as some paper and a pen or pencil. However, you can still do the practice even if you don’t have a tarot or oracle deck or prayer beads. There are many great inexpensive tarot apps for your phone (I especially like those from The Fool’s Dog), and you can also find some free one-card tarot readings here

If you don’t have prayer beads, there are also other options. You could simply take a thick piece of string and tie knots in it. Try tying seven knots, or nine, whatever number speaks to you. Or you can fill a small bowl with stones, dried beans—anything, really, just be creative! As you say you prayer or affirmation you’ll remove one item from the bowl. Once the bowl is empty, you have completed your number of prayers or affirmations.

I personally like to do this practice with one of my pocket prayer beads that has 21 beads, but you can use any number of beads (or knots, stones, beans, etc.) that you like.

First, take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind while holding your tarot or oracle deck. Once you feel ready, ask what message you most need to hear at this time, and draw a card from your deck. If you already draw a tarot or oracle card every day, you could also use the card you’ve already drawn for the day. For this example I used The Halloween Tarot, because it feels like fall today, and I’m already looking forward to Halloween! I drew the Page of Bats (Swords).

The Page of Bats from The Halloween Tarot.

Now, write a quick prayer or affirmation based on the card you drew. Don’t stress over this part—it doesn’t have to be brilliant or perfect! You may immediately know what the card means for you right now, and be able to write an affirmation. Some books that come with tarot and oracle decks already include an affirmation for each card, and you can use that if it is speaks to you.

If you are having trouble creating a prayer or affirmation, pick out one image on the card that stands out to you. For example, on my card, my eye was drawn to the glasses she is holding and the binoculars tucked inside her bag. So I might write an affirmation such as: “I clearly see the truth in the situations that surround me.” She also looks to me like she is on an adventure, braving the darkness in search of her truth. So a prayer might be something like, “May I face the darkness bravely, may I find my own truth.”

What is the difference between a prayer and an affirmation? This is not a formal definition, but this is how I see it. Affirmations are positive statements, usually written as “I,” that affirm you already have the quality, item, etc. you wish to possess. “I communicate clearly and maintain my boundaries with those around me,” or “I do work that fulfills me and supports all my financial needs.” Those are examples of affirmations.

I think of prayers more as dialog with the Divine, so I write them differently. I might write the above statements as “May I communicate clearly and maintain boundaries with those around me,” or “May I find work that fulfills me and supports all my financial needs.” I see prayers as asking for assistance with creating these things in my life, and opening myself up to Divine inspiration and communication to help move me towards these goals.

Once you have written your affirmation or prayer, use your prayer beads to repeat it however many times you choose. If it really resonates with you, you might want to keep the card you drew on your altar and repeat the prayer or affirmation for several days. If you keep a tarot or oracle journal, you may want to make a note of your prayers or affirmations so you can refer back to them, or write them in the book that goes with your deck.

This is a great practice for getting to know your tarot or oracle deck better, as well as taking regular quiet time for prayer and affirmation in your day-to-day life.

Let me know if you have any questions and may you have a blessed Dark Moon tonight!

15 Quiet Minutes: Nature Journaling

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is perfect to pair with other 15 Quiet Minutes practices such as Mindful Walking or Spending Time Outside. The purpose of nature journaling is to pay attention to what is happening in the world around you and to make note of it in some way.

The most basic form of nature journaling is simply to write down what you notice happening in the world around you. You could do this daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Write down the date, and make a note of the weather and/or the moon phase, if you’d like. Make a few notes about the birds you notice, which trees are beginning to leaf out in the spring, or to change colors in the fall, which flowers are blooming or are finished blooming.

An example of a simple written entry, which is the majority of what I do in my nature journal.

If you aren’t familiar with the trees, plants, or birds in your area, look for field guides specific to your state or region to help you identify what you see. Often state college extension services publish field guides, or you can find them in your local bookstore or library. The extension service might also offer classes on tree or bird identification. Other places to look for classes are your local Audubon Society chapter, community colleges, nature parks, or state, county, or city park services. I learned a lot of what I know about bird and tree identification from classes taken from the Portland Audubon Society.

If you enjoy taking pictures, you could print out your photos and use them in your journal. If you like to write poetry, you could write poems about what you see around you. Mary Oliver’s poetry is a great example of what beauty can come from observing the world around you and writing poetry about it.

Sketching and painting what you see is also a great way to learn more about what you are observing. To draw something, you have to really look at it. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or like your finished product, sketching something will help you see it more clearly. You can color your sketches with watercolor (be sure to use a waterproof pen to sketch if you plan to use watercolor) or colored pencil, or leave them uncolored.

Here I did some very rough sketching, more to focus on the details of what I was looking at rather than to make an artistic drawing. I used watercolor pencils to color the drawings.

Sometimes if I’m feeling ambitious, I will do more sketching and painting in my journal. This was done in ink and watercolor.

You could also choose to focus on something specific in your nature journal, perhaps noting only the weather, the birds that come and go at your feeders, or the changes in the trees in your neighborhood. Or you might focus your journal on a specific location, like your backyard, or a local park that you visit regularly.

On this page I focused on the mountains that I could see from this location.

Taking a few minutes on a regular basis to make a note of what you see around you will help you begin to feel like a part of the land you live on. Before long, the trees, birds, plants, and animals that you observe will begin to feel like old friends. You’ll make note of when the trees leaf out in the spring, when they produce seeds, when the last leaf falls in autumn. You’ll know which birds are at your feeders at different times of year, and when you usually see them feeding their young in the spring or early summer. I have found nature journaling to be a significant part of feeling connected to the world around me.

Happy journaling!

Resources:

Journal: My favorite notebook for nature journaling is Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook in the 9×6 size, which gives me plenty of room to work, while still being portable. It handles watercolor well, but the paper is also smooth enough for writing comfortably. However, a plain old spiral notebook or composition book will work just as well if you don’t plan to use watercolor—don’t worry about finding the “perfect” notebook, just use what you have to get started.

Keeping a Nature Journal, by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth – This was the first book I got about nature journaling, and it is still one of my favorites. It covers anything you might want to know about nature journaling, including some drawing exercises. She mostly works in ink or pencil with some colored pencil.

A Pacific Northwest Nature Sketchbook, by Jude Siegel – In spite of “Pacific Northwest” in the title, this book would be wonderful no matter where you live. It looks like it is out of print, but it is worth tracking down a copy. If you are interested in ink and watercolor nature journaling, this book covers almost everything you’ll need to know.

15 Quiet Minutes: Spending Time Outside

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is a simple one, and one of my favorites: simply go outside.

If you live somewhere that you don’t have access to the outdoors, you might have to find a nearby park, cemetery, school yard or anywhere else you can find a bit of quiet and green space, but if possible, I recommend just spending time in your yard or on your balcony.

This is the perfect time of year for this practice, and I spend time on the porch pretty much every evening during the summer. Sometimes I read or journal, but quite often I just watch the birds at the feeders, or lay in my chaise lounge and watch the trees above me dance in the breeze.

The only parameters for the practice are taking fifteen minutes of quiet outdoors. Very simple! But if you want to add something to your practice, you could try the Elemental Centering Meditation. Or you could do a bit of nature journaling by writing down what you observe happening around you: the temperature, the weather, the birds you see, the flowers that are in bloom or how your garden vegetables are coming along (I will cover nature journaling in more detail for our next 15 Quiet Minutes practice).

But mostly, just take some time to be still and quiet outside. Listen to the birds calling and singing. Lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. Watch the ants scurrying across the sidewalk, the bees visiting the flowers, the fireflies flickering in the dusk (we don’t have fireflies in Oregon, so enjoy them for me if you have them!). Rest your feet in the grass and dig your toes into the warm soil. Notice what you smell and the feel of the air on your skin. Let your mind wander. Take a deep breath and relax. It’s summer, take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time, may you be blessed by the peace of long summer evenings!

15 Quiet Minutes: Intuitive Collage

So far for our 15 Quiet Minutes practice we’ve tried meditation and mindful walking. This time, we get to practice playfulness and creativity by making intuitive collages. This practice is simple, and requires NO artistic ability, so even if you feel artistically challenged, you can absolutely do this. In fact, this process may introduce you to creative abilities that you didn’t know you possessed!

Supplies:

  • A magazine or two that you can cut/tear up (some of my favorites include O Magazine, Live Happy, Yoga Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic, but if all you have is Popular Mechanics or Guns & Ammo you’ll find something there, too!)
  • Scissors (not necessary if you choose to tear your images instead of cutting them)
  • Glue stick (other glue will work in a pinch, but a glue stick helps keep your paper and images from rippling/warping too much)
  • Blank paper or your journal to glue the images & words onto
  • Any other art supplies you might want to use to decorate your pages (completely optional)

Intuitive collage is one of my favorite creative practices because it is fast, easy, and there is no pressure to make something “perfect”. As you can see from my collage examples in this post, I was definitely not going for perfection! I am sharing some of my collages to illustrate this post, but they are really just for me, not something I’d generally post on Instagram or share with other people. The purpose of creating intuitive collages is to have fun, listen to our inner wisdom, and allow our creativity to come to life on the page.

I created a video of my process of making an intuitive collage, to go along with the instructions below. This is my first video, so be gentle! I know I talk too fast, so sometimes it is hard to understand me—I will try to speak more slowly if I make another video. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about the fact that I sound like a teenager—young-sounding voices run in my family! (I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse!) The password is: collagefun.

To get started, gather your art supplies and find a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. The entire process may take you more than fifteen minutes, so you might choose to tear out images and words during one session, and then glue them down another day. Of course, you can always spend more than fifteen minutes working on your collages if you have the time to do so.

You can light a candle or some incense if you’d like, and set an intention for your session. It could simply be, “To have fun and play with words and images,” or “To listen to my inner voice,” or you could even treat it like a divination and ask a question and see how the images and words you end up choosing relate to that question. I recommend creating your collage in silence, but if you really want to listen to music, try to choose instrumental music. You want to listen to your own voice and wisdom here, rather than another person’s words and feelings.

Now, just start paging through your magazine, and tear out any words or images that catch your attention. You don’t have to know what you are looking for, or why something is calling to you. If you like it, or your attention is drawn to it, just tear it out. You may end up with a large pile of words or images, or only one or two. Either way is good.

Once you have collected your words and images, take your piece of paper or your journal, and start pulling out the images and words that are calling to you most strongly from your piles. Again, you don’t have to analyze them or have a theme in mind, just listen to you heart and your intuition. You can start arranging them on the page in any way that pleases you. This isn’t about perfection or creating a beautiful composition or a piece of art, so let that go. Just put things where you want them. You can glue them down as you go, or lay them out and rearrange until you get them the way you like, and then glue them down.

You most likely won’t use all the words and images you’ve collected, or you might, either way is fine. Just go with what feels best to you as you lay out your collage. As you can see from my examples, sometimes you might use a lot of images and few words, or a lot of words and few images. Some collages will be simple, some will be really busy. Just allow yours to be what it wants to be without a lot of thought or anxiety.

Once you have everything glued down and it feels good to you, you are finished! If you have art supplies and would like to, you can add paint, stamps, stickers, doodles or any other decorations you’d like to your pages, but it isn’t necessary.

Now it is time to listen to your collage and see what it has to say to you. For instance, I created the “live happy” collage below on a gray winter day when I was feeling pretty down. I was surprised that it ended up being so cheerful! But it did make me feel more hopeful and positive, and reminded me to add some play and fun to my life, as well as reminded me that winter doesn’t last forever and sunshine and butterflies would come again.

What is your collage saying to you? If you posed a question for your collage, how does it answer that question? Does you collage speak to any issues or events that have been happening in your life recently? Does it give you any advice? Does it speak to you about something that maybe you have been avoiding and need to deal with? Or does it remind you of something that you are grateful for or some positive action you should take in your life? You may want to answer these questions in your journal.

A lot of times the message of your collage will be pretty obvious to you, but if you are feeling confused about the message, you may want to write a story about it in your journal. Pretend the images and words are from a book, what story do they tell? You could also meditate on some of the words and images and see what insights they reveal to you. The message of your collage may not be clear to you right now, and that’s okay, too. Be sure to always date your collages, because you may come back to them and find they make perfect sense once you’ve gotten some distance from them.

If you have left-over words and images that didn’t make it into your collage, you may want to collect them in a folder or envelope for future use. I occasionally go through my magazine collection and rip out images and words I like and store them in folders. Then when I want to make a collage, I go through my folders and choose the words and images that are speaking to me in that moment. This is how I chose the images and words I used in my demo video.

I hope you will give this process and try, and I’d love to hear how it works for you or to see your collages if you want to share. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, too.

Until next time, happy collage making!

Supply Notes:
In my video I am working it my current journal which is a Pentalic Hardbound Sketchbook, 8 x 5.5 inch. I love it! It lays flat and takes acrylic paint well.

Another journal that I have worked in and really liked is the Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook, which has a heavier paper that works well with watercolor and other wet media. This is what I use for nature journaling and other journals where I know I’ll want to use watercolor. I also have used and liked the Canson XL Mix Media book, which also can handle watercolor pretty well.

The glue stick I use in the video is Pioneer Photo Square Glue Stick, but really any glue stick will work for this process.

15 Quiet Minutes: Mindful Walking

In the first 15 Quiet Minutes post I encouraged us to try meditation. This time, I’m going to suggest something a bit more active, because our quiet minutes don’t always have to be spent just sitting still in silence.

Mindful walking can be done anywhere. In fact, I recommend simply walking out your front door and around your neighborhood. If at all possible, leave your phone at home, or if you don’t feel safe without it, at least put it on silent or do not disturb. I hope it goes without saying, but please choose to walk at a time and in a location where you feel safe!

Mindful walking isn’t about getting your heart rate up or getting more steps in for the day, instead it is about walking slowly and being present to the world around you.

Pay attention to the sounds you hear: birds calling, kids laughing, dogs barking, traffic, the wind rustling the leaves. Try not to judge the sounds and think, “The traffic is so loud!” or “Why does my neighbor have to mow her lawn at 8:00 at night?!” Instead, just accept them. They are the sounds of your community, of the world around you.

Next, focus on what you smell. Again, try not to judge good or bad, just notice. Do you smell wet earth? Exhaust fumes? Flowers? Freshly mowed grass?

What do you feel? Notice the warmth of the sun, or the cool evening air, the breeze blowing through your hair,  or the feel of your clothing against your skin. How does the pavement or dirt feel beneath you? How do you shoes and socks feel on your feet?

What do you see? Can you find something new that you never noticed before? Perhaps you hadn’t noticed that you neighbor recently repainted the trim on their house, or the lovely color of the roses at the house on the corner. If you see something really beautiful, try to resist taking a picture of it. Instead, look at it. Really see it. Take you own mental picture of the image. Try to notice what you are hearing, smelling, and feeling as you look at this beautiful sight. You might be amazed by how well you’ll remember something after really paying attention to it!

This is your time, your fifteen minutes out of the day to wander and just be. To observe what is around you without having to judge or analyze it. Your time to be present in your body and in your world.

Try to stay in the moment. If you find your mind wandering to your to-do list, or planning dinner in your head, return your attention to one of your senses. Choose to focus on the feel of each step as you take it, or on the sounds you are hearing around you. You can even choose to focus on a specific sound, like only listening to the birds or the breeze in the trees, or a specific sight, like the way the light hits the leaves, or a sensation, like the feel of each footfall. You could choose this specific focus for a few minutes, or for your entire walk. Center your attention on whatever helps to get you out of your head and back into the present moment.

I hope you’ll give mindful walking a try. I’d love to hear your experiences with the practice. I’m looking forward to taking a mindful walk tonight for my 15 Quiet Minutes practice!

Until next time, blessed be!

15 Quiet Minutes: Beginning

One of the goals I set for myself this month was to take fifteen quiet minutes each evening to meditate, pray, check-in with myself, write in my journal, etc. I’ve been enjoying it so much, and thinking of so many ways to use that time, that I’ve decided to create a series of blog posts called “15 Quiet Minutes”. I will share ideas for meditation, spiritual practices, nature practices, and creative practices that will help us all take fifteen minutes for ourselves in the evenings to relax, unwind, still our minds, and connect with our hearts, our creativity, with nature, and with the Sacred. I plan to publish a new post around each full and dark moon. I wanted to leave a couple of weeks between posts to give us time to try out each new practice and see how it works for us. I have lots of ideas, so the series will continue for several months at least. I hope you will join me in taking 15 Quiet Minutes for yourself each day!

Today’s post is about beginning. First, figure out when you can fit this practice into your life. Take a look at how you spend your time, and see where you may be able to claim fifteen minutes for yourself. I am doing my practice in the evening as a bracket to my morning spiritual practice, as a way to end the day the same way I start it, with some quiet time to sit with myself and with Goddess. However, if evenings are not possible, find a time of day that will work for you. You may do it in the morning if you don’t already have a morning spiritual practice, or in your car or at a park during your lunch break. Choose a time that will work best for you and your schedule.

Next, set a goal for yourself, and make it as realistic as you can. If you think you will only be able to take fifteen minutes for yourself twice a week, then choose that. It is better to start small and be successful than to set an unrealistic goal, fail to meet it, and then give up altogether. My current goal is five evenings a week. I’ve kept this goal before, so I know it is doable for me, and it gives me a couple of evenings a week to be lazy and spend too long watching Netflix without feeling like a failure.

Whatever goal you choose, write it down. Write it in your journal or in your planner or on a sticky note stuck to your bathroom mirror. Writing down goals really makes a difference! I like to put little check boxes next to my goals so I can check off each time I do the practice (so if I plan to do it five time each week, I make five little check boxes). If you love checking things off lists, this might work for you, too. If you tend to be more motivated by being held accountable by other people, then you might want to tell someone supportive about your goal, and let them know when you accomplish it each week. Do whatever you think might help you be successful.

You’ll also want to figure out where you can take fifteen minutes to yourself. If you already have a room to retreat to, that’s perfect. If you have an altar, that may be the place where you’ll choose to do a lot of the practices. Some of the practices will be done outside, and the creative practices will require a bit of space on a table, counter-top or floor to spread out your materials. If the only privacy you can get is in your bathroom, or in your car, that works, too! You’ll want  a quiet place where you can put your phone on “do not disturb” and turn off the TV and music.

The first practice is one of the simplest, and one of the most challenging—meditation. If the word makes you cringe a bit, I understand. I’ve tried doing simple meditation by following my breath so many times over the years, and I just end up frustrated and bored. I’ve found that I need some other kind of focus, like a visualization, in order to sit quietly for any length of time.

One of my favorite visualizations is to see my breath coming in as a wave of golden, sparkling energy, and as I breath out, that energy moves out through my skin, so that I am surrounded by a cloud of golden light. You may even imagine yourself dissolving into this cloud of golden light.

Another visualization that I have found really useful is to see myself floating in space among the stars. Just floating, without a care in the world, surrounded by the darkness of space and the beauty of the stars. You could also visualize yourself floating on the ocean waves, or in a still pool, gently rocking in a hammock, or laying in field of flowers. Choose a visualization that makes you feel absolutely calm and at peace, and focus on that for fifteen minutes. Bring your attention back to the scene you have created—feel it, smell it, hear it—whenever your attention wanders.

If you prefer guided meditations, I’ve used this one several times and really enjoy it. This is a great loving kindness (or metta) meditation. You can do a search on YouTube for other guided meditations that you might like.

I’ve found the Meditation Timer app useful for timing my meditations (it looks like it is only available for iPhone, but there are lots of other meditation timer apps available for Android). Another great resource is the Beginning Meditation audiobook by Sally Kemper, which includes several different types of meditations to try.

Don’t worry, if you absolutely hate to meditate, there will be many other suggestions for things to do with your 15 Quiet Minutes. If you don’t want to meditate, but want to start taking fifteen minutes for yourself now, you might try just sitting still and letting your mind wander for fifteen minutes. Just fifteen minutes of peace, of doing nothing, of telling your “to do” list that it can wait, and watching the world go by. Ahhhh, doesn’t that feel good?

Until the next post, I wish you blessings upon your 15 Quiet Minutes, however you choose to use them. Enjoy!