Tarot for Immediate Stress Relief

As I write this, I'm stealing a lunch break at work. I'm exhausted. I've snuck away from my co-workers for a moment of quiet and peace, hiding under a child's loft, hoping nobody finds me. I've just started a new job, and it's HARD. I'm tired, overwhelmed, and underslept.

In times like these, Tarot becomes vital to me. As soon as the stress wave hits, I start to feel very disconnected from my core self, but the Tarot connects me right back to what feels true and right. Tarot reminds me of who I am, and reminds me that the universe isn't crumbling just because I'm overwhelmed. The cards, and the universal experiences they represent, remain. And pulling a card, I'm hoping right now, can provide some instant stress relief.

I know, of course, that there are long-term habits that serve to relieve stress. Adequate sleep, good nutrition, and daily meditation clearly help prevent stress over time. But what about when you need relief right now? This moment is hard, and I don't want to wait for the cumulative benefits of good habits. I want immediate help.

So, in my remaining minutes of freedom, I'll pull a card and get some ideas.

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Five of Swords

Fives represent conflict, and swords represent the mind, so this is no surprise. Stress obviously represents a conflicted mind, not a peaceful one. The question is, how to ease the conflict just a bit right now.

When I see the Five of Swords, I think of the word "greedy". Not in an altogether negative way, just as in the action of taking something for yourself. On the card, we see a figure picking up swords that two others have seemingly dropped or surrendered. These swords, representing ideas or thoughts, are this figure's way of claiming something that's his, something apart from the group. He's taking these swords-- these mental resources, if you will-- in his own direction.

In fact, this guy's action reminds me of what I'm doing right now; sneaking away from the group, claiming this lunchtime as my own mental space. It's sort of expected that we work during lunch, but I'm not doing that today; I'm reading Tarot instead because it feels vital. I'm being greedy, picking up these swords and taking them in my own direction.

I think the Tarot's advice here, in terms of immediate stress relief, is this: be greedy right now. Take something for yourself right now. Maybe that's just going to get a sip of water. Maybe you can excuse yourself from the meeting you're in, and breathe for five minutes in the hallway. Maybe it's taking the last sandwich in the break room. Maybe it's a nap under your desk (hey, I've done it). The important thing is to take something for yourself, and take it now. Doing so will create space from your immediate situation, and this can provide perspective and soothe the overwhelm. Stress is a lack of space, and so taking some space immediately-- even if it's just five minutes-- can be the thing that pulls you back from the edge of freak-out.

This stolen lunch break has definitely given me the space to continue with the rest of my day with more peace, focus, and freedom. And I should probably start that daily meditation practice too....

but for now, thanks, Tarot, for the reminder to be greedy.

Blessed be. xx