Lesson 58 – Nine of Swords


Today we come to class tired, most of us haven’t slept, we are bleary, red-eyed, crumpled at the edges. We have been kept awake by dark thoughts and morbid meanderings in our minds. We tried to stop them; focused on our breath, got up to get a glass of water, or to read for half an hour. But the minute we turned out the light again they’re back; the night goblins.

The Nine of Swords. Also known as the nightmare card. I picked out these cards from six different decks, they all show a figure with heads in hands, usually in darkness, there are shadows and a sense of despair and fear.  Some show a candle.  A tiny pin-prick of light in the night’s gloom.  This is the image above all which strikes me today.  Even in the deepest darkness there is some hope.

The message I get from this card is initally bleak.  All the things which haunt our quiet, lonely moments, ganging up to scare us.  The freeze of fear, the paralysis and claustrophobia; trapped with no way out.

But we could look at it differently… A coach I worked with taught me about managing this kind of feeling. Your thoughts are racing, adrenalin pumping, stomach in knots, you can’t breathe. The walls are closing in like the trash compactor in Star Wars … She taught me to ground by focusing on my senses, one at a time.  What can you see? What can you touch?  Stopping as soon as you’re able for a snack and a drink can really help.  Moving your body to work off the excess adrenalin induced by unhelpful thoughts.

The night is always darkest, they say, before dawn.

” This, too, shall pass.”


Exercise 58 – Grounding

How do you ground?  What exercises work for you?

If you don’t have a grounding practice, either for spiritual practice or when life gets a bit too much try one (or all!) or the following and see which supports you.

  • Practice body awareness.  What physical sensations do you have?  Is your mouth dry?  Your breathing shallow?  Can you help yourself by getting some water, breathing more fully?
  • Try this grounding exercise: Focus on five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one thing you can taste.
  • Find an open space with small flowers, such as daisies.  Pick one.  Sit and focus on it fully, noticing it as completely as possible.


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