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Four of Swords: How to reconnect with your mind

November 9, 2014

Four of Swords -- Pithy TarotI recently read an article called “Why Being Idle Can Lead to Better Thinking” which reminded me of the Four of Swords, and that association gave me some things to think about regarding this card. The article talks about why being alone with our thoughts is so valuable, but we resist doing it anyway. In fact, many of us have a horrible aversion to it. This can provide us with insights into what blockages this card might represent, and what advice it can have for us about such problems. What follows are some highlights from that article along with some thoughts about how its message can expand our inventory of meanings for the Four of Swords.

In 1670 Blaise Pascal wrote: “All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” So we see that the misconception that we have to be doing something all the time is not a product of our modern age of Internet and smart phones, although our new electronic tethers have not helped at all. What we have failed to grasp is that doing something does not trump doing nothing. Indeed, there is great value in doing “nothing” sometimes. As this article states, “it’s through reflection, daydreaming, and introspection that we make sense of information and experiences and come up with new insights and ideas… [and] the type of thinking that takes place when we’re looking inward is what helps make us who we are.”

But in idleness, our minds are not necessarily idle. When we spend quiet time alone with our thoughts, our brains use that mental state for reflection and self-awareness. This is how we “make sense of information and experiences to come up with new insight and ideas,” and this is why we need more downtime away from the constant distractions of life.

So considering all this as a message of the Four of Swords, here are some practical suggestions we might see when this card comes up in a reading:

  1. Every now and then, seek out a place where you can experience a bit of solitude and quiet. If you can find something like a bench in a tranquil garden, that would be great. But even if it’s just a short trip to the bathroom, there is value in finding some solitude from time to time.
  2. Take a little vacation from the Internet and your smart phone. (I posted a pithy Tarot meaning about this about a year ago.) A whole disconnect day would be great, but even taking a walk without your phone is a valuable break. Unfortunately, we don’t even do that. I have noticed, for example, that a lot of people keep talking on their cell phones when they walk their dog, which is unfortunate. Walking your dog can have the valuable effect of activating your relaxed state of mind, but not if you insist on talking on your phone all the while.
  3. Don’t bury your nose in Twitter, Facebook, text messages, etc. while you are eating your meals. Instead, just be mindful of your eating, or at least, just let your mind wander.
  4. Build some free time into your schedule. You may be surprised at how much your stress level will go down as a result.

This all sounds easy, and theoretically it is, although we resist it so much. This card (and this article) is not saying that you have to learn how to meditate like a Zen monk (although that’s not such a bad idea); just take some time off now and then to reconnect with your own thoughts. As this article says, “When you lose [your] connection to your own thoughts, then who are you?”

  1. Thank you for this, as I’ve been drawing this card almost daily. I find that I’ve been distracting myself instead of truly relaxing. It seems we, according to your blog, are commonly on the same page.

    • We all seem to find distractions a lot more than we find relaxation, don’t we? This card is a great reminder to take some time off, which we all need now and then, so if you’re getting it a lot lately, it might be trying really hard to get you to do that! 😀

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