Mercury is a slippery fellow: as well as ruling our thinking, communication and intellect he’s also the patron of trickery and thieves. It’s not surprising then that Buddhists and other spiritual teachers advocate mindfulness, or careful observation of our thinking, as a key path to greater wisdom and consciousness.
So what is mindfulness? Teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it as, “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” This is easier said than done! Our Mercury mind likes nothing better than to project our thoughts into the past or future, and to label things as either good or bad.
Mindfulness is even more difficult because our culture places such a heavy emphasis on the intellect. As a result most of us live our lives through the filter of our minds. This filter is distorted by all the crap we’ve picked up throughout our lives: experiences that made us feel unworthy, education that taught us our purpose in life is to work and consume, not to mention a truckload of bogus information that flows into our minds through the media.
Mindfulness is about freeing ourselves from this distorted filter and seeing things as they really are. As Michael Singer, one of my favourite spiritual teachers puts it, “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.” In other words, don’t believe everything you think!
Using astrology as a tool for mindfulness
Astrology can provide valuable insights into how the monkey mind of Mercury can be tamed, allowing us to live with greater clarity and mindfulness. Let’s take my Mercury as an example.
My Mercury is in Sagittarius opposed to Jupiter in Gemini. Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius, and Mercury the ruler of Gemini, so these two are in mutual reception. What this means is that my mind is very expansive, very busy and pretty much impossible to pin down to one area of study. Sure it can concentrate when I’m stern with it, I even managed to complete Post Graduate studies, but ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I’m a Jill-of-all-trades with no desire to become expert in any one field.
There’s certainly advantages to this kind of mind. For example it has a fantastic ability to see the bigger picture, to understand things in terms of systems. Holism is an easy concept to get my head around and interconnectedness just makes perfect sense. What I don’t like about my mind is its inability to stay still for even a moment!
Fortunately a trine aspect to Saturn provides an anchor and I can work with this. With my Sun, Moon and Venus in Capricorn, Saturn is a powerful force in my chart and a good ally against tempestuous Mercury. Saturn’s gifts of organisation and structure bring the chaos of my mind to order, so I’m a big fan of mind-maps, gantt charts and all kinds of idea management systems that bring a strategic approach to my thinking.
As my mind is all Fire and Air I can also work with the other elements to help find balance. Being in nature, gardening, tai chi and all activities that bring me into conscious awareness of my body help anchor me in the present moment. Being close to water is also helpful; walking by the sea, taking a bath, even having a good cry! Getting in touch with my emotions and my body stops the monkey mind in its tracks.
What doesn’t work so well for me is traditional sitting meditation. My mind is much too active for that! Walking meditation or yoga is a much better option.
Mindfulness and your own Mercury
To begin working with your own Mercury in your mindfulness practice start by looking at the sign Mercury is placed in. This gives you the basic mode through which your mind is operating, as well as the element (Earth, Air, Water or Fire) that gives its quality to your thinking.
To understand this better, refer to my article The four elements in you: practical tips to find balance.
Next look at the house Mercury is placed in, as well as any aspects formed to other planets. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert to do this, just let your intuition guide you.
If you don’t have a birth chart yet you can download one for free at astro.com, then download my free ebook The Language of Astrology to get started using your chart as a tool to understand yourself better.
Mindfulness is about becoming more conscious of how our Mercury mind is operating. This puts us back in the drivers seat. We are no longer a character in the story our mind is telling us, instead we are the author of our own story, a story that empowers us to live a creative, fulfilling and peaceful life.
If you regularly use mindfulness in your daily life please share your experiences below.