Mercury and mindfulness: understanding our monkey mind
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.
I love the interactive nature of your articles. Feel like I have a better understanding of how it all works with each one :-) I’ve got Sun in Cancer conjunct Merc in Cancer 9th house. A big river mind that needs to flow?? Gets stuck in a loop & emotional when lacking travel &/or philosophical inspiration?? Sure feels that way! What’s a good mindfulness practice for that?
Nice description! ‘A big river mind that needs to flow’ – I like that. And a very accurate observation – astrology’s pretty easy really :) Mercury in Cancer is definitely very connected to the tides of emotions – it’s the estuary end of the river – so it needs land to contain all that water. It needs earthing. So any of the practices I mentioned above – yoga, walking meditation, gardening etc can be useful for mindfulness practice. Also the connection of the Sun here is very important. The conjunction is the most powerful aspect as it aligns the energy of the two planets exactly. With the Sun being our creative force any creative activity can become a powerful mindfulness practice. And with your Venus, appreciator of beauty and art, in Mercury’s sign of Virgo, artistic creativity has obvious appeal, as you’ve already discovered. Hope that gives you some ideas to go on… x
Hello faith, i have mercury in taurus (my ascendant and moon are in the same sign) in the 12th house and saturn in the 12th house, what does it mean? also thanks for the great post, i found it really helpful and insightful! infinite love and balance <3
Hey Ela… Thanks for sharing. I can’t offer interpretation here on the site but you are welcome to purchase a reading if you would like to explore your chart in depth. You will find further information at my store here: http://insightastrology.net/astrology-readings/
Hello Faith)) Blessings to you))
I have Mercury in my 11th house) in cancer. In the same house I also have planets Sun, Saturn and Venus. Is my Mercury able to breathe?
Hi Katy… whether your Mercury is influenced by these other planets depends mainly on how close they are, as well as which sign they are in. However even if they were within 3 degrees (which would mean they form an aspect called a conjuction) Venus and the Sun would tend to be helpful to your Mercury, helping you to express yourself and connect with others respectively. Saturn on the other hand might feel a bit smothering! Mercury in Cancer is very influenced by the tides of our emotions, as Cancer is ruled by the Moon. This can be quite challenging when you want to steady your mind. Grounding yourself with ‘earthy’ practices, such as yoga, gardening and walking meditation, can be very helpful.
Loved this post! I also have Mercury opposing Jupiter (Mercury in Gemini in 12th, opp. retrograde Jupiter in Capricorn in 6th) … and I can certainly relate to being ‘flooded’ with information at times!
According to Esoteric and Soul Astrologer Alan Oken, Mercury rules the ‘movement’ of mind, Saturn rules the ‘structure’ of mind and Uranus rules Higher Mind… it was interesting to see your Trine with Saturn in there… so now I wonder where Uranus is in the mix for you!
Also Esoterically Mercury is said to be important in creating the antahkarana or ‘rainbow bridge’ from lower mind to Higher Mind, so maybe the trickster is really just putting on a wonderful show for us to watch so that we get to experience ourselves as the observer and not the show!
Thanks for an enjoyable read! :)
So interesting Ruth! I enjoy Alan Oken’s work very much and this inspires me to seek out more of it. My Uranus is in Scorpio on the cusp of the 5th and 6th Houses, sextile Sun, Moon and Venus in Capricorn in the 8th. And I have transiting Pluto currently exactly conjoined my Venus, which makes for interesting times! Thanks for your insightful commentary :)
:) Thank you for that Faith. Feel the dots are all joining up! XXx
My mercury, venus, sun, moon and ascendant are all in Scorpio, in my first house. And Pluto which is the ruler of Scorpio is square to this silium. Gemini is in the 8th house, which is ruled by Scorpio. No planets are in my 8th house. I don’t know how to interpret this, but I definitely connect with the concept that I cannot stop my brain from being in constant action.
Hi Nancy… well Pluto certainly rules your chart and then some! Pluto tends to build up a lot of intense energy that can circulate in the mind if not released. Strong physical activity can be helpful here. Pluto is about letting things go so meditative techniques that focus on release or allowing, such as those Eckhart Tolle teaches, could be helpful. Also the Buddhist meditation on death which is designed to remind us of the impermanence of all things. Pluto rules the depths of things so dream work, therapies that get deep into the sub-conscious and bodywork techniques such as rolfing that help release deeply held tension are all helpful. Perhaps you can think of more?
My Mercury is in CANCER (along with Sun) in the 4th house. The only aspect is a wide orb of 5 degress to Mars in Taurus.
I would absolutely love and appreciate your insights!!
Thanks for sharing Acadia. With Mercury in Cancer in the 4th House there’s a big focus on home and family. Practices rooted in self-nurturing can promote mindfulness. Think taking a long quiet bath, brushing your hair, washing up even! These are all things that deal with creating a warm nurturing space that can bring us back to our roots (4th House) while at the same time requiring little activity from the mind. We can disengage and focus entirely on the present moment. Hope that gives you some ideas… x
Really interesting article on mindfulness. I am practicing meditation and taking part in an MBSR course. It is really hard to rule my thoughts in a 40 minutes long bodyscan excercise :)
Thanks for sharing this article Karl :) 40 minutes certainly is a challenge. Some days I can barely manage 40 seconds!
It is incorrect to believe that sitting meditation “doesn’t work for you.” Zazen works for all and busy minds like yours benefit especially. Walking meditation and yoga are not equivalent and cannot be considered substitutes. Zazen is hard. It will be good for you to do it. Quiet the mind.
You are probably right Ya Par. Thank you for the encouragement!
Great post :)
Hi Faith, Love your article, always insightful!!! My mercury is in the 11th house/Scorpio trine Saturn in the 3rd house/Pisces also sextiling Pluto and Uranus. What is most significant? The 11th house Scorpio and how does Mercury relate to the 3rd house with Saturn in Pisces?… I guess it would steady my mind? I also have the mind of a detective and delve deep !!!!
Hi Chantal… Good questions. In your chart Pluto is the depositor of Mercury (being in Scorpio) so Pluto is going to have a powerful effect in this relationship. The sextile to Uranus and the trine to Saturn are both very wide so their influence will be much less. The Saturn trine will indeed steady your mind but being in Pisces this will be a lot less pronounced than if it was in Capricorn or one of the fixed signs, for example. It’s challenging trying to unravel the complexities I know! It may be helpful to think about each planet’s energy and consider whether you think they would be powerful or challenged in the sign they are placed…
I opened my iPad today to discover I had inadvertently clicked on this article so thought must be fate. I’ve had great struggles and also personal growth with Venus (11’43 Libra, first house) retrograde. Me and my partner of 2-1/2 yrs split (we are currently speaking and “seeing where it goes”, I’m hoping this leads to a reconciliation) and, the reason your article resonated so closely with me, exploring mindfulness and being present with no judgement through meditation. I’m very curious as to what my Mercury means in my chart as the Venus retrograde for me was focused on the way I act, speak and think and I know Mercury is also about to go retrograde. I’m a triple Virgo (yep lucky me) Mercury is 0’30 Virgo in the twelfth house, on the cusp of Leo.
Saturn is at 37’2 Cancer in my 10th house
Mars 5’56 Taurus in the 7th house
Neptune 4’42 Sagittarius in the 3rd house (I think)
All conjunction with my triple Virgo in 12th house, Sun 25’5 moon 17’15, Ascendant 20’28. (This of course if I’m reading my chart correctly)
I also have Pluto 7 degrees before Venus
Thank you for any insights you can offer me.
Thanks for sharing Nadine… It sounds like you’re in the throes of some big transformation! Unfortunately I can’t give chart interpretation here, however you are welcome to a reading by donation if money is a challenge for you. Just head to my store at http://insightastrology.net/astrology-readings/ and you’ll find the donation button at the bottom. Then shoot me an email and we can get started. Love Faith
Hi there! Great article. I have Mercury in Aquarius, trine Uranus in Libra. Merc. also conjunct Sun and N. Node in Aquarius, so Air, Air and more Air. My nervous system gets very burned out from being overwhelmed with higher knowledge and information seemingly coming from other intelligent planes of existence, and I’m the channel. The information typically pertains to spiritually enlightening material, and it comes in as sudden flashes of insight… which of course I am grateful for. However, at times I get completely overwhelmed with info. coming in and have to make a very disciplined effort to take charge and control the flow. At times, its really quite debilitating. That is where making friends with Saturn comes in, which is coincidentally at the very top of my chart, conj, Midheaven. Hopefully this Saturn can help tame this wild and unruly mind of mine…
Sounds like you’re on the right track K… Thanks for sharing :)
Hi, My Mercury is conjunct my ASC (Scorpio) in the first house, I’m a Libra (Sun and Moon) I over-think and fret myself silly about everything! Any insight into this would be appreciated.
Hey DizzyGirl :) I understand where you’re coming from! The best thing I’ve found for quietening a busy mind is to practice meditation… xx
Hello! My sun is in Capricorn, Mercury (in 7th house) also in Cap opp asc in Cancer. Thank you for any insight :)
Hi Marijana… I don’t provide interpretation in the comments but if you would like a reading you can order one here http://insightastrology.net/astrology-readings/. I also provide readings by donation if finances are tight for you. xx
Hi Faith! Great article! My Mercury is retrograde in Gemini within 1 degree of my Gemini ascendant. Also in my 1st house isn’t cancer stellium: Mars sun Venus & part of fortune within 7 degrees. My moon is in Gemini in the 12th conjunct my Gemini ascendant/Mercury combo. My Mercury combo squares my Pluto Uranus Pallas Athena conjunction in Virgo in my 4th house….. Yep I’m the way out there black sheep of my family lol! Thanks for reading!! ????????
Thanks for sharing Shannon :)
Mercury in Scorpio 1st house
Great article! I have Mercury in Taurus in the seventh house, squaring the Moon & Chiron, trine Jupiter, and sextile Mars. I’m a methodical thinker and sometimes when I speak I feel like my mouth is full of molasses. I seemed to get tough tied a lot, especially during a Mercury Retrograde. :)
Hey Jody… I love the metaphor of speaking with a mouthful of molasses. Such a great description of Mercury in Taurus :)
Interesting post on mercury. I have Saturn conjunct mercury in sagattarius also conjunct sun in Scorpio. How do I deal with Mercury when it is also aspected by Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, North Node and Chiron. I feel like my poor Mercury is bombarded. Sharon
Hi Faith, I really feel you could help me with a few good pointers on how to hone in on all my various interests. I have Mercury in Sagittarius in the 3rd house..also I noticed Mercury conjunct Uranus. I feel the agganonizing struggle (just about everyday, especially when trying to express outside myself something that truly enlightened me.) It more often than not becomes a sore spot in my morale at times when I think of my aspirations to want to help people. I go from feeling so elated and hopeful in my spirituality to frustrated and self defeated.
Hi Faith, I can so relate to what you have said. Jill of all trades, this is what I get from my friends. I was not good in school, buy managed to pass every year with enough grades to get by. But after I reached 12th grade I forced myself to sit down and study and finally completed my Master’s degree. My mercury is in 11th with Jupiter and venus. My father used to say…her mercury is not good hence the bad grades.
Testing..1..2..hey is thing working?!
Mercury conjunct sun in Capricorn 12H. Progressed Mercury just turned RX entering Pisces conjunct mars. I’m letting go of trying to “get” people to hear me, now that I’m “mindful” of my Mercury :-)