The Unexpected Spiritual Practice That Majorly Eased My Anxiety
Earlier this year, for several weeks, I experienced intense symptoms: piercing migraines, extreme fatigue to the point of feeling paralyzed, dizziness, loss of vision, and foggy brain. When I woke up one morning and the whole left side of my body was numb, I went to the emergency room. After running through some neurological tests, the doctors said, "We think you're having a stroke" and kept me overnight to run even more tests.
The entire time, I kept thinking, How did I get here? I don't belong here, yet I am here. It became clear that the Universe always puts us where we need to be to get the lessons our soul needs most. So I surrendered. I prayed. I trusted. As it turns out, I didn't have a stroke (thank goodness), but I was diagnosed with complex migraines1, which are rare non-life-threatening migraines that have the same symptoms as a stroke.
The cause? Stress and anxiety.
My chronic overthinking led to a full-on brain and body breakdown.
Up until this point, the stress in my life had been mostly mental stress and frustration concerning the planet. I felt helpless and as if so much was out of our control. All this uncertainty, isolation, and separation took a toll on me. My system shut down and put me in a state of emergency.
I suspect I'm not alone in feeling this way; there is research to show that by late 2020, 37% of Americans had symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. And during the continued pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.
After spending 24 hours in the ER, before I left the hospital, the nurse asked me, "What is your plan as you leave? Did this experience teach you anything?" I responded with a full heart, "A major re-evaluation of my life is in order, starting with radical self-care and adding in a nourishing daily routine. I will no longer let the things I can't control, control me." She hugged me and responded, "You deserve your own care and love. You are worth it."
"I will no longer let the things I can't control, control me."
I knew I needed to change my lifestyle and stop obsessing about things I couldn't control.
The practice that helped me channel my new intention.
When I got back to my home, there was a huge box on my doorstep. As I pulled it inside and opened it, I saw that it was my early release author copies of my new Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle Cards. The word oracle means to answer or a decision, so an oracle deck is a tool to help you get clarity and alignment. It is often inspired by a theme or idea from the creator. Mine is centered around inner peace and powerful ways to align with your true self.
I designed the deck because I needed new tools to help myself and others overcome anxiety, doubt, and fear. How fitting that the Universe delivered it to my doorstep upon returning home from the emergency room.
I sat down on my couch and I pulled a few cards. To my surprise, as I laid the cards out, I felt supported and cared for. Unlike before when I tried to use tarot cards or oracle decks, the decks just felt like objects or products outside of myself—but this day was different. Armed with the intention to let go of things out of my control, I saw a new power of oracle cards and divination in general. This approach to reading cards invigorated me and helped me feel alive and purpose-driven again.
It never occurred to me that divination tools could help manage stress, but in this turbulent time, I learned firsthand the power of ritual. While they are not a cure-all for stress or anxiety, I believe that these tools can help us tap into our own inner knowing and adopt a greater sense of trust. Here are a few ways to integrate them into your daily life:
Create a spiritually grounded morning routine.
Following my wake-up call, I set out to create a new mandatory morning routine. It includes at least 10 minutes of appreciation and meditation, an oracle card pull, then some journaling upon reflection. The daily dedication helped me feel more in control as I aligned with the present moment and tapped into the wisdom within.
Use cards as self-care and self-love tools.
Using tarot and oracle cards as a spiritual practice is common, but using them as a self-care nurturing process was new to me. I realized the intention we bring to the daily practice is more important than the practice itself. For me, a commitment to my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being means a daily practice that connects me to my intuition and the supportive energies all around us.
Connect to the divine wisdom and energies all around you.
To help you feel more connected and calm, I offer this practice for grounding, alignment, and inner peace from my deck:
- Message: Breathe. This Moment Matters Most.
- Compassionate action: Repeat these words: "Dear Universal support system of love and light, please remove all negative energy, thoughts, and perceptions. I am safe and secure."
- Question to ask: How can I focus on the moment and celebrate all that is well?
The bottom line.
Now more than ever, we need tools to cultivate grounding and strength. My daily practice of meditating and oracle cards helped me transcend fear to faith and transmute pain into purpose. I invite you to play around to find a self-love ritual that helps you do the same.
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment and Adventures for Your Soul, Joy Seeker, and Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle card deck, and the forthcoming book Return to You. She has a B.A. in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon. As an international life coach, speaker, and retreat leader, she helps people awaken and align with their true selves so they can live their highest potential.
She's been named top 100 Women to Watch in wellness by mindbodygreen, alongside Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kris Carr and Gabriel Bernstein, and was listed as of the freshest voices in mental health and wellness by Chicken Soup for The Women's Soul. She's been named one of Entrepreneurs Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Inspiration and Top Facebook Accounts for Daily Motivation by Mind Body Green.
Her website Playwiththeworld.com has been names top 75 Personal development websites and top 100 self-help websites by the institute for the Psychology of Eating. She's an international life coach and author mentor, and a full time world traveler with a home base in Portland, Oregon with her best friend, her Golden Retriever Chance, who she flew to China to Rescue.