If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, you may be feeling overwhelmed. News that you have a long-term illness or disease can be shocking and disorienting for anyone, and it’s essential to process your thoughts and emotions while giving yourself grace along the way.

Once you begin to cope with your diagnosis, you will want to start thinking of maintaining your quality of life. From evaluating your budget to adjusting your lifestyle to nurturing your relationships, consider these practical tips from Nicole Athena:

Change Your Budget

Depending on your specific illness, you may need to make room in your budget for medical bills, home modifications, and other changes. Take a close look at your monthly budget so that you can make any adjustments necessary and leave more room for saving for unexpected costs.

Sometimes, it is as easy as finding less expensive alternatives or canceling subscriptions and memberships that you rarely use. You may also consider learning some new recipes so that you can reduce your monthly dining out expenses.

If you adjust your budget and still find that you need more funds for medical care or home modifications, another option is to refinance your home. This means replacing your current mortgage with a new one with a higher balance. You can cash out the difference between your refinance home loan and old loan to keep handy for any needs that come up related to your chronic condition.

Adapt Your Lifestyle  

Chances are, you will need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle to accommodate your chronic condition. The best approach is to view yourself as your health and wellness manager.

For instance, make sure you keep up with any treatment plan and prescribed medications to maintain your quality of life. Don’t miss any of your scheduled doctor appointments, even if it means using phone alerts or a paper calendar to remember. And remember to take practical self-care steps, such as eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and prioritizing your sleep.

Depending on your illness, you may need to speak with your doctor and research different types of exercise movements that can allow you to stay active and healthy without exacerbating symptoms. And if you have trouble falling and staying asleep, try other bedtime routines to help your body and mind unwind and relax.

Reduce Your Stress

Along with fostering your eating, exercising, and sleeping habits, make sure you are actively reducing stress in your daily life. Find a calming activity that you can look forward to every day, whether it’s first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or after you get home from work. Many individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness find that picking up a new hobby can go a long way in helping them manage stress.

Express Your Thoughts and Emotions    

Your illness will likely disrupt your life and plans, which has a way of invoking various thoughts and emotions. Each day, take time to reflect on your overall well-being. Keep tabs on any grief, fear, depression, stress, or any other emotions you are feeling. Then, find an outlet for expressing your thoughts and feelings.

Exercising is a great start. Listening to your favorite music, cooking, writing in a journal, maintaining close relationships, reading about topics of interest, and an array of other activities can help too.

Manage Your Relationships

Finally, you will need others around you to support you as you navigate the challenges that come with your chronic illness. Depending on your specific condition, you might not have quite as much time or energy to put into socializing with friends or relatives. However, do your best to maintain your most important relationships and don’t hesitate to explain your challenges to others.

Being diagnosed with a chronic health condition is not easy, but you must fight the temptation to allow your illness to define your everyday life. Consider the tips above as you review your budget, make the necessary lifestyle changes, and find stress-reducing activities to incorporate into your routine. And remember to identify outlets for expressing your thoughts and emotions and maintain your closest relationships.

April Meyers, a huge advocate of embracing the mind-body connection. She teaches yoga full time to help her students nurture both their physical and emotional health, and she created Mind Body Health Solution to support people far and wide in their wellness journey.

As you know, from my last blog post Mercury was rewinding through Sagittarius, which rules faith, optimism, and the ability to see the bigger picture and opportunities.

As of Saturday, December 1st, Mercury Rx has shifted into the deep Scorpio waters, and will toggle back into Sagittarius on Thursday, December 13th.

Mercury Rx is a period for reassessing and re-evaluating, and your attention may shift now to Scorpio matters: shared resources, other people’s money (including bank loans, mortgages, stocks/bonds, etc.), intimacy/relationships, releasing clutter, freeing yourself of emotional baggage from the past, esoteric subjects and detective work/research (e.g., psychology, astrology, mythology, tarot), rebirth/transformation. Scorpio energy lends itself well to focused, intensive work, and “digging beneath the surface” for meaning. Since Mercury is in Retrograde, any projects or subjects you are focused on will likely be connected to something from the past, or you are re-starting something you began or have wanted to begin.

Scorpio, as most of you know and have heard me say, is an intense sign. I should know: it’s my Rising Sign :). We, Scorpios, are not fearful of diving deep and uncovering sensitive issues (of course this varies with each natal chart) because something in the Scorpio personality understands that in order to heal, in order to be empowered, and move forward in life unencumbered by heavy emotional baggage, s(he) needs to first face this “baggage” aka demons.

You cannot free yourself of emotional baggage without the first step of facing and acknowledging what is there. Because of this “Roto Rooter” quality, Scorpios are the most misunderstood sign of the zodiac: people, usually, will either “love or hate” a Scorpio and feelings toward them may fluctuate wildly. Most people don’t want to “look at their stuff,” and for this reason the Scorpio person can seem (usually on a subconscious level) threatening and will even be scapegoated. These are all themes to be aware of with Mercury and Venus in this powerful sign.

Venus will be in Scorpio from Sunday, December 2nd through Monday, January 7th. Venus rules, to put it simply, love, beauty, and money–this includes one-on-one relationships (romantic, friendship, business partnerships, and so on), self-love, self-esteem and your ability to receive love, earned income/the money you make for the work you do in the world. With Venus moving back into Scorpio, after her Retrograde period (which ended on November 15th, however we are still in the Venus Rx Shadow period through December 17th), issues/themes that come up now will, likely, be connected to the recent Venus in Scorpio Rx transit; for instance, there may be final pieces coming together in your process of resolving old wounds when it comes to matters of the heart.

To re-cap, Scorpio rules Rebirth and Transformation and Venus symbolizes our relationships and ability to give and receive love; when Venus Rx was in Scorpio, ancient issues connected to love and self-esteem may have resurfaced. Now, with Venus in Direct motion, back in Scorpio, the issues that were festering are ready for transformation.

Now is you chance to discard, for good, the junk that is taking up precious and valuable space. If repeating themes come up in relationships that are not serving you and/or creating dysfunction that is a clear sign that stuff from the past is clouding your present. When you disconnect from the present you lose your power. One way to know if this is happening is to “look at” your day-to-day to life (i.e., the moments that make up a day). Do you tend to dwell on small things that make you feel bad? Do you get caught up in things that didn’t go your way or something that offended you, for example? These are signs that you are focusing energy on the past; even if that “past” is only an hour ago, it is still the past and reflects your larger mental and behavioral patterns. When this happens, point it out to yourself (say “thinking about the past”) and then breathe deeply and re-focus your attention on something that feels positive, proactive and/or supportive (i.e., something that does not drain your vitality).

One part of the Scorpio energy is about moving through the muck, yes, and negative feelings will come up that need to be processed, but that is different from spending time ruminating on perceived slights and insults (a Scorpio tendency), i.e., things that are not truly important, waste your precious time, and hold you back rather than aiding in your transformation/empowerment.

Perhaps a chapter in your life is closing, which will lead to a greater sense of empowerment and freedom. Keep in mind that we are in the Venus Rx Shadow period until December 17th, so you may still be sorting things out and working your way through; Since Mercury is Retrograde, a slower process is well-supported now. Venus in Scorpio can be intense and, yes, challenging, but it is also beautifully empowering once you get through the weeds.

Mercury is the planet of communication and learning: it, essentially, represents the thinking mind (among a few other areas, such as your vehicle or mode of transportation, local travel, neighborhood, siblings and relatives).

In your Natal Chart, Mercury resides in a sign and a “house” and this gives you insight into how you learn, take in and process information, and communicate and interact with others. For example, if ‘your’ Mercury is in an Earth Sign, your thinking tends to be slower and thorough and you need concrete/real-life examples to fully understand something; on the other hand, if ‘your’ Mercury is in a Fire Sign, you take in and digest information like rapid fire.

If Mercury was in Retrograde Motion when you were born, you will likely experience, from young, challenges around learning and communication and need more support in this area. As you grow older and mature, there is potential for deep and lasting fulfillment in this area of your life (for example, you may have a career in teaching or supporting, in some way, young people who struggle in this area.)

When Mercury “Goes Retrograde” by Transit (as it does, 3 or 4 times per year), it is time to slow down, to hit the pause button and reflect on where you are, how you got there and where you would like to go next. What you are reflecting on, reviewing or reassessing will be indicated by the sign that Mercury is retrograde in and which House(s) of your Natal Chart Mercury is traveling backward in.

The current Mercury Retrograde phase for November 17 through December 6, 2018 (the shadow period ends December 24th) is in Sagittarius. (Note: I will update this for each Mercury Retro. phase). You may now question your belief system and your relationship with faith and trust, especially in the house/area of your chart where Mercury rx in Sagittarius is traveling in. For example, in my Transit Chart, Mercury rx in Sadge is moving backward in my 1st house of self/image/physical body. If you are a late degree Scorpio Rising or an early to middle degree Sagittarius Rising you will currently have the same transit. Mercury Retrograding through the 1st House reflects how I perceive myself and, in turn, how others perceive me. It is a call to reassess my beliefs surrounding self image. Here are some questions to ask myself: What do I believe to be true about myself, and is it serving me and others? Do I trust myself? Do I trust others? How do I communicate with others about my beliefs? My beliefs about myself and faith, or lack thereof, in myself will affect how others see me and how they interact with me. If you, for example, have Mercury Rx in Sagittarius journeying through your 2nd house of earned income and self esteem, similar questions may arise, or be helpful to ponder, and will be more closely connected to the money you are earning in the world and your sense of self-worth. Keep in mind that all the houses of the natal chart are, of course, inter-connected.

Additional themes that may be highlighted, and come up for review during the November – December 2018 Mercury is Rx in Sagittarius are: Teaching and Learning, Religion/Religious Beliefs (be aware of this one during T-giving, please!), Travel, Sports, Other Cultures, Expansion and Opportunities. I will add that there is a Neptune/Mercury Rx Square to be mindful of now because Neptune can bring confusion and, sometimes, deceit (at its lower end); when Neptune is involved situations may seem dreamy/romantic/beautiful because you are wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses … and that’s okay, however you may want to internally note that this could be the case. If you are experiencing a rose colored situation, enjoy the moment and also know that your perception of said experience may shift drastically in the near future.

Mercury Rx is, generally, not the time to plunge forward with new projects and endeavors because you are still gathering information/insight/clues and there may be missing pieces to the puzzle that will come to light when Mercury is in direct motion. That said, if you are re-starting something from the past then that, actually, may be well supported at this time. There are always exception to these Mercury Retrograde “rules,” so if something transpires that truly feels right or that you must begin at this time due to circumstances, my advice is to first make sure you are in line with your truth/intuition (i.e., do your due diligence and ‘sit with’ the decision for some time, if possible) and then to trust your decision. By the way, I leased a car during the Mercury rx phase 10 years ago and have since bought and paid it off; and my friend got engaged during Mercury rx and is, several years later, happily married. I do not believe we cannot do or commit to anything during the Mercury Rx phases.

For me, the Mercury Rx symbolizes a time to slow down, reorganize and reboot your “system” so that you can begin again stronger and clearer. I don’t attach a plethora of “do’s” and “don’ts” to Mercury Rx because that kind of thinking, I believe, leads us away from the beautiful and enlightening art of Astrology and into superstition and fear.

You can BOOK A MINI READING with me to learn more about what Mercury Retrograde means for you during this phase.

Mars is taking a long and uncharacteristic summer nap. The MARS RETROGRADE period officially began on June 26th, however you may have felt it’s impending reversal as early as May, when the “shadow” period began.

In December I began a new job and moved to a new apartment, so I have been regimented with my time: my weekends have been full of teaching, class planning, setting up my new place, regular life chores, and getting in my own yoga practice.

Over the last few weeks, however, I find myself on random excursions, like a long, unexpected hike, when I was on my way to a coffee shop to class plan. Last Sunday, I decided to go for a “quick” lunch after teaching my morning yoga classes and then get back “to it” (i.e., to “doing” mode”), and instead I walked to the Ritz Carlton and plopped down on one of the comfy sofas in the lobby restaurant and had a glass of wine and a burger; I kept thinking how random it was that I was there (it’s not exactly my ‘go to’ spot), having wine in the afternoon, and then to make the experience even more surreal, the classy looking business woman (or so I thought) sitting next to me kept pouring, surreptitiously, what looked like champagne from a funnel that was attached to her tote bag to refill her glass as she drank it. I digress.

When I was driving to work last week, I was listing (out loud) the things that I needed to do after work. I stopped at a traffic light and saw the license plate in front of me said “Be.” During the Mars Retrograde period, something within us (maybe the child within) wants to explore and experience life. Mars is the planet that symbolizes action, and if you know anyone with Mars prominent in their natal chart, you know that they cannot sit still for long; they are restless and somewhat intense, “doers” by nature and achievement oriented, and that’s generally an admirable trait.

My friend, who has a lot of Mars energy in his natal chart and fits the description above, went to the city yesterday and wandered around all day with no plan, exploring and walking (11 miles) and eating good food; he said it was totally spontaneous and a really nice time. The Retrograde periods are about releasing plans, goals, and control and experiencing life through the lens of a child.

After all, what is it all for if you don’t take a pause once in a while? The “pause” can take the form of lying down outside on the grass (careful of tics, please) and watching the clouds go by or playing frisbee (I played a few times recently at the school I teach at — I forgot how fun it is). If you’re able to schedule a getaway, it may be the perfect time for it. Mars Retrograde is probably not the time for the “To Do” list; you have permission to put it away for the summer, although that does not mean that you cannot be productive during this period. You may find yourself circling back to old projects or tasks that you had abandoned (for me, writing is one of these ‘tasks’ I tend to circle back to), especially things that connect you to your more creative, right-brain hemisphere. If you were born with Mars retrograde then, for you, this may be an uncommonly productive time when you are in the flow of life and accomplishing tasks and projects that have alluded you.

Mars Retrograde can play out in different ways, as is always the case with Astrology, depending on your own natal chart and what is happening in your life. If you are trying to move forward with actions that don’t seem to be coming together or gaining any momentum then that’s probably your signal that now is not the time for it. Mars Retrograde can be a time when you reassess how you use your energy, and if its productive and effective for you, and it can also be a time to explore your masculine side and questions regarding balance (of masculine and feminine). For example, are you able to assert yourself in a healthy way? Do you ‘over’ assert yourself and get aggressive? Are you usually able to create the results you want with your actions, or do you believe your actions will not produce results? Are you very achievement oriented but neglecting other parts of your life? Do you tend to take the passive or more active role in relationships? Mars retro can also be a time when repressed anger comes to the surface – if this is the case, it may be the time for you to connect with this anger (e.g., therapy, writing, yoga, art, etc.) so that you can finally release it.

The Moon is conjunct the Sun on February 15th, at 4:05 PM EST – this is called the New Moon. This is also a Partial Solar Eclipse.
 
This New Moon is in the sign of Aquarius — quirky, lively, friendly, cutting edge, different/unique and, sometimes, rebellious. Aquarius people do not want to be told what to do – they have their own ideas and a lot of them!
I have Uranus, Aquarius’ ruling planet, right on my Ascendant (the Ascendant represents your image or how others see you), and the family story goes that at the age of 4 I told my aunt, who I was staying with while my mother was on a business trip, “Now my mommy is back and I don’t have to listen to you anymore!”
Besides being known to defy authority figures, this sign is innovative, inspirational, sees the bigger picture and can easily grasp mental concepts. Aquarius also represents friends, groups, and communities. It is the Robin Hood archetype; these people are advocates of the underdog and humanitarian causes they believe in.
The New Moon cycle is the baby moon, not yet even visible to our eyes; it’s when the sun and moon join forces in the sky and it’s a time for new beginnings, for starting again. You may feel a burst of energy, or a feeling of rejuvenation. There may be a new project or endeavor that you are beginning. If so, it’s likely a good time for it, especially if the new endeavor is related to the sign of Aquarius (i.e., groups, communities, friends, humanitarian causes, and cutting edge/progressive type of work – see above).
Because this New Moon is also a Partial Solar Eclipse (when the moon comes b/w the sun and earth but is not completely aligned), there is a lot of energy surrounding it and emotions can be strong. It’s best, if possible, to hold off on making big decisions on the day of (or days surrounding) the Eclipse due to the high emotional factor. Eclipses tend to bring in big changes and news, and we can feel their energy for up to 6 weeks beforehand and in the weeks following as well. Since this is a Partial Solar Eclipse it’s not quite as intense as a Total Eclipse, however there is still potential for big changes and emotions to be stirred.
 Most people don’t love change and so it can feel daunting if you are currently face to face with it; try to keep in mind that change is necessary for growth and for your health/well-being, and in most cases once you get through it you are happier. If you have access to your natal chart (you need your birth time for that), look to see where the New Moon is in your chart; the house it falls in is the area of life that will be in focus for you.
Venus symbolizes love, beauty, and money/earned income. It reflects how you relate to others and your environment, and also how you see yourself through another’s eyes.
 
When Venus moves into Pisces (the unseen realms of life; the divine) we see the world in full color. There is so much more to this vast, mysterious universe than the meets the eye. This transit can inspire you to connect with something bigger than yourself and your everyday routine (Virgo, the opposite sign of Pisces rules the day-to-day stuff). You may do this through a walk in nature, spending time with an animal friend, meditation, yoga, listening to or creating music, creating art, going on an adventure – whatever it is that inspires you). 
 
Like the “App,” Snapchat, Venus in Pisces can adorn you with a pair of cool-looking, rose-colored glasses – keep in mind, especially if you have met someone new, that sometimes things appear “rosier” than they actually are. You want to see the beauty in everyone and everything thing now, and it’s easy to overlook details. (Pisces is not, ahem, known for their detail work – anyone who is friends with or married to a Pisces will probably laugh, knowingly, at this).
 
You may feel more compassionate now and able to forgive more easily; this is a “live and let live” transit. Speaking of living, I once shared an apartment with a friend who had and abundance of Virgo and Aries in her natal chart; she had many positive qualities (e.g., proactive, energetic, reliable and disciplined to name a few) and she was also hyper in tune to details (at the expense of the bigger picture), and quick to criticize others – she seemed to see the world in black and white. I often found myself saying, during that year, the phrase “Live and let live.” Pisces is like a soothing balm in that way; it’s a non-judgmental and open-minded, and it’s shadow side is that it is susceptible to slipping into the role of the victim, which is often more subtle than we realize. Pisces is like a sponge, super sensitive, absorbing everything, including pain and negativity, and so people with Pisces prominent in their charts need to learn to create firmer boundaries in order to protect themselves. Pisces is also the chameleon of the zodiac; they can become what they think you want them to be (many talented actors have this sign prominent; they are able to step into someone else’s shoes, so to speak).
 
These are all themes to be aware of when Venus enters Pisces. Are you honoring yourself and your needs in relationships, or are you giving your power away? There is a soft and, often, foggy quality to Pisces and boundaries can play tricks on you now, or people you love and are in relationships with can seem out of reach. Relationships with composite Pisces or 12th house energy strong are often hidden relationships; they can also be beautiful and soulful.
 
You can use this Pisces in Venus Transit to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way, to enjoy romance and beauty, to forgive past hurts and see situations from a wider perspective, and to create (e.g., art, poetry, music) from your heart — basically, to realign with what really matters to you.

Jupiter in Scorpio is squaring the Sun in Aquarius today until February 11th.

What does this mean? I will break this down into its parts and then give you an overall idea of how this energy may play out in your life.

Jupiter represents a bigger than life energy; it’s jubilant, carefree, brimming with ideas and potentials. Those who have Jupiter prominent in their natal charts like to kick their shoes off, throw a care to the wind and enjoy life. They don’t want to be tied down to too many responsibilities and commitments.

Ok, now we will look at the sign our freedom-loving Jupiter currently resides in: Scorpio. Jupiter will be in Scorpio until November 9, 2018 (due to Jupiter turning retrograde next month), so what I am about to describe applies for the next several months. Scorpio has two distinct sides: the Scorpion, crawling on the earth, and the Eagle, flying with expansive wings, above it all. Jupiter expands the sign it’s in and so can bring energy to either the “lower” end of Scorpio (e.g., fears, trauma, grudges, resentment, deep emotions connected to past trauma and pain) or the “higher” end (e.g., healing, empowering yourself and others, a deep understanding of the subtle layers of life, focus and determination, inner strength). You may be feeling, lately, old emotions and grievances coming to the surface. You may also be drawn to esoteric subjects or involved in research. Scorpio is also about merging resources/partnerships, intimacy, sex, death and taxes (ya know, the lighter subjects of life).

The Sun represents what we want; our drive and ego. It’s like a light shining on our life-path. Where do we want to go and how do we get there? The Sun is lighting up quirky and friendly Aquarius these days. Aquarius themes and archetypes are groups, friendships, communities, the bigger picture of life, getting involved with humanitarian causes (it’s the Robin Hood archetype), the rebel (doing things your own way/being non-conventional), the underdog, freedom, the mind/intellect, the internet and technology (anything future oriented), a spark of insight. When the Sun is in Aquarius we may be focused on or driven by any of the above.

So, as I noted, Jupiter expands like a balloon whatever it touches, usually in a positive way, in order to open us up to potentials and opportunities connected to that sign; it can also expand areas we need to work on for the sake of inner and outer growth. Since Jupiter wants us to grow beyond our perceived limitations, it can blow up Scorpio baggage (yikes). This does not feel so good at the time. If you have, however, done a pretty good job of cleaning out your closets (“I’m sorry mama…”), this Jupiter Scorpio arrangement can enhance or bring into your life partnerships that enable you to be stronger and more effective than you could be on your own. It may be a time when you are merging resources with someone, such as a business partnership or moving in with someone you love. For some lucky peeps, this can be a time when you come into money (Scorpio rules money from the intangible realms, such as stocks and bonds).
 
Ok, getting there …
 
The Sun represents what we want; our drive and ego. It’s like a light shining on our life-path. Where do we want to go and how do we get there? The Sun is lighting up quirky and friendly Aquarius these days. Aquarius themes and archetypes are groups, friendships, and communities, the bigger picture of life, getting involved with humanitarian causes (it’s the Robin hood archetype), the mind/intellect, the internet and technology (anything future oriented), the rebel (doing things your own way/being non-conventional), the underdog, freedom, a spark of insight. When the Sun is in Aquarius we may be focused on or driven by any of the above.
 
When the Sun is SQUARE Jupiter, it is creating a so-called challenging aspect. Squares can bring tension and friction. Squares mean the planets involved are working at cross-purposes like a tug-of-war; thus the challenge is to figure out how we can best work with these two sides that do not want to compromise in order to create balance. If we can “figure it out,” squares can result in fulfilling and dynamic outcomes. They can sometimes result in forced change, like a breaking point. A great way to deal with a square is to look deeply at both sides of a situation (especially the opposite side that you are aligned with) and to create lists of pros and cons.
 
Tying this all together (finally!). The Sun in Aquarius wants freedom, to connect to big picture pursuits and do things in a unique, maybe unconventional way, and, most importantly, to stand in one’s truth/be genuine. This drive to be yourself is somehow at odds with Jupiter’s super sizing of Scorpio. Remember that Scorpio feels things deeply and wants to study things thoroughly, to inspect and probe beneath the surface and, ultimately, purge anything that is no longer needed, anything that blocks you. It’s like a Roto-rooter. Scorpio is known, ahem, for dwelling and can at times make the good ole’ “mountains out of mole hills” (for instance, Scorpio can go down the rabbit hole of fear and resentment based on a look someone gave them or a perceived insult). Aquarius is above all that petty stuff and doesn’t do emotions well. Aquarius would like to remain in the mental realms of life, safe from all that murky junk. Both are, at their core, genuine and haters of BS.
 
The question is how do we free ourselves from baggage that creeps up and causes negative feelings and the tendency to dwell, which can create a feeling of being stuck, while honoring our drive to move above all of that and see the bigger picture of life, and (ideally) use our visions to serve others/humanity? Whoa. My head is spinning. I am sure yours is, too. Who the heck knows, really, (these are big questions) but I think we can start by facing our fears. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from my Aunt MaryAnne, when I told her I was scared, was: “So, do it scared” – meaning don’t let your fear rule you. That stuck with me and I have a done a lot of things scared – some worked out splendidly and others seemed like failures … still, “I did it” rather than avoiding my fear, which always feels worse in the long-run and covers up our authenticity.
 
There is one more layer (wide eyed emoji). In your Natal Chart, these planets fall in specific houses (the “where” or area of life you may feel this energy coming up). You can easily access your natal chart (if you have your birth time) on astro.com or contact me for a reading!

Ayurveda translates to the Wisdom of Life. I like this definition because it reflects the truth that wellness and health cannot be separated from the larger whole. Our bodies and beings are intrinsically connected to our environment, to the larger whole: what is outside of us is also within us. 

Ayurveda philosophy is rooted in the three Doshas or Constitutions, which embody the elements of nature: they are Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth). According to Ayurveda, there is no “one size fits all” approach for wellness. For instance, a raw food diet, although it may work great for a Pitta dominant person, can wreak havoc on a Vata dominant person’s digestive system. I am a Vata dominant person so I can attest to this: Vata people are delicate like flowers while Pitta people tend to have a “strong constitution.” There are, however, daily morning practices, called Dinacharya, that work well for all three Doshas. They can also be tailored to meet the specific needs of your current state of being (note: your current state may differ from your dosha/natural constitution).

Below are the daily morning Ayurveda practices that I have committed to. They are simple and yet the accumulated affect is that I feel more grounded and balanced in the morning (the morning has always been difficult for me so this is a big deal). I encourage you to adopt any or all of these morning practices. If you’d like to learn about your natural constitution and current state of being through an Ayurvedic lens, I offer an online Ayurvedic Assessment and Wellness Plan.

  1. Use a tongue cleaner before brushing your teeth and on an empty stomach (7-14 scrapes). The Ayurveda perspective holds that a tongue cleaner is essential as a toothbrush because it helps to reduce Ama (toxins) in the body by keeping the bacteria level in the mouth healthy and stimulates the cleansing of the gastrointestinal tract.
  2. Drink a glass of warm (not cold and not hot) with lemon – this helps to soften Ama (toxins) and is cleansing for the system. *If you need to stimulate Agni (the digestive fire/metabolism), add fresh ginger.
  3. Meditation and/or Pranayama (I know this is a ‘toughie’ but you can make the time for at least 5 minutes! Shoot for 10 -15 minutes, but 5 is a great start.) *Pranayama is yogic breathing techniques for, for example, centering or stimulation/energy. This breath-work can be tailored for your dosha and/or current state . The benefits of meditation are many! A few I have noticed since I began meditating on a daily basis are greater mental focus and an ease of expression (i.e., easier time finding the “right” words), a feeling of contentment and more balanced emotions.
  4. Oil Pulling. On any empty stomach, take a tablespoon of Sesame Oil or Coconut Oil (or blend of the two)- swish it all around your mouth (in front and in back of your teeth) for at least 5 minutes and up to 15. It takes a little getting used to but there are many benefits! A few are: healthy teeth and gums, improves respiratory health (helps with allergies and asthma), supports the body’s process of releasing toxins. Banyan Botanicals, a site I used for my Ayurveda Products, developed a product called Daily Swish that has peppermint and spearmint essential oils so the taste is more palatable!
  5. A splash of cold water on face/eyes. This reduces heat or leftover pitta energy from the night, when your body undertakes repair work. It’s also stimulating and refreshing.
  6. Before shower or about 10 minutes after, put 1-2 drops of Nasya Oil in each nostril. This is a blend of  oils, herbs and essential oils. The nostrils are a direct passageway to your brain and in order to feel well and balanced this passage needs to be clear and unblocked so the breath/prana (life force) can flow. Nasya Oil helps to clear congestion, cleanses the tissues, supports mental clarity and is said to improve vision and the quality of the voice.
  7. Self Massage: I love this one as it especially beneficial for my prominent dosha, the Vata dosha. If you are a fellow Vata, you can do this after the shower like I do because your skin tends to be dry, but if you have oily skin this can be done before your shower. I use Sesame oil and this is the preferred oil for the Vata dosha (Sunflower or Coconut oils can be used for Pitta, especially during the summer months, and dry brushing may be more appropriate for Kapha). I add a few drops of essential oils, which is optional (lately I use Lavender and Eucalyptus). Massage the oil on your body, using long strokes on limbs and circular strokes on joints and broad circular strokes on belly (clockwise) and chest. There are lots of benefits, such as: improves sleep, promotes healthy skin, nourishes the tissues, stimulates circulation and the internal organs. This takes me about 5 minutes in the morning and truly makes me feel more grounded and supported. The oil is like a protective layer on your skin as you navigate the different experiences and energies of the day, and so, as I mentioned, this practice can be especially helpful for Vata because Vata people tend to be sensitive/delicate.
  8. Sun Salutations and Moon Salutations. Take 5-15 minutes to practice morning Salutations. Switch it up to Moon Salutations during the Full Moon Phase or any time you’re in the mood for a softer morning yoga routine.

A few days ago, I had an exact conjunction between Venus in the sky and my natal Chiron. I didn’t realize it until I checked my Transit Chart halfway through that day, thinking to myself what the heck is going on with me today? 

It started with a wayward paycheck. I sent a third email to the person who was supposedly in charge of payroll to ask when I could pick up my now 3-week late check. There were a few other minor work issues I was trying to sort out and as I spent the morning trying to track down money I was owed or pinpoint things that didn’t seem pin-able at that moment, my rising emotions took on a life of their own and I got swept away. (Note: the moon was going to be Full in two days, when emotions tend to swell.) I have had a recurring dream, on and off for years, of tidal waves and tsunamis and I remember one in particular in which I was in a canoe with an old friend in the middle of the ocean (ya know, just chilling) as an oncoming tidal wave roared toward us, turned our little boat vertical and we rode down the side of the wave. Interestingly, the canoe never capsized and maybe this is a sign of my internal strength even as I have navigated the turbulent waters of life.

I digress.

The issues I was facing this particular morning were, on the surface level, of money/income/getting paid for my work and also of receiving support I needed to complete tasks. On a deeper level, this was about supporting myself in the world and feeling valued for the work I am doing, for what I am giving. Chiron wounds have deep, deep roots. The spot in the Natal Chart where Chiron dwells points to the wounds that we have trouble even looking at; we bury them well. It’s the place where we feel inadequate and cut off from ourselves and we may attempt to compensate in some way, by either proving ourselves again and again (an endless cycle), or giving from an empty place (the giving is, therefore, not genuine/pure), or withdrawing and taking ourselves out of the game altogether because it feels safer than the rejection that may come if this wound was revealed or activated.

I have Chiron on the cusp of Taurus and Aries and so issues of self-worth, confidence, and valuing myself run deep. Taurus rules, among other things, the material world and earning an income, which is intrinsically connected to how we value ourselves. Aries rules the self and the physical body. Somewhere along the way I learned not to value myself and my own needs, and that to do so was somehow inappropriate. It’s no surprise then that I have often faced circumstances of not being paid enough (or at all in some cases!) for my work.

And so my emotions were running high this morning.  I decided to do a yoga practice. Note: if you have Chiron in Aries, yoga and other types of therapeutic body work are excellent for you. I use Yogaglo (online yoga classes) when I can’t get to the yoga studio and I’m in the mood to be guided. I have a few favorite teachers on Yogaglo and as I searched for a class to take, a new class taught by one of “my teachers” popped up. It was, amazingly, a class on Artha, the Sanskrit word for having the wealth or resources to fulfill your dharma or life purpose, i.e., using your innate gifts for service in the world. I felt like he (the teacher) was speaking directly to me. I have to pause here to say how cool is that? The universe was supporting me. Recognizing this inherent support is the first step in healing/integrating my Taurus/Aries Chiron wounds. It’s no coincidence that when I teach I often hear myself asking students to accept support, to feel the support of the earth underneath them, etc. We teach the lessons we are learning ourselves.

It’s interesting to note that I currently have Saturn transiting my 2nd house of earned income/material resources/self-value. I liked the way my Astrology teacher/mentor whimsically described Saturn Transits: “Wherever Saturn is in the chart, you know he’s going to be busting chops.” The chart house Saturn visits usually calls for some restructuring, discipline, hard work/effort and facing whatever it is you neglect in that area of life, so that you can fully utilize your resources and create something solid, something lasting. Once you get used to looking at Natal and Transit Charts, themes begin to pop out at you; if you see something significant (like, Venus making a conjunction with my natal Natal Chiron) chances are that theme will be highlighted elsewhere in the chart. Saturn is pushing me to face and organize this area of my life (my material resources), so that I can receive the support I need and, in turn, support others.

When Venus and Chiron get together in the Natal or Transit chart, ancient wounds connected to relationships (how we relate to others and our environment) can resurface and fester, and there is also a chance to clean them out. I love the idea of the wound actually being the gift, which is why I resonate with the Rumi quote: The wound is the place where the light enters you. The wound remains a wound, I believe, because we cover it up and emotionally cut off that area of life or ourselves. You can look to the sign and house Chiron is in to learn more about your ‘wounds’ and how you can learn to re-integrate them.

If you recall, my Chiron is on the cusp of Taurus and Aries and it sits in my 5th house, right near the cusp of my 6th house. I am learning to care for myself (I have an Ayurveda daily morning practice) and to support myself in the material world (building my business). I teach yoga and it has taken me a long time to free up my creative energy (5th house) and voice (Taurus) so that I can be “myself” when I teach. When I connect to my own creative flow students can connect to theirs. I notice that if I am “in my head” too much when teaching or when doing anything in life, I don’t give others the space they need to be in their own “flow.” It’s a good thing I started teaching yoga later in life, as I was beginning to face my Chiron wounds and lessons, or else I would have believed I was no good at it and have moved on AKA quit (6th house Chiron), which is what I did, work-wise, throughout my twenties and early thirties (tried something, deemed myself unfit and jumped ship).

I can only do my work and service in the world when I face these wounded pieces of myself because it’s difficult to give when operating from a place of lack. Once you “own your Chiron,” it’s as if you have a new found, unshakeable power that comes from those dark experiences. We can then use this power, this strength, to support others who have similar wounds. This is why Chiron is called the Wounded Healer.

I am learning how to play the harmonium and it’s a whole new world for me. I didn’t play instruments as a kid and have a memory of a Middle School chorus teacher insulting my voice (Chiron in Taurus). After that, I pretended to sing, mouthing the words, which is sad because I loved to sing as a child and always sang in the shower. I said to my Harmonium teacher, who happens to be interested in Astrology, “I have my moon in Taurus and I have read that this placement can indicate a hidden gift of singing or using your voice.” I said it with a chuckle because although I can carry a tune, I am clearly not a gifted singer and I didn’t want her to think I was delusional. She seemed to understand and confirmed, without hesitation, that it was indeed “a gift.” By singing and playing the harmonium I am healing my wound (freeing up my voice and my creative expression).

It’s no surprise that my throat is one of the most vulnerable places in my body; when I get sick I get a sore throat first. For most of my life, I felt I didn’t have “a voice,” that I couldn’t express myself well and clearly. I didn’t know how or have the capacity to express what was on the inside, what I really felt. For this reason, I never felt “heard.” Although I longed to be heard and seen, I deeply feared being heard and seen: my Chiron block. Leo rules the 5th house, where Chiron lives in my chart, which is about being seen and heard, how you shine, and using and expressing your creative gifts.

On the vision board in my bedroom, which I created at the beginning of the year, it says “I am enough.” Although I think the phrase is a little corny/cliche, as I spontaneously cut the words out of a magazine I knew it was an integral component of my “vision” for this year, without fully understanding why. Now I know.

“I am enough” is a good mantra for a Chiron/Venus aspect. With this aspect, there can be a feeling of giving a lot in relationships and not receiving in return what you need, hence the feeling of support needs to first come from within. We can do that through daily Ayurveda and yoga practices, for example, or any other form of self-care that keeps us feeling balanced. Taking the time to provide ourselves with care and nourishment is self-love. The key is to love ourselves enough in order to feel that we are worth this effort (something I am learning). As I cultivate self-love, I believe I will continue to draw situations and dynamics into my life that feel supportive and enable me to do my dharma. I am learning that my dharma is using and sharing my hidden gifts (creative self expression, being playful/joyful, teaching children) to support others in their creativity, in whatever form that may take.

If you’d like to know more about where Chiron is in your Natal and/or Transit Chart, please book a Reading with me. 🙂

We currently have four (soon to be five) retrograde planets in the sky, through the end of May. To take a step back, Retrograde refers to the appearance of a planet, from Earth, to be moving backward in its orbit. It is said by Astrologers that the illusion of the backward motion turns the energy of that planet inside-out, so to speak. In other words, if Saturn (when in Direct motion) is about responsibility, structure and discipline, when Saturn is in Retrograde motion these themes are reversed. It’s not that Saturn Retrograde is about being irresponsible or undisciplined, although it can show up in your life that way; it is, instead, a time to reassess, review, re-do (anything with an “re” prefix, basically) or fine-tune your responsibilities and your relationship with discipline, so that you can make sure that your life practices are in line with your true values. For this reason, the Retrograde energies urge us to pause, to slow down, and to go inward (a time for self-work/self-awareness) in order to re-align any aspects of our lives that may be out of whack.

My friend shared an article yesterday on her inspiring Blog that illuminates the deeper meaning of the Retrograde planets. The author of the article, Tanaaz, writes: “Retrograde energy is also highly feminine and in these patriarchal times, on a subconscious level, many of us struggle to accept and integrate feminine energy into our every day lives.” This was an AHA moment for me. I had never thought of it this way. When many of us, who know something about Astrology, think of planets in Retrograde, we understand that life can feel more chaotic, less smooth or productive, during these times. Why is this so? As Tanaaz expresses, it’s because we are meant to take a step back from our worldly pursuits at this time in order to align with the “feminine,” the non-doing side of life. So, it seems, if we resist this energy and try to force our will because we want to see immediate results for our efforts, we will be presented with obstacles that show up in various forms and frustrate us. The antidote is the act of, good ole’, Letting Go.

How do we let go? Well, we can start with breathing practices and meditation and yoga. I noticed today, as I was reading my book, a nagging feeling that I was wasting time because I wasn’t doing something that was going to produce tangible results, at least not right away. These feelings and patterns are not easy to unwind because they are so ingrained, however just being aware of them is, I believe, an integral step in making shifts. Letting go our our agendas, of how we think things should be and look frees up a huge amount of energetic space. It frees up our creative energy. The Feminine is not attached to a gender: it is our creative energy, the force behind our inspiration and passion. The purpose of the Retrograde periods is to restore balance in our lives, so take a breather. 🙂

I have four Retrograde planets (well, five, if you count Pluto in Shadow Period) in my Natal Chart and one of them is Mars. Retrograde planets, as I discussed above, turn the energy of that planet inward thus the fiery and fierce energy of Mars has been, for me, internalized and I have had difficulty expressing my strength and power, moving it out into the world. I see now, in a moment of integration, that I have been on a path of learning how to own my ‘Mars’ energy, to use it in a fair and balanced way (past-life karma likely at the root of this one: I have my South Node in Aries), so that I may lead/teach in a strong yet loving and compassionate way. True strength comes from compassion and this is the lesson of Durga, the Warrior Goddess.

Yesterday, I re-visited (during retrograde periods you may naturally find yourself re-visiting things from the past) one of my favorite books and teachers: Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton. I like to teach my yoga classes around themes, so I was looking for inspiration on what to teach next. According to Kempton, Durga is both the Goddess of Battle and the Divine Mother. Her ferocity and commitment, her ability to overcome obstacles, comes from a true inner strength (core strength) and compassion.

Our lives are full of connections and synchronicities when we are present to notice and absorb them. It dawned me, after reading Tanaaz’s article about the Retrograde planets, that it was no coincidence that I was re-reading my book about the Divine Feminine Energy in all of us (Shakti). With all my Natal Retrograde planets, I have embodied a more passive and gentle nature, or at least I think I have been seen that way throughout my life. In my family of origin (I’m sure the roots are deep), femininity was linked with being modest and not going after one’s needs and desires. I learned to be the “good girl.” I also believed that if I was not the “good girl” I would be shunned. This created a chasm within me and trapped energy (Shakti) inside me, waiting to be freed, to roar (Durga rides a lion). This trapped energy has come out over the years in bursts and eruptions, built up frustration and anger that I haven’t quite understood and that has caused me to feel shame. Like Persephonne, the Queen of the Underworld, who starts out in the story as the innocent maiden, before being captured by Pluto/Hades, King of the Underworld, I have a dark side too. We all do.

When, some years ago, I was immersed in my second Yoga Teacher Training, my mentor, after watching me practice teach one day said, matter-of-factly, “You’re a good teacher,” to counter my evident self-doubt, and “It’s time for you to step into your authority.” I have thought of these words often. I used to find myself in situations with women who embodied the shadow side of Durga: controlling, harsh, quick to anger. My immediate response was withdrawal. This is an ancient feeling, a core reaction: I’m like my cat when he hears the doorbell and zooms under the bed, as if the person at the door plans to kill him. Jungian psychology posits that when we disown a part of our personality, it appears in our lives as the shadow side of the energy. I was always surprised that I seemed to attract these fierce and, sometimes, harsh women. A yoga teacher who lost her temper because I had stepped the ‘wrong’ foot back; a boss who was controlling and, therefore, disempowered her employees. I understand that I am meant to reclaim my power and am in the process of doing so now in my life’s work. A different type of woman and mentor has entered my life now; one who shows and feels deep compassion and seems to ‘see’ me in a way that I have not previously felt ‘seen.’

In  Sally Kempton’s beautiful book, the myth of Durga goes like this: the Devi gods, who represent light and joy, convince her that she must fight the battle against the Asuras, who represent the ego gone astray and corruption, in order to restore balance in the world. She is the only one who can defeat the demon kings because those wise guys made a pact long ago with Brahma, the Creator, that they could not be defeated by any man or god, but there was no mention of a goddess. When Durga meets the demon kings, she is disguised as an innocent, beautiful maiden goddess and they, of course, want her. She tells their servants that she made a vow when young to only marry a man who can defeat her in battle. They laugh and think this is absurd but she persists and they become impatient. They send their men to go and get her, to drag her into their palace by her hair. Durga raises her sword and the men’s bodies are dissolved into thin air. The devil kings finally realize who she is (Shakti) and they remember the loophole. They know that they must defeat her in battle or die. Durga has the powers of all the gods and goddesses within her and so they don’t stand a chance against her. When she defeats them, they are returned back to source, the heart of the mother, and the balance in the land is restored. The stories of the goddesses are about integrating dark and light and finding our way back home.

The Retrograde planets are calling for a similar energy: by slowing down and releasing the need to produce something tangible in the world, we will reconnect with ourselves, with nature (get outside and take more walks during this time!) and with divinity (the connection to all that is), so that when we create things in this world it comes from a balance of heart of mind.

For 2017 Retrograde timing, check out this website (scroll down for 2017).