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Neuroscience Learns What Buddhism Has Known For Ages: Mindfulness

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Mindfulness is defined as an attention training which can benefit health and general well-being. There is a lot scientific research confirming it. In this article we will present the other type of attention training called Open Focus. We believe, combining these two approaches may help to understand attention training better and to experience its benefits faster.

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What Is Mindfulness?

In its most basic form, Mindfulness means to pay attention to what’s happening, on purpose, in the present moment, and to do so without judgement. Originally from Buddhist roots, it was introduced into the West by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin and the University of Massachusetts. Since its appearance in the West around twenty years ago, many people have participated in the Mindfulness based stress reduction course and similar programs. Research shows that participants may experience profound benefits such as reduced stress, a greater sense of well-being, increased clarity and focus, and improved sleeping patterns.

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According to Dr. Kabat-Zin, by paying attention in a certain way, we can switch off our so-called autopilot mode, in which we often go through life unaware of what’s happening within and around us. Living on autopilot not only means that we miss out on a lot of the richness of life, but we are also more likely to be stressed. Stress and autopilot are linked because when we are on autopilot, we are much more likely to act out unhelpful or even damaging patterns of behaviour. In other words, we react instead of respond to challenging experiences in our life. Mindfulness helps us to become aware of these habitual patterns and gives us a choice to change how we relate to challenging experiences. It’s not about taking stress away or hoping to live a life without any stress, but rather fundamentally changing how we relate to the things we experience.

On the other hand, many of us spend much of our time living in our heads. We live in a kind of virtual reality consisting of thoughts and inner dialogue, and thoughts tend to relate either to the past or to the future. Mindfulness helps us to learn how to return to the present and to what’s actually happening rather than our perceptions of what’s happening, which are often inaccurate. We practice it by cultivating greater somatic awareness — that is, awareness of the body, because the body is always in the present moment.

Ultimately, the more we practice Mindfulness and observe the changing nature of experience, the more we may begin to sense that what we previously thought of as being tangible and solid, such as our sense of self, is actually quite transitory and ephemeral. We may begin to understand what lies beyond objects arising in awareness such as sensations, thoughts, and emotions. We may begin to experience awareness itself. This is an extremely significant moment in practice and in life, when we start to experience ourselves as something greater than what we observe and our sense of being the observer.

In Mindfulness, attention generaly focuses on one object (such as the breath, sensations in the body, thoughts, or emotions), exploring it with a sense of curiosity and interest. Another way Mindfulness can be practiced is through Open Monitoring or Open Awareness, where no particular object of experience is selected and there is an openness to all that is unfolding within awareness. Here too, however, as various objects pass through awareness, attention is often paid to each object in a narrowly focused wa

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What Is Open Focus?

Open Focus is the name of an attention training program created by Dr. Lester Fehmi, a neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton University. Dr. Fehmi found that once our whole brain activity becomes more synchronous in alpha frequency, our mental and physical health improves. He created a series of mind exercises that help to cultivate this brainwave pattern, and he designed a neurofeedback EEG machine that can detect it.

On the basis of his findings, Dr. Fehmi developed The Four Attention Styles theory, which describes four different ways we can pay attention, and relates these styles to brain physiology.

According to Dr Fehmi, pain, stress, anxiety, and other challenges make our attention narrow and objective. It is natural to narrow our attention (focus) on pain or a problem in order to deal with it efficiently, but most people overuse this style in everyday life. They are unaware that it keeps them in continuous ‘fight or flight’ mode (see this post). Moreover, habitual focusing creates an impression that the reality consists of separated objects, since we can focus on only one thing at a time, leaving the rest outside of our focus. It can make us feel distant, alienated, and lonely.

Dr. Fehmi says we can begin relating to what’s difficult in a more balanced, accepting way by diffusing our attention. Diffusing allows us to see the big picture and connect (immerse) with its elements. It helps to realign with the world and to create healthy relationships. This style is linked to the ‘rest and digest’ part of our physiology and makes the whole brain activity more synchronous in alpha frequency, which can be confirmed by Dr. Fehmi’s machine (see graph below).

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Dr. Fehmi suggests everyone’s attention should be flexible, meaning that you can alternate between ‘narrow and objective’ and ‘diffused and immersed’ styles of attention or balance all at the same time. Dr. Fehmi says that the way we pay attention is directly linked to our well-being. Once you are able to balance your attention, you can positively influence your mind and body.

During Open Focus training, we practice diffusing by becoming simultaneously aware of many objects. The object can be everything you can focus on, like a physical object, a sound, a taste, a thought, a feeling, a sensation from the body, etc. Then you can progress to awareness of the space between objects, like the space between physical objects, the silence between sounds, or the breaks between thoughts, etc. Finally, you become aware of space between and inside objects which, according to Dr. Fehmi, helps us achieve diffused and immersed style. In this style of attending, all objects (including yourself) dissolve in space and you immerse with reality, becoming fully connected.

Are Mindfulness and Open Focus Complementary?

Open Focus and Mindfulness are not distinct and competing practices but rather highly complementary.

Mindfulness helps us to learn to pay attention to our experience and to notice how we are relating to it. Open Focus then builds upon the benefits and skills of Mindfulness by training us not just to pay attention, but to be more aware of how we are paying attention and to be more flexible in our attention styles.

We then have the benefits of two complementary practices available to us: learning to pay attention and being flexible in how we pay attention. We could say that Mindfulness is an excellent foundation for Open Focus training and that Open Focus helps us to get the most from Mindfulness training.

What Can Open Focus Offer Mindfulness?

As mentioned, much Mindfulness practice is based on a narrow way of paying attention (that is, we are focused on one object). Although it is useful in helping us to be more aware of what is happening in the moment, overusing this style may lead to tightness and overexertion in unexperienced practitioners, since many people think they have a choice of staying watchful (mindful) of what is happening, or they slip into daydreaming. They keep trying harder and it makes them exhausted and it sometimes leads to frustration and disappointment.

We therefore propose that Open Focus can bring to Mindfulness the idea of paying attention in the diffused style and the concept of attention flexibility.

Mindfulness practitioners who learn how to diffuse their attention may find that it helps them to progress. There are several reason for this.

The diffused attention style tends to quickly quiet internal chatter. For example, it is sometimes enough to become aware of sensations coming from both hands and at the same time to sense peace and calmness of the mind. It is because synchronous alpha brain waves play a top-down inhibitory role in the brain network. The quiet mind makes observing without judgment much easier.

In diffused attention style, you do not redirect your attention from one object to another, but  rather redistribute it between many objects, which are attended at the same time. The only way to do it is to attend objects in a very soft (less rigid, relaxed) way. This skill can then be used in everyday life. For example, you can stay continuously aware of breathing while listening to someone talking to you and there is no struggle between competing objects in your awareness. It helps to continuously sense the present moment and it has very practical applications (see this post).

It is important to note that in this style, one of the objects you pay attention to could be your daydreaming. Including daydreaming into the diffused attention helps to reduce struggle with it during practice. It is possible (and quite easy) to accept daydreaming as one of many objects you pay attention to (see this post). It can be easily extended to everyday life and it helps to stay present.

In order to become fully aware of the world, it can be helpful to cultivate a more diffused than focused attention style. Focused attention requires one to cut off a lot of what is really happening around us and it restricts experience to a narrow stream of sensations. In the diffused attention style, you are aware of the object and its background (see this post). This may broaden the perspective, helping to put things into context. It may also help to disable an autopilot and develop one’s ability to respond as opposite to reacting.

 As mentioned previously, Open Focus exercises cultivate an awareness of space around and inside objects. Once a practitioner is aware of space inside the object, it may become softer, lighter, and easier to be with and observe (for example when we attend an unwanted emotion). By switching to a diffused attention style, the difficulty may be diluted by a broader spectrum of attention. This could be likened to putting a teaspoon of salt in an egg cup filled with water and tasting it — the water would taste very salty. If the same teaspoon of salt were put in a swimming pool, it would be difficult to taste the salt. Mindfulness enables us to be aware that there is salt in the water, but Open Focus allows us to experience the salt in the context of the swimming pool rather than the egg cup!

The diffused and immersed attention style helps to dissolve objects like pain or unwanted feelings. Mindfulness practitioners are sometimes encouraged to bring attention to an ache in the back and to observe how this ache feels, exploring how it would be to allow the ache to be there. In Open Focus, they might feel the ache but at the same time feel the space around and in the ache together with the space in the room. In addition, they might imagine that we are part of the ache itself, allowing themselves to become immersed in the ache. This sometimes makes the pain or feeling softer, blurred with its background, and then it may naturally and effortlessly dissolve. The dissolving pain and unwanted feelings process is well documented in Dr Fehmi’s book.

Conclusion

Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to our experiences so that we can interrupt habitual patterns of relating to ourselves and the world that may not be helpful for us. Open Focus enhances Mindfulness practice by teaching us not just to pay attention, but to bring more awareness to how we are paying attention.

As this article has demonstrated, these are two highly complementary and mutually reinforcing practices. Ultimately, with both we can learn to be present and be flexible in how we are present, after which we may uncover an unlimited sense of peace and love that lies beneath the ‘noise’ that we are usually confronted with and try to suppress.

In scientific terms, this may be regarded as homeostasis; in more spiritual language, this may be regarded as revealing our true nature or higher self. These practices may lead us to fulfil our personal and evolutionary potential and to live lives with grace and ease.

How You Can Try Mindfulness and Open Focus

We could write a lot but more about Mindfulness and Open Focus, but the best way to know them is to feel them!

You can try some good Mindfulness exercises here: Breathing Into Being, Taking In The Good, Self Compassion.

There is a choice of Open Focus exercises on Dr Fehmi’s and Tomasz’s website (the main difference is that most of Tomasz’s exercises are shorter and they are designed to introduce diffusing and to bring a quick and noticeable experience).

 MOF

This article was written with Mrs. Sarah Gulland a Mindfulness teacher who works from London, Guildford and Sussex.

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How To Have Your Own Personal Zen Master Around Anytime You Descend Into Stress

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When you look at a true spiritual master, guru or yogi, one of the most remarkable things you might notice is that they don’t seem to experience stress. You might conclude that they arrive at this state through meditation, fasting, prayer, or other such disciplines. This is only partly true. Those spiritual practices can certainly contribute to stress reduction, but their ultimate effect is to support the maintenance of ONE KEY THOUGHT that spiritual masters hold in their minds (and bodies) with unfailing certainty.

Granted, this key thought is not easy to grasp, hold as truth, and then deeply embody within yourself. Throughout history spiritual masters have done their darndest to articulate it for those hoping for inner peace and harmony. The limitations of language, of all human languages, is woefully revealed in these attempts. But if you are ready, open, and genuinely seeking–an ‘aspirant’ as they say in yoga–then it becomes possible for a certain expression or turn of phrase to begin to activate your deeper inner knowledge of the state some call samadhi, enlightenment, Christ consciousness, or what I like to simply term presence. Are you ready?

Stress-Free Perception

In a true state of presence it is impossible to feel stress. Impossible. That is because stress is predicated on our seeing the world as dualistic. In a state of presence we embody a perception of singularity. The apperception of the world as whole, as unified, is truth unmasked.

From a perception of unity there is no past or future, there is only now. Note that human experience is only ever experienced through the now, past experiences were only ever experienced in the now, and the same will hold for our future experiences. Having the experience of presence helps us get a glimpse that time itself is a fabrication, a ‘program’ that helps our intentionally limited minds have a particularly lush and interesting kind of experience in the physical world.

How We Create Stress

But let’s get back to our everyday time-bound consciousness. For those of you who earnestly seek to dissolve your stress, and are open and willing to let go of anything your mind is clinging to in order to achieve it, I will try to explain the one key thought.

The experience of stress is the experience of the tension or dissonance between two things: how your world IS in any moment, and how you think it SHOULD BE. You create stress by carrying in your mind an image of how something in the NOW—yourself and others, the presence or absence of things, the weather—is NOT OK as it is. That puts you into a self-created adversarial relationship with the only point of contact you have with life.

Fortunately, your emotions alert you to this crazy confabulation, by making you aware of internal discomfort you label as STRESS. This STRESS is nothing more than an urgent signal from your higher intelligence to return to presence. But in a state of stress how can you possibly return to presence?

The One Key Thought Into Presence

You need to get into the habit of using your awareness of your own stress as a trigger to align yourself with this one key thought: everything is perfect as it is. It’s like having your own personal Zen master around any time you descend into stress asking you the well-worn koan, ‘What, in this moment, is lacking?’

It works. Trust me.

But it only works to the extent that you are willing to let go of the past (and future), along with all your judgments, grievances, ‘shoulds’, hopes, and fears that arise out of a dualistic perception. If you are truly willing and able to deeply hold this one key thought as ULTIMATE truth, above ALL other beliefs and opinions, you will start to feel it working.

Spiritual Context

If you have doubts about this one key thought representing ultimate truth, allow me to provide the spiritual context I work with in which the statement makes perfect sense.

A common thread at the heart of all great spiritual traditions is that we are all immortal souls who are currently having a ‘human’ experience. The circumstances of this life experience were chosen by us to facilitate our soul’s evolution. So any time you feel stress, you can see it as the universe prodding you to take an evolutionary step. That evolutionary step is to see the perfection in everything, if only for a moment at first. If you’re game, these brief moments of clarity add up quickly to a more permanent step up.

An Example

Let’s say for example you’re stuck in traffic, and realize you are going to be late for a meeting. Maybe it’s even your ‘fault’, because you left late or didn’t check your GPS. If you’re feeling stressed about it, realize it’s because things are not how your mind thinks they should be. Your mind thinks you ‘should’ be at the meeting on time–to get some important information, perhaps, or because your reputation as a reliable person is at stake, and you will be judged by others at the meeting in a way that may impact your future success.

Now, you can continue to be stressed in that moment (and subsequently for the entire drive to the office), or you can take ALL that very reasonable blather of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’, roll it up in a ball, and drop it into your faux-ashtray. You will be able to do this if you reach for presence, if you remind yourself that there is only the present moment, and in the present moment you can choose to experience stress, or choose to experience peace. If you choose to be fully present you accept the present moment exactly as it is, realize there is nothing you can DO in that moment to remedy the so-called problem, and take the evolutionary step of seeing everything as perfect in this so-called ‘stressful’ moment. There is no problem now–and you will deal with the ‘problem’ when the ‘problem’ arises. You are simply in a car driving. You will then start to feel relief, and gain confidence that if you maintain presence through your arrival to the office, your late entry into the meeting, and your conversations afterwards, the ‘problem’ will never arise and you will literally breeze through the whole experience. You will be ‘ok’ with whatever happens.

Common Fears About Presence

FEAR: If I go into presence I will lose my mind.

Maybe-but only in a good way. Lol. Seriously, presence is not losing one’s mind, it is aligning one’s mind properly, with the timeless ‘true mind’ playing the role of master and the time-bound ‘false mind’ (ego) playing the role of servant, allowing the true mind to interface as it pleases with the time-governed physical world.

FEAR: If I go into presence I will stop trying to make my life better.

Perhaps. After all, what is better than presence, where everything is perfect? But there is more to it. You may be surprised to hear that a state of presence does not thwart action, it only thwarts reaction, fear-based, ego-sponsored drives to alleviate doubt, fear, insecurity, stress. In a state of presence the true mind decides on action, the best action for the situation, which is then carried out in perfect flow with the environment.

FEAR: It’s too hard to do and I’ll ultimately fail.

Failure is impossible. Patience, though, is required. The evolution of consciousness might seem like waves rising and falling on the shore, but the high water marks accumulate and eventually produce a stable higher state of awareness. Remembering and forgetting presence is natural, but with persistence it is remembered more often, maintained for a longer period of time, and eventually becomes part of your normal, base perception. With this as your base perception, then, it is truly possible for you to experience a life free of stress.

 

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New Moon In Virgo: Breakthroughs & Innovation

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a New Moon in Virgo on September 6th in the Americas and on September 7th elsewhere. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned throughout this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This Lunar Cycle peaks with a Full Moon in Pisces on September 20th/21st.

We have been in Virgo season since August 22nd/23rd,  however, this New Moon will activate its energies even more so. Virgo is associated with productivity, duties, health, cleanliness, and purity. It is organized, adaptable, conscientious, skillful, orderly, punctual, diligent, efficient, discerning, precise, and practical. It is also associated with pets.

Being an Earth sign that is ruled by Mercury, Virgo is analytical and detail oriented when it comes to handling aspects of the physical world. It is about problem solving, adjusting to changing conditions, and coming up with solutions. There is an emphasis around service and helping others. Negatively, this energy can be cynical, fussy, high strung, and perfectionistic. It can also be too mentally oriented and overly critical.

New Moon In A Tight Trine With Uranus

This New Moon is in a nearly exact trine with Uranus in Taurus.This is very strong in the sixteen hours leading up to the lunation and in the nine to ten hours afterwards, however, it will still have an influence over the following two weeks.

This can be good for changing things up and taking new approaches to things. We may experience positive surprises/shifts, make discoveries, receive beneficial insights, or be creatively inspired. This energy can be exciting, stimulating, liberating, innovative, inventive, revolutionary, and is supportive of originality.

Developments or approaches that involve technology, science, metaphysics, or astrology can also play out. Considering that this is a New Moon in Virgo, this is good for doing any sort of work or efforts that can have a freeing effect such as getting things done that have been weighing us down or obstructing us in some way. This can also be good for re-arranging, organizing, renovating, or getting rid of things to clear space and energy.

Mars Trine Pluto & Quincunx Jupiter, Venus Aligned With Spica & Trine Jupiter

At the time of this New Moon and in the day leading up to it, Mars in Virgo is in a trine with Pluto in Capricorn which are also in wide orb aspects with this lunation. This is great for asserting ourselves in a powerful, determined, and focused way. Our actions now can be empowering, purging, penetrating, or help to facilitate positive changes. This can also be a time of heightened sexual desire.

Also during this same period, Venus is aligned with the star Spica while in a trine with Jupiter in Aquarius. This can be a fortunate, expansive, optimistic, and/or meaningful time when it comes to friends, our social life, art, aesthetics, or matters of love. In some cases this can also play out as financial or material benefits.

Indulging, having fun, affection, and overall happiness is easier to be had under this influence. This can also play out as learning or sharing perspectives in a friendly and sociable way. This energy can also be good for efforts involving graphic design or marketing/media of nice things.

Venus was also in a square with Pluto in the days leading up to the New Moon which may have also brought some intense feelings/interactions, jealousy, or power struggles. However, this can be mitigated by the Jupiter influence, and is finished by the time this New Moon begins.

During this same period, Mars is also in a quincunx with Jupiter in Aquarius and in aversion with the Venus trine Jupiter aspect. Our assertiveness, drive, and actions may be alienated from, or harder to integrate with, the fun, social, indulging, and affectionate expressions of the Venus-Jupiter configuration.

Mercury Entering Pre-Retrograde Shadow, Aligned With Vindemiatrix & Opposite Chiron

In the hours leading up to this New Moon, Mercury (the ruler of Virgo) will enter its pre-retrograde shadow period for the retrograde that begins on September 26th/27th in Libra. Over the following three weeks, and somewhat since Mercury entered Libra on August 30th, certain things that occur or begin will go through (or contribute to) a process of adjustment, assessment, insights, or shifts from September 27th until late October.

The themes of this upcoming retrograde will involve relationships, social dynamics, diplomacy, partnerships, aesthetics, art, cooperation, creativity, or pertaining to seeking balance, fairness, peace, and harmony. However, other manifestations of this process also depend on how it is configured to your natal chart.

During these weeks leading up to September 27th, Mercury will be gradually slowing down and the complications that Mercury retrograde is known for can become more apparent before it actually begins. I will be putting out more content on this, join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive it.

Mercury is aligned with the fixed star Vindemiatrix which is where it will return to when the retrograde ends and transitions forward. Vindemiatrix is a malefic star traditionally known as the ‘Widow Maker’ and is also associated with nervous irritability when combined with Mercury.

According to astrologer Dr. Eric Morse, this star ‘figures strongly and regularly in deaths which are in some way dramatic, newsworthy or are resented much more than the usual degree’. In my own observation I have also found that this star is associated with malicious injections and is prominent in the natal astrology chart of William Gates III.

I would imagine that during this upcoming retrograde and potentially in the pre-retrograde shadow period, these themes can play out more so on a collective level and we may see stories pertaining to these things throughout different media outlets, whether it be mainstream or alternative.

Mercury is also opposing Chiron at the time of this New Moon and over the following few days. It will return to this opposition when the retrograde ends and therefore this configuration will be part of its themes. Communications, interactions, or thoughts may trigger wounds, pain, blockages, or be reflective of negative patterns. As a result, misunderstandings may also occur.

Self-doubt and perceived inadequacies may be on our mind and can obstruct our perception. However, what happens at this time can ultimately be a catalyst for healing, but this would be more likely to occur near the end of the retrograde.

New Moon & Sun Opposite Neptune, Trine Pluto

The second aspect that the Sun and Moon (New Moon) make after the trine to Uranus is an opposition to Neptune in Pisces which will be more prominent on September 13th/14th, but will build up from the 8th onward. For this period, we may feel/experience a lack of direction or confidence in how we apply our will, ego, or self-expression. We may have to contend with impracticality, confusion, carelessness, escapism, delusion, deception, or flaky behavior.

The third aspect of this New Moon is a trine to Pluto which will be strong from September 15th-17th by the Sun. This will be more welcoming after the Neptunian influence (mentioned in the above paragraph) as this can help us to be much more productive. We can be more focused, resourceful, strategic, realistic, or calculated to help us achieve what we set out to do.

This energy is good for digging into anything or getting to the bottom of things. It can also be beneficial for any sort of clearing or making positive changes. In some cases this can play out as financial benefits or related developments.

Making Intentions & Things To Consider

What areas of your life or spaces can be refreshed, organized, renovated, purged, or cleared? What new approaches can you take when it comes to your health, lifestyle, work, or for when it comes to managing your life and productivity? In what different ways can you be of service to others? Do you need to be more attentive to details? What resources can you capitalize on to help you achieve your goals? What can you do to feel more free and liberated? Is there anything that you’d like to experiment with?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 12:52am Universal Time on September 7th and the night of September 6th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Full Moon In Aquarius: Expansion & Originality

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a second consecutive Full Moon in Aquarius on August 22nd. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 21st in the Americas and on the night of the 22nd in the time zones East of the UK. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Leo on August 8th. The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

This Full Moon happens with the Sun opposing the Moon right at the tail end of Leo and Aquarius, at the 29th degree, less than half a day before we begin Virgo season. The energies of a sign tend to be more heightened at these points. Also, with it being a 2nd consecutive Full Moon in the same sign, it is an ‘Astrological Blue Moon,’ which is something that occurs once every 3 years. This also amplifies the energies of this polarity of signs over an extended period.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

We have already been in Leo Season for about a month as the Sun will change signs shortly after this Full Moon. Leo is a passionate Fire sign. It is about our individual self-expression, what brings us joy, and inspiration.  It is associated with the heart, love, creativity, performing, fun, children, romance, hobbies, and leadership. Leo is about what makes us great as individuals and can be courageous and generous. Expressed negatively, Leo energy can also be egotistical, pompous, dramatic, and demanding of attention or respect.

Aquarius is an intellectual Air sign. It is associated with friends, groups, social networks, the team, and humanity. It views the unique and authentic qualities of an individual as an important and contributing factor to the collective. Aquarius is progressive, unconventional, innovative, technological, scientific, reforming, idealistic, and even revolutionary. Negatively, it can be aloof, overly objective, unrealistic, dispassionate, impersonal, and overly detached.

Full Moon Conjunct Jupiter & Going Into Pisces, Sun Conjunct Regulus & Going Into Virgo

This Full Moon is separating from a close conjunction with Jupiter. This brings an energy that is expansive, explorative, freedom seeking, and even idealistic when combined with the Aquarian energy. Themes around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, education, or media/marketing may come up. However, with it being a Full Moon (opposing the Sun), it can also be a time of conflicts around those things. Overextending and overestimating ourselves can also be prevalent.

The Sun is aligned with the royal star Regulus which is associated with power, authority, and influence. The opposition of this to the Aquarian Moon (with Jupiter) can play out as ideals of the ‘people/collective/groups vs. leaders/authority’ in some people’s experience of it.

The Moon will be entering Pisces forty minutes after the peak of the Full Moon while it is still full. At that time and in the days following, this can also bring an energy that is spiritual, empathic, compassionate, creative, mystical, imaginative, elusive, dreamy, or divinely inspired.

As mentioned earlier, the Sun will be entering Virgo less than a day after the Full Moon. Usually the shift from Leo to Virgo is one of the more obvious and noticeable transitions of signs as Leo is more fun and playful while Virgo is oriented around getting things done. In this case with it being so close to the Aquarian Full Moon, it will probably take three or more days to really notice the Virgo energy.

Mars Trine Uranus, Venus Trine Saturn

At the time of this Full Moon, Mars in Virgo is in a tight trine with Uranus in Taurus. This is a good energy for trying something new, experimental or asserting ourselves in a way that is unconventional, stimulating, innovative, technological, rebellious, progressive, original, exciting, or independent. This energy can also be inspiring to act on something and some people may feel a burst of energy.

Uranus had also went stationary retrograde in the days leading to this, so this energy in general will be very strong. Throughout the week following this Full Moon (and even in the 1-2 weeks prior) there is an increased possibility of surprises, disruptions, separations, sudden changes,  accidents, or things breaking. Experiences that are unusual, enlightening, or stimulating can also occur and/or we may have interactions with other people that have those qualities.

Venus in Libra is in a trine with Saturn during the Full Moon and over the following day and a half. This can have a stabilizing or committing effect on relationships. It can be constructive, solidifying, or maturing when it comes to our social life, love, financial matters, business relations, possessions, or things that are aesthetic related. In some cases this can play out as important connections and developments with others who are much older or younger than us.

Mercury Opposite Neptune, Venus Opposite Chiron, Mercury Trine Pluto

Mercury in Virgo is moving towards an opposition with Neptune in Pisces since August 20th/21st which will peak on August 24th/25th. In general, Mercury in this sign (from August 11th/12th until August 29th/30th) helps our thinking and communication to be more organized, detailed, practical, technical, efficient, and productive.

However, with it being opposite Neptune during this four day window, we may have to contend with some misunderstandings, confusion, lack of clarity, miscommunications, lack of focus, deception, carelessness, or disheartening developments during this period.  In some cases, issues or complications around vehicles, commuting, phones, or computers may come up and could involve water, oil, inconsistencies, or play out in other ways as well.

Venus will be moving towards an opposition to Chiron from August 23rd/24th until August 26th/27th when it peaks. Wounds, blockages, insecurities, weaknesses, and imbalances can come up strongly in our relations, finances, values, self worth, or physical appearance. If this applies to you, it’s best to look at the situation from a whole-istic perspective to help move beyond the issue. If this doesn’t come up, it can still be a good time for any kind of healing or growth in the areas mentioned above.

Mercury is in a trine with Pluto on August 25th/26th. This is great for mental focus or getting to the bottom of things. Thoughts and/or communications can be deep, powerful, empowering,  insightful, revealing, or psychologically oriented. In some cases this aspect can have beneficial financial implications.

Sun Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Neptune

The Sun is in a square with the Lunar Nodes on August 28th-30th. This can trigger some of the themes of the previous Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse as we may experience developments connected to them. We may also feel like we are at a crossroads as considerations at this time may involve where we are coming from and where we are heading, or perhaps being stuck between things that can be holding us back and things that can facilitate growth. It can also involve incorporating beneficial aspects of the past and applying them in an evolved or forward moving way.

In the days following this Full Moon, Mars in Virgo will be moving towards its own opposition to Neptune (similarly to Mercury) which peaks from September 1st-4th. At best, this energy can be good for applying ourselves towards activities that are spiritual, creative, compassionate, selfless, or involve water.

However, this can be challenging overall as it may seem that our efforts are met with impracticality, confusion, carelessness, or flaky behavior as a result of others. Some people can also feel lazy, discouraged, or helpless. It’s best to go with the flow and do things that work best with this energy as mentioned in the above paragraph.

Things To Consider

In what ways can you expand? Is there anything that you want to learn? What are your ideals and do they truly align with your heart’s desires? What is coming up regarding your friends/social network? In what ways can you grow in your relations? Or What are the potentials for growth amongst your relations? How can you balance or collaborate your individual needs with the needs of the group? What does freedom mean for you and how can you achieve it? Is there anything that you need to shift, shake up, rebel against, or liberate yourself from? Is there anything new you want to try or experiment with?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak time for this Full Moon is at 12:02pm Universal Time on August 22nd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

NOTE: I will be on holiday over the following weeks and may not be able to do my next New Moon article depending on how things go. Stay tuned for my upcoming articles or join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive future content that I put out.

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