Life won’t slow down for anyone, but each of us should hit pause for a few minutes each day to connect with our inner voice, says Aarona Lea, an embodied intuition and ritual guide, a yoga teacher for 15 years and the author of The Moon Deck, an oracle deck of cards with inspiring art and mantras to help busy people build a daily ritual around checking in with themselves and becoming more mindful of what they are thinking and feeling.

The power of ritual

Aarona, a fan of affirmation and divination decks, used to hand-paint words on pieces of paper and hand them out in her yoga class as conversation starters before deciding to create her own deck of cards with the one-line prompts that she had been writing and working with in a women’s moon circle in New York. She found that the simple act of turning over a card and reflecting on its message helped her to find inner guidance when times felt turbulent or she felt out of balance.

“If I was confused or unclear about something, it helped me to get clear or helped to bring forward what I already knew inside but wasn’t willing to accept,” Aarona explains.

Just the small act of picking a card, studying the image, reading the words and thinking about what it means to you can surface insights, she says, even before people turn to the description and the exercise in the accompanying book. For example, Aarona says, it could bring up a desire to reconnect with or forgive someone, help to confirm something you suspected or provide a fresh perspective on an existing problem.

“It’s really about self-discovery,” Aarona says, even for those who feel that divination is too far-fetched or out there. “I think that the common denominator is that we all need support at times in our life and guidance and that we don’t need to do it alone.”

It’s about asking questions and learning about ourselves, and from there, she says, using this information to be more focused on our purpose, present in our relationships or just happier in general.

Listening to your body

One of the most important but hardest things to master, Aarona says, is learning how to be in your body and be accepting and present in each moment.

“I’ve spent a lot of time … trying to escape my body in different ways,” she explains, referring to a decade-long struggle with bulimia that began at age 13. At age 17, she began to eat organic food and get more focused on wellness, but she soon realized that her focus on health wasn’t exactly healthy; it was still wrapped up in disturbed eating and perfectionism. She says she wasn’t permitting herself to be who she truly was.

Her struggles with insecurity, self-doubt and self-acceptance made her more devoted to cracking the code of intuition and validating the signs and signals that show up in our life to tell us whether we’re on or off track with our decisions, whether it’s a feeling of “yes” and a sensation of expansion in the body, or something more tangible in the outside world, such as a billboard with the right words showing up at the right moment or an overheard conversation  that confirms a feeling we were having.

“It’s a practice of paying attention to the signs and symbols that show up in the world around us and to what we’re feeling internally in our body and trust that and validating it, even if it doesn’t always make sense right away,” she explains.

Intuition, Aarona says, thrives in a space of validation and acceptance. It guides us on the path to greater health. Some of us, she says, might start this journey by working out and getting stronger, others might start with therapy and working on our mindset or working on our emotional health and being able to cry and feel unpleasant feelings. Wherever you start, she says, the goal is to eventually look at ourselves as these holistic beings where the physical, mental, spiritual, energetic and emotional all play a part in our health, in our relationship and in our self-worth, which shows up in our careers and creative energy.

Morning practice

The best place to start, Aarona says, is with a morning practice—taking just three minutes to choose a card and reflect or perform some other small ritual that tells your body and your spirit that you care for it. It sets the tone for the day.

Developing a practice each morning of reflection—in both good times and bad—helps anchor our energy and keep us from spinning out as life shifts beneath our feet. Just as making a bed helps calm some people and they’re willing to do it no matter how strapped they are for time, Aarona says the daily commitment to taking time for our thoughts and coming back to home base creates better resilience to help see us through life’s ups and downs.

The perks of being present

Indeed, Aarona says, being more present to our thoughts and feelings can create a ripple effect, spurring the creation of other healthy habits, opening new opportunities and helping us let more people into our lives who we might otherwise exclude.

Moreover, she says, if you’re listening to your intuition a little bit each day—versus waiting until it becomes a scream—you can more easily remove yourself from situations that might not serve you and adjust your mindset and the way you speak to yourself so life becomes more uplifting and positive.

“The earlier we are able to listen to the subtle whisper of intuition,” she says, “the more on path we’ll be.”

Check back here to watch Aarona Lea explain how to use The Moon Deck or any other divination tool and make space for personal insight on the Autumn Equinox.