Okay, as you will notice, I got a bit wordy on this post, but it is because this is such an important post, not just for witches, but for everyone, in my opinion. As previously discussed, meditation is a handy tool for a witch to use for bettering self-understanding, self-awareness, and for learning how to strengthen the control over their mind, which is necessary to help them in casting successful spells. It can provide insights the witch needs in order to craft a spell for a particular need, to build a ritual that will serve its intended purpose, or to work in the creation of other, physical tools they want to create for their practice of magick.
Moreover, it strengthens the witch’s control over their mind as well as teaching the witch how to see things from different perspectives in the event seeing an issue from a different perspective can increase the likelihood of the success of a particular spell.
There are several methods, which may be used to begin learning meditation. Some may be effective for a specific beginner, some may not. It is much like learning to scry with a crystal ball, while everyone can practice the process of learning to scry, not all will learn to master it. On the contrary, with meditation, if one process does not work for you, try another one and see if it brings more success. Meditation is worth the effort put into it, no matter how much effort it is because the benefits to mind, body and soul are incredible.
While I suggest meditation is a great tool for witches, in truth, I believe it is a great tool for all humans to use. It enhances the mind, body, spirit connection so many people in today’s world appear to lack. It can provide a certain balance to people many sorely lack. In these days where consumerism seems to be the all important deity to some, it may help turn focus away from material possessions and allow people to better understand the most important thing, the one true thing, they do possess… themselves. It may allow people to find a greater contentment within themselves without having to look for it elsewhere.
When beginning to learn meditation, you need to remember it is a process. You cannot just sit in a specific position on the floor, a chair, or lie comfortably on a couch and just do it. You need to breathe properly, to focus your intent on the process you are learning, and make a conscious effort to achieve the purpose you have set forth for the meditation.
In the beginning it will not be easy. Learning to simply accept your thoughts as they come is harder than it sounds. Learning to simply see your emotions from a distance, mentally, without judging them as right or wrong, but merely accepting their existence without allowing them to take over your thoughts, is not an easy process. Meditation, at least in the beginning, is real work. You have to have a purpose, or goal, and be willing to work toward it to achieve any success. Just as with everything else in your life, success will not just fall into your lap.
You need to be prepared for your efforts to fail, at least on occasion, if not frequently, at first. You may be letting your mind explore the intricacies of a specific emotion, or one direct train of thought, when suddenly your mind wants to jumps tracks on you. If you are exploring how your mind works, in general, how one thing relates to another for you, personally, then this may be acceptable. On the other hand, if you are trying to learn, in depth, more about your specific responses to, reasoning behind, and experience of an initial emotion or thought, this is going to be annoying. Instead of allowing yourself to be annoyed, allow the new thought to briefly occupy the space and time. See if there is an obvious correlation to the initial point of view you were going for. There may be a correlation that your subconscious mind sees which your conscious mind cannot pick up on just yet. If you do not spot the connection, file the new thought for contemplation later, and gently return to the initial focus of the session. Don’t stress over it.
The most important thing is to realize with meditation, you will be learning things about yourself you did not know before. You may not see something clearly with your conscious mind but it is obvious to your subconscious mind. Even if you think something is totally off base or if something seems completely abstract when compared to what you think you know about yourself, be prepared to learn that all is not what it seems from the outside. Sometimes your inner workings will surprise you, so do not simply dismiss thoughts that seem out of place, initially, when they pop into your head during meditation.
Here are a few basic steps to follow:
In the beginning set a specific day, or days of the week, and designate a specific time of day for your forays into meditation. You are training your consciousness to do something entirely different than it is used to doing, and sometimes it can be like trying to train a small, unruly child. Discipline yourself to have a time set aside to focus on nothing other than this new process you are learning. Set a timer, if necessary, to remind yourself to stop what you are currently doing and begin the process of preparing to meditate. Also, remember, just because you, consciously, want to learn to meditate on something specific, you intend to learn to meditate about it, does not mean that particular “something” in your subconscious is ready to allow itself to be revealed. Sometimes things want to stay hidden, even from you. Once your mind gleans your intent, sometimes this occult knowledge will cause you to “forget” the scheduled time, or may make you feel you want to “skip it for tonight” in order to do something else with friends, etc. Never assume anything when it comes to meditation. Once you set a time to do your meditation, stick to the set time. Personally, I suggest meditation after the rest of your day is complete. I will explain this reasoning further as we go along.
Plan your personal level of comfort for the meditation. Even though you will not be “working out” with your body, with this mental exercise, your body will still need to be comfortable throughout the possibly long process. You will need to have a complete inner focus, so you cannot be worrying about “Do I sit on the floor?”, “Do I lie on my bed?”, “If I lie down am I going to fall asleep?”, “Are these clothes going to be comfortable in the position I have chosen?”, types of thoughts when the time for the meditation to begin. You need to have this worked out ahead of time. Choose loose fitting clothing that breathes. Choose to meditate in the nude, if you are comfortable and the setting allows. Make certain the temperature in the room will be comfortable with the state of dress, or undress, you have chosen. Make certain your chosen body position will be comfortable for anywhere from several minutes to extended periods if your meditation runs longer than expected. Sometimes what is intended to be a quick 15 or 20 minute exploration can turn into a marathon adventure, unexpectedly. This is one of the reasons why I suggest meditation prior to sleeping or at the end of your day. If you find you have been lying in an uncomfortable position for an extended period, but then realize you have a chore to run, you can become very annoyed with yourself. If you suddenly have to do that errand with a leg muscle that cramps, or twitches, or especially if you have a neck that hurts every time you turn to look for traffic while driving, you will quickly regret it
Set aside a specific location in your personal space that will be conducive to the purpose of meditation. You need to have a place where you can be comfortable, either lying down or sitting. You need a space where you will not be interrupted and a space that is quiet. You should be away from other people in the household or other distractions like background TV noises, children playing, etc. When you are meditating, you need to be able to tune out as much external stimulation as possible while being in the position you believe will allow you to go as deeply into yourself as possible, without being in a place or space others will need to use for any reason. Once you have begun the process of meditating you need to be able to go as deeply as you wish and stay as long as necessary for you to explore what you find within yourself.
Safety is paramount, so plan ahead before you meditate. Do not get into a habit of lighting a candle, or burning incense unless you are absolutely certain it is safe to do so without your attention. Once you learn to travel within your mind, you may find you can get lost in pondering something you find there. Unless you know the candle or incense can burn unattended safely, then do not start it to begin with!
There may be times when you are deeply exploring an idea and you lose track of time. If you have to keep your meditation within a certain time frame for your safety or the safety of others, (needing to pick up a partner from work or children from school, etc.) I suggest setting an alarm when you have a hard “stop” point that cannot be avoided. There have been a few times when I intended to meditate for a set time. Instead , I got lost in a concept that was unexpected, in exploring it to see where it went I took longer than planned. Coming back to awareness a great deal later than I intended only added unneeded stress to my life. This is another reason that I suggest meditation at the end of your day. If you lose track of time, you have greater leeway to spare.
Decide upon the goals you want to achieve in your meditation. This needs to start with a daily time goal. How long do you want to meditate, each time you meditate? In the beginning, I advise setting a simple goal of five or ten minutes at a time, so you do not get over tired. You may develop headaches if you are pushing yourself too far, too fast, so take it easy and learn your personal limits first. If five minutes is not too tiring the first week or two, depending upon how often you practice, then you might decide to increase the time from there. Do not let anyone say you are taking it too slow or too fast. Use your own body as a guide. You are the one living inside your body and mind, so you know better what you can tolerate than any other person, advice from any website (yes, even this one) or the author of some book.
The next goal is to decide how often you want to meditate. Some people choose to meditate daily right from the beginning, some meditate once a week, some choose to meditate much more or less frequently according to their own set plan, or desire, for their personal goal. There is no “best number of times” to meditate during a set time period, it all depends on the frequency you decide is right for you.
The third is to set a goal for how you want to direct your meditations. Do you want to start with learning more about how your mind works? Do you want to explore some particular habit or odd quirk you have but do not fully understand? Do you want to know why you have a quick temper? Do you want to understand why you burst into tears at inappropriate times? Do you want to seek a deeper understanding to your life challenges? Do you want to explore your creativity to see where it comes from or how to better harness it? Do you want to learn how to feel contentment, or peace within yourself? There are many reasons for meditating; you merely have to decide what your reason is for meditating.
Do not be afraid to alter your goals as needed. In the beginning, your meditation may be all about how to control a specific emotion, for example: controlling anger, finding peace after the loss of a loved one, finding strength to deal with a chronic illness, etc. Just because you start one place does not mean you must end there as well. Learning to meditate is all about learning to attune your mind, body and spirit to discover your inner self, its workings, its limitations and how to improve yourself by bringing all the different parts of yourself into one complete whole. As such, remember within you, just as within everything else in nature, change is the only true constant. Learn to accept it. As you achieve your meditation goals you will want to set new ones.
Track the progress you make toward achieving your goals. Keep a meditation journal. Start on page one with what you want to achieve. Make certain to date the entries. When you have an obvious “breakthrough” moment, write it down. Even when you do not have an “Ah HA!” moment, write at least once or two sentences every session. Write down what you have been learning, how you are feeling, or any small realizations you may have gleaned during your experiences with meditation. At the end of the month, go back through the journal and skim over that month’s entries. Create a short summary of the month and what you learned. This will help you to see patterns you might otherwise miss. It will help you to clarify the progress you are making toward your goal, or goals, and allow you to see how far you have come. Personally, I suggest once a year, on the anniversary of the date you began practicing meditation, you take time to go back through the monthly summaries. If you find something of import in the journal highlight it. I suggest using multiple colored highlighters and mark off passages, which have meaning for you. Such as: If you discover a trigger for certain behaviors, or learn a method to improve something in your life, mark it for future meditations. This has proven to be an excellent way for me to spot both positive and negative patterns I might have missed, otherwise, in the larger picture of the year gone by.
When you are ready, take the next step; the next step being the practice of targeted or active, meditations, which some call wakefulness meditations, or even mindfulness. This is the practice of taking your meditations, on the road, so to speak. In passive meditations, where you remain still and focused internally, you are learning to explore yourself and your world from within. With active meditations, you learn to explore yourself and your world from focusing on the actions you take, as you take them. You focus completely on the actions your body, mind, and spirit are taking in the world. When you are fixing breakfast for yourself or your family, be in the moment completely. Feel what your body is doing, the physical actions it is taking. Ponder any thoughts that arise in the preparation of the meal, itself. Do your thoughts tend to wander or do you stay focused on the task at hand? If your mind wanders, what paths does it follow? Do you understand why it follows those paths? Pay attention to the feelings that arise as you are preparing the meal. Do you feel the joy of being able to provide the sustenance? Do you feel love for the person or persons you are preparing the meal for?
Use this wakefulness meditation as you go through your day. Start small, as it can be draining at first to try to remain aware of living so completely in each moment. As you progress and begin to get better at remaining alert to each moment over time, expand the length of time you remain wakeful, at that point, you can also begin to expand the process. In time, you can begin to look at other ways of feeling and experiencing the same activities you perform each day. Ways to improve the quality of each specific action, each particular time in your experience. In time you can alter the experience to become more meaningful simply by the way you choose to experience it. What used to be a boring or monotonous activity, a chore you dreaded having to complete, or an errand you found annoying because you would rather be doing something else, becomes a reason for joy. You can find multiple of moments of inner peace daily in the least expected places and times.
You can alter your core attitude, affect the basic sensations your body feels, and choose to change your basic perceptions through wakefulness meditation so you are more content with your life. Your circumstances do not have to change for you to find more joy in your life. You have only to become aware of the reasons for joy you already possess. You can enjoy building an inner strength to see you through the unexpected dark times that visit everyone eventually.
If you have trouble finding a rhythm with your meditations, or even once you have begun to experience success, you can incorporate additional tools to take your meditations deeper and to focus more strongly on the specific issue at hand. Per se, if you have a general desire to meditate, you can use a general meditation oil to begin, or on that helps to focus your intent on becoming more healthy, enhancing your ability to protect yourself, etc.. You may choose to light a candle related to the session or a specific incense (always remembering safety first!) related to the specific focus of the meditation, or drink a blended tea to enhance the focus of your session.
I have to admit this is a subject near and dear to my heart. I tinkered with meditation off and on over the decades, but after the loss of my beloved Azrael, in 1999, I was in a time and place where nothing mattered. A dark time of the soul where I was convinced the entire world, and certainly our three toddlers, would be better off if I were gone as well. I believe unpacking a box (in the new house I moved us into a couple of months after he passed) and finding an old journal recording some of my earlier experiences in meditation probably saved my life. I had fallen completely out of practice with my craft. I was actively avoiding every friend I had, working as many hours as I could to avoid thinking about anything of substance. At that point, our sons, my new job and my meditation were all I had. The meditation brought me back from the brink of self-destruction and gave me many more years with our sons and the time to learn that no matter what I experience, if I look inside I can learn the reason for it, can begin to understand not only why it happened, but see a reason to celebrate every experience. Not saying that this is THE way, just that it is my way.