How to meditate, meditation

The Why and How of Meditation for Witches

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:

Step One:

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.

Step Two:

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

Step Three:

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.

Step Four:

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.

Step Five:

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.

Step Six:

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.

Step Seven:

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.

Step Eight:

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.

Step Eight:

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.

In Conclusion:

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.


The Meaning of Ma’at

I have made jokes for decades about my OCD being the reason I worship Ma’at. In truth, while I do believe that is a part of the reason Ma’at appeals to me, I also believe it is mostly because I feel a kinship with the ideals that Ma’at stands for. Ma’at was more of a concept to the Egyptians than an actual Goddess. Even though they were judged according to Ma’at when they died, Ma’at was considered more of an instruction manual for life than a deity in the beginning. Ma’at was their manner of daily living that they ascribed to as ideal.

Ma’at stands for the ideals of order, balance, truth, justice, and harmony. These are the virtues of Ma’at.

As such, I try to live as much of my life according to these virtues as I possibly can. Being human, of course I fail, but the continuation of coming back to these virtues after each failure and striving not to make the same mistake again, is one of the way in which I honor her.

Order: I believe that living a well ordered life is a concept that improves my life. Instead of spinning my wheels in thoughts and deeds, I prefer to have plans made, things to work toward as goals. Keeping things orderly prevents wasted time and energy in many ways. I try to plan things out ahead of time, so that when something happens I am not caught up in a reactionary mode, but can quickly shift into my “Here’s the plan” mode. I do not enjoy trying to find something that has been mislaid. I do not like trying to search through files on my computer to find what I am looking for, so I label everything accordingly. One of the best compliments I ever received was during my tenure at my previous job. One of the managing directors of the call center introduced me to a visiting Vice President by saying, “This is Tee, I’ve told you about her. She is the most organized person I have ever met in my life!” This was priceless praise to my ears. Apparently, that is why I joined RMG years before, as my old boss explained it. He said he decided to take me from the front line of the call center and promote me to the Resource Management Group (RMG) under him, for exactly that reason. I had lost my voice for a time, during which, I became a temporary assistant to organize the RMG team’s area (especially his pigsty of an office) for the team of four men because he said my own area was immaculate and orderly. In addition, I had documented and submitted several new methods and procedures to streamline efficiency for the call center during my 8 months on the frontline phones so he wanted me to streamline his filing and reports system. I worked in the other three cubes minimally, but I gave his office a thorough sweep, organizing, filing, and creating a logical system for him to follow. I got my voice back two days later and two days after that, I was a full-time member of the RMG team even though I was not an actual employee, but still a contractor.

Balance: Living a life of balance with other people, animals, and nature is something that many witches strive for in life. For me, striving to do as little intentional harm as possible to the world around me and to balance out what harm I do by committing acts of kindness toward people and animals has become a way of life. When a new animal turns up running loose in or neighborhood, we adopt it, or we did until we just could not keep any more by law. Now, we bring them into the home short term, check for tags, and have the vet scan for ids trying to locate its original family. Failing that, we find the animal a new home with a family or a place in a local no-kill shelter. The animals we cannot catch, we put food and water out for as needed, it is our way of life. Trying to recycle everything I can for my family, reduce the new material goods we buy and reuse old goods in new ways is a way of life. Using the Freecycle network to transfer items we no longer need to those who can use them and trying to find new items that we need, instead of purchasing them from a store in order to save on earth’s natural resources is a way of life. We grow what food we can to reduce our carbon footprint; we do not use pesticide and herbicides to poison the earth and groundwater and this, too, is a way of life. We conserve water in excess of what is required in our drought prone area of Texas and our electric energy is from 100% renewable sources, which is our way of life. Though we are not well off, we do manage to donate to local charities in time, money, and even blood. I support Kiva and Heifer international for worldwide charity toward those in worse shape around the world than we are at this time. This is not only a way of life, but also one of the great joys in my life.

Truth: Ma’at represents another standard to live by, which makes logical sense to me. Since I value honesty and truthfulness in those I deal with because they represent respect in my mind, if I lie and deceive someone, then I am not giving him or her respect they deserve as human beings. I tend to show respect to those in positions of authority, unless by their own dishonesty and deceit they have shown no honor of their own, then I try to destroy them or failing that, send them far away. I follow the laws of humanity for the same reason, as a sign of respect to my community and to society as a whole. I know that I do not like being lied to or deceived any more than others do. As such, I do others the respect of not lying to or trying to deceive them. This can be a double-edged sword for those who know me, though. Do not ask me a question if you do not want to know the answer. While I will try to be tactful and diplomatic if I can, if I cannot, you will get the answer you asked for but perhaps not the answer you wanted to hear. I have raised my sons to follow this particular code especially. It is my way of honoring the future.

Justice: I am a strong believer in the concept of actual justice. While I will forgive slights and overlook rudeness in most cases, for large transgressions, I am devout in seeking justice. I would have no problem at all with the death penalty being enacted for child molesters, murders, gang member who commit violent acts, rapists and those who would sell drugs to people before the age of accountability. Furthermore, I would be quite content to flip the switch on these people myself if “Old Sparky” were still being used in Texas. Other crimes, in my opinion, should have punishments tailored to fit the individual crime instead of simple incarceration. I do not think that locking someone behind bars, giving them three square meals a day, heating and cooling them in the seasons, providing them with free exercise equipment, free medical, dental and vision plans and an education is the way to handle crime. Especially when so many of the taxpayers in this country do not have these rights for themselves, but have to give money to the government to pay for the criminals. I would be more than thrilled to see the inmates required to grow their own food, tend to animals if they want meat, clean their own buildings and living properties, tend to the landscaping, and work off their transgressions with hard labor. The labor can monetarily recompense or reimburse those the criminals have harmed financially. Then again, I would not be locking up many of the people that targeted in the United States currently. The “three strikes laws” and the “war on drugs” have been some of the largest injustices ever, in my opinion. If someone is non-violent and stupid enough to use a drug, which rots their brain, as long as they harm no one else in the commission of this stupidity, stop incarcerating them and let them alone. It could very well be their Dharma to have that experience in this incarnation to learn from so they progress in the next incarnation. If a person is too poor to pay fines or court costs, stop incarcerating them. Instead put them to work on roadsides cleaning up litter, have them work with groups such as Habitat for Humanity, building homes for those who cannot afford to buy commercially built properties, have them work in outreach programs feeding the homeless and tending to homeless shelters in urban areas. Instead of monetary recompense for the work, this money can go to paying of the debts they owed.

Harmony: I try to live in harmony with others. I do my best to be polite and charming when dealing with strangers and acquaintances. I treat all I meet with respect and I trust people unless and until they give me reasons not to trust them. To those I love as family and friends, I give the best I have to offer. If I see someone in need, I will do my best to help them out even if it includes moving them into my home with my family (again) and helping them get back on their feet. If they abuse the generosity, they are rebuffed in the future, well, most of the time, family being what it is; I sometimes make exceptions I come to regret multiple times. Even then, I try to maintain as much harmony within the household as possible. On the job, I treat people with respect and strive for harmony across the board. I am typically friendly, out-going, and good-natured, so I do not give orders to the people under me if I can find a way around it. Instead, when they are not performing their job properly, I say “May I ask you to do me a favor?” and then point out the portion of their job they are neglecting either intentionally or inadvertently. Most often that is all I need to do and people are more than happy to comply with alacrity. If more is needed, I revert to the virtue of justice and make the punishment fit the crime.

As I have discovered firsthand, when striving to live a life based on order, balance, truth, justice, and harmony, I deal with much less stress than others around me seem to have to deal with. It is a soothing process for me. It allows me to enjoy my life, and reap the fruits of my labor in peace and contentment. Of course, nothing is perfect. There are those people who always want to start a war for nonsensical reasons. There are those who try to cause mischief and chaos so they may feed off the energy of others. Even a few who try to argue that I should be more materialistic, more power hungry.

They clearly do not understand that choosing a life with fewer golden chains allows me the freedom to have less stress, and more free time to enjoy time with the ones I love and to work on my magick. Everyone must decide for himself or herself what is most important to them. Is it the high dollar sports car, the latest phone with the “smartest” innovation, or is it ample time spent huddled around a table with good friends, enjoying a game and laughing so much you can barely breathe. Is it time in your backyard barbequing with loved ones and listening to them rave over your latest newly created recipe for homemade ice cream. As for me, I particularly liked creating homemade Apple Pie Ice Cream, Watermelon Ice Cream, and Pumpkin Ice Cream. What about you? Fun and friends or fancy goods?