Let’s Talk Witch – How To Meditate

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How To Meditate

So exactly where should you begin? Do you have to sit in a lotus position, like a human pretzel? Should you press your thumbs and index fingers together and chant OM? Well, first of all, just relax. If you can do that much, you’re well on your way. The following directions offer suggestions and guidelines to help you get the most out of meditation. You don’t have to follow them exactly. Trust your instincts; if something feels awkward, don’t do it. And remember, give yourself a chance–meditation isn’t something you’ll master overnight.

Let go of any preconceptions about how fast you should be “getting it,” or what kind of magickal experience might result. If you set a lot of expectations for yourself, you’re likely to be disappointed and make learning more difficult. Meditation isn’t something you strive or push yourself to excel at. You ease into it.

Find a convenient place and a comfortable position that you can sit in for a while. The more comfortable your body is, the easier it becomes for your mind to direct its attention toward the purpose you’ve intended. At first, your mind is going to jump about from thought to thought, like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. Everything from a little twitch in your leg to a dog barking down the road can potentially break your concentration. That’s why meditation is considered a discipline.

Close your eyes and give yourself permission to put the world around you “on hold” for a bit. Breathe slowly and deeply; pay attention to your breath. If may help to shake out your arms and legs or stretch a bit before you sit down to meditate. Some people like to do some light exercise, such as yoga or walking, to release tension prior to meditation.

Begin by committing yourself to just five minutes of meditation a day, then increase the amount of time over a period of weeks. Just sit quietly, with your eyes closed. At first five minutes may seem like an eternity, but soon you’ll stop glancing at your watch and simply enjoy taking a brief time out to relax.

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Daily OM For January 15th – Allowing Spirit In

Allowing Spirit In

Clearing Your Mind

by Madisyn Taylor

 

The more we practice settling our minds, the easier it will become over time.

 

After a full day out in the world, stories, words, images, and songs from any number of sources continue to play in our heads hours after we encounter them. Even as we lie in bed, in the quiet dark, our minds continue noisily processing all the input from our day. This can leave us feeling unsettled and harassed. It also makes it difficult to take in any new information or inspiration. Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas, and inspiration.

Too often, the activities we choose to help us relax only add to the clutter. Watching television, seeing a movie, reading a book, or talking to a friend all involve taking in more information. In order to really clear our minds, we need a break from mental stimulation. Activities like yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds. Most of us instinctively know what allows our minds to relax and release any unnecessary clutter. It may be meditation or time spent staring at the stars. Whatever it is, these exercises feel like a cool, cleansing bath for the brain and leave our minds feeling clear and open.

Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes second nature over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allows us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world as the fresh offering it is, free of yesterday’s mental clutter.

 

The Daily OM

Meditation Every Day? We Thought Not!

Meditation Every Day? We Thought Not!

An Expert Offers a Brush-Up on Meditation Basics

by Dianus Blackcat

Meditation is the foundation of pagan spiritual practice, and a basic method to improve our mental and physical state in today’s often stressful and chaotic world. For most pagans, the art of meditation is one of the first skills learned in spiritual practice. Yet for many, the value found in daily meditation exercises is sometimes left by the wayside during the course of our busy lives.

Why meditate every day? Because from pressure to complete tasks at work or school, to world politics, we are bombarded with stressful stimuli every day. That stress can negatively affect both our mental and physical health. Simple meditation exercises, practiced routinely, can counter the negative impact of overstimulation on our minds and bodies.

Mental and physical stresses are experienced together, joined like two sides of the same coin. For example, think of something pleasant, such as a loved one or a sunny afternoon. Immediately we experience the pleasant feelings associated with these images. After thinking of something good, we feel good. If we think of something unpleasant, we conversely experience a negative sensation. We grimace at the news. Pressures on the job give us tension headaches. We use this same mind-body connection in ritual when we take an action in the physical plane to activate the astral. By this principle, meditation can be approached as ritual and magick.

Meditation techniques vary from person to person. Often meditation is put into a religious context. It is not necessary to do so to achieve the benefits of reduced stress, but as pagans, we find that a spiritual dimension to life leads to increased happiness and health. Some practitioners burn incense and play New Age music. Others might sit in various yoga positions and fast or otherwise modify their diet as part of their meditation routine. Despite the variations, virtually all meditation practices do have some attributes in common: a state of deep relaxation, a quieting of mental chatter and a keen awareness of either our internal state or external surroundings.

Many people find it challenging to experience all three of these common attributes at the same time. They may try to silence mental chatter with a forceful effort, only to end up negating their attempt to remain relaxed. They may become so relaxed as to fall asleep, countering their attempt to remain aware. Meditation is not always easy, but the methods are quite straightforward and simple. Even if we have mastered the techniques, like any skill, meditation becomes easier and more rewarding with practice.

Stress is experienced in the body as tension. The origin of that tension can be a mental source, such as the memory of an argument, or a physical source, such as bad weather. What many people forget is that the mental-physical link works both directions. That is, just as our body responds to thoughts, our thoughts will respond to our body. Many people become grouchy when hungry or depressed when overtired. When we reduce the physical tension, we experience a relief of mental tension. Knowing this gives us our first step in successful meditation: deep relaxation.

Step 1: Deep Relaxation

Find a quiet place were you can comfortably sit upright and not be disturbed. It is helpful to have a small kitchen timer or other alarm to keep track of the time for you, so that you are not preoccupied with how long you have been meditating. Take a moment to tense up and then release each muscle group in your body, beginning with your feet, then legs, then gradually moving upward. Twist your torso, then lift and stretch your arms. Finish by moving the muscles in your face to make exaggerated facial expressions. Wrinkle your nose; stretch your mouth. Really let go, but do not strain yourself. Remember to continue breathing deeply. When you draw in a breath, push out from your belly to expand your lungs. Doing so will increase the amount of available oxygen in your lungs, aiding your relaxation. Be sure to exhale fully to prevent dizziness.

After you stretch out and relax, you are usually aware of internal thoughts and feelings more than anything else. We might hear a little voice inside our heads or have a constant internal dialogue going on. We rehash old discussions, worry about unpaid bills and criticize our hair or clothes. This is the mental chatter that we need to quiet from time to time, for it is often the most insidious cause of stress in our lives.

We cannot always control the external events that have an impact on us, but we can do something about our reaction to those events. Silencing the mental chatter can give us just the break we need to help us to view external events more objectively. I believe that an underlying motivation for overstimulation in today’s society is the desire to escape relentless self-dialogue. When we process input, we are distracted away from our egos.

Our egos tend to consume a lot of our energy by worrying about superficial, cultural matters. By adjusting our focus away from them, it helps us to connect to that divine part of ourselves that is a great source of spiritual connection and inspiration. Remembering this gives us our second step in successful meditation: silencing the mental chatter.

Step 2: Silencing Mental Chatter

After having stretched, still breathing deeply in a relaxed way, allow your gaze to fall upon some pleasant, yet emotionally neutral, focal point. I recommend you light a candle ahead of time that you can focus on, but anything pleasing to you is fine. It can be a religious object, a flower or some scenic view. Just look at the object. Do not think about it; just watch it. A candle is useful because it will flicker and change, making it easier to observe without boredom because it changes unexpectedly. Do not make mental notes or judgments. As thoughts come into your mind, simply allow them to pass. Do not attempt to force the thoughts out of your head. You are awake and alive, and thoughts will come to you. Rather, continue to pay attention to your focal object. Watch it as if it is about to jump out at you and you don’t want to miss a thing. By focusing your attention on this single object, time will pass and you will realize that the mental chatter has stopped.

When we calm down the voice of our ego by focusing our attention, we suddenly become aware of a great deal of information that we were missing due to our focus on internal dialogue. For many, that internal dialogue is of a criticizing nature. With that internal critic out of the way, it becomes much easier to face the challenges we may have been suppressing. Facing any hidden or suppressed emotions is the best way to release them from our lives and improve our mental and physical health. Knowing this gives us our third step in successful meditation: keen awareness of either our internal state or external surroundings.

Step 3: Keen Awareness

When observing the focal object of your meditation, allow yourself to also notice your surroundings. Notice the temperature of the air around you. If you are outside, is it calm or windy? Is it hot or cold? Listen for any sounds. Is there traffic on the road outside? Is there a bird singing somewhere? Do you hear some people having a conversation somewhere else in the house? Allow yourself to simply be the observer. You may begin to feel a deep connection with the world around you. You may also have sudden flashes of images from previous or current challenges in your life. Allow yourself to view any memories as if you were watching the events of a fictional character in a movie. Simply observe. The detachment from these images may be difficult at first, but concentrate on remaining relaxed and remembering to breathe deeply.

Meditation is a skill that improves with practice. Regular meditation practice will reduce stress and lead to a happier and healthier outlook on life. For positive results, meditation should be performed every day for at least 15 minutes. Each of us can afford to take 15 minutes out of our day to do something good for ourselves. After a while, you may find that troubles in the news and in life, although still troubling, can be dealt with. When we are relaxed and energized through these exercises, we are more able to face challenges. There may be times when we are particularly upset and might feel that we cannot meditate during a crisis. When we are most upset is precisely the time when we need meditation the most. It will help.

Meditation helps us to understand ourselves because it requires us to carefully pay attention to our inner thoughts as well as the world around us. When we pay attention to the world, we can more fully interact with it. When we can interact with the world, we can change the world and cease to be helpless and fearful. Often we approach the world by talking out our opinions and thoughts, projecting sometimes false ideas on others. Meditation is a way to stop the talking. Simple meditation exercises, when practiced routinely, can counter the negative impact of daily stress on our minds and bodies. When I stopped talking, I listened. When I listened, I heard. Listen, and you will hear a world within and around you, inviting you and loving you, divinely connected.

Today’s Affirmation, Thought & Meditation for February 29th

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Today’s Affirmation

I have everything I need for a full, rich, happy life. My inner resources are abundant. I have plenty of support, for which I offer thanks.

 

 

Today’s Thought

When we embark on a new experience, we may shiver with fear or sweat with desire. Better to live in harmony, at the temperature of our surroundings.

 

Today’s Meditation

The Peace Table

Practice this meditation before a family gathering to bring a spirit of goodwill to the occasion. Visualize the dining table with your family members seated around it. Mentally go around the table, stopping at each person in turn to reflect on your relationship with them. Is there any tension between you? How can it be resolved? Imagine yourself settling the differences between you wherever possible. Bring the sense of peace generated by these reconciliations with you to the meal.

Today’s Affirmation, Thought & Meditation for February 22nd

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Today’s Affirmation

My aim in life is to learn what I can from my experiences, to act on that learning and by my example to share what I have learned with others.

 

Today’s Thought

Like a shoal of fish swimming as one within the ocean, humankind is bound together by a common destiny. While finding your own path in life, draw strength from the knowledge that everyone around you is also on a journey. You are never wholly alone.

 

Today’s Meditation

One Step At A Time

Practice this meditation whenever you feel paralyzed by fear and unable to move forward with your life.

  1. Stand in the middle of a room, close your eyes and visualize the source of your fear ahead of you.
  2. Bring your attention to your body. Notice how you are feeling. Breathe deeply, allowing yourself to be with your feelings without fighting them.
  3. When you feel more comfortable, take a step toward the source of your fear.
  4. Continue to repeat steps 2 and 3 so that by gradually acclimatization you overcome the obstacles that prevent you from moving forward.

Meditation 101: An Overview

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

What is meditation?:

For folks in the Western hemisphere, meditation is often seen as some sort of “new-age hippie” fad, something that you do right before you eat granola and hug a spotted owl. However, Eastern civilizations have known about the power of meditation and used it to control the mind and expand the consciousness.

Today, Western thinking is finally catching up, and there is an increasing awareness of what meditation is and what it can be used for. The benefits of meditation are mentioned not only by Wiccans and Pagans but by health practitioners and other everyday people.

How does meditation work?:

The mind is made up of many facets, many of which we have not even begun to tap into. The conscious mind consists of all the things you’re aware of on a daily basis: can I pay my bills? Does my lover still love me? Will my parents get sick? Did I forget to clean the cat box? There is also the subconscious mind – all the things you know, but don’t know that you know. This is where things like memory and involuntary body functions come from. Finally, there is the part called the super consciousness, which is the higher self, the center of spiritual growth and well-being.

What happens in a meditation session?:

Meditation allows you to focus on the subconscious and the super conscious minds. During a meditative session, you may find yourself meeting various archetypes, or encountering things that seem symbolic. This is your mind’s way of telling you what’s going on, and all you have to do is figure out how to interpret the message.

Guided meditations:

There are different meditation techniques, one of which is called guided meditation. In this technique, a guide – either in person or via a recording – leads the meditation, telling you where to go and what you see. They may include things such as, “You are walking down a path in the woods,” or “There is a person coming towards you who holds something in her hand.” For beginners, a guided meditation is excellent, because it provides a good idea of what meditation actually is, and allows you to center your focus. You can buy commercially produced guided meditation CDs, or you can create your own with a tape recorder.

Freeform meditation:

Freeform meditation is one where there is no guide, and you simply let your mind wander. To do this, sit comfortably and allow yourself to relax as much as possible. Some people like to lie down when meditating, but others find that they fall asleep when they do so. Choose whichever method is best for you.

Where should I meditate?:

Find a place where you can be relatively undisturbed. Turn off the phone and the television, put the kids to bed, and close the windows if there’s traffic outside. In some traditions, meditation is only performed inside a sacred space, so feel free to cleanse and consecrate the area as you see fit. Remove any possible distractions, and wear clothing that’s comfortable. In fact, you can meditate skyclad (nude) if you choose.

When is a good time to meditate?:

As to when you meditate, the best time is whenever you can get some quiet time. If that’s in the morning before everyone else gets up, great. If it’s at night when your family has gone to bed, that’s fine too. Many people like to meditate at night so they can go outside and meditate under the moon and stars. Whatever time you decide to practice, try to do it at the same time every day. This will allow you for more consistency, and get you into good meditation habits.

Life’s Obstacles Meditation

Life’s Obstacles Meditation

(A Meditation Thought)
 
“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to get through first, some unfinished business. Only after that would life get under way. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were life.
 
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