02-13-13 Lesson 10: Month 3, Week 2: Meditation

Meditation
The term means different things to different people, ranging from a “guided meditation” where one pops a
cassette into the machine and follows along making images, to the still-mind state sought by eastern
practitioners. For me, the basic idea is that just as praying is talking to Deity, meditation is listening.
One can try to still the mind and receive in an open state…or one can visualize going to various inner temples,
sanctuaries, altars, or sacred spots and listening for guidance there. But the underlying theme is that when we
meditate we are asking for information: whether that be from an external or internal Deity; from one’s own
subconscious, Higher Self, higher mind, or other aspects of the self; or from nature spirits, Devas, totem animals,
angels, spirit guides, or ascended masters. Sometimes we explore our inner landscape and meet beings that are
aspects of ourselves there. Sometimes we go to previously constructed inner temples. Sometimes we simply sit
in a quiet spot and try to keep our mind open.
The concept of going within the self to explore is a different thing from taking spirit journeys to places outside
the self…places with objective or spiritual reality for others. Tripping in the astral is something different that I
may get around to covering later.
One could debate extensively about whether the entities one receives guidance from in meditation are truly
external or are aspects of the self. If the Goddess answers us when we pray and open for answers…is the answer
from something outside us or from the God/dess within? Or both? And does it matter?
In either case, the answer will be received through a filter–sometimes thick and obstructive, sometimes minimal-
-of our own expectations, fears, and understandings. In either case, it is up to us to discern if we have received
some advice that is Divine or is unduly influenced or distorted by the above-mentioned filters.
I think this is the single most important point one can make to spiritual seekers. Anything one receives could
come from the Highest levels or from one’s own fears. In the end, the responsibility lies with each of us to
determine the value of the information received…and whether we will choose to act upon it. If an entity calling
itself the Archangel Michael told you to shoot someone it would be up to you to decide if your faith that it really
was an archangel and your belief that it was acting for the highest good both warrant taking on responsibility for
ending a life.
In my experience, those entities that are closest to the Divine work though love rather than intimidation. They
offer messages of comfort, love, and choice rather than punishment, destruction, and command. But someone
who works with the Morrigan or Kali might tell you different.
I did a lot of internal energy work and a lot of internal exploration using imagery for many years before I started
trying to meditate in a way that kept my mind quiet rather than busy constructing pictures. I truly felt like I was
missing something until I took that step…and found myself making considerable progress once I did. This is
probably because I had a mind that was afraid that if it didn’t stay in control, something would go terribly wrong.
Once I was able to persuade it to take a rest once in a while and let other voices talk to me, I made great headway
in learning to trust both myself and the world around me.
I believe that all this stuff is inside us whether we choose to acknowledge it or not; if we choose to ignore it, it
will bubble away until *somehow* the pressure needs to blow off …often in ways that reinforce our fear of it.
Better to start exploring it and defusing it in small, regular doses.
There are several classical exercises that can help one start meditating.
One series involves focusing on the breath…at different points of the respiratory system, such as at the nose or at
the diaphragm…just focusing on the flow of air and the expansion and relaxation as we receive and release the
air.
Some suggest simply settling into a relaxed breathing pattern and counting breaths. Up to twenty and start
again…
Some suggest focusing on the breathing and settling into a pattern of counting during the different phases of
breathing…for example in to a count of 8, hold for 4, out for 8, and empty for 4.
All of these techniques try to focus the mind on a task that is happening naturally anyway, that is body centered,
and that allows the greater part of one’s awareness to stay uninvolved…
Some other techniques offered to beginners include focusing on a candle flame, focusing on an unmoving object
in the distance, and focusing on the repetition of a mantra.
Mantras are typically phrases with some spiritual significance intoned on each breath while meditating.
Classically, they are Sanskrit phrases. One oft-used mantra is “Om Mane Padme Hum,” meaning “Jewel in the
heart of the Lotus;” this is sacred to Quan Yin. But you can use phrases of significance to your own faith as well:
God/dess names, spiritual qualities, lines of prayer, etc.
I have found a technique which involves both breath and mantra that works very well for me. At some point, I’m
sure I’ll want to challenge myself by finding something simpler…but this has been helpful while I was learning.
At the point at the end of my breath when I am empty, I say, “Mother of all beings….” As I breathe in, I say, “Fill
me with your Light.” As I pause with my being filled, I say, “Let it heal me…” And as I breathe out, I say, “And
manifest in all I do.” Give it a try.
So, you start out focusing on your breath or the candle flame or a mantra, and everything goes well for the first
half a minute or so…then your mind finds ways to start going through a grocery list even while part of it is still
counting breaths. This is where the process gets interesting.
If the books or teachers mention this at all, they simply say that you should gently redirect your attention away
from whatever is distracting you and back upon the object of your focus. However, if you keep it up, you start to
notice patterns that can be interesting. Like how you get mad at yourself, or worried that you aren’t doing it right,
or how it’s easy to pull yourself back from stuff you’re enjoying as a distraction but less so with stuff you’re
worried about.
And every once in a while, you get very intense emotions coming up; how well do you stay focused on your
exercise and detached from these emotions? This is one of the gifts of meditation: learning that just because you
have an intense emotion, you don’t have to jump into it and let it take over your awareness…you have a choice to
observe it and learn from it while staying detached.
I can’t tell you all the things one can discover…they will be different for everyone, and I’m fairly new at this. But
one of the benefits of this sort of meditation is this different quality of focus: a detached focus rather than an
intensely involved one. It allows one to think clearly in situations where others are becoming caught in emotion.
It allows one to sift through alternatives rather than acting on reflex; in short, it allows far more choice in your
reactions to any situation.
And it allows you to listen to the voice of God/dess with fewer of those filters I was talking about. It trains you
to keep yourself open for answers and to receive those answers with less emotional overlay. In this you become
better able to trust that you know what S/He has in mind for you. I feel this is a gift well worth the time, effort,
and initial frustration involved in learning to meditate.
Some people meet Goddess when they meditate. Some feel their oneness with all. Some are filled with Light. In
the Buddhist teachings, these are distractions from the search for stillness as much as the grocery lists and
ruminations.
Like any new discipline, especially a discipline where you are likely to feel some resistance to continuing with it,
it is best to find a time when you can make meditation part of your daily routine. It is also best, at first, to set the
time and place to allow for a minimum of distraction during your sessions. Basically, any time at all that you can
set aside consistently is the minimum requirement. Ideally, most meditators try for twenty minutes morning and
night.
Most people recommend meditating sitting up; you are less likely to fall asleep. Choose a position that you can
maintain for the desired period without undue discomfort. Some people suggest dim light, some suggest a
slightly cool room. Traditional Buddhist practice is to meditate with eyes open but unfocused.
The bottom line is that if you keep it up, through the times when it seems incredibly frustrating, you do get to
some very useful insights and a new level of discipline of the mind that can only help you on your spiritual path
and in your practice of magic. If the frustration gets to the point where you give up on it for a while, stay open to
the idea that you can try again with a different technique at another time. The rewards are subtle but powerful.
Why not see how it works for you?
References.
Christopher Penczak “The Inner Temple of Witchcraft”
thedance.com
innerhealthstudio.com
Homework
Try some meditation exercises and see how they feel. Meditation is one of the most difficult
skills to become comfortable with. Why not try some guided meditations ? There are many
free scripts available or even recorded ones online.
1. Start with a relaxation: (don’t hesitate to record this and play it back.)
Begin by finding a comfortable, relaxed position.
Allow your body to begin to relax.
Breathe in…. and out…..
Take a cleansing breath in…. and breathe out the tension in your body….
Feel relaxation beginning at the bottom of your feet. It might feel like stepping into a warm
bathtub… or it may feel like a tingling sensation…. or simply calm and loose. Allow the
relaxation to spread over your feet, and up to your ankles.
Feel the relaxation rising above your ankles, flowing up your lower legs…. to your knees….
continuing up to your upper legs…
Allow the relaxation to continue to spread throughout your body, rising now to your hips and
pelvic area….
to your stomach and lower back…..
to your chest and upper back….
Let your upper arms relax…. your elbows…. lower arms…. and wrists… feel the relaxation
spread to your hands… relaxing the palms of your hands…. the back of your hands…. each
finger and thumb…. your hands feel pleasantly warm, heavy, and relaxed.
Feel your body relaxing further as the area by your collar bones widens and relaxes…. allow
your shoulders to ease back slightly….
Allow your upper back to relax even further…. let your shoulders relax…. and your neck….
Feel the relaxation continue to spread to your chin… the back of your head…. your mouth….
your cheeks….. nose…. eyes….
Feel your eyelids, heavy and relaxed….
Notice your eyebrows relaxing…. your ears relaxing…. and your forehead…..
Your forehead feels cool and relaxed…..
Let the relaxation spread further to the top of your head….
Your entire body now is relaxed and calm. Feel the relaxation flowing throughout your body,
from your head to your feet.
You can relax even further as you let your spine relax completely. Starting where the top of
your spine meets your head, feel the relaxation…. feel the muscles giving up their hold and
relaxing….
Feel the relaxation spread down your spine… down your neck…. upper back…. middle back ….
and lower back…. all the way down to your tailbone at the bottom of your spine…
Notice all of the muscles of your back relaxing completely….
Feel the relaxation flowing throughout your body.
Breathe in…. now hold that breath. And relax your muscles totally, allowing the breath to
flow gently out your nose or mouth.
Take another deep breath, breathing in relaxation….
And release the breath. Breathe out any remaining tension.
Continue to breathe smoothly and slowly as you mentally scan your body, looking for any
remaining tension.
If you notice any tension, focus on that area. Direct the relaxation to flow into that area, and
then carry the tension away.
Imagine that the air you are breathing can cleanse your body and remove tension. Imagine
that each breath in carries relaxation. Picture the tension in your body leaving with each
breath out.
Now simply relax, calmly, enjoying the feeling of relaxation for a few moments.
2. Candle or light meditation
Start by lighting a candle or small electric light if you can not use candles. Dim the lights and
do the relaxation exercise.
Direct your gaze at the light. Do not stare, but let your eyes soften.
Let the image of the light or candle fill your thoughts, focus solely on the light and stay in the
moment.
Do not strain your eyes. If they are tired; close them, but visualize the candle or light in your
mind. If the visualization is difficult, alternate opening and closing your eyes studying the
candle. This will help build your visualization skills. Do not worry if you have truble holding
the image.. Relaxation with focus is more important at this time..
Do this meditation a few minutes at first and build to longer intervals.
When done, close your eyes and relax a bit.

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