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Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

A couple of odd things happened this last week.

Firstly, I have been dragging my carcase out of bed at 06:30 to do early morning meditations (that’s not the odd thing). Since I’m still finding my feet, I’m reading the Dorling Kindersley 101 Essential Tips: Basic Meditation and trying out different things here and there.

I was doing the door-and-stairs bit – visualise a door and go through it, descend the stairs you find and go from there – and I ended up in a corridor lined with doors. Picking a door at random, I opened it and entered. I found myself deep underwater and above a drowned city, barely visible in the murk below, and felt a terrible sense of unease – as if I were in a Lovecraftian horror. Not wanting to face the inevitable Shoggoth monstrosity, I visualised a door and departed. So far, so normal (for me, anyway)

Back in the corridor, I opened another door and entered into a cave. Tall and deep and sandy-floored, this is the cave I use when I go walkabout. I knew that the end of the cave leads down into the Lower World, but I avoided it; I haven’t been out on the beach much and I felt like exploring. Turning, I found that the cave had been blocked. The walls ware still brightly lit, as though the cave mouth was open to the sky, but huge boulders blocked my path. A voice echoed inside my head – ‘now you’re trapped, and will never be king’. I knew the woman whose voice I could hear and could call her to mind easily – tall and imperious, with alabaster skin and raven hair, and dressed in black from head to toe, like Morgana leFay in an 80s BBC drama.

Confident that I couldn’t be trapped there, I opened my eyes, and shut them again very quickly – I knew that I wasn’t fully in my body, but was looking at the world from just above and behind my head. I couldn’t just get up and walk off; I knew had to finish this properly, so I went to the back of the cave and through the tunnel into the Lower World.

When I started journeying, the books I read suggested forming a ‘safe place’ within the Other Worlds that you could venture forth from, or retreat to, and that’s where I ended up. It had changed some since the last time I visited, but was still familiar and – most importantly – safe. Salmon was waiting for me in the pool in the middle, and I knew that was where my exit would be found, so I waded in and spent a few, wordless, moment with him, before completely submerging myself, visualising my exit and leaving.

~~

At the public Vernal Equinox ritual/Full Moon Grove on Saturday, we did a ‘grow new habits’ spell. Once again, I had no idea what  I was doing and just went along with what I was told.

I thought hard about what I wanted to grow and spread the seeds around the ritual space, still thinking about my intentions, then returned to the circle. Since it was my first spell, I wasn’t sure it would work, so I added a bit of personal visualisation to reinforce the affirmations I’d been repeating to myself.

I visualised the seeds germinating, and the tiny shoots emerging from the soil … and promptly lost control of the visualisation. The shoots erupted from the ground, twined together into a large tree, came into leaf and presented me with a large, dark red apple. I took the apple and took a bite before returning to reality.

~~

It’s the second meditation session in six months that’s turned around and done its own thing, and – if the visualisation during the ritual is anything to go by – it seems to be getting more common. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I have a suspicion that I’m being called back to journey-work.

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I’ve recently discovered Rob Cutter’s YouTube channel (username: Angeldeluz1970). He’s been inactive for 2 years, with no intention of returning, so I want to jot down some of his advice so I still have it if the videos get deleted for whatever reason.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Candle meditation

Set a piece of paper and a pencil in your meditation space.

Darken the room and light a candle.

Cutter suggests a birthday candle, as he has found that they burn for about ten minutes. As you wish to increase the length of the practice, increase the size of the candle.

Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths.

Centre.

Watch the centre of the candle’s flame.

Focus on the top of the flame.

As you find your mind wandering, make a mark on the paper and return your attention to the flame.

This is intended to stop the  cycle of ‘Oh no, I just had a thought! Drat! That was a thought, too. And that. And that…’

As you practice, the number of marks you obtain will increase as you become more aware of your thoughts; eventually you will be able to school your mind and the marks will decrease in number.

Do not try to empty the mind – that’s a recipe for failure. As a wise master once said “Do or do not; there is no try”.

Cutter recommends doing this for ten minutes daily, followed by ten minutes of visualisation and ten of energy-raising, which seems reasonable enough.

——

I have tried this meditation twice now – once in the morning and once at night – and I find it unpleasant. Gazing at a flame for ten minutes leaves my eyes feeling strained and tired, even first thing after I wake, and neither attempt left me feeling as calm and relaxed as my regular breathing meditation

Perhaps calling it a ‘meditation’ is a misnomer. Concentration practice might be more accurate, but I still think that perhaps there is a way to increase my focus without killing my eyes.

EDIT – 13-Aug-2010:

This method is similar to the second stage of a Buddhist practice called ‘Trataka’.

The first stage of Trataka is fixing the gaze on a symbol (e.g.: the Om symbol, or a deity image). “The practice continues until the eyes begin to water, at which point they are closed, and relaxed.” (Wikipedia: Trataka, 13-Aug-2010).

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Breathing

I lay there, not sleeping, listening to the deep breathing of the baby. If you have ever watched a baby sleep, to say that a sleeping baby breathes deep is an understatement. A baby breathes with his entire body, and even more so in sleep. His belly fills up like a balloon and empties out as if deflated. “A complete breath” is the expression that comes to mind. To me a baby has a more natural breath than an adult. They don’t carry as much stress or tension in their bodies. Their diaphragms aren’t constricted and tight from lack of use. There are not tension knots in their throats. Their breath, I would think, is closer to how our breath is supposed to be.

That night, I started noticing the pattern of my babies’ breathing. There is no interruption or pause between the inhalation and the exhalation; it is a smooth in and out. Then there is a slight pause before they draw in another breath. Their breath goes something like this: in and out, slight pause, in and out, slight pause. The pause is not long, maybe a half a second to a second at most.

Babies are nose breathers, inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils. The breath is deep, expanding both the lungs and diaphragm completely. Their entire body moves up and down with each breath.

I had always thought that deep breathing was a product of physical and mental relaxation brought on by meditation or yoga. When I forced it, as I did, it was neither comfortable nor relaxing. It did not feel natural. Rather, it was strenuous, awkward and difficult. Why, I used to wonder, would I begin my meditation by doing something that is physically hard. It was easier for me to enter an alpha state through mental focus and relax my body, which naturally deepens my breath, than initially to focus on breathing deeply. Was I wrong?

Over the next several weeks, what I discovered with my nightly experiments was that, while forcing my breath to mimic that of a sleeper, even though it was not occurring naturally and was uncomfortable and awkward, it forced my mind and body into a sleep pattern. Faking the breath faked out the mind and body and produced the mental state I wanted.

I tried this new outlook on breathing in other facets. Paying attention to my breath while I was meditated, I noticed how it was different from the breath of sleep. When meditating, there is an added pause, at least for me, between inhalation and exhalation. It went something like: in, pause, out, pause.

My realization made me think of the meditation guides I read long ago saying to focus on the breath. I thought they meant as a foci, as something to concentrate on in order to relax the mind. I didn’t realize it was also a way to learn what your breath is like while meditating in order to reproduce the physical and mental effects using only the breath – no foci necessary.

During ritual I can use my breath to force myself into a deeper alpha state, which is better to feel and control ritual energies. During trance work, when I find myself distracted, the utilization of breath can bring the mind back to the trance.

—————-
Excerpt from: Witchvox – The Breath and Faking it

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Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.

1. Turn off your mobile and unhook the phone.

2. Wear comfortable clothing.

3. Play some soft NON-vocal music or nature sounds.

4. Close your eyes.

5. Look at the after image behind your eyelids.

6. Take and hold a big breath.

7. Place all your thoughts, anxieties, stress, into this breath while holding it in.

8. Release the breath.

9. Take and hold another big breath while visualizing a clear or white light coming in with the breath. This is a POSITIVE calming energy.

10. Release this breath.

11. Take and hold a third breath while visualizing a pure white or gold light coming in at the same time.

12. Place your being-ness into this energy.

13. Imagine this energy going throughout your entire body.

14. Send this energy out with your consciousness through your crown and out of your body.

15. Exhale and breathe normally.

16. Send your consciousness out to space.

17. Notice the house below you, then the entire area.

18. Continue extending your consciousness into the sky until you can visualize the curvature of the earth.

19. Picture yourself arching your back and looking up.

20. See a spiral of light with a black circle in the center.

21. Extend yourself into the center black circle – remember you are perfectly safe.

22. As you enter the center of the spiral, it is warm and inviting.

23. As you extend into the center of the spiral, it becomes a roller coaster type movement, going down and to the left.

24. Spiraling lower and lower at a safe speed.

25. After a time, notice a light at the end of the tunnel.

26. You get closer and closer to it.

27. Soon, you realize it is an opening or door.

28. You stop at the door. The doorway has a gold frame. Notice the details.

29. Look out onto a peaceful meadow, see the flowers, and smell the grass, trees, and ground.

30. Step out to the meadow, sit down and feel the sunshine on your body.

31. After a time, you get up, stretch, and feel refreshed.

32. Notice that there is a Silver Door in the distance.

33. Walk toward it. When you get there, look back and know that you can return here at any time.

34. Step through the door, and find yourself back in your own body.

Source: Witchvox essay: An Easy Meditation Technique

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