When you embark on making a deeper commitment to your spiritual Path, there are often exercises, readings and studies that present themselves and offer opportunity to expand your knowledge base as well as the spiritual aspects of our Wiccan practice. Listed below are a few of the staples that are cornerstones of a successful and productive practice. Some you will do daily, others less frequently and others still only as the occasion or need arises as you move forward on your Path.
“The pathway to good INTENTion is paved by Meditation”
There was a time that meditation was not a traditional part of practice of Western Hermetics. This protocol was strongly identified with those practices of Eastern philosophy and as such were not routinely incorporated into a strictly earth-based nature centered religion. As the craft has evolved the benefits of many of the Eastern protocols are realized to be not only compatible, but largely supportive of a well structured practice that incorporates mind, body and Spirt in the work. Meditation has become a primary and essential part of magickal work. Training oneself to sit quietly, observe their thoughts or listen for inner guidance is a discipline that will spill over into your mundane as well as spiritual life. It teaches you to relax and quiet your physical being and your mind. Setting aside time on a daily basis to engage in this discipline also teaches you how to focus and either expand or narrow your perception. These are the skills needed as we work magick and in ritual to keep us anchored in the work we are engaging in. The process of meditation is the creation a firm base of self-awareness, heightened experience and union with the Higher Self and the Divine.
The act of meditation has been used for centuries as a tool for health restoration, spiritual endeavor behavior modification and self-awareness. A regular practice of daily meditation has been clinically proven to relieve stress, reduce blood pressure, enhance the ability to maintain productive attention and contribute to the general well being of an individual. Despite all these obvious benefits, many people find it difficult to establish a regular and consistent meditation practice.
The focus of your meditation does not always need to be the same. This can change as you move through your work. You will want to use this quiet time for connecting with or gaining information from a Deity you may be working with; use it to enhance your visualization skills; de-stress after a stressful day; or as part of ritual or personal work to enhance the overall concentration and intensity. Be sure to record in your journal your intent, focus and results. These can proved quite useful in the months that follow. And, in accord with the act of meditation, it is generally the easiest time to write down thoughts with clarity as you have stilled the mind to outside distraction and opened to a source within.
A very simple daily meditation that incorporates the chakras (energy centers) of the body can be found here in pdf format on the Book of Shadows page:
How To Meditate: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Art and Science of Meditation by John Novak
8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life by Victor N. Davich
How to Meditate: An Illustrated Guide to Calming the Mind and Relaxing the Body by Paul Roland
Establishing a Regular Meditation Practice – An upcoming Bonus Post through the Magickally Human Blog (January 2015)
Breath Work and training yourself to slow and rhythmically pace your breath are vital aids towards improving your meditations and quiet moments of reflection. The Four-Fold Breath Technique develops awareness and control of the breathing process, which is the foundation of energy work. This technique also provides greater relaxation and deeper breathing, using fuller capacity of the lungs. This is an excellent way to begin a meditative session or use as way to relax into and open to the journaling process. At this point in our studies you should be well acquainted with the results of this type of breathing as an entry way into a deeper state of being.
Another technique is Alternate Nostril Breathing. This aids in opening both of the pathways of energy that run concurrently in our bodies; specifically, the Lunar and the Solar. We often favor one nostril over the other in our normal pattern of breathing. When we consciously engage the breath in and the exhale out using both nostrils, more movement within our energetic circuitry and for those with allergies and other respiratory ailments, there is greater flow of oxygen.
• Beginning with the right nostril , using your right thumb press the right nostril closed and inhale through the left – Hold.
• Pinch the left nostril closed with the index finger and exhale through the right-Hold.
• Inhale through the right nostril – hold. Pinch the right nostril closed with your thumb and exhale through the left.
Repeat the cycle of inhaling through one nostril. Pinching closed, then exhaling through the other. And so on. Repeat this pattern for 8 sets. When you have completed the cycle, you should feel a sense of clarity and energized calm. This exercise is an excellent way to begin your daily activities and your evening meditation practice.
Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery by Gay Hendricks
Energy practice incorporates the use of focus, breath, intention and direction by engaging the chakras and subtle bodies in active energetic flow. How we later use the energy we have stimulated depends on what outcome we wish to produce. Additionally, the method we use to raise our energetic state is also determined by the outcome desired.
- Physical methods include:
Movement- dance-martial arts
- Affecting Energy Through States of Consciousness includes:
For most people the first experience of sensing energy occurs with a physical sensation within Solar Plexus (diaphragm region). These are the butterflies we may feel of excitement or fear- energy is moving in accord with our emotional state. Sometimes there is a tingling or tickling sensation that occurs when the flow of energy is opened. As the work and practice continues, the origin of initial sensation that is the precursor of energy raising may move to the throat center or sensations in hands or feet. For this reason, it is important that you take some time to research and learn about our energetic anatomy.
Read through these posts on the Sacred Vessel Blog for more information about our Energetic Anatomy….
The Sacred Vessel: Our Physical and Subtle Anatomy Parts 1 and 2
Some ways to energize, enliven and bring more awareness to the chakras..
There are many benefits to consciously doing a practice which includes strengthening and cleansing the chakras. As continual receptors of energy that surrounds routinely visualizing your chakra centers as vibrant in color and form serves to purify and cleanse unwanted build up of negative or residual non-productive energy. This also ensures that as you do any energy work (yoga, tai chi, Qigong, meditation or other type of energy practice) the organs of the subtle bodies will be in good working order. You would not consider running a marathon if you had not trained properly and the same is true of any sustained practice you intend for your subtle bodies. Visualization alone is a good start, but if you can also include the element of toning, you will be enhancing the efforts through the vibration of energy within each of those chakra centers. Sound carries its own rhythm and pattern and when combining with the already flowing patterns and rhythms within each chakra point, you can subtly change the quality and flow of that energy to one of better production, higher amplitude and thus receive more of a healing and regenerative flow through the work.
Chakra Clearing by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith
The Art of True Healing by Israel Regardie
Observation and Visualization Exercises
Observation exercises, which are designed to enhance your skills of observation of the world around you keep you more fully aware of areas of change and areas of stagnation. These gems of visual wisdom can then be applied to the flow we have moving through our own practice and space of experience. Many of the Western Mystery paths have at their core the skill of refined and detailed observation, which can then be used and trained into a modality of visualization. Most people have difficulty visualizing or seeing in their mind’s eye something they have never seen before. Through training ourselves to be accurate observers, even those things which go largely unnoticed at the time of seeing something are, nonetheless, imprinted and stored in our storehouse of memories. These can later be used as we begin to more concretely develop a set of exercises and practices to enhance our own inner path.
Any physical activity that creates greater body awareness will serve you well in your spiritual growth. Some considerations and ways to facilitate a working, healthy physical vessel are:
- Regular Physical Exercise- Walking- Tapes- Yoga, etc..
- 5 Elements Exercise:
Water – swimming
Fire – sweat lodge- weight training
Air – the need for speed- cycling- running- sky diving- skiing
Earth – hiking- gardening- climbing
Spirit – let’s get the CHI moving Martial Arts – Pilates- dancing- walking
- Adequate Rest:
Making sure that you get quality sleep is important to the process of walking a nature-based path. Your physical being is part of the nature that we honor and hold dear. Taking care and giving love to our physical nature is the highest form of tribute we can pay to the God and Goddess. And, of course
Eating well and regular exercise gives the message to your physical self that you are cared for and as a spiritual vessel, I will honor you.
The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry