Meditation & Magick
Over the next several weeks here at Speak of Secrets, we are going to be exploring some concepts that involve the use of meditation. This will culminate with a 3-part series on using the tarot for shadow aspect work, and seeing how meditation plays a part in my approach to that, I figured it would be a good idea to create a touchstone before introducing more detailed concepts.
Meditation is a practice that spans not only centuries, but multiple cultures and spiritual paths as well. In the modern-day, meditation has transcended the realm of spirituality to enjoy great popularity amongst those who claim no spiritual path at all! There is good reason for this – meditation has been scientifically proven not only to decrease stress, increase focus, process trauma, and develop compassion, but it also has the ability to quite literally change your brain for the better.
There are multiple schools of meditation, but the basic gist of the practice is bringing the mind to a solitary focus, whether this is one of mindfulness (emptying and quieting the brain) metta (fostering loving kindness) or an exercise in visualization. Even if you have never purposefully set out to meditate, you’re more than likely already familiar with being in a meditative state: anyone who has ever single-mindedly focused on something – when performing a sport, or playing a piece of music, say – has experienced a form of meditation.
Meditation brings us fully into the present moment, and for this reason it is a component of many spiritual and magickal practices.
Meditation may be used to raise or disperse energy, to send love and compassion, to calm one’s nerves, to connect to one’s own unique inner truth, or to enter a transcendental state, amongst many other options. My own formal training is in mindfulness meditation, but in magickal applications it is meditation of a visualizing variety that is most often practiced. Given that magick is the willful direction of energy to effect change, many magickal and hermetic traditions underline the need to be able to clearly visualize the desired outcome of magickal workings in order to manifest tangible results.
As we all vary in our ability to visualize, it is helpful to invest some time and energy into training your brain to focus solely and clearly upon a chosen object. For some folks, this will be relatively easy, while others will require more practice. The exercises can be as simple as holding a solid coloured shape such as a red triangle in your mind, making sure the shape does not change in colour or form. Another approach may be the draw upon the image of a loved one, or to spend a few minutes observing an object, room, or environment, recreating that with fine detail in your mind’s eye, and then holding that image for several minutes. Those who practice tarot may find focusing on a favourite card with thier eyes closed will not only develop thier visualization muscles, but may also foster a deeper level of understanding of that card.
A quick scan of the internet will pull up literally thousands of different exercises designed to develop visualization skills where they are applied to magickal workings, not to mention all the various options open to exploring meditation in all of it’s other traditions as well. The one unifying quality you will find across all schools of thought is the practice of connecting to both the body and the present moment via breath. Our breath is where it all starts and ends with meditation, so whichever exercises you choose to explore, center your energy and attention first upon your breath, and quietly observe it before delving into the rest of the exercise. Keep in mind it isn’t the quality of the breath you are observing, but the simply it’s rise and fall, whether that be ragged, deep, shallow, or barely there. If your mind wanders, gently return it to your area of focus. And breathe. It really is that simple and that complex all at once.