“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Spiritual Meditation & Visualization: The practice of both meditation and visualization, in and of themselves, have no real spiritual masthead or religion to which they tether. Meditation appears in philosophical/physical practices like Yoga as well as spiritual practices like Buddhism and Hinduism. Modern psychology tells us that visualization is a powerful tool for mental training and a “secret” of success for a variety of people including athletes. William Arthur Ward said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” That sentence pretty well sums up the theory behind visualization.
A Magical Combination: Meditation and Visualization
So what about meditation and visualization working together? It’s possible that people found visualization helps greatly in meditation. During meditation, we still our bodies and quiet our mind. Our mind, however, has a different agenda. It’s a busy critter! Calming that chatter takes practice. Visualization gives you a focus your mind connects with, and it directs your meditation through significant imagery.
Magical Visualization and Meditation Practices
All manner of spiritual and magical practitioners use meditation and visualization. They may apply the methods in spellcraft for greater precision. Or, add them to group rituals as a means of bringing members into accord and oneness of purpose. On a personal level, these two techniques benefit your quest for an understanding of greater mysteries let alone ourselves. Solitary Wiccans in particular may enjoy this adjunct in their workings.
The basic definition of the word meditate is thinking deeply – reviewing something in your mind while your body remains at rest. Taoists seek an inner silence during meditation. Shamanic Witches may use meditation for communing with spirits, vision quests and achieving trance states. Whatever the goal, modern studies show us that meditation has numerous mental and physical benefits. These include:
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Improving concentration and memory.
- Inspiring peace.
- Increasing productivity.
- Allaying depression.
- Developing decision making skills.
- Boosting self awareness and confidence.
- Fostering creativity.
- Augmenting compassion and empathy.
And much more!
Meditation is an ancient art. So, it may well be that the ability to meditate was discovered completely by accident. The first time someone got lost in thought he was, effectively meditating. Consider the tribal drummer sitting and pounding out a rhythm who suddenly realizes that hours passed since she began. This person did not do anything different; something internal simply “switched on.” Meditation is something completely natural to our species.
Can you sit, stand, dance, sing, drum or walk when you meditate? Yes! Some people even find typing inspires a meditative state. Eastern mysticism teaches that anything can become a kind of meditation; the only differences are your attitude and level of concentration.
7 Steps for Meditation Success
If you’re just starting to meditate, try the basics recommended here in various physical positions−sitting, standing, lying down−or during different types of movements like walking, jogging, or biking. Wear comfortable clothing, be well rested, and ensure yourself of some uninterrupted time.
Start slowly in five or ten-minute increments. When you become more proficient, try to increase the amount of time you spend meditating.
1. Stretch out beforehand, getting rid of those distracting aches and kinks.
2. Start slowly in say, five−or ten−minute attempts. Increase the amount of time as you become more proficient.
3. Meditate soon after waking or before eating.
4. Use aromatic oils, chanting, candlelight or visualizations as helpmates.
5. Breathe! Slow, even breathing is a central part of meditation techniques.
6. Listen to your heartbeat; that is your inner drummer
7. Focus wholly on the task at hand, not your chore list for the day.
Your meditative successes vary with your environment, level of focus, and personality. Experiencing little distractions at first is normal A lot of people say their nose itches, for example. Over time you get past those diversions.
As you reach deeper levels of meditation, you may feel tingly as if your body doesn’t exist. Some say this is the state in which you can learn astral travel if you wish: This is also the time when you can commune with helpful spirits, animal totems, and your own Higher Self. Do a lot of listening.
You’ll have to experiment with the best combination of components for your meditative efforts. Keep a notebook of your attempts with the following details (perhaps adding it to your Book of Shadows):
- Time and date.
- Location and environmental conditions.
- Personal state: mental & physical.
- Sensual components.
- Impressions gathered.
- Notes on the overall experience.
Refer to this meditation diary later. By doing so after several attempts, a pattern of successful elements should begin to emerge. Use them regularly so your adeptness grows.
As with meditation, this exercise proves difficult for some people. If you ever enjoyed any “hunt for the hidden pictures” games as a child or imagined pictures in the clouds, those experiences can prove quite helpful. Think of your mind like a paint-board to which you bring color, shape, and feeling.
Other Senses Activated in Visualization
Visualization hands us the keys to our thoughts through guided imagery. And while you might think of visualizations as only visual, other senses may come into play. Visualization can have audio, tactile, aromatic, and taste dimensions if you respond to those senses strongly. The only difference is instead of, or in addition to, calling up a portrait of your goal, you’re now going to call up an associated scent, sound, taste, or touch.
When you start trying to visualize, don’t reach for complex imagery. Begin in black and white, like a simple geometric shape. Once you become good at seeing those images in your mind’s eye, make them slightly more and more complex. Eventually, you can add color, dimensions, and even whole outtakes from your day. Think this is like watching screenshots from a movie provided by your imagination!
4 Meditation & Visualization Exercises
There is a wide variety of meditations that might make a useful addition to your magical efforts. These are a few samples. Since it’s hard to concentrate on your experience and read at the same time, you may want to memorize these or tape them. If you are tape recording, make sure to speak slowly. Also, put in pauses that give you time to bring up the imagery and make various shifts in awareness.
Traveling the World Tree
A metaphorical depiction of the spirit world as a tree occurs in many forms of shamanism. This activity strengthens your aptitude for moving through various realities: This helps you in many ways, from being able to commune with elemental spirits, opening to your Higher Self’s messages and creating on-going communication with the Divine.
Get comfortable and begin breathing deeply. Close your eyes. In your mind’s eye, bring up the image of a huge oak tree whose trunk bears a doorway. Mentally move through the door. On the other side, you find stairs going to the roots of the tree. See your feet merge with those roots, as strong and sure, as wholesome and nourishing: This is the part of the tree where, if you wish, you can pause and meet with people in your life who have passed over. It is also the place where you can deal with past life issues. Give those to the Earth’s soil. She knows how to handle our dirt.
Now your legs are growing again, becoming large trunks to bear you upward toward the sky: This takes you outward to the stars, where you can discern your place as a citizen of the Universe. Here, you can commune with the Divine, ponder your hopes and dreams for the future, and speak with Masters or Ascended Ones: This is perhaps the loveliest spot in the world tree. Linger here and feel the oneness with all time and space. Listen to the rhythm of the Cosmos. And as you look to that sky with all the small dots of light and life, those are all the potentials of today, tomorrow, and forever.
When you feel ready to leave, slowly pull your spirit-self back down through your roots. You’ll notice how connected you feel to the Earth during this reversal process: This also provides grounding. When your mental image returns to normal, go back to the doorway you entered. Open your eyes slowly. Take notes of your experience afterward.
Animal Totems, Guides and Spirits
Before moving into the meditation, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between totems, power animals, and animal guides. A totem is the spiritual form of a natural creature that becomes a lifelong spiritual partner. A totem may be personal or attached to a group, such as a Native American tribe with Bear as a totem. This creature contains all the attributes associated with the natural animal plus metaphysical associations. You are born with a Totem.
Power animals are different. These are specifically chosen creatures that you entreat for assistance. Returning to our illustration of Bear, his symbolic attributes include wisdom, strength, grounding, healing, and protection. So, you might seek out Bear in meditation and ask for help getting your earthly matters back in order when everything seems scattered to the winds.
For this meditation, it helps to be somewhere out in nature. Begin as you did with the world tree visualization. This time, however, create the image of four distinct landscapes in your mind with yourself in the center (somewhat like being the center of a living mandala).
To the east you a cliff, high and untamed. Feel the gentle winds that roll from that direction. To the south see a desert. There’s a dry, rich heat emanating from this area. To the west envision an oceanfront, with gentle waves that roll in and kiss your feet. Finally, in the north lies a lush, forested region.
When you clearly see this image in your mind’s eye, whisper these words across the realities:
“Of Earth, of Air, of Fire, of Sea
My power animals come to me!
And as across the realms I sing,
Into this space, my totem bring!”
Continue chanting these words for several minutes until your voice naturally quiets; then wait and watch the landscape. Give yourself at least fifteen minutes of observation time. If you see any animal figures, pay particular attention to where the image originates. Images closer to you are more likely to be totems, whereas those appearing in any of the four quarters are more likely potential power animals or guides. If you don’t see any images, repeat this meditation at another time and reach out again. Spirits will not always be available to answer us.
When you’re finished, move your mind back and readjust your senses. Make notes of your experience in your journal. If animal spirits were kind enough to come to you during your meditation, follow the session with research on their powers and meanings.
God and Goddess Within
The phrase “Thou art God/Goddess” often appears as a neo-Pagan farewell honoring the divine within each person. Nonetheless, there are many days when each of us feels far less than divine. Even when Spirit seems far away, it’s good to remind ourselves that God/dess hasn’t gone anywhere. It is only our perception that’s wanting. The purpose behind this activity is in reconnecting with that inner divine spark.
“Open the way, open my heart,
To see the God/dess within,
To touch the divine spark.”
Keep repeating this evenly. After a few minutes, imagine a swirling point of light that opens like an iris over your heart. Inside is a flame of the purest white-blue light imaginable. Focus your attention on that flame. Let it grow until that is all you see.
As you watch, let your own image develop out of that flame−pure, glorious, powerful. Reach out to embrace it, drawing the image back into your heart Chakra. Hold it close. Feel it; know it as part of your soul. Stay like this as long as you wish, then return to normal awareness and make notes of your experiences. You can reuse the invocation anytime you want to reconnect with that heart flame and invoke your rights as a co-creator in your destiny.
Power songs have roots in a wide variety of spiritual traditions, from the sacred chants of Buddhist monks to the shamanic healing songs of Native Americans. Such music has several functions. For our purposes, this tool encourages deeper levels of understanding and awareness, particularly in meditation. Over time, you can also learn how to direct this song, raising magical energy for various goals.
For this meditation, return to the beginning of the world tree visualization. This time, however, the doorway into the tree leads you immediately upward. When you see that open doorway clearly in your mind’s eye, open it.
Move slowly and steadily up through the world tree’s branches until darkness surrounds you. It is not a frightening dark, but comforting like a warm cloak. The only things keeping you company here are the sound of your breathing and the beating of your heart. Pause here and breathe deeply in the silence. Still your soul and spirit, then listen intently.
Far in the distance, music rings through the din. The sound is as old as time, yet as new as this very moment. Let yourself hum with that sound, following along note for note. Keep repeating the melody until your whole body vibrates with the energy. (You may wish to have a tape recorder handy so you can listen to this later.) Release yourself wholly to the music until your voice naturally quiets.
Return to normal awareness and make notes of your experience. The next time you feel your energy lagging or a sense of sadness start humming that song again. Also try using it when casting your Circles for ritual, increasing the protective power therein.
Based on “Little Book Of Mirror Magic,” by Patricia Telesco/ All rights reserved.