Learning Witchcraft: Do I Really Need to Meditate?
Do Witches Have to Meditate?
There are those young and new to Witchcraft who take to meditation quite quickly and naturally, and others who find themselves floundering with it for years. Meditation seems to be one of those 'love it or hate it' things. Some have trouble getting into or staying in the proper state of mind. For others, it's a matter of discipline-- they mean to meditate more often, but never seem to establish it as part of the daily routine. Because they only do it sporadically, they're not reaping many benefits-- and since they're not reaping noticable benefits right away, they're less motivated to stick to a routine. Finally, others find it a flat-out bore and dread doing it.
A lot of young ones especially, new to Witchcraft and eager to get started, will ask outright-- do I really need to meditate?
In my opinion, meditation is part of the foundation for learning to practice the Craft. I won't go as far to say you can't practice Witchcraft without it-- there are certainly those who do let meditation slip or fall by the wayside. But to me, a Witch not wanting to meditate is like an athelete who doesn't want to do conditioning exercises. No matter how well you do, you could have done better had you not skipped the simple, basic exercises that enhance your overall function and performance. No matter how much raw talent was present, I've never known a student of the Craft who did not benefit and improve with meditation. Not only that, but even among long-time practitioners, a 'growth spurt' in Craft abilities is usually following or accompanied by achieving deeper, advanced levels of meditation.
Meditation in Witchcraft
If You Struggle
If you struggle with meditation you might just need to go back to basics. This is a really good introduction.
A Peaceful Mind
What's the Problem with Meditation?
I can understand how it simply turns some people off; particularly people raised in modern Western societies. Thanks to being bombarded with increasingly busy lifestyles, electronic media, advertising, instant gratification, varied responsibilities and having the luxury of so many choices, most of us find it difficult to quiet the mind for long. Our minds tend to race around like rambunctious children let loose in a shopping mall at Christmas time after too much candy. We think ahead, we relive the past, we envision alternate realities (the 'what if' thinking). We think about the things we want, the things we don't want, the things we'll probably never have. We strategize and restrategize when plans fall through, we multitask, we worry about being entertained and being bored rather than just accepting things for what they are.
The mind races forwards, backwards and sideways so often that somewhere along the way we stopped being able to just live in the moment. In our hurried lives we no longer promote the value of inner stillness. This is why many people struggle with meditation so much, and find it such a turn-off.
Another problem with meditation is that there is just a lot of bad advice and anecdotes to be found. For example, the 'clear your mind' myth frustrates those who think they need to literally turn off their brains. This is a misconception, yet lot of people trying to meditate get tripped up right from the start because they find themselves unable to do this.
Other people hear anecdotes about astral projection and visions, and because they don't have these profound experiences every time out of the gate they get discouraged. The mundane equivalent of this would be expecting every coffee break be like an exotic vacation. While these experiences are indeed highly spiritual and moving, they are not the goal of everyday meditation. Further, for most people they are something that comes in time-- you should not go into it with the expectation that you'll have a major, life-altering experience.
Want to learn to meditate? Read Learning to Meditate: An Instructional Guide for Beginners
How Meditation Helps in Witchcraft
Understanding the benefits of a daily meditation regime might motivate you to fit it into your schedule and persist, even if you're not entirely thrilled about doing it. Overall, meditation is a very healthy practice for just about anyone. It's known to help with alleviating stress, lowering blood pressure, easing depression, helping people deal with addiction or chronic pain and a host of other health benefits.
For the Witch in particular, meditation helps:
- train your mind to focus on a goal for extended periods. There's more to a magical working than muttering over candles and throwing around ingredients. The mind-- the focus-- is what actually makes it work.
- teaches you to alter your state of consciousness deliberately. The ideal state of mind for magical and psychic workings is the Alpha state, when your brain waves are between 8 and 12 cycles per second. It's this state of mind that falls somewhere between alert awakens and sleep, when we have greater access to the subconscious while still consciously in control.
- increase sensitivity to energies. The Alpha state-- a light trance-- is when the internal antenna is more tuned in and receptive to intuition and energies. This improves your ability to sense and raise energy.
- teaches you to compartmentalize thoughts and emotions so the ones you don't want won't pop up at the wrong times. When you're spell casting, you are projecting your will in the form of energy toward a goal. Imagine that energy like a laser-- the more focused the beam, the more powerful it is. Self-doubt or emotions that are not conducive to that energy act like a diffuse. They weaken and scatter the energy you're trying to direct.
Another Great Read
A lot of people start trying to meditate by trying to force their minds into submission. This book explains how instead of making your mind your unwilling slave, you can make it your willing friend. Excellent for those who are just struggling.
What Meditation Really Is
Meditation is a broad term that covers many practices and goals. But for daily meditations to improve the mind, the type you should focus on is mindful meditation. This is the ability to quiet your mind and simply live in the moment. It's a semi-hypnotic state in which you are relaxed yet alert, where you're able to find a place of inner calm and mental peace.
Meditation does not mean you make your mind a blank. You should not be slipping into blackness, or feeling like you've left reality. You do not zone out or go into a trance (well, you can-- but these would be advanced techniques and done deliberately; it's not something you should strive for on a daily basis, and you certainly shouldn't be afraid of losing consciousness against your will).
Meditation is actually a heightened state of awareness. You shouldn't be trying to do anything, because that defeats the purpose of meditation. Meditation is a state of being, not of doing. Trying is doing; you have to learn to just 'be;. You bring your attention to your state of mind and your relationship to your environment in the now. This is done in a detached way, without trying to force or guide your thoughts, without getting wrapped up in them and without letting them drag your attention away from the moment.
It doesn't take a lot to get started-- just giving it a go for 5 minutes per day can get you into the habit and comfortable with the practice. You can increase the length of your sessions gradually, and improved ability to enter and maintain a meditative state comes with practice.
If you're a beginner to The Craft, consider meditation part of your daily conditioning exercises-- to condition your mind. You'll find that once you do begin practicing energy and spell work that you're ahead of the game. Even if you've been practicing the Craft for a while now but have not given much attention to your meditations, you can renew your commitment and give it a try-- don't be surprise if you find your abilities get a boost.