The first time I fell asleep…
The second time the colors were brighter…
The third time I learned to fly without wings…
The fourth time I could see with my eyes closed…
The fifth time I awakened more…
The sixth time I time traveled…
I have spoken before about the importance of an intentional daily practice. It is a sacred ritual of the self, one in which our power and connection to the universe drive our purpose even when we are not quite sure what that is yet. We learn to quiet our mind’s endless chatter so we can become better grounded and focused. Meditation is one component of my own daily witchcraft practice. It contains key elements that provide the ultimate shapeshifting framework towards wholeness and integration for a fully lived life that is grounded and focused.
Meditation continues to provide the framework for my own awakening, transformation, and transcendence. Those are the keys that my Goddesses offered me through starting and continuing this practice daily. The journey involved just to find these keys is a tale that is resonant with many of my witch family members and so I share it with you, too, just in case there is any uncertainty of the requirement. If you are reading this now, I encourage you to move forward with the understanding that you cannot unread it and you cannot unknow it. The message has been delivered. That is all.
I remember being told by a close friend that if I really wanted my magic to be powerful and life-changing that I had to be fully awakened. Further discussion yielded that meditation is a tool of the self that has the ability to transform my magic. Immediately, it elicited a mental image of sitting on a pillow, incense smoke flowing around the room, and stillness. I was completely resistant to it.
Meditate? With my to-do list half a mile long, I need to sit down on the floor (mental note as I look at the floor, I should probably vacuum) and actively do nothing? I hard passed on that and kept reading many 101 books and learned about the elements. I had the wisdom of ‘100 Books’ into the next year but my magic was purely in my head (like everything else…all the time) and theoretical. I had all the warnings and none of the experience.
Those Thorns though…
I started taking some baby steps into really experiencing my magic for myself. I think that books are fabulous ways to learn, they can provide a ton of insight into things that we might experience or the meanings behind the tools we have to work with, but it is up to us to apply those things in our own magic.
I learned about incense and experienced personally how those things altered my consciousness a little and I felt a bit more imaginative. Or I had a headache an hour later and needed to just lay down. There seemed to be no in-between and also no discernible reason.
I tried to connect to some oracle cards, I loved them, they were so pretty, and they had great messages for me to contemplate. My experiences with divination were truly only surface level. I only experienced the words written on the cards and after a while there was just nothing else for me to experience with those cards. I put them away.
I threw some herbs together and lit them because a friend of a friend said burning those together would make my life less stressful and I would have dreams. First, I almost set my house on fire. Second, I did not sleep well because I had a headache that would not stop!
I tried out scrying in a flame and I could not focus on it long enough before my thoughts invaded the quietness and I needed to get back to those ‘mundane’ things on my to do list.
I tried to remember my dreams and keep a little dream journal to help build my intuition. Nothing. I would wake up and it was as if I had closed my eyes for 5 minutes and woke up to an entirely new day. No magic for me. Just a lot of knowledge and no experience.
I assume this is what it feels like to have a degree, but all the great jobs want that degree and 10 years of experience. I was thorny about it for a bit!
A teacher appears
The Universe has a funny way of responding when I am ready to throw in the towel and I am feeling as if I have lost my way. A witch made her way into my workplace at the time (surprise, I was already transforming lives back then too!) and we became fast friends. Working late one evening, she said she had to get home because it was the full moon and she had things to do.
I mockingly told her that I hoped it was magical because my magic still does not work.
Super snarky, right? To my surprise, she asked if I wanted to do the full moon ritual with her. As in right there, at work. What about the altar? What about being outside? What about the tools? What about the special words?
I was mortified.
She realized I was serious with my questions, and then she said something that has stuck with me “all you need is you”. She also gave me my very first lesson on meditation – at its very root is stopping the thoughts that overtake our ability to just be present and experience this very moment. To connect with right now.
It takes practice and effort, but it will ultimately allow my magic to flow freely.
She guided me through a meditation to quiet the mind and connect. She did the entire ritual poised to help me connect and feel my own magic. I fell asleep in my office chair. In the days after, it became clear that it reawakened something in me and that something has led me to today. You can meditate in the middle of an office, in heels, surrounded by paperwork after an extremely long day, fall asleep, and it will still be the most life-changing experience.
It can be sacred.
You make it so.
Meditation used to elicit that image of sitting on a pillow, incense smoke flowing around the room, and stillness. There is nothing wrong with this image, it is beautiful and calming to me, but it is not an accurate representation of my personal experience with meditation.
Personal experience becomes our truth and truths are different for everyone because truth is framed and reflected through our own consciousness and beliefs.
Meditation helps to awaken within us our own personal truth and our connection with it. It awakens within us what we need to heal from, it helps us to better align with our truth in our lives, our passions, and our trust in our own intuition and our magic.
I like to think that this is the stage where I just became present, I awakened my awareness at this stage. I became mindful of how my mind does not quiet down easily. It would jump from one thing to another and I had to learn to refocus back on the breath.
It is the breath that takes place in real time, so by focusing there first allowed the ability to expand the awareness further.
In my experience, I would fall asleep during my meditations and I noticed that colors became brighter after meditating. The colors were vivid, especially upon completing a meditation outside. I began journaling and reflecting on my day and meditations when I did them and the days following.
Beginning a Meditation Practice
Start with mindfulness! Take a few minutes to sit quietly and focus just on the breath. I became mindful of how my mind does not quiet down easily. It would jump from one thing to another, the past or the future, things I needed to do, and I had to learn to refocus back on the breath.
By focusing on the breath first allowed the ability to expand the awareness further out into one thing I can smell, one thing I can hear, one thing I can see, one thing I can feel/touch, and one thing I can taste. It is powerful to be able to do this. This builds awareness. It awakens us to our patterns of thought when we become aware of our initial inability to stop those thoughts from wandering in. Then we become awakened to our ability to focus.
We grow more focus here.
I can say that this started while I was doing dishes. Or folding laundry. Or vacuuming. I found that I can meditate while doing things that do not require a lot of focus because they are basically muscle memory items. I find that I was able to disconnect and focus on the breath and check in with myself. One does not have to be laying down or sitting on a pillow to be mindful.
Be Aware…A Disclaimer for becoming Aware
There are tons of useful resources and apps out there to get you started. My recommendation is to start small, being overwhelmed is not helpful. This is not a sprint to the finish line, it is a skill that must be built upon. It is more of a marathon requiring a steady pace with gradual increases in ability becoming apparent with time, it is both organic and unique to each individual person. Trust is a requirement. Bypassing the baby steps is a sure way to stay stuck or cause further detriment to growth, so just start small!
Meditation became a conduit through which I began to understand, know, and trust myself. I became better able to discern within myself why I thought, felt, or reacted to things within my life a certain way. I began to acknowledge and heal the things I knew were keeping me stuck in patterns that were not in alignment with the good I wanted to birth into the world. I began to experience a full range of feelings, not just ones that were ‘okay to feel’.
I learned distress tolerance.
To sit with things that were uncomfortable without the need to do something to feel differently (like eat, drink, or buy the shiny things). This is the way in which meditation transforms us. It is the reframing network through which we shapeshift. We connect and reframe our understanding of self, we heal and let go of those things that keep us stuck and cycling. It can change the way we live our lives from one of fear to one of courage, love, and trust.
During this stage I noticed that I took more action and more responsibility for my life and outcomes.
Not many people discuss the hardest part of this, but this is often where adversity and challenges emerge. It is typically when ugly strikes.The life as we know it will be burnt to the ground and we will be the ones holding the matches. Regardless, we have the choice to remain the same or change because what we accept is what will continue. I was living from a place that did not align with my truth or my growth, so I changed and so did my entire life.
I began to fully connect to my witchcraft in all the ways that I could not connect before I awakened with meditation. I began to experience my magic. I began to set clear boundaries, understand the difference between ‘nice’ and ‘kindness’, implemented daily sacred practices that included meditation. Every day.
It is here that I learned to fly without wings and see with eyes closed.
Meditation for me became not only mindfulness but also journeying to different places and times. There are wonderful apps like Insight Timer that I use for different journeys, talks, guidance, and building awareness.
Through shapeshifting, our lives have a huge tendency to change into something more. Our lives become a sacred journey. Awakening, transformation, and transcendence begin to blend. I learned how to become still and connect to myself and the divine without any outside influence. A deeper awakening. Ultimately it led to coming into the now without delineation, separation, judgement, descriptions, or categorization within my field of sensing during meditation.
The pure knowing of the essence of now becomes our divine connection to everything
We begin to know and connect from the heartspace rather than just logical mind. We fully trust ourselves and our experiences. We are aware and notice the parts of the whole that require greater attention when necessary.
We communicate better.
We love better and more fully.
We give of ourselves in a way that is not coming from a place of what we could gain by doing so. We transcend, we are whole, we are living from a place of integrity, of alignment to our purpose and our passion. Rarely do we ever start here, we build upon our practice to get here, continuously awakening, transforming, and transcending.
“The only way you will ever be starting at the top of anything is if you’re digging a hole, remember that, and just keep learning” ~ Proverb from the man who raised me
Meditation has more science backing now than ever before. The medical and psychological communities are evolving more towards holistic and spiritual modalities for healing and well-being. It is an evolution in our modern society, even though these are modalities that the ancients were using.
It goes to show that even though ancients didn’t have the science, they knew.
From experience, I know.
I have included a list of academic references to articles that I found interesting, profound, and insightful below this article. If you are new to academic articles, there is a DOI within the reference containing 10.xxxxx, copy this DOI and paste it into your browser. It will take you to options to view the information. Feel free to contact me if you have trouble viewing them.
A candle and a key,
Burke, A., Chun Nok, L. S., & Yang, H. (2017). Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the united states. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17 doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1186/s12906-017-1827-8
González-Valero, G., Zurita-Ortega, F., Ubago-Jiménez, J. L., & Puertas-Molero, P. (2019). Use of meditation and cognitive behavioral therapies for the treatment of stress, depression and anxiety in students. A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(22), 4394. doi:10.3390/ijerph16224394
Liebert, E. A. (2019). Accessible spiritual practices to aid in recovery from moral injury. Pastoral Psychology, 68(1), 41-57. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1007/s11089-018-0825-1
Niles, B. L., Mori, D. L., Polizzi, C., Pless Kaiser, A., Weinstein, E. S., Gershkovich, M., & Wang, C. (2018). A systematic review of randomized trials of mind‐body interventions for PTSD. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74(9), 1485–1508. https://doi-org.library.capella.edu/10.1002/jclp.22634
Nita, M. (2019). ‘Spirituality’ in health studies: Competing spiritualities and the elevated status of mindfulness. Journal of Religion and Health, 58(5), 1605-1618. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1007/s10943-019-00773-2
Ramirez-Garcia, M., Gagnon, M., Colson, S., Côté, J., Flores-Aranda, J., & Dupont, M. (2019). Mind-body practices for people living with HIV: A systematic scoping review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 19 doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1186/s12906-019-2502-z
Yang, C., Barrós-Loscertales, A., Li, M., Pinazo, D., Borchardt, V., Ávila, C., & Walter, M. (2019). Alterations in brain structure and amplitude of low-frequency after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training in meditation-naïve subjects. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 10977-10. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47470-4