Miel and I were prepping for our next Wicca 101 class which is about Grounding, Centering, and Shielding. As part of this class, we are using a guided meditation to help with the concepts and techniques of grounding and centering. It led to a deeper discussion of meditation practices in general. This got me further thinking about my own personal development and use of meditation.
There are some basics about meditation that not everyone thinks of as meditation. First, the most common form of meditation that most people think of is quiet mind/quiet body. Basically, you sit still and empty your mind. This is probably one of the most difficult types of meditation out there. If you can do it right off the bat, bravo! But there are three other ways to describe meditation -- quiet mind/moving body, moving mind/quiet body, and moving mind/moving body.
Moving mind/moving body is one that lots of people. Without even realizing it. Do you listen to audio books while running? Watch TV and just kind of zone out while on the bike at the gym? Your brain is following some sort of story and tunes everything else out. Your body is getting into some sort of rhythmic movement. They work together to release stress and settle your mind.
Moving mind/quiet body are those guided meditations. You are following a story. You are being led down a path to gain some sort of information or insight. You do this while sitting or laying comfortably and still. Lots of yoga classes will end with this quiet guided meditation to help you relax your whole body. Pagans and New Age Spiritualists often use them for self-discovery. One of my favorites was a journey to discover the parts of myself that were hidden or neglected.
Quiet mind/moving body is accomplished through things like tai chi, qi gong, or one of our favorites is the Tsalagi Dance of Life. You focus on the movements and then quiet your mind and just feel the flow of the movements. Once you are familiar with the movements, they automatically help you slip into that meditative state.
And now on to quiet mind/quiet body. This is finding that comfy spot and and quieting your mind. The key for any quiet mind meditation is learning how to silence those voices in the back of your head that keep talking about the things you need to get at the store for the house, that nagging thing that you didn't quite do right at work, the errands that you need to run, the bills that you need to pay. You learn to acknowledge the thought and then let it slip by. At first, I would clearly think to myself, "Yep, I got it." And then move on. As part of my pagan learning, I learned to use those thoughts as cues to go deeper into the meditation. Same with noises around me that I can't control. You'll find that there are different positions that you can or cannot be in. My hands cannot touch my head or arms, but resting on my abdomen is good.
The other thing to consider is music. Music helps on a few different levels. First, the ups and downs of the music. Most music has some sorts of peaks and valleys. If you are into the meditation, your journey will follow those peaks and valleys. If that is part of your plan, then it's good. If it isn't, then you need different music. Having a rhythm and a sound that speaks to you is important. Miel finds some types of trancy club music to be good for her. I love Liquid Mind for my meditation. But also Gregorian chants, tribal drumming, and any of the new age music or soundscapes can work pretty well. One of the things that I love about using Gregorian chants is that I can't actually tell what they are saying so it allows the voices of the gods to materialize in them for me. A good steady drum beat is fantastic. Often hard to find, but still fantastic background to help you dive deeper and deeper into your meditation.
So why use meditation? It isn't a Wiccan thing per se, but a lot of Wiccans use it as a tool. For Blue Star, it is one of our Paths of Power. If you can hush your mind or use the active mind to journey, then you can connect with your higher self, your subconscious and/or the gods. You can use meditation as a jumping off point to learn move about trance work, lucid dreaming, astral projection, A strong meditation practice can aid in self healing and pain management.
I used meditation during labor and delivery. I don't think that I could have made it through without. Labor came hard and fast. But we put on my music (Liquid Mind -- I had enough peaks and valleys coming with the contractions) and I slipped into deep meditation. I know that nurses and midwives and even doctors came in and out of the room, but I don't consciously know it. I know they tried to move me over a couple of times and because it was disruptive to my meditation, I resisted but I stayed pretty deep. There was no screaming, yelling, cursing my husband or any of that.
If meditation can manage that pain, you know it can be a powerful tool. I encourage you to develop your meditation practice. Find the methods that work for you and master them. Move on and experiment with the other ones until you can simply slip into that meditative state on demand and without extra tools.
All the best,