meditation

How to use meditation for internal work and magic

When most people think about meditation, the first idea that comes to mind is a person trying their best to empty their mind of any thought. And no surprise here, but the idea of doing that successfully can actually be intimidating.

But while emptying your mind can be part of what meditation is about, its not the entirety of it. Sometimes its not even the purpose of the meditation. 

I've had people tell me over the years that they can't meditate, but I'd argue that any person can meditate. However there isn't a one size fits all approach to meditation.

Revisiting Fire Breathing

Flame I've recently started doing Fire Breathing meditation (also known as the microcosmic orbit) again. I'd taken a break from it a few years back because I'd progressed to a certain point with it where the information I had access to wasn't correct and ended up making myself physically ill. Once I stopped doing the fire breathing work and did some water breathing meditation, I was able to undo the damage and figured I'd take some time to do some more research on the breathing meditation and find better resources than I had access to. I've been re-reading Qigong Meditation Small Circulation by Dr Jwing-Ming Yang, which is an excellent resource on this topic, and I got to a place where some of that information clicked in a new way and I knew I was ready to start doing fire breathing meditation once again.

Thanks to the combination of Water Breathing Meditation and the work I've done with stillness via Dzogchen meditation, I've found that my internal energy is much more primed to do the microcosmic orbit work so I've started adding fire breathing to my meditation practice, usually after everything else has concluded. For the moment, I'm just focusing on the microcosmic orbit. I'll probably stick with that for a while before starting up the macrocosmic orbit, in order to condition my internal energy and my body to the way fire meditation works.

I waited to go back to this particular practice until I knew the time was right to do so. I recognize that while part of the issue may have been the material I was drawing on, part of it also may have been that I simply wasn't ready for the type of work I was doing. But with this kind of work you can "know" when you are ready and that's what happened recently. I'll post occasional updates as I continue to do the work, and record what's happening and how the meditation and energy work is affecting me.

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Magical Experiments Radio: A panel on Pop Culture Magic, featuring myself, Rune Emerson, Vincent Piazza, and Felix Warren, and graciously moderated by Bill Duvendack, done in part to celebrate the release of Pop Culture Magic 2.0 and The Pop Culture Grimoire 2.0 and also to celebrate my Birthday (happening tomorrow).

The Realization of Internal Work

Tension In my recent post I talked about how to do internal work without blowing up. Appropriately enough I had an experience earlier this week, which I think demonstrates the point of that post as well as this one. I've been working with the element of Stillness for the last 11 months and I was considering that I should switch to the element of Balance, and then via meditation and what I was reading in Awakening the Luminous Mind, it became clear to me that I really needed to stick with stillness for another year. My inner contacts, who'd previously suggested I move on to balance, also agreed, feeling that the realization I had experienced indicated I was ready to move into deeper work with stillness.

Internal work isn't something you force. Well you can force it, but as I wrote in the previous post its not a good idea. Internal work happens to you and it unfolds and as it unfolds and reveals itself, it takes you to the level you can handle. And make no mistake it can be quite uncomfortable, but you can handle it if you are willing to do the work. The realization I had with stillness was just such an experience. I was ready for it and it was uncomfortable, but it made me want to continue doing the work and I recognized that I needed to stick with this element longer to really do that work.

The thing about internal work that many people don't get is that internal work is rarely dramatic in how it unfolds. There is no Hollywood moment when the person sits up and everything comes together. Internal work is realized through consistent work and gradual realizations. You may have the occasional moment where you put some of it together, but more often than not you'll do the work for a while and not noticeably have an experience...but it will be happening in a very subtle way and as you open yourself to it, it will come to you and you'll know it...quietly and yet thoroughly you'll know it. You just have to do the work and let the results happen to you without trying to force it.

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Magical Experiments Radio: This Week I discuss how to Divorce a Real Witch with Diana Rajchel.

Book Review: Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir

Scarcity is a must read book for anyone, in order to understand how scarcity shows up in your life, as well as why it is an inherent part of society. The authors explore the myths and realities of scarcity in depth and show that there are no easy solutions, but rather that we must come to understand scarcity in our lives in order to even begin to appreciate in others. Reading this book has helped me to recognize my own scarcity as well be more present with the scarcity of others. It's given me direction on what I can do to deal with scarcity, but also taught me that scarcity is not something we can easily solve. It is a part of our lives and learning to be with it can teach us a lot about how to make better changes occur that are realistic and actually help people instead of keep them in a place of scarcity. Read this book and let it change your life.

How to do Internal Work without Blowing up

Meditation In Exorcising the Tree of Evil, William G. Gray points out that when doing internal work to get rid of dysfunctional issues, there is necessity for taking an approach where you don't change too much, too fast, because if you do it too fast, you can end up creating problems with your sense of identity. Nick Farrell offers similar advice in Magical Imagination, noting that the removal of an issue can actually cause other issues, if you haven't taken the necessary time to fully work through the issue. I agree with both of the authors, having seen this happen and having it occur as well with some of my internal work. And its important to remember when you do internal work, it doesn't just effect you, but also the people around you. Most times this is for the benefit of all, but if the work is done too fast, it can be more traumatic than helpful.

My own approach to doing internal work has been revised over the years to become more systematic and careful. I figure that internal work is something best done consistently over time, and done in a manner that allows you to have your realization and sit with it, and after consideration, you make the changes that are helpful to your life. Making changes without consideration is reactive...it may get rid of the symptom of the issue, but what it doesn't do is allow you to really dig into it and discover why it is the way it is. That can only happen if you are willing to spend some time with the issue and tease out it came into your life. You may have some realizations quickly, but don't rush to act on them right away. Give yourself time to be with those realizations, because you'll likely get more insights as a result.

Pick a practice and stick with it. I've been practicing some Dzogchen practices for the last couple years, and I feel like I'm only now beginning to appreciate the depth of that work. I've been doing Taoist breathing meditation work for over a decade and its a practice that continues to reveal itself in the work. My point is that internal work and the methods of doing internal work can't be rushed. Nor should the realizations and changes you want to manifest. To make changes that are healthy for your life, give yourself some time. Take care of you and really sit with what you learn before you act on it. This is advice I would give to a younger version of myself, because while I've made some good changes in my life, I've also rushed where it'd have been better to still myself. Take your time with internal work and with the changes it can bring. You have more time than you think and you are worthy of taking that time so that when you make the changes you seek, it truly empowers you and the people in your life.

Book Review: Exorcising the Tree of Evil by William G. Gray

Exorcising the Tree of Evil is an exploration of the nature of good and evil, as well as the Quiploth. I found the book to be insightful and liked how the author explored the nature of evil in depth and showed how it related to the Quiploth as well as to the Tree of Life. What I found invaluable is how the author explored the different types of evil and where they show up in the quiploth as well as how they show up in a person's life. This book will give you a lot to think about in relationship to your own life and magical work. Gray also provides some useful exercises for exorcising the evil within as well as appropriate cautions about changes in behavior and how to handle them. My one complaint about the book actually has to do with the editing and layout. This is a reprint and yet there are some typos that show up throughout the book, which surprises me, given how exact Gray is about his work. I suspect this is more of an editor/publisher error than that of the author. Overall though this book is a must read for Quabalists, ceremonial magicians, and anyone serious about their spiritual development.

Magical Experiments Radio: A fun interview with Vincent Piazza about pop culture magic, lovecraftian magic, and Taoism.

How to merge Anthropomorphic and Non-Anthropomorphic meditations

Neurotransmitter In my weekly meditation meeting, we are currently in the process of doing some work with neurotransmitters, bacteria, and other microbiota of the human body. This is a continuation of the work I started in Inner Alchemy, but it's also been an opportunity to experiment further with non-anthropomorphic meditations, in a group setting, which has provided some valuable information. What I've confirmed is that just launching into non-anthropomorphic meditation is hard because the frame of reference is so different from the usual frame people have. It can be done, but its not as successful as it would be if an initial "human" context was provided. Note: Are you curious about the terms anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic...scroll down past the rest of the article to see definitions and then scroll back up to read the rest.

In contrast, if I've done a meditation with an initial anthropomorphic reference its provided a level of context that has been helpful for the participants. What I've then done is actually had the meditation transition from an anthropomorphic reference to a non-anthropomorphic reference. This has worked out very well. The initial meditation provides enough context for the person so that when the transition occurs there is something recognizable they can still use as a frame of reference. So let's break this down in practical terms...

Let's say you decide to do a meditation to connect with epinephrine, a neurotransmitter. The initial meditation would be an anthropomorphic one, where you ask Epinephrine to appear in a form that is recognizable to you and ask it to communicate with you. Typically the communication will be in your first language, and the form will be something that is either human or rooted in what we know. You might ask the neurotransmitter for a symbol that you can use to connect with it.

Next lets say you decide to transition into a non-anthropomorphic meditation on the same neurotransmitter. What this involves is experiencing the neurotransmitter and its effect on you. You would ask the anthropomorphic version to become the experience that it creates in your body and you would communicate with the neurotransmitter through that experience. No language, no form based in human perception, just the experience itself. Let that experience in...let it move you, let it become part of your consciousness.

The anthropomorphic meditation provides enough context for a person that if s/he chooses to do the non-anthropomorphic meditation it becomes easier to work with. With that said a person can just attempt a non-anthropomorphic meditation and see what happens. It's not impossible to do and can be interesting to experience without the human filters in place.

Definition time! Anthropomorphism refers to the tendency to ascribe human qualities, emotions, values, language to something that isn't human. In magic, it is essentially used as a way to communicate with nonhuman beings.

Non-anthropomorphism is the attempt to experience the entity with as little human filters as possible.

Radio interviews

I was interviewed on Main Street Radio about Pop Culture Magick and Pop Culture Magic 2.0

I was interviewed on Pagan Musings Podcast about Pop Culture Magick and Pop Culture Magic 2.0

Magical Experiments Radio: I interviewed S. Rune Emerson about Tarot Sorcery.

Stillness and Tension

Courtesy of wikipedia In Awakening the Luminous Mind, the author discusses how the tensions and blockages a person feels aren't the entirety of the person, but can be mistaken for such. He likens this experience to the clouds and the sky. The clouds are the tension or blockages, but the sky is encompasses them and exists with or without them. He suggests that instead of focusing on the tension and blockages, it can be useful to just still yourself and be aware of the tension, without necessarily doing anything. This is not easy to do. When I tried this and just stilled myself to just be with the tension as well as everything else, I became aware of how much the tension itself occupied my awareness.

I find that in a lot of internal work the immediate focus is to do something about the tension one feels. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, but if that becomes the entire point of internal work, it could be we are missing out on something significant: namely how to recognize that the tension and blockages are not the entirety of our being. When I do this meditation where I am just still present with myself as a whole, it is somewhat disconcerting to not do anything with the tension other than notice it. At the same time in becoming the sky, as it were, I'm allowing myself to recognize that my tension doesn't make up the entirety of me and could in and of itself be a distraction from working with stillness. What I'm learning with stillness is that it's a state of acceptance that doesn't necessarily involve a change of any type and so learning to be still with my tension and with the rest of me is a different sate of awareness than working on tension. It is a state where everything is experienced and let go of, without anything being done.

Doing internal work to dissolve tensions is essential, but cultivating this state of being is also useful because it brings with it a level of non-attachment that enables the acknowledgement of whatever issues you have. By stilling yourself and not ding anything at all, you don't become attached to the issues, even through the act of dissolving. Initially when you cultivate this state of stillness it may cause you to feel a bit disquieted because you are so aware of your tensions and yet are doing nothing. However if you can hold yourself in the stillness, you will find that your awareness of the tension does subside. It may take repeated attempts of working with the stillness, but try each time to become the sky as opposed to the clouds and eventually you'll find that you can hold the state of just being without doing anything, the state of awareness of tension and yet also no tension in other aspects of yourself.

What I feel I'm really experiencing is a state of balance. In stilling myself in this way I'm allowing myself to balance my awareness of tension with just being and using that balance to reach a place of stillness. The usefulness of such a place is that while no action occurs, it nonetheless enables a person to experience a state of awareness that is at one within and around the person. That state of being can be very useful for magical work or in general in terms of creating awareness and presence in your life. As I keep working with this concept I'll share more.

Magical Experiments interview with Brandy Williams about the Woman Magician.

Feeling, Language, and Internal Work

Courtesy of Wikimedia In Ensouling Language, the author shares that one of the problems of the English language is that while it's useful for analytical and technical writings, its not a language that explores feelings or the internal reality of a person. For example, the word love is used to describe a feeling that can have many types of variations and yet only one word is used to describe all of that. In other languages you will likely find multiple words that describe the types of relationships and the feelings around those relationships. The author shares that when words can no longer describe subtle experiences, those experiences become lost or at least relegated to the subconsciousness of the person. I think he's right, because in my own internal work, what I've found is that the subtler experiences are harder to explain because English isn't set up to describe such experiences. I've wondered why, in this particular way, the English language is so stunted.

My answer to that question is that it seems that English is more of a visual language, in that it is oriented to what can be seen as opposed to felt, heard, smelled, etc., and that consequently part of we lack is a sensation rich description that accurately describes what we experience. Feelings aren't focused on as much. The problem with such an emphasis on sight is that a lot of subtle experiences can be missed out on because what you see is what you get. In my own work, I've shifted away from visualizations to more sensation based meditation, in no small part because there is a depth that can be useful in internal work, when it comes to experienced altered states of consciousness, and/or working through blockages and tensions.

In Awakening the Luminous Mind, the author discusses the importance of opening yourself to being by feeling it. It's not something easily described...it has to be experienced. That experience can be freeing or limiting depending on what you focus on, but I think it is can be harder for people who's primary access to describing feelings is a sight based language. There is a richness in stillness, in holding space, in terms of the experience that is essential to internal work, but can be harder to work with you if you don't have a way to describe what you feel.

Now it could be argued that trying to describe internal work takes away from it, but I don't agree with that. If anything, I feel that being able to describe what you've experienced can help you integrate it into yourself on a conscious level. We don't want states of experience to only exist on the level of the subconscious, but rather want to be able to engage them in our consciousness. That engagement is defined in part through language, and how we use language to integrate and organize the experiences.

While I find that English is problematic as a language for describing internal experiences, it's nonetheless the language I've got. And part of how you take such a language and improve on it is through learning to really focus on the sensations you feel and then describe those sensations using words that are sensorially oriented toward the sensations. For example, as I touch the keys on this key board, I feel the conclave smoothness, the slight edging of the letters and the edges of the keys as they slope upward. Such a description is more oriented toward the sensation of touch. Learning to do this with physical sensations can lead us to descriptions we can work with in describing internal states of consciousness and consequently help us get more from the internal work we are engaged in.

My latest podcast interview is with Shauna Aura Knight about Social Justice Magic and Pagan Leadership.

The Sphere of Sensation and Vibrational changes

Courtesy of Pixabay In Magical Imagination, Nick Farrell shares the concept of the sphere of sensation, which is apparently the aura of the person, as well as what influences that aura. He shares some techniques for working with the sphere of sensation that are based on visualization, but I thought it would be interesting to take a different approach with working with the sphere of sensation. I figured I'd would use a different approach to working with the sphere of sensation, via vibration. While I recognize the value of examining your behaviors, choices, allegiances, via visualization using symbols, I think it can also be useful to frame such work in the context of vibrations.

I recently did a walking meditation where I meditated on a behavior that I wanted to change. Instead of visualizing the behavior or a symbol for the behavior, I focused on the vibration of the behavior and how that vibration showed up in the sphere of sensation. I felt the vibration as a form of tension that also showed up in my body. As I walked I focused on changing that tension by changing the frequency of the vibration. By changing the frequency of the vibration I was able to dissolve the tension and as it dissolved I could work through the memories and sensations that came up in association with the behavior. Since doing this working the behavior hasn't had the same strength it had, and I've been following up with further vibratory work that continues to change the behavior.

You can approach this work in several ways. In the case above, I focused on the feeling of tension and used it to find the frequency that corresponded to it in the sphere of sensation. Then I worked with that frequency by vibrating it and using the vibration to dissolve the tension. Alternately, if you wanted to employ sound as a part of your work you could match a specific sound with a vibration you want to work with. You would vibrate the sound in order to work with the frequency and what you could do is experiment with the tone and pitch of the sound as a way to change the frequency or even change the type of sound.

Working with sound and vibration can be a useful alternative for people who struggle with visualization or don't find it to be helpful. By integrating sound into your meditation and internal work you open yourself up to a different way of experiencing and working through internal tensions. I'll be continuing to experiment with sound as a useful alternative to visualization and share what I discover here.

Magical Experiments Podcast: I interviewed Jason Miller about his books and his magical work. You can listen here.

Visualization and Experiences

Courtesy of Pixabay In Awakening the Sacred Body, the author shares some additional meditations you can do with the Tsa Lung. Some of those exercises include visualization of specific colors that can be associated with the movement of the breath. In my own work, I've tried to move away from visualization, but I thought with these exercises I might see how matching the visualization to other experiences I was already having would work. Initially when I did the visualizations I found myself spending more time on them, than on actually being present with the experience (Which is one reason I've moved away from visualization). However, I figured there had to be a way to crack this problem in such a way that visualizations could be included without distracting from the experience, and if anything helping a person go deeper into the experience.

What I decided to do was match the visualizations up with specific actions I was already doing. The way the exercises had been presented was that you did the visualizations separately, but that doesn't work for me. However, matching the visualization up to an experience I was having allowed me to stack the visualization and make it part of the experience, to the point that it could happen without me having to spend time thinking about it, as opposed to really being with it. Once I start doing the experiential work, the visualization of the color kicks in and becomes part of the experience.

I've never come across books or other resources where visualization is stacked on to an experience (though I suppose NLP would be where to look). There may be some resources or approaches that do it that way, but typically what I've noticed is an either/or approach to experiential meditation and visualization. You either do one or the other, but not the two together, and yet I also have never seen any warnings against it. I think the reason it's not typically done is because the practitioner is focusing on the experience or visualization and not trying to blend senses together in a manner that might be a distraction. Sound and visualization can go hand in hand because you can make the sound part of the visualization, but kinisthetic experiences are very tactile oriented and in some sense directed more inward as a result. Yet I also don't think its impossible to make our vision and kinisthetic experiences work together. It's just a matter of figuring out how they work together and in my case that means associating the visualization with the experience, so that when the experience occurs, the visualization automatically starts and supports the experience by becoming part of it.

My new podcast

I'm now hosting a podcast show on the Pagan Musings Podcast channel. You can listen to the first episode, where I interview Bill Duvendack about his book Vocal Magick here.

My new podcast and a couple of Book Reviews

I'm starting up a new podcast, through the Pagan Musings Podcast Channel. I'll be doing a show every Monday at 6pm PST. The first one will be on May 11th and will feature Bill Duvendack and I discussing his new book Vocal Magick and the topic of thought forms and magical entities. Most of my writing is focused on Pop Culture Magic 2.0 right now, so this blog post is just a couple book reviews, though I discuss a bit of my work in context to one of the books.

Book Review: The Talking Tree by William G. Gray

Part of my ongoing daily work involves working through The Talking Tree by William G. Gray, which is the companion book to the Ladder of Lights. In the The Talking Tree, Gray focuses on working with the paths in between the Sephiroth and showing how those paths connect the energies of the respective Sephiroth together. Each day, in the midst of my daily meditations, I've been reading a section of the book and then working with the respective forces described in that section by meditating those forces. This is similar to the work I did with the Ladder of Lights, and in fact builds off the work done in the Ladder of Lights, since you've already established contact with the respective forces you are working with.

Just as with the Ladder of Lights mediations, I used the spirit to mediate the force. I read a section and then do a meditation where I connect with the particular forces in order to mediate them into my life and through my spiritual work. Gray associates these paths with the Tarot and that makes for some useful imagery to work with, along with the correspondences he provides. For me the work has been mostly focused on internalizing each path in order to then manifest it in my life and I've found that with each path I've had relevant events come up that have allowed me to integrate the work I'm doing in a meaningful way with the experiences I'm having.

What's been most interesting about this work is the focus on the paths between the Sephiroth. The majority of books on the Tree of life have typically not covered these paths or if the material was covered, it was only lightly touched on. That makes this book invaluable for anyone who is serious about working with the tree of life and Quabala in general.

My only complaint about the book is that the sections aren't clearly laid out, like it was for the Ladder of Lights. That said I have an older version of the book and the newer version might be laid out in a way that's easier to access the different layers of each path.

Book Review: The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts

This book is thought-provoking in terms of how the material on space/time and working with the cells of the body is presented. There are lots of ideas in this book, which can be worked with if the reader is open to exploring them. What is overtly lacking are concrete exercises to explore these ideas, but if you have some experience, you can likely derive your own. Another issue I have with the book is that at times the message is very law of attraction oriented. While its important to recognize how your thoughts can set up the experiences you have, I think its equally important to note that some factors aren't dictated by your thoughts, and that isn't presented in this book. With that said, its an intriguing book that is far ahead of the time it was written, and worth a read through to see what ideas you can glean from it.

Tsa Lung Experiences

From Wikimedia In Awakening the Sacred Body, The five Tsa Lung exercises are shared. these are exercises where the practitioner takes a deep breath, then inhales again and holds the breath while doing physical movements that are designed to help the practitioner work through internal blockages and connect with their internal energy. The breath is then exhaled, and the exercise is repeated. I've been learning these practices and integrating them into my daily meditation work. I've found that they've helped lead me to a deeper place of stillness, especially combined with other Dzogchen practices.

Doing the Tsa Lung exercises are interesting, especially because you are doing them while holding your breath. I find that when I holding my breath and doing these exercises, it clears my mind of any thought. I am just present with the actions, allowing myself to do them and hold space with them. When I exhale, its like I let out whatever blockages were there, letting the attachment to them go with the release of breath. The author, at one point, notes that as you do these exercises you need to pay attention to the space that occurs as a result. When I check in with that space I find that stillness in me. Sometimes it brings up close to deeper issues (especially of late), but sometimes all that is there is space.

Doing this work has illustrated even further the connection between stillness and movement. One leads into the other and vice versa. Stillness can be found through movement and movement can stir in stillness. It's an integral relationship that I'm finding to be quite profound in other areas of my spiritual work.

Radio Interview: Recently Pagan Musings Podcast interviewed the editors and contributors of Bringing Race to the Table. Here is the interview.

 

Relaxing into Non-Conceptual Awareness

bear-sleeping_350cmyk

In Awakening the Sacred Body, the author does an excellent job of defining conceptual and non conceptual awareness. Conceptual thinking is a distraction from stillness. It is thinking about the meditation or the focus of the meditation as opposed to really opening yourself to presence. It is judging what you experience instead of actually allowing yourself to have the experience. Non-conceptual awareness, on the other hand, is allowing yourself to be present with the experience, to let it happen to you without having to interpret or categorize it. As you might imagine, it is not always easy for people to experience non-conceptual awareness.

When I do meditation, I find that the experience of non-conceptual awareness is an experience of relaxing into it. If I try to force it, what happens is that I move further away from it. Stillness isn't something you can force...it's something to be relaxed into as an experience.  So when I meditate, I just allow myself to be where I'm at, and it happens to be in a place of lots of thoughts, then I let that thinking occur, instead of trying to quash it down. By opening myself to that experience, eventually what occurs is I enter to a place where the thoughts go away and I'm just present. And if a thought does occur, I know what it is and I let it go. It's a kind of silence really that is actually quite relaxing and puts me into an altered state of consciousness. The key is to accept that in order for this experience to happen, you let go of trying to control it and just let it happen to you and move you to a place of stillness.

The reason people get stuck in conceptual thinking is because we have a tendency to analyze and critique and judge and get caught up in lots and lots of thinking. The problem with the conceptual thinking is that it distracts you from feeling. So if you feel uncomfortable, but get caught up in analyzing that discomfort, you still aren't dealing with the discomfort. You are thinking about it, but you aren't experiencing it. The experience of discomfort in your body and in your state of awareness is very different from thinking about it. It forces you to get real with what you are feeling. And when you do that...when you stop making it into a concept and just experience it, then you end up achieving a liberation of sorts, because you are allowing yourself to just feel it, and in the feeling of it, enabling yourself to really be present with it. Non-conceptual awareness opens you to a place of vulnerability. That place of vulnerability can be frightening, but if you are willing to engage it, what it provides you is the experience and that experience allows you to let go of the feeling ultimately.

In the past I've had a tendency to spend to much time in my head, over thinking what I'm experiencing. It's resulted in less than genuine work because I haven't been present with it in the way I needed to be. What non-conceptual awareness has helped me do is stop being in my head so much, so that I can be present with what I'm feeling. It's not easy work, but its the kind of internal work that can ground you into your body and into being more present with what you are doing in your life.

*****

I was recently interviewed on the Donna Philisophica Show.You can download the show and listen to it by clicking the link and finding it on her list of interviews.

 

 

 

My work with the Nine Purification Breaths

purification breath  

Lately I've been working with the Nine Purification Breaths technique, which is shared in Awakening the Sacred Body by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.  This is a useful technique to work with before you start meditating as its purpose is to clear our your energetic channels of emotional attachments. I've started using it at the beginning of my meditation practice, and its helped to deepen the state of my stillness work. I'm still figuring it out. It's a seemingly simple technique that nonetheless calls on you to really be aware and present in your body to get the full benefits.

The way it works is that you start with closing your right nostril off with a finger and inhaling with your left nostril. Then you close your left nostril and breathe out your right nostril. Do this again two more times. As you inhale you are drawing the prana in through the left nostril and then cycling it to the right nostril to clear out any anger you feel. After you have done this breath three or more times, you switch and close your left nostril and breath in through your right, then close your right nostril and breathe out through your left. You do this at least two more times and this time the purpose is to clear out any attachments you have. The final three breaths involve inhaling with both nostrils and then exhaling with both nostrils. This time you breathe out the doubt and ignorance you have.

The entire process can go fairly quick, but I would urge you to take your time with it. Be present with the breathing and more importantly with what you are seeking to clear out of yourself. For example, when I breathe out the anger emotions, inevitably some associations will come up and this can be useful for helping me to see if I need to address something with someone or if I just need to let it go. By taking your time, you allow yourself to be present with what you feel and let it go fully with each breath. And if you need to do some of this breathing more than three times, allow yourself to do that.

I also think there could be some applications to banishing with this technique or other forms of magical work. For example, you might want to breathe in specific emotions such as love or compassion. Or you might use the breathing to clear yourself of any conflicting emotions or attachments before and after you do a magical working. I've used it with my meditation practice and it has helped me reach a place of stillness with less effort involved because I'm clearing out what my other wise be a distraction. And at the same time it helps me open myself to my body, which is the first step toward embracing stillness (or movement for that matter). As with anything, what makes a technique like this useful is your willingness to engage it as a consistent practice in your life.

How Stillness leads to Openness to Being

Stillness In the last year or so, my daily practice has shifted toward doing a lot of work with stillness practices. What's fascinated me the most about these practices is how stillness is cultivated for the purpose of cultivating a state of openness to being. You still yourself, still all the activities and thoughts and open yourself to the experience as it is. Anything else that comes along is a distraction, so if you find yourself thinking or day dreaming or whatever else, you basically are no longer still. You are moving once again.

One of the reasons I did the elemental balancing work with movement and then stillness was to get a better appreciation of how these two states of being interact with each other. I feel that the stillness practices are giving me some insights that will be useful for other work I have gestating at the moment, but in and of itself, its been good for me to just work with stillness and observe my own experiences with it, some of which I've been sharing in my monthly elemental balancing ritual report. What I find is that some days its easier to cultivate stillness and other days its harder to cultivate stillness. A big part of it is how easily the mind gets distracted by possibilities or thoughts versus maintaining a very specific state of awareness where everything just is. It's far easier to wander into the realm of possibilities and random thoughts, but I think the beneficial effects of cultivating an actual state of stillness is that your awareness of being is honed. You truly open yourself to being present with yourself and your environment without filtering that awareness with your thoughts or possibilities. You just are and that's something which is distinctly different from everyday consciousness.

Interestingly enough the closest state of altered consciousness I've found that is somewhat similar to the state of stillness is the state that occurs when a person watches TV or plays a video game, in the sense that the person's attention is engaged by what s/he is interacting. However there is a distinct difference because the person isn't still. They are still interacting in some way or form with their environment, as opposed to just being in it. The monkey mind may be quiet, but they haven't really achieved a state of stillness. The state of stillness is distinct in that nothing is actually occurring. You are just still. You open yourself to the world and you enter a state of being which is not interactive so much as ontological.

Stillness leads to openness to being because it takes away all the distractions, movement, thoughts that are more about doing than being. When you are still, you just are and that's the only thing which matters. Inevitably though we come back from stillness, move away from being into doing because that's part of living life, but what stillness gives us, in opening up to being, is a chance to simplify, to get clarity in not doing anything at all. The stillness work I do each day is a pause in everything else and yet brings with it a clarity of focus that allows me to find that sense of presence in everything, because while doing may distract from being, being is nonetheless always there until it isn't at all and neither is doing at that point.

How symbols can be used to create pathworkings

Crossroads I hold a meditation gathering for the magical experiments community each Monday. At one of the recent meetings, a question was brought up about pathworking. The person mentioned that she had trouble with narrative pathworking, because as she would start to do it, it she'd get caught up in some detail which would distract from her from the rest of the pathworking. She wondered if there was an easier way to do a pathworking that didn't involve using a narrative structure. It was a fair question to ask and consequently we decided to try an experiment out, which I'll get into more detail below.

It could be argued that part of the purpose of the narrative is to allow a person to have experiences that may be relevant to the pathworking. In other words, if a person gets focused on a detail in the narrative, it may be due to the fact that the person needs to get some message from that detail. On the other hand, it could also be argued that if your learning style isn't ideally optimized around a narrative or audio learning then it may be harder to get something from the pathworking.

I've used narratives for pathworkings before, and you'll find that in hypnosis a narrative is typically created as a way to help direct the person's imagination in the creation of the environment they'll work in. That said I've sometimes found such narratives to be cumbersome and I question how essential they are, especially if the purpose is to connect a person to a particular space/energy that already exists. If that space already exists, shouldn't the person be able to connect it to via means that are less complicated?

My personal pet theory about the astral realm is that its comprised of the superconsciousness of humanity and the spirits and is accessed through the imagination. I think the same applies to any given space a person is trying to access through such methods as pathworking. I'd also argue that if specific entities are associated with a given space they don't need the narrative of the pathworking to appear in that space. The narrative can be useful for creating an impression of the space, but there may be other ways to accomplish this as well.

The mansion of memory technique involves the use of symbols to store information, which can then be recalled when the symbol is focused on. A variant of this technique can be used with pathworking. Pick a narrative for a pathworking and pick out the key imagery and themes. Then create a symbol that is representative of the imagery and themes and use that symbol to call up the particular space and associated spirits. It's an instant pathworking without the narrative. For example, the picture above is my painting of the crossroads. I use that symbol to access the metaphysical space of the crossroads as well as connect with the spirits associated with that space.

In my meditation group we experimented with this technique. I passed the painting around and had each person look at the painting for a few moments and then we meditated on the symbol, using it as a door that would unlock the crossroads to each person. Each participant was able to access the crossroads instantly. The symbol was representative of the energy, information, and meaning of the password and that was enough to open the door for the people involved. However the people at the group were already familiar with the crossroads.

At the next meditation group night, we tried the same technique. This time there were a few people who weren't familiar with the crossroads and I didn't tell them what the painting represented. While the previous participants did go to the crossroads, using the symbol, the other participants did not. What this indicated to me was that some type of context was needed to provide a destination of sorts for the people using the technique. To test this further I showed the participants another painting and provided some contextual details about what the painting represented. When we did the pathworking technique with just the painting as the focus everyone went to the specific space it represented and several picked up on details not shared by myself.

I think the instant pathworking technique can work but participants need to know what and where they are going. Some contextual information must be provided to establish a connection. On the other hand, a full narrative is likely not needed, especially if you have a symbol you can use to represent the core concept people are seeking to connect with.

 

Intensifying States of Consciousness through Sound

soundscape In my first month of working with the element of stillness, I've combined my practice of Zhine, which is a Tibetan practice of stillness meditation with the 5 Tibetan Healing sounds. I don't know if these sounds are intended to be used in conjunction with Zhine, but I decided to see what would happen if I focused on using the sounds to attune and manifest the element of stillness in my life and in the process of doing this, I've noticed some interesting results, in terms of the state of consciousness I've experienced while doing the meditation.

I start with just doing Zhine, focusing my awareness on a single point in front of me, blocking out everything else accept that point and myself. After I have been in this state for a time, I vocalize each sound. I'll vocalize each sound numerous times before moving onto the next sound, with the understanding that the vibrations of the sound are being used to attune my internal energy to the sounds, as well as to what I wish to manifest through the sound. In this case, it's stillness, and I use the initial experience of Zhine to set up the experience of stillness and then use the sounds to deepen that experience. As each sound is vocalized the state of stillness is intensified until the final sound, the manifesting sound is vocalized and the the state is held.

When I've done the sounds, and continued otherwise focusing my awareness on the space before me, I've found that I've hit a deeper state of altered awareness. The sound has helped to focus and deepen the manifestation of the element of stillness. I've also noticed an alteration in the light, or rather my perception of the light. This has happened with other meditations as well, but I've noticed that it typically occurs when you are able to sustain a specific state of mind for a longer period of time.

While this work has been done in the context of my stillness work, I think it could also be replicated for other purposes. I certainly see some potential for this intensifying of a state of consciousness for space/time magic work, but also if used for invocation and evocation or any other magical work that requires an altered state of mind.

Book Review: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy

If you want to understand the legacy of slavery in the U.S. then read this book. It will open your eyes to the impact that slavery continues to have on all of us. While the author focuses mostly on the effect slavery has had on people of color, she also explains the effect it has had on White people. What this book illustrates is how even today the institution of racism is in effect, and shows how the trauma of slavery has created a genetic impact that is reinforced by the racism that stills exists in U.S. culture. this book helps us to face these issues head-on and demands of us that we discuss them openly, explore them and continue the necessary conversations to help change this society into one that is truly equitable for all.

How to work through Internal Blockages in Relationships

conflict A lot of the focus on internal work is typically oriented toward the person working inward on whatever tensions, blockages, etc. come up. However I think it's also worthwhile to look at internal blockages as they show up in the relationships you have with people in your life. Internal blockages are bound to come up by the very fact that any relationship brings with it conflict. Such conflict can either become rooted within you, festering as resentment and anger, or it can be worked through with each side feeling acknowledged and honored. I prefer the latter approach, but I know the former approach all too well, as does most any other person. It is all too easy to let emotions fester within, especially when it relates to other people and if you are in a situation where it feels impossible to find resolution with the person, it often feels like there can be no closure at all. However, I think closure can come about, regardless of whether you have it with the person or without.

The way you recognize an internal blockage with a given person is quite simple. Think about the person. What is the emotional response that comes up when you think of the person? Do you feel you can express that emotion to the person? If you find that what you feel is negative and yet you also feel you can't easily communicate to that person what you are dealing with is an internal blockage which effects the relationship. That internal blockage will always be there until you work through it. It will show up more when you are interacting with the person, but it'll also show up when you think about the person or remember an experience. Such an internal blockage can cause you a lot of pain and create divisiveness in the relationship if you are still in touch with the person. If you aren't in touch with the person, it still gives that person power over you because of how they make you feel.

There are a couple ways you can work with such blockages. If you are in contact with the person, what you can do is use meditation techniques that help you to be present with the emotions and dissolve the tension around those emotions. For example, I like to use the Taoist water breathing meditation, which dissolves blockages and tensions. As it dissolves those blockages and tensions, it release the emotions, which gives you a chance to work with the emotions. you might find that you enter into a dialogue or replay a memory, but do so in a manner where it provides a solution. Another technique, which can be useful is a variant of the Tibetan Chod technique, where you create a thought form that represents the blockage and ask it what it wants and needs. Then you feed it what it needs, in order to transform it into an ally. That ally can provide you useful information for resolving the conflict with the person.

In the case of the above techniques, you are still in touch with the person and have some type of relationship with them. To get optimal benefits from those techniques you should plan on having a conversation at some point with the person in order to discuss what came up as you did the dissolving work. It may not be an easy conversation, but it will be ideally a liberating one for both of you. But what do you in a situation where you can't contact the person you have issues with?

My suggestion is to do a banishing ritual. I've posted before about several types of such rituals you can do, where you banish the person from your life. The value of such rituals is that you create closure of yourself by destroying any remaining link between yourself and that person. After doing such rituals, I've found that I feel much better emotionally, because I no longer feel tied to that person in the way I did before. in fact, I don't feel an emotional response to the person. I know because I've actually run into a couple such people, after I did the banishing ritual, and instead of feeling the anger and hatred I'd feel before, I felt nothing. Indeed, if anything I felt empowered because I as no longer letting them have any control over me.

Regardless of what approach you take, its important to recognize and deal with the internal blockages that come up in context to the relationships you have. By recognizing and working through them you free yourself of unhealthy attachments that keep you and those relationships in a place of dysfunction. It is better to find closure than to continue to hold onto such blockages and the tensions they create.

How to Identify identity Work you need to do

Magical-Identity- One of the most important aspects of identity work is the identification of problematic identities that you want to change. Some of these identifications are ones you will want to change entirely, while others will involve a change in perception. You'll also find that some identities can't be changed entirely, because they are part of your experiences, but what can be changed is how you choose to relate to that identity. This means that you can have a traumatic event occur which becomes part of your identity. You can't change that the traumatic event occurred...it's part of you, but what you can change is how you interact with that event, how you use it shape your identity and your place in the world. As simple as that sounds, such work can be hard, but if you are willing to do the work, the resultant changes are worth it because of you become empowered.

The identification of needed identity work involves paying close attention to those aspects of identity you'd rather avoid, or where you have tension and emotional blockages. For example, in American culture, the body is usually an identity aspect that people need to work with. The majority of Americans have unhealthy relationships with their bodies, which are not always examined from a place of identity. When identity is brought into the picture, an exploration of the body becomes a history of how you've interacted with your body, as well as what comes up for you in relationship to your body and how you've tried to change your body. All of these issues play a role in shaping your identity around your body and they can only be changed when you confront them head on and recognize them for what they are: unneeded definitions about what your body ought to be according to mainstream culture. Once you've recognized those definitions, you can then create your own definitions which speak to the identity you want to establish with your body. This typically leads to healthier interactions because you are choosing the identity instead of having it foisted on you.

One of the ways I identify identity work is through meditation. Part of the meditation work focuses on the unresolved tensions I feel within myself. As I meditate, I allow the internal energy to flow around the tension I feel, gradually dissolving it, and in that process revealing whatever is at the core of the tension. I can then work with that core and relate it to my identity to determine how it contributes to the identity formation I have. Once I understand that, I can do the necessary work of changing that core tension into something which helps my identity and the desired reality I seek to create.

In your own identity work, look for those areas of your life that bring up feelings of stress and tension. Do you dread going into work or cringe when checking your balance? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells around people in your home? Do you find yourself doing an activity that isn't good for you, but you can't stop it? Spend some time paying close attention to your daily routines and whatever comes up for you while doing those routines. What you discover will provide you the necessary direction you need to move in, in order to start doing identity work. Embrace those areas of tension and stress, no matter how uncomfortable they might be. You can do meditation or some other magical work, but the focus of the work should be on helping you to understand how the stress/tension contributes to your identity, as well as how you can change your identity by addressing the stress and tension you feel.

Book Review: Fan Cultures by Matt Hill

The author explores fandom as a culture from the lens of religion, cult enthusiasm, and psychology. He offers an alternative perspective to the works of other pop culture studies academics. I found his insights about pop culture fandom and religion to be particularly fascinating. This book will give you a lot to consider about how fandom engages pop culture and makes it part of their lives, as well as what can be learned by exploring fandom from disciplines outside the norms of cultural studies. What I also found insightful was hit detailed exploration of the hierarchy of fan culture, which was useful for understanding how fan communities work. If you are interested in pop culture studies or pop culture in general, this is a good book to read.

Why you need patience when doing the work

Patience Over the last month and change I've been doing a lot of internal work around the feeling of regret and how it shows up in my life. I've also recently started working on the Quabala, doing pathworking with the Sephiroth. With both of these workings, its been essential for me not to rush the working. What that means is that I can't focus on the results and what I think they should be. I need to be present with the experience and allow it to happen in the way it occurs. This means that I need to allow the work to occur at the pace it happens instead of trying to put it on a schedule.

For example, I was recently doing some work with Hod, with the Angelic order of it. The first day I worked with them, the impressions I got didn't make much sense. I recorded them and then redid the working the next day and the day after, and so on and so forth. The working wasn't going to happen in one day and I knew that, but I also knew that I needed to take my time and be open to the working taking multiple days to occur, as needed. I needed to be patient with the work and not force something to happen because I was establishing a relationship with that Angelic order as well as with Hod.

Patience is important in magical work. You've got to be patient with what you are doing. When you try to force a result, you lose something in the process. When you stick with the work and do it with the purpose of allowing it to happen as it needs to, you get not just a result, but also the experience of the journey. That journey transforms you, shapes you, and allows you to make meaningful change in your life through the connections you make in doing the work. Patience is needed because whether you are doing internal work or connecting with the spirit world or doing something else altogether, what you are really doing isn't something that always speaks to easy and obvious results. Magic isn't always about manifesting a possibility into the world, though it can be sometimes. Even in that case, I've found that magic is still a process of patience, because you are aligning the variables into your favor in order to manifest the possibility into reality.

So what's the point of all this? Don't be in a rush to achieve a result. Welcome the process for what it is and be patient with what you are doing. Allow yourself to go deep into the work you are doing and let it transform you as it also transforms the world. Let yourself be moved and discover in that movement the transcendent glory of magic as it changes your life. When you do that, you'll know what magic is and you'll appreciate why patience is important.

Magic isn't always Safe

safe This last weekend I gave a talk on the 7 Faces of Alchemy ritual at the Northwest Alchemy conference. At one point, one of the people attending the talk asked what the statement of intent for the ritual was and if I'd had a specific result in mind. I explained that my intention, at the time of the working was that it would function as a purposeful catalyst for change in my life, but that I didn't have specific results in mind because I felt that defining the result too much would have taken away from the efficacy of the working. I wanted to have an experience and I recognized then as I do now that when you have an experience, you necessarily give up some control to have it. You can't have an experience if you aren't open to it showing up in your life in ways you don't expect, that nonetheless brings change to your life.

My answer to that question also prompted me to note something else about that ritual: I didn't want to define the result too much because to do so would have sanitized the working, made it safe in a way that didn't allow for genuine change to occur. Life isn't safe (despite what illusions we provide ourselves to that effect) and I don't think magic should be either. Now I'll admit I've stated that it is useful to define the result and that when you develop a process of magic, it can actually be very useful to define the desired result so you can work backwards. In practical magic, defining the result is very useful because it provides a measurable outcome to shoot for. But there's always exceptions to the rules...

Sometimes you want to do magic to change your life, but you recognize that you need to be open for the change show up in ways you can't anticipate. You recognize that you need to be pushed in order to grow and if you try to control that process you'll just keep yourself stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need magic not to be safe and defined, because when its safe and defined it keeps you where you are...predictable. Sometimes you need to let go of control and be open to the experience, to letting it change and push you in ways you didn't expect could happen.

Magic isn't always safe. It shouldn't always be safe. When I did the 7 Faces of Alchemy work, it wasn't safe magic. It changed my life in ways I couldn't anticipate and pushed me to change and grow. I had a lot of illusions about myself stripped away and I had to come face to face with my decisions and look at what my life really was as opposed to what I thought it should be. It was hard work that humbled me and helped me change in a way that ultimately benefited me. It wasn't safe work though because if it had been safe I wouldn't have faced those issues or been humbled in that way. It was dangerous work that challenged me as a magician and person. By opening myself to the experience and allowing that experience to become part of me, I allowed myself to give up control and accept whatever came my way, with the understanding that it would change in me in ways I didn't expect.

Whenever I do magical work with an eye toward creating major changes in my life, I do so with the understanding that I won't be safe. My life will change and that change will necessarily require some sacrifice on my part that will likely be hard to give at the time I make it. Yet I also know that surrendering to change will bring with it opportunities and if I am open to those opportunities I will end up where I need to be. It may be uncomfortable and painful, yet what I learn as a result will challenge me to grow.