magical process

Some thoughts on Applying Process to Meditation

meditation I've just finished reading Working on Yourself Alone By Arnold Mindell (See Review below). He takes an interesting approach to meditation, breaking it down into a process and actually showing different types of meditation processes that a person can work with. What I like best is that he shows how to achieve meditative states of awareness using different channels of experience. This is not something usually addressed in works on meditation because the focus is on teaching meditation within a specific cultural context, but the value of this kind of approach is that meditation is approached as a process with specific steps that can be followed and broken down as needed, in order to determine what works or doesn't work.

Meditation as a process isn't confined to one way of doing meditation. There are different types of meditation and different results. Pathworking, for example, doesn't work with the body in the same way that a breathing meditation would work. Perhaps what most interest me with this book is that the author claims that its not pain that motivates people to change but rather a mixture of love, self-discipline, and enlightenment. I think there's some truth to that, but I think that pain can be a good motivator toward change. Certainly it causes us to be aware of who we are and how we experience life. However, I'd say that following through on sustained change is where discipline, love, and enlightenment come into play. These keep us on track, while also informing us of the progress we've made with our work, and even in meditation there is a need to see some kind of result (though how that result manifests is something that can only be experienced as opposed to predicted or defined).

Meditation as a process does, for the most part seem to be applied around the body. What this means is that the body is an essential element of the process. The body needs to be factored in as an essential element of meditation that be examined to understand what is stopping someone from effectively meditating. I think that the mental chatter should also be included in that examination as a symptom that can be explored to discover root issues that the person needs to work on. I've used mental chatter or monkey mind in my meditations to discover or explore issues that are stopping me from being fully present in my meditation and this in turn has lead to internal work that has allowed me to process and heal from those issues. Some of that work has also involved movement, which the author touches on at some length. Movement is an overlooked component of the meditation process because of the usual stereotypes associated with meditation, but even in those stereotypes movement is a component that has relevance to meditation and its effectiveness or lack thereof.

I like to apply process to everything I do, because understanding the activity flow and components helps you understand what works or what needs to be changed. A given technique becomes much easier to change or replicate once you understand how it works and what components define it. You can strip away the non essentials and still get something significant to happen because you understand the underlying principles that inform how the process works.

Book Review: Working on Yourself Alone by Arnold Mindell

The author applies a process perspective to meditation, explaining how different meditation techniques work and how to achieve meditation by switching techniques. I found it to be a useful book, especially as he demonstrates it through his own practice. He shows how to switch to different meditation modalities and also shows how to strip the technique of cultural context. One downside of this is that he is stripping away certain contextual information that might be useful for the meditation practice. Nonetheless the author does a good job of exploring how meditation works and what can be done to more effectively meditate.

What makes effective experimentation in magic

When I think about effective experimentation in magic, I think that its essential to have a group of people who are willing to test your experiment. These people don't even need to know each other, but they need to be people who are willing  to give your experiment a try and provide honest feedback. Anyone can come up with an idea, and an idea can even be developed into a process that the person extensively works on and fine tunes. But until that person has shared the the process with other people, so that they can test it, its fair to say it's not an effective experiment. Effective experimentation calls for feedback and input from other people that aren't familiar with the technique and are willing to test it with the appropriate balance of skepticism and open mindedness that is needed for effective experimentation. As an example, when I experimented with a technique to contact neurotransmitters, I knew that to truly test its effectiveness, I needed to find other people who could verify if the technique worked. I ended up having a variety of people experiment with the technique. Some were from the U.K. and some were from the states, so they didn't all know each other. The consistent results that they achieved was what verified the technique and made an effective experiment.

You also need to be able to explain how your process works, so that other people can duplicate it. If a reader just gets lots of vague theories about how it works, but there isn't any practical instructions then what you have is more of an armchair approach to magic. Sounds great in theory, but can I implement it?

Perhaps what is most vital to effective experimentation is curiosity. You have to be curious and open to exploring what's around you. My curiosity is what has motivated my exploration of magic. I've always wanted to know what the real limits of magic are, as well as what my limits are. So if I can test something out, I will, in order to see what I can do, but then I'll bring it to other people and ask them to test it, to see what they can do. Naturally the people I look for are curious as well.

Effective experimentation is about developing a consistent process that can be done again and again and again, with the achievement of consistent results. Its as simple as that, and yet that simplicity demands careful attention to detail, to ensure your process does work.


Your Definition of Magic

In Multi-Media Magic and the forthcoming Neuro-Space/Time Magic, I've discussed definitions of magic extensively, in terms of looking at other people's definitions of magic and providing my own definition. For this book however, I think it's important to examine YOUR definition of magic, because this book is all about your magical process. At the root of any methodology, process, or practice there are definitions. Definitions are the root or the core of the process. They explain the need for the process as well as how that process fits into your life. Think of definitions as a concise state of your beliefs and values. Those beliefs and values are integral to the success or lack thereof of your magical process. The definition embodies your understanding of those values and beliefs and their place in your life and your magical work.

What sabotages a person's magical working is usually his/her definition of magic...or to be more particular, it's the fact that s/he is doing a process that is not aligned with his/her internal beliefs and values. For any magical work to be successful in both the short and long term, it necessarily must align with the beliefs and values that you live your life by. If the magical working doesn't align with your values and beliefs, you will, on a subconscious level, find a way to sabotage your results in order to bring your back into alignment with your beliefs and values. However, you can change your beliefs and values, though it will take some work.

Your definition of magic will vary to some degree by situation and circumstance. In other words, you may find that your magical work is more effective for certain situations or problems and less effective for others. If you find that to be the case, it's time to examine your beliefs and values about a particular situation. They may not be the problem in your process, but usually they are a contributing factor. If you want to change your approach to a given area of life, you have to first change the beliefs and values that inform your perspective and actions. This is true regardless of whether you are employing magic or some other methodology to promote change in your life.

There are two basic types of magical work: internal and external magic. All magical processes can be grouped into either of these types. Internal magic is magic directed toward working on the self. This includes internal work, which is done to work through psychological and emotional issues, but also includes magic that focuses on the physical health of the body. Internal magic is useful for examining and changing beliefs and values that you have. External magic is focused on influencing the environment around the person, in order to produce a physical change. Typically, in Western magic, the majority of the focus is on external magic and obtaining results. An example of external magic would be doing a magic to get a job.

Your definition of magic, however, is one that is based on your beliefs and values and thus fits into internal magic. I think it's a good practice to do internal work to clarify your beliefs and values, before doing external magical work to resolve a problem. By having a clear understanding of your internal motivations, you can then perform an act of external magic. You do want to have a good balance between internal and external magic. Too much internal work ultimately leads to a lot of navel gazing and little action being taken, but too much focus on external magical work can find you reacting to situations without really resolving the core issues that cause the situations to occur.

A good definition of magic is one that helps you understand how and when to employ magic in your life. You can rituals a few hours a day, but not really make anything come out of it, if you don't have a definition of magic that supports all that work. Here's a couple questions to consider as you spend some time examining your definition of magic.

What is my definition of magic?

Why am I using that definition of magic? Does it accurately describe how magic fits into my life?

There is one cautionary statement I wish to offer and it has to do with using other people's definitions of magic. While it might be tempting to simply rely on Crowley's definition of magic (a lot of magicians do just that) or someone else's definition, it is the lazy magician who does so! A person who can't take the time to examine the core of his/her methodology and processes is a person who doesn't really know him/herself, let alone magic. A personalized definition is one that is arrived at through experience and self-awareness. It doesn't just describe magic, but it also describes the person's relationship with magic and his/her understanding of how to apply it to his/her life. Draw on other definitions for inspiration, but learn to develop your own as well. It will provide you more insight into how magic works, and also who you are as a person than relying on someone else's definition ever will.

An update on the magical experiments course

This is the first year of the magical experiments course, and we are just a month in to it, but already attendees are getting a lot out of the process. Below is one of the testimonials from an attendee. ********

Wanted to say "thanks" for the response. I hadn't heard of mind-mapping before, so I did some research on that and worked with it for a few days, to what I believe is a successful end. I realized I have the most passion and excitement for actual songwriting, and it would be less fulfilling to focus my efforts on the corporate writing, etc. Although uncertain at that point of how the money would come into play so I could achieve my "ultimate goal" most efficiently, I decided to just pursue the song-writing and let the Universe fill in the details in the best way possible -- larger forces know better than me.

So, having come to that conclusion, I had a dream where I was delivered a song title, which I have begun developing into a marketable song I can sell. It's not the type of song that would necessarily fit into my ultimate goal of being a singer-songwriter (not my style, although the message is still something I'm happy to put my name to), so I'm not concerned about "saving it for myself". I'd be happy to sell it and it fits into a market where there is lots of money to be made and songs from independent writers are regularly purchased. I can practice my craft and get some "street cred" as a songwriter, while also accomplishing the financial goal of earning enough money to move away from the day job and pursue songwriting full time.


At this point the 2011 year is closed, but I will be teaching this class again in 2012. If you're interested in taking your magical skills to the next level, then this class will be helpful for you. Best of all you get feedback from other attendees as well, so you're working with a focused group.

Results and their role in the magical process

We always get results. We don't always get the results we want. In magic, we are told not to lust for results, but conversely we look to results to prove that magic is effective, and that our magical process works. The reason we are told not to lust for results is because if we do, the obsession we put toward that desired result removes the obtainment of it from us. And I think there's some truth to that reason. I've known people who've become obsessive and let that obsession consume them, which has stopped them from recognizing opportunities that were coming their way. At the same time, you need to know what result you want to achieve in order to create a magical process that will (ideally) get you that result. It is also helpful to be as specific as possible in defining and describing the result. A vague description of a desired result isn't very helpful or useful. For example, if your result is: "I want a job", that's fairly vague. On the other hand if you state: "I want a teaching position, where I make at least 60,000 a year and have opportunities to advance in my school district.", then you have a more specific result that you are aiming for.

Principles of Magic

Developing a specific result allows you to develop a specific magical process to help you achieve that result. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you define your result:

1. What is the result I want?

2. What are additional details I can include to make the result more specific? Additional details should include anything that you would consider important or helpful.

3. Why do I want this result? How will it benefit my life to achieve this result?

4. Is there any part of this desired result that I don't agree with or feel resistant toward? If there is part of me that feels resistant to it, why do I feel that way?

5. How will I feel once the result is achieved? What will I do with the result?

All of these questions can help you not only develop a specific result, but also determine if it's a result that you can achieve. If you discover that there is resistance toward the result, it's a good idea to spend some time looking at the reasons for that resistance, to determine if the result is something you really want.

Would you include any other questions? If so what would you include?



The Process of Magic

Magic is a process. Strip away all the religious trappings, esoteric terminology, and ceremonial tools and what you have is a process that people use to turn possibility into reality. Understanding this process is all you really need to successfully do magic. Everything else is icing on the cake, and yet, as I'll show that icing is the expression of the process of magic for each person. Your Definition of Magic: The most fundamental principle of the process is the definition of magic that is applied to it. That definition is a description and explanation of magic and its place in your life. Many magicians will rely on the definition that someone else came up with for magic, most notably Aleister Crowley's definition, but I would urge my readers to develop your own definition of magic, instead of relying on someone else's. I've discussed definitions and their relationship to magic at some length in Multi-Media Magic and Neuro-Space Time Magic, but I'll discuss them again in this book to illustrate why it is useful to develop your own definitions instead of relying on someone else's.

Results:  We are told not to lust for specific results, and yet if magic is to be effective, we need to know the specific result we are shooting for. This means we need to clearly define what it is we want our magical activity to achieve. Knowing your result doesn't mean you lust for it, but it does provide direction for the magical process you are engaged in and indicates whether or not your magical process is working. A result is the expression and embodiment of your magical process, and it is also an indicator of what you can improve on with your magical process. If you haven't achieved the specific result you wanted, then you need to look at your magical process and make changes to what you are doing. A result, positive or negative, will always provide you information about your magical process and what you need to do to improve on it.

What activities are you doing?: A process is comprised of the activities you are doing to realize that process. Each process has steps that a person performs, so in planning your magical process out, it's a good idea to look at what steps you are taking. If there's a particular order to the steps, then arrange them in that order so that you can look at your process and/or zoom in on a specific step. Knowing the steps you will take to realize a process can help you answer several other questions.

Why are you doing it?: You may be able to answer this question by looking at the desired result you want to achieve, but chances are that while a specific result will contain one reason why you are doing the magical process, it won't provide all reasons. It's good to spend some thinking about why you need to do a particular magical process. What are your motivations for doing it? How will it help you improve your life (or the lives of others)? What need it doing this process fulfilling for you?

How does it work?: How does your process work? Answering this question is essential to understanding what happens when it doesn't work as well as what you'll change about it. You should be able to describe in detail what every tool does, what every gesture or word contributes to your magical work. If you can't explain it, then why include it? Even the role of a deity or an entity should be something you can explain. How your process work, how the steps you do provide you the ability to turn a possibility into reality is something the magician should know. When you know how your process works, it will always work. And when you know how it works you can always improve on it.

Where/when: For some people this will be an important part of their magical process. They might choose to do magic at a particular time of day or week or month. I personally don't think it's that relevant, but remember what I said about your definition of magic. Your process of magic is one that is personalized. If the time of day and where you do something is relevant to your process then include it in your process.

There are some other variables we should also consider that aren't traditionally considered part of the magical process, but nonetheless should be considered because they are very relevant to the practitioner. The practitioner is a key component of the magical process and if we don't consider these variables, then we ignore how we are influenced by them to our own detriment. The beliefs and values that a practitioner has is derived from these variables. Being able to examine these variables will help the practitioner understand how the magical process is allowing him/her to express those beliefs and values or determine if there is a conflict of interest. If there is a conflict of interest, it is suggested that the practitioner go back to the drawing board to build a magical process that accounts for these variables.

Culture: Your cultural background and interests will inform your magical process. What you identify as your culture is an influence that affects what magical forces you'll work with. If you're a Celtic reconstructionist, then you'll want to draw on that cultural information for your magical process. Or if you're like me and you find pop culture to be interesting, then you will want to use pop culture icons as part of your magical work.

Ethics/Morals: If you follow an ethical code, then you will need to consider that code in your magical process. Likewise if you have particular morals that you follow, those will need to be considered. Trying to do a magical process that goes against your ethics or morals will always fail. If you're someone who tends to take a shades of grey approach to life, then you'll likely be able to find reasons that will justify doing the magical process, but I'd still look at that part of your process very carefully.

Ideology: Ideology is another factor to consider, particularly as it pertains to types of magic. If you identify as an anarchist, trying to do some form of money magic will likely be harder to pull off given how linked money is to the structures that the anarchist might oppose. Your ideology can also be a religious belief system and as such that particular system will need to be considered when performing magic.

What would you include that I haven't included? What would you exclude that I've included?