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.