For any occult practitioner, meditation is among the most important practical skills you can develop. It is a direct answer to so many problematic areas in the internal environment, and it's practically necessary in order to do some of the work associated with other occult practices.
In this post, I'd like to share some practical techniques you can apply in your meditation practice, as well as some resources that you may or may not find worth pursuing.
All About Awareness
Meditation begins with the understanding that awareness (or attention) is the phenomenon that is to be worked with.
Awareness is mobile & malleable. It can be anywhere, anytime, instantly. It can be expanded in all directions, to all scales, and contracted in the same way.
To understand the truth in this, consider ordinary thought. We move our awareness between aspects of our surroundings, to events in the past and possible ones in the future. When reading fictional books, for instance, we are imagining things that are not part of our present physical reality, yet our awareness is distinctly there.
It is like the passenger on the train of thought—usually it's always going somewhere.
Awareness in the Western World
Understanding how mobile & malleable awareness is may also come with the recognition of how susceptible it is.
As we go throughout our days, our attention is pushed and pulled by the elements & events that surround us. As per the train of thought example, "rails" surround us in the form of signs & symbols of all kinds, pushing our thoughts (and resulting behaviors) down various tracks.
It essentially results in a ride that can sometimes make us feel like we're not in control, even in concerns to our own thoughts. But the reality is, we are the conductors of this train. It's just another skill that takes practice.
The Work to be Done
My personal take on meditation is this: It's exercising & playing with awareness. I say "play" because while this is a form of work that takes patience & persistence, it's also kind of like learning an instrument. Treating it like play helps keep a smile on one's face and a healthy attitude in regards to progress.
Begin with something simple. During my vipassana course, I was instructed to start with the breath, focusing all my attention on sensation of air coming in and out of my nostrils. This is a great place to start.
As you begin, you'll notice that your mind wanders incessantly to everything. This isn't a problem. It's natural and it will continue happening. Whenever you catch yourself, just get back to your breath. As you practice, you'll get better at noticing when your mind starts wandering, and the duration of your focus will continue to increase.
When your mind wanders, some of the best advice I've received is to always treat the wandering mind "smlingly," and with good humor. Generally it will never help to get frustrated or impatient with your own mind. Just relax and continue—the wandering mind is just part of the process.
The aim here is to hone your awareness to a small point. I'm going to refer to this as "contracted awareness." It becomes small and focused, and from that state of awareness you can experience a single phenomenon in a very complete way.
You can also try practicing this while eating. Taking very small bites of food and focusing on each one very intently—all the flavor, texture, sensation.
The benefits of refining this particular technique:
- Precise focus.
- Clearing the mind, since there simply is no room for anything else within a contracted awareness.
- Mapping mind & body interconnection.
Once you have gained some proficiency in the "contracted awareness," you can try putting it into action.
Try moving your awareness throughout your body and acknowledging how that feels. You may notice some unique sensations in your body as your awareness focuses in on different areas. This particular technique is core to a variety of different meditation & energy work traditions.
You can also move your awareness outside of your body. Try bouncing it between the walls of your room, for instance. This might sound crazy, but once you get some proficiency in moving your awareness around, I'm certain you'll discover this intuitively.
These are early stage of energy work, and this can make an enormous difference in the effectiveness of a vast majority of occult techniques.
The final basic technique I'd offer is one that could be called, "expanded" awareness. Again, you'll want to have the earlier basics covered.
During a meditation session, achieve the contracted awareness state, and move it around some. Then, expand it across your entire body (no further for now) and try to hold this for as long as you can. Acknowledge the sensations that arise.
Honestly, I love this technique. It's especially great after achieving the contracted state, since it helps you maintain a fine degree of the "size" of your awareness. It's a gateway into a lot of advanced techniques.
Give it a try!
There are many different wonderful styles and approaches to meditation. The ones presented here are geared toward developing inner senses for future work with self-applied techniques.
It bears mentioning, however, that meditation is a practice unto itself. So long as you take time to do it frequently, you will experience benefits. I would also mention that the 10-day vipassana course is an excellent way to establish a good foundation in the practice.
If you're interested in taking these meditation practices to the next step, then stay tuned! There will be more resources on the way.