Visualisation & Meditation

Visualisation is the first and most important of all of the magical skills. Meditation and visualisation are skills that have been used in spiritual training for centuries. Their origin is unknown. However, the techniques are found in various forms in every religion of the world. Different people acquire these skills at different rates. It is important to remember not to rush through, but ensure that you have accomplished each stage. You should make the practice a habit.

These skills are not acquired by force; in fact quite the opposite is true. Some systems teach that it is important to get into a habit of regular meditation. That you should condition the body and mind into a pattern of exercise, in order to develop the skills. However, if you are not the sort of person who takes easily to this form of discipline, or your lifestyle does not allow it, then you will need to find other strategies. You must decide how you are going to approach this skill, and plan your time appropriately. Whilst freedom in organising your study is advocated, it is wise at the beginning not to leave long gaps between periods of work, as much that you have gained from each session will be lost.

Also known as grounding and relaxation, is essential to good meditational practice. When starting out you may find it hard to settle and focus on your intended activity. Part of the reason is the state of mind in which you come to the practice. Life is full of hundreds of stresses and concerns, and even with the best will in the world you will still bring some of them with you. As a result you will need to make a conscious effort to put yourself into the right frame of mind, and put aside the material world.

When starting it is useful to establish a set place in which to work. You may dispense with this later, but while acquiring the skills of meditation and visualisation it is helpful. Find somewhere you will not be disturbed, by the phone, doorbell, or any other forms of distraction. Make sure there is enough room for you to sit on the floor, or on a chair, or even to lie on the floor. Initially you may be trying all sorts of physical postures.

You may wish to use some focal objects, a candle, pictures, or natural objects. It is often quite helpful to develop an area of focus, where you can place found natural objects, crystals, images and candles. The area should become a living mandala, into which you add things at will. A mandala is pictorial, and physical, of your own inner self, beliefs, or a particular focus. You may find yourself changing it quite often, as you grow and develop.

The use of music is optional. However, if you do choose to use music there are some important considerations. The music should not be so dull it sends you to sleep, but neither should it be too lively. You do not want to be listening to the music; its purpose is to add atmosphere. Another consideration is the technical issue. You do not want the tape clicking off during your practice. Nor do you want to spend ages messing around trying to get the music to play.

When first starting it is good to try out various physical positions. The suggested method is to sit upright on a chair that offers back support. But really it is up to you, be sure that you are comfortable and not in a position that may with time cause discomfort and or pain. If you lie on the floor it is an idea not to make the floor too comfortable. You do not want to go to sleep. During the practice you want to move as little as possible. The ideal is not to move at all, but this is not often very practical. Nor is it suited to all of the exercises. What you are seeking to avoid is excessive movement that will distract you from the intended action.

After working on any of these exercises, throughout this unit, it is useful to take a few moments to return to normal consciousness on completing the task. It is helpful to spend time writing down your experiences, and noting comments for next time. Also try to have something to drink or eat afterwards, as this will help you return to normal consciousness.

A frequently used method for grounding is just to sit in silence. You should just sit silently until you feel ready. However, this method is best suited to people who have established relaxation triggers.

As you sit, ready for meditation, with your eyes closed turn your awareness or attention to the sounds you can hear. Listen to these sounds without thinking about what they are. At first you will spend a lot of time naming the sound, until slowly the naming will become irrelevant. This method requires perseverance and will not happen in seconds. You will find yourself not only hearing external sounds, but sounds that arise from your own body, the movement of breath, the beat of the heart, or the rumblings of your mind. As you ground and centre these sounds will decrease in volume.

Another awareness exercise is known as progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your feet. Become aware of each part of your body. Notice the position, touch of clothing, any stresses or tensions. Then on an in breath tense all of the muscles in that area, and release on an out breath. As you release feel that area becoming relaxed. You should progress up through your legs, body, arms, hands, head and face. When you have completed each part in turn, turn your awareness onto the whole of your body. As you breathe in tense the whole of your body, and on the out breath release the tension. Feel your body becoming relaxed, light and almost floating.

Awareness of breathing is another useful exercise of this type. It is important to breathe normally throughout this exercise. If you try to change your breathing by force you will not achieve the desired result. With your eyes closed, notice the first place your breath touches as it enters, your body. Notice how the breath feels, its coolness, and motion. As you breathe out, find the last place your breath touches, and again notice how it feels. Do this for a little while. Then follow your breath on its journey down to the soft palate at the back of your mouth. Be aware of the breaths whole journey, and how it feels. As you breathe out be aware of the breath moving from your soft palate out. Continue this awareness for a little while. Then follow your breath on its journey down through your windpipe to the top of your chest, but not into it. Again notice the effect of the whole journey. As you breathe out do the same again. Do this for a little while. Then follow your breath on its journey down into the top of your lungs, notice it filling your chest and causing it to move. As you breathe out notice the effects and follow the journey of your breath until it leaves your body. Do this for a little while. Then follow your breath on its journey down to your diaphragm. Notice how it effects your belly. As you breathe out follow this same journey. Be aware of every part of the journey. Do this for a little while. Somewhere deep in the centre of your physical body a place will begin to tickle or throb. This is the centre of your awareness, the point of relaxation, watch it, and allow it to grow with each breath. As you breathe in see it expand. As you breathe out see the tensions that restrict it leave with the outgoing breath. Allow the centre of your being to expand until it fills every conceivable part of your being.

With your eyes closed try to remember the main events of the day. Start with the most recent events. Do not go into lots of details. Rather try to fix on one particular item or moment. Progress steadily back through your day, picking out key events, or moments. Stop when you reach that moment just before you woke up that morning. At that point remember how relaxed you were lying in bed, how safe, and secure. Spend a few moments enjoying that feeling.

This exercise is best done standing or sitting, but is a little strange if you are lying down. With your eyes closed, try to image that there are roots going out from your feet. They search their way down into the earth, they continue down, into the very heart of the earth. When you feel they have gone as far as they will go, begin to draw up the deep raw energy of the earth. Feel it rising through the roots, flowing up into your very being. When this flow is established, without forgetting it, begin to notice your breathing. Image that the air you are breathing is filled with the golden rays of the sun, that you are breathing it deep into your being, where it mixes with the energy of the earth. Feel yourself responding, growing, and spreading Out from your own limits. Image yourself stretching out like a tree. You may even want to move freely at this point, if so, then do it. When you feel ready withdraw your roots, imagine then drawing back up. Allow any excess energy to flow naturally back into the earth, or breathe it out into the air.

Using sound is always effective, but it takes time to get over the initial inhibitions you may have. Close your eyes, and either use a repeated phrase, the vowels are good for this, or a sound. Voice your chosen sound, make it loud, and clear, try to express your feelings in the sound you are making. Allow the sound to grow and change, it may become louder or softer, it may loose coherence. You might even begin to make strange almost inhuman noises; you may become wild and abandoned, or fall slowly into silence. Whatever happens allow it to do so freely. Do not feel self-conscious, as this is the very thing you are trying to free yourself from. When you finally feel sounded out, and there is no more to release, become silent, and for a few moments enjoy that silence.

In this exercise it is important to try to imagine each colour as vividly as possible. Do not just imagine objects of that colour; feel as if you are immersed in it, One way is to imagine that that colour light surrounds you. Closing your eyes, start with the darkness all around you. Imagine that you are falling through this darkness, with no particular goal or direction. The slowly start to see the space around you fill with bright red. Let the red fill the space totally, entering your very being. Continue falling without direction through this colour. Slowly allow it to lighten into Orange, until you are bathed in orange. Continue in this way through the colours of the rainbow, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Then continue into clear bright white light. Float here for a moment, at peace and at rest.

When you have mastered the art of grounding and centring spend some time becoming firmly aware of the sensation. Really get to know how it feels to be in this state of consciousness. Try to remember the feeling. Associate a simple image with the process of grounding. Perhaps a leaf falling to the ground, or the waves crashing on the shore. Then next time you start to ground or centre sit in silence with your eyes closed; imagine the image you have used. As you picture the image know that you are grounding and centring, experience the associated feelings as you have come to know them. This system is only effective if you have already got used to grounding and centring through other exercises, and can be used quickly and efficiently.

Extending Awareness
Through these exercises you aim to move your awareness beyond the confines of your head. Most people live in their head, and are rarely aware of their whole self By centring, grounding, and relaxing you will be able to extend your awareness into the whole of your body. In so doing you will come to know and understand your bodies needs and functions.

Begin by entering a relaxed state. When you are ready take your awareness into the centre of your being. Feel this awareness expand until it fills the whole of your physical body. Stand up, as you do be aware of every move you make of your physical response. Stand for a moment with your eyes closed. Become aware of what it is like to stand. What position is each part of your body in? How does your body feel? Inclining your head down open your eyes. It is not important to look around, but you do need to see the ground before you, so that you do not fall over in the next part of the exercise. Begin to walk slowly around the room. Try not to think about where you are going, or what is around you, just walk. Become aware of the sensation of walking. Feel the movement of your muscles, the flow of your body. Continue this for several minutes. When you are ready stop, and return to normal consciousness.

This exercise can be extended further. You can go for longer meditative walks, and perhaps end by contemplating the place where you have been walking. If going for a long walk it is advisable to go with someone who knows what you are doing. Equally you could do the exercise whilst paying more attention to your surroundings, but this takes practice.

The exercise can also be done through dance. Select a piece of music, which you feel that you can move freely to. When you have centred, stand up, start the music, and begin to move in whatever way seems to suggest itself Completely surrender your movement to the music, without concern. Be aware only of your body and its flow.

Another stage of the exercise is to take your awareness beyond your body. Look at an object or view. Allow yourself to become a part of all that you are aware of Try to feel as if you are the object, or part of the view. This takes a lot more practice, but allows you to change your perspective on issues.

A similar exercise, which appears to be simpler, but can give rise to very profound experiences uses listening. Find a place that you feel safe in, in town or countryside. Make yourself comfortable, ground and centre. Closing your eyes try to become aware of all the sounds you can hear. If it is the sound of a car, or footsteps try to determine the direction they are moving in. Try to locate the position of birds, the rustle of trees in the wind. Listen to the symphony of the natural world. However, you will need to resist the temptation to open your eyes and look, as to do so will almost certainly bring the exercise to an end.

At the simplest level visualisation is the production of an image in the mind. In other words it is the constructive use of your imagination. This is the root of all magical operations. People learn the skill at different rates. For some it involves real visual sensation, as if using the eyes, for others it is an idea or sense. No particular expression of the skill is better. It is important to work through these exercises in the order given, if you are to effectively develop this skill.

Exercise I
Start by trying to form simple objects in your mind. When you are centred, close your eyes and try to imagine an orange. Be sure to get every detail, the orange colour, the pitted skin, and the green stalk. Then imagine sinking your nails into the skin, feel the resistance of the skin against your nails. Smell the zest of the orange. Slowly peel your imaginary orange. See the pith and the flesh beneath. Feel the juice run onto your fingers, smell it. Take a piece of your orange put it in your mouth and taste it.

You can choose any object you like for this exercise, but make sure it is a simple one. It may be helpful to spend some time looking at a physical example of the object before you do the exercise.

When you are able to do this easily move on to more complex objects, plants, trees, or animals. This takes time, as you can add sound to the experience, and motion. Be sure to build as complete an image as possible.

Then go on to places. You could start by using a photograph. Clearly form the place in your imagination. Use all of your senses. As yet you should not be trying to place yourself within the image, that comes later.

Exercise 2
Metabhavana, a Buddhist form of meditation makes a good stepping stone in developing this skill.

Centre and ground, and with your eyes closed try to imagine yourself Picture yourself as clearly as possible. Imagine yourself bathed in love. Send that love into your very being. Spend a few minutes doing this.

Picture someone you a very close to, as clearly as possible. Imagine them bathed in love. Send that love to them. Spend a few minutes doing this.

Picture someone you are indifferent to, as clearly as possible. Perhaps it is someone you see every day but have not really got to know, imagine them bathed in love. Send that love to them. Spend a few minutes doing this.

Picture someone you dislike, an enemy, as clearly as possible. Imagine them bathed in love. Send that love to them. Spend a few minutes doing this.

Picture the world. Start with your immediate area, then slowly include more and more of the country, of Europe, through the other continents until you can picture the whole world. Try to imagine the life force of every living being on the planet, building it i. p slowly with each step. As you go through each step imagine everything bathed in love. Send your love out to every being in the world. Spend a few minutes doing this.

Exercise 3
You are now ready to try a few imaginary journeys. In this exercise you will be using all of the skills that you have developed so far. The easiest place to start is with a scripted journey. These can be bought pre-recorded on audiotape. However, it is not possible to try out such tapes before purchasing them. Books of scripted visualisations are available, and thanks to the use of this technique by RE teachers, more materials are becoming available. However, remember that the scripts will reflect the purpose the author had in mind, and this is not always a magical purpose.

You will need to become familiar with the scripted visualisation in order to use it without help. It is better to find someone who understands what you are doing and is willing to read it to you. Equally you could record the script onto audiotape yourself Which ever you do, make sure that the reader does not rush through it. Read slowly, but not too slowly. Allow short pauses between images. If the text calls for a pause make it a lengthy one, of several minutes. If when doing the exercise you are told to spend some time in a place or with certain characters you will need plenty of time to do this. In such a situation you should use the opportunity to explore the place, or to ask questions and listen to answers.

Here is an example of a simple journey. Try out this exercise and write a report on your experience. Try to make a realisation related to your journey.

Ground and Centre
You find yourself standing by a five bar gate. Look at the gate. Notice its condition, the latch and post. Feel the wood from which it is made. Be aware of the sensation of touch. Hanging from the gatepost is a storm lantern, which is alight. This may be puzzling, as it is such a nice sunny afternoon here. This lantern is your marker it will guide you home. Beyond the gate you can see a wood, look carefully at all the different types of trees. Either open the gate, or climb over. You find yourself on a path, leading to the wood. Follow it, enjoying the feel of the sun on your face. As you enter the wood, notice the coolness of the shade. .Smell the resin from the trees. Follow the path on into the wood. Look at the flowers, and undergrowth. Hear the rustle of the trees. Feel the plants brush past you on either side. Listen to the song of the birds. Suddenly you come into a clearing. In the centre stands a large upright stone. Go over to it. Its surface has a carved pattern, look at it. Touch the stone and feel its surface, run your finger along the pattern. Sit with your back to the stone. Feel it firm behind you. The sun seems to be dipping towards the horizon, and you see its rays through the trees before you. As you sit looking at the rays notice the things that appear caught and illuminated by each ray of sunlight. Quietly and calmly an animal conies out of the wood before. Look at it, and do not be afraid, it will not harm you. It makes its may slowly towards you, stopping by your side. Reach out your hand and touch, notice how it feels. You seem to be communicating with this creature without the need for language. Spend a few moments in its company. You notice that the sun is nearly set and that you must return home. You stand and look for your path. The creature goes before you, it guides back along the path through the woods. Follow it. Do not wander from this path Jbr now. As you reach the edge of the wood you can see the light of the lantern on the gate. Before heading for it you turn and bid your guide farewell. A for the creature can come no further this time. Walk down to the gate. Before going through it remember hat you have seen and done. As you pass the gale you will return to this place and time. Your journey will be over and you will back it that place you call reality. Return and remember.

Gently awaken as from a dream.

Have something to eat or drink and write down the results of your journey, try to make a realisation. The creature you met is one of your spirit animals. As such it reflects an inner aspect of your self Try to realise what it reflects.

Exercise 4
Try to write your own scripted visualisation. Base it on a journey to the cliffs, where you will meet a bird, another of your spirit animals. Try to give your script pace, and depth of experience. Remember to return in the same way that you went in. Make this journey and report on it, making any realisations you can.

Exercise 5
Write a scripted visualisation. Base it on a journey to a lake, river, or the sea. Be sure to enter the water. Leave space to meet someone or something, but do not define what or who you will meet. Do not use any visual cues in this script. Base the whole script on the other senses, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. Try to give your script pace, and depth of experience. Make this journey and report on it, making any realisations you can.

Exercise 6
Take a photograph or painting of a place. Look at it and make it your intention to journey into the image, in order to meet the spirit of the place. Do the exercise. Create the image in your mind, then step into it. Explore the place and go on. Remember to return by stepping back through the image, perhaps looking at it again in your mind's eye. Make this journey and report on it, making any realisations you can.

Exercise 7
Do exercise 6 again but this time use a Tarot card as the image, if you have any. Step into the card and spend time talking to the characters within it, before returning. Make this journey and report on it, making any realisations you can.

Exercise 8
Use your imagination to build a door of gate through which you will travel on your future journeys. Describe or draw it. Use it to go on a journey to one of the places we have already visited in this unit.

All of these exercises will help you develop the true base and essence of all magical practice. Use them, and develop your skills. Remember it takes time, and this not a section to hurry. Good work now will ensure later success.

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