I will not claim to be an expert on meditation, however, I am someone that struggled mightily, and sometimes still do, to achieve that truly still mind when I first started doing a regular meditation practice.
I firmly believe, and I’m not alone, that any good witch or magickal practitioner, or just anyone who wants to be able to affect their life and world in a positive way, needs to be at least intermediately adept at meditation.
It is the deeper states of meditation that allow us to connect with our higher self, the spiritual plane, the astral plane, or other states of being outside just the physical.
But, even if none of those are your goal and you simply want to be able to calm down, disconnect from a stressful world, change yourself inside and out, and bring abundance to your life, you need to nail meditation.
Prepare for Meditation
I won’t spend a lot of time on this, as I don’t think this part is important for everyone. But, some of us need to lock the door to our bedroom, put on headphones, or cue up our favorite guided meditation (more on this in a minute).
Maybe you also need to find a more comfortable position to sit or lay in. Maybe you need to silence all devices or take off your smart watch so it doesn’t keep buzzing the whole time.
You might also prefer to listen to background noise, music, or binaural beats.
Or maybe you choose to meditate on the spot spontaneously and preparation is a distraction in itself.
Whatever you need to do to create a distraction-free setting for the time you plan to meditate is your preparation.
How Long to Meditate For?
When you’re newer to this, you might literally just set a goal for 1 minute of unbroken focus meditating. I had to start there at one point because an exposure to extremely toxic black mold left my brain in pieces for a while, which caused me to essentially lose most of my conscious control of focus.
You’ll read accounts from very adept or skilled magickal practitioners that use longer meditation to precede things like ascension to other planes. Generally, you should be able to hold a meditation focus for around 30 minutes minimum if you are attempting this.
Same for astral projection. Being able to deeply meditate for longer periods of time is required to dissociate the astral body from the physical.
But, don’t feel pressured. Those achievements can come in time and the only really important thing to start with is being able to get through that first minute. Once you can consistently achieve one whole minute of meditation, without your mind wandering, move on to 2 minutes, then 3, and so on.
This process can take days, weeks, or months, and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t get it right away. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.
A tip I can provide here is that if you struggle to meditate on ‘nothing,’ try a guided meditation recording first.
Breathing is the Key to Meditation
This was a game changer for me. Of all the techniques I tried to get myself into longer meditations, breath work was the most effective and accessible.
Breath work has been used in all manner of spiritual, martial arts, and physical training practices throughout human history, and for good reason.
Conscious focus and control of the breath and its connection to the mind, the body, but also the external energy surrounding us, heightens our awareness of ourselves, our spirits, and our connection to that source.
When breathing in, you can feel and visualize the breath filling and expanding tissues, flowing through the body and its energetic pathways.
It also gives you a focal point for your mind, so that it is less likely to stray.
I’ve put together an exercise that helped me immensely, as it combines the physical act of breath work, with the mental exercise of counting and focus. This can be done anywhere and for any length of time.
The Basic Exercise
Once you are prepared and comfortable, decide how long you plan to meditate for and set a timer on a device not attached to your body. Place it near you, but not touching you, especially if it is a smart phone, or anything that will disrupt your focus with notifications.
The premise of this exercise is very simple, and can be expanded infinitely theoretically.
In one cycle of breathing, you have the following actions:
- the drawing in of breath
- the pause of held breath
- the pushing out of breath
- the pause before the next breath
You’re going to start with short breaths, then gradually lengthen the breath cycles by lengthening the ‘in’ and ‘out’ actions, and then also by lengthening the ‘pauses’ between them.
Draw in and out 10 breaths, each one being a 1:1:1:1 count for in, pause, out, pause. These will be shorter breaths than normal.
All you are focusing on is the count length of the breath. You might focus on the sensation of it pulling through your nostrils, or of it filling or deflating your lungs. Whatever you choose to focus on physically is associated with only the breath, and you’re counting the rhythm in your mind.
Once you reach the tenth breath cycle, start over at ‘1’ again, but this time, you will lengthen each ‘in’ and ‘out’ action to 2 counts, keeping the pauses in between the same. So it will be a 2:1:2:1 count for in, pause, out, pause.
You will repeat this sequence, each time adding one additional count to the drawing in and pushing out of breath until you reach the 10th cycle through.
The 10th cycle through this, you will start each breath cycle drawing in for 10 counts, pausing for one, releasing for 10 counts, and pausing for one before the next breath. The count will be 10:1:10:1.
Now, at this point, its important to reassure you that if you are actually only starting with 1 minute total meditative time, you might not even complete the 1st cycle, or maybe you get through that 1:1:1:1, but only half of the 2:1:2:1. That’s fine. When your timer goes off, bring your focus back to the real world and you can always pick back up later. Don’t force longer meditations if you’re not there yet.
Expanding the Exercise
Okay, so let’s say you get to where you can regularly do the 10:1:10:1 and it only takes you like 10 min or less. I don’t know how long it will really take you, I’m just making up an arbitrary number. But, for the sake of the argument, its less time than what you want to spend meditating, as you’re growing your skill and gradually increasing your time spent in meditative focus.
Now, you can easily begin lengthening of the pauses after each breath. This allows you to remain in that focused exercise and further enhances your breath work.
After completing your 10th cycle of 10:1:10:1, you’ll start back over with a 10 count in and out, but now the pauses will be 2 counts instead of 1. This will look like 10:2:10:2. You’ll continue with the 10s adding one additional count to the pauses until you reach 10:10:10:10.
An alternative to this would be to return to 1:1:1:1 and begin to add equal length to all actions, rather than only it the ‘in’ and ‘out’ actions. So that would look like 1:1:1:1, then 2:2:2:2, then 3:3:3:3, and so on until you reach 10:10:10:10.
Either one of these is acceptable.
And, at any point if you reach your 10:10:10:10, and still feel focused and want to continue in meditation, you can begin removing a count away from either the ins/outs or the pauses, or all of them by one count less each cycle, going backwards to 1.
So that might look like 10:10:10:10, 10:9:10:9, 10:8:10:8, and so on; or, it could look like 10:10:10:10, 9:9:9:9, 8:8:8:8, and so on.
Play around with which patterns produce the best results for you.
I find its best to end the meditation by letting your breath naturally return to a more normal cadence before returning to full consciousness. This might be somewhere around a 3:2:3:2, or 2:2:2:2, give or take.
I also recommend having a meditation journal or recording this in your own book of shadows with the length of time you meditated, what number sequence you started with and which one you ended. Also note any preparatory work you did beforehand, your positional posture, time of day, tools/focus objects used, and so on.