Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meditation Tech

As many of you know, I've been meditating regularly for most of this school year.  I started in August, and I'm really glad I did.  I found it invaluable when I was deep in my grief.  My intent is to meditate twice a day, about 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes just before sleep.  I almost always manage about 15 minutes in the morning, and I often get up to half an hour before sleep, but sometimes I fall asleep before my 30 minutes are up.  I'd tried getting into the meditating habit many times before, but it never really stuck.  Here are some simple things I find helpful.

  • Something Jason Miller told me:  "It's actually impossible to fail at meditating.  If you notice that you're distracted, and go back to meditating, then you're SUCCEEDING at meditating.  The only way to fail is to notice you're distracted and just give up."
  • Set a timer.  Otherwise, I spend a lot of time wondering if my time is up yet.  I'm usually very good at knowing how long things take, but I find it very difficult to judge how long I've been meditating   (Some time ago, I wrote this article about improving your time's a useful skill that's relatively easy to cultivate.)  I like a timer that just chimes once, so I can go over time if I want to.  (Although in the mornings, I don't really have that option; my morning schedule is pretty tight.)
  • Headphones with white noise.   Blocking out background noises makes it much easier, especially when you're first learning.  This site lets you mix your own ambient noise.  This is what I use for meditating and this is for trance work.  Heaphones also work as a signal to people that you're busy and don't want to chat (when on a bench at the park or on the bus or etc
  • Isochronic tones on headphones.  I find this one especially nice when I have the time for it.  I think, probably, different people will get results from different tones.  I've tried a wide variety, and most of them just give me a headache.  I usually only use the tones when I'm really having trouble getting settled or if I want an extra deep meditation (when I'm very upset, or if I'm going to do magic after, for example).
  • Breathing exercises I find very helpful, they only take a few minutes, and they're quite discreet.
    • Take a deep breath in through your mouth for about 6 heartbeats.  Hold it for about  4 heartbeats, and then exhale for about 4 heartbeats.  Repeat.  I do this several times at the beginning, and it really helps.
    • While meditating, I imagine my breath spiraling up from my seat to my throat, it does not descend, but just sort of relaxes as I breath out.
  • Keep your hands open.  for some reason, my hands really want to ball up into fists, but its very helpful to keep them open.  I don't know why
  • This is a new thing that I've never heard of anyone else doing, but I find it really helpful:  I set a timer for 5-10 minutes and let my mind just wander during that time, before I meditate.  This doesn't "count" as meditation time, but I find that, especially in the evenings, it gives my brain a chance to "decompress" from work before I ask it to be still.  I kind of "get all that thinking out of my system" before I start.
  •  This website is helpful.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Power Bracelet

Despite the goofy name, this is a cool Celtic tech I learned in shamanism class yesterday:  you take three strings of three colors (or more if you, like me, know fancy weaving techniques).  Then, you go into trance and start calling all the powers: all the gods, all the angels, all the demons, all the totems (not just animal totems...ocean and lightning and light and decay and everything), the ancestors, your past lives, your future selves, your heros, the matriarchs and patriarchs of your tribe, all the spirits, and then you ask who will loan you a power.  They each offer you a power, and you weave all the powers into the bracelet.  It's a wicked awesome.  I used to weave magic when I was a kid, but never quite like this.  If you email me your address, I'll make you one!  (Just in case there's actually anyone reading my blog, only the first 10 people get bracelets)

Dreaming of Bear

Last night, I dreamt of a medium sized black bear.  I was in a cave, and I was very tired.  Bear watched over me while I slept.  I kept saying that I had to get up and go do something (I don't remember what), but Bear said I had to rest and heal instead.  I kept arguing, I have to go, I have to go.  Finally, Bear turned me into a bear cub, and then stood over me while I slept.  I woke up early and quite refreshed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Shamanic Journeying Class

So, I've been writing at and I've found it very helpful to publish my magical work for other people to keep me accountable, so I'm going to keep doing that here.

This weekend, I took a shamanic journeying class. The first day was only so-so, but today was great. I'll write about lots of techniques I learned later, but first I want to tell you about the last thing we did (because sometimes I'm just backwards like that)

Here's the basic technique:

You go down to the underworld, and you conjure three fears/blocks/things-that-holds-you-back to manifest appearance as combatant monsters. Then, you fight them. You fight and fight, as hard as you can, and then, just when you're going to win, you surrender, knowing that they only have power over you because you let them. Then they kill you, and you're dead. Then you ascend, and you look down at your body, and you're dead, and you get dismembered, and that sucks. Then you go up, up, up, and then you're in the Above, and all the spirits, all the powers, all the gods and all the angels, and the totems and the ancestors and the past lives and the future selves and all the everyone is there, and they make you a new body, and then that's good. Then you have to grab a hold of the shiny new spirit archetype of your new self and breathe it in, and then you some back to the world.

Here's how mine went.  I went down, down, down.  I sank and sank.  I was the center of the earth.  Baphemut was there. (I'll explain why I spell it that way in a future post...there's a reason)  I asked him to help me conjure my opponents, and he asked me what I was ready to give up.  I said three things, which I'm not going to tell you, but you'll probably be able to tell from their monster-forms.  

I shifted into a snarling wolf-monster; it was just like the Gmork from Never Ending Story, which used to terrify me when I was little.  It might have been Fenrir, or else it was just Fenrir-like. (I did not make the Fenrir association at the time).  I don't want to tell you about the second monster right now.  The third monster was a disgusting oozing worm-thing named Nig-Sluggoth. (not Yog-Sothoth)

I battled them.  I was like Simon Zealot, the warrior-magician, all spinning kicks and lunges.  I battled them like River from Firefly, ballet swords flashing.  I battled them like St George fighting the dragon (which is weird, because I NEVER do Saint work).  Finally, I remembered that I was supposed to not win.  I sat down, and became a tree, a tall tree, growing up.  And then I was dead.  Baphemut came, and picked up my body and strapped it to a big X shaped harness (I saw one at the BDSM club once, but I don't know what it's called).  Baphemut whipped me (which sucked a whole lot...I'm very very not into that)  I screamed and cried and it was very horrible.  I'm think I moaned and writhed a lot IRL.

Then I was dead, and Baphemut took me down and held me in his arms (he was very large).  Then he kissed me, and then he swallowed me, and then I was him (her?), and I was pregnant with myself, and then I had to give birth to myself, which was very hard.  And then I was done, and very, very sore and tired and thirsty.  I hurt everywhere now.

Afterward, on the way home, I had a vision about my lost mojo. When I was little, I had a giant yellow teddybear.  His name was Bear (I was not a very creative child).  I carried him around for a long time.  When I moved out of Broadway Ave in Pittsburgh, I carefully put him in a box I called my pirate trunk.  It was a leather covered trunk which looked like it had been underwater.  When I moved, the trunk got very wet, and Bear was covered in mold and partially rotted away.  I threw him out, and didn't think anything of it.  I think that's when I lost my mojo.  I'm going to try to make restitution to Bear and see if he'll take me back.