Tips for returning to mindfulness

Return to the breath is one of the most common cues in mindfulness meditation. The breath works as an anchor to bring our awareness into the bodies and the present moment. Meditation itself is a constant practice of remembering. It is remembering to come back to breath when you are lost in a thought. When we forget ourselves in our thoughts, we simply acknowledge the thoughts and gently return to our focus on the breath.

Life is also a practice in remembering. I personally have periods when I forget to meditate. I become lost in my daily life and work. Time seems to pass by without much mindfulness. A part of being a meditator is acknowledging when we are lost and gently reminding ourselves to come back to our practice and the present moment. Right now, I am working on returning to a regular consistent meditation practice. I find that since my schedule is extremely busy, I have to use tricks to get my practice back on track. Here a few tricks that help me return to mindfulness:

● Starting off small: I start with doing only five minutes of meditations daily, then ten minutes twice a day and eventually twenty minutes twice a day. I only move on to the next step once I have been successful in remembering to practice for at least a few weeks.
● Reminders
○ Alarms: If you have a consistent schedule, set alarms for when you plan on meditating. If you do not have a consistent schedule then try meditating once you wake up or before bed. Set your alarm to wake you up ten minutes earlier than usual. Just simply plan to have the time to meditate.
○ Email: If alarms do not work set up email reminders through your calendar site.
○ Apps: Use technology and download meditation and mindfulness apps. Right now I am testing on zenify. I am not crazy about the name but the mindfulness exercises and reminders in the app have been helpful. Even though they are not traditional meditation practices, it keeps me in the mindset of mindfulness throughout the day
○ Visual: Set up visual cues and reminders such as having your meditation cushion in a prime visual area. Have symbols and icons around the house that remind you of meditation. I have my cushion and meditation altar in the closet because it is the quietest place in the house and I go into the closet many times a day.
● Inspirations
○ Books and other media: Pick up your favorite meditation, spiritual, mindfulness books or get some new ones. Keep one by your bedside as a reminder to practice when you wake up.
● Daily mindful activities: If you are a busy person, it is really helpful to start off with quick mindfulness practices. Meditate while washing the dishes, doing laundry, going on a walk, etc. Simply pick an object of focus and let it anchor you into the present moment.
● Support: Meditate with your partner, join a group or find a meditation buddy.
● Researching yourself: Keep reminding yourself why you meditate. Keep track of the effects in has on your daily life and use that as inspiration.
● Let it be a treat instead of a chore: Choose to see meditation as a gift to yourself. Remembering why you do it and how it benefits you. Have fun in your meditation and try new ways of meditation until you feel like it is a secret treasure.

How to incorporate Meditation into Wiccan practice

First, I would say, that Wicca practice already uses meditation. Ritual ( like yoga) is really meditation in movement. If one is really connecting to the ritual, to the invocations and to magic casting, this is meditation. When a person is fully in tune with the Goddess then this meditation. Or when we casting a circle and have that single object and single intention focus, this is also a form a meditation.

Think about when you are lost in any creative project. Where the project moves you into present moment. Where you are ” in flow” to the point where you move/ create automatically  We feel like someone else is guiding us because it is so effortlessly pouring out. In those moments of creativity, you are not worry about bills, or thinking about the future ( unless this is divination). You are completely in the project. This is mindfulness. This is meditation. And we have these moments all the time in Wiccan rituals.

These moments do not always happen.  Sometimes, we do a ritual and we can only go with the motions. We are  speaking, moving and acting but not connecting. We are not growing from the experience. Or we do a spell and our thoughts are all over the place.  It seems impossible to  send our intention into the universe.

This is why having a daily or weekly meditation practice can help Wiccans. By developing you meditation skills, you will likely find that you are able to focus and ground yourself  better before, during and after a ritual.

So here are a few ways to introduce meditation to your Wiccan practice.

First off, any of these techniques can be used before or after a ritual for grounding or by itself for a daily practice.

1: Doing mindfulness meditation. In this type of  meditation ( from  Tibetan Buddhism), you place a gentle focus on your outward breath and relax during the inward breath. or focus on both the in and out breath. See which technique is a better fit for you. When you have a thought, label it thinking without judgement and return to the breath.

2: Do visualizations:

A great visualization for Wiccans is working with  trying to project one’s own energy. An example of projecting your own energy is to imagining a beam of light coming from the middle of  your hand. Imagining  that you can move that light around. You can also imagine a beam of light coming out of each of your chakras or important body centers. These sort of energy meditations are great for strengthening ones’  energy body and projection abilities to aid in spell work.

3: Chanting/ Affirmation meditation.

You can do a traditional chant such as ” Om”. If you do a traditional chant from traditions such as African spirituality,  Buddhism or Yoga, you are benefitting from energies that have been tried and tested. They are energies that are connected to the vibration of earth and spirit and  create  healthy vibrations in your own body.

However, you should know enough about/ have access to the tradition, culture or chant ( though some chants have no literal meaning) before doing so. You don’t want to invoke things that are not meant for you. ” Om” however is  a good safe start.

You can also create your own affirmations to repeat. In this case, you can  do affirmations that are connected with a recurring goal, a spell  or ritual you will do  or something that creates a feeling that you  want such as relaxation.

Chants should not be more than a sentence, probably no more than five words. But can be as little as one.

Always remember the effects of meditation take a while. At least try a certain practice for a month before reflecting on the benefits and cons. Hopefully you will notice meditation or contemplation has a good effect on your rituals, spells and  mental well-being.

Purpose of Mindfulness practice using emotions

Similarly to the mindfulness of the breath, practice with one’s emotions is another avenue to anchor one’s attention into present moment. It allows the person to be honest about their direct experience. In this way the view is that emotions and feelings are not a problem, it is when we avoid them that problems arise. In our attempts to run away from our emotions we distract ourselves from the reality of the present. The purpose of practicing mindfulness of emotions is its ability to enhance one’s capable to deal with the highs and lows of life. It builds courage with the practice and shows that life is doable. As a result, one’s capability to stay within the present moment grows. We are able to listen to our emotion without using escapism or projections to run away from them.

Simple meditation Instruction

This semester, I was thrilled to be able to take Mindfulness instructor training. Basically, this class prepares students to teach the basic steps of meditation and also become a kinda meditation guide (Someone who can check in with  you about your practice).

The first session we went over the basic procedure of mindfulness meditation.*
I figured this might be  usual  information for  people starting out in meditation or people wanting  a refresher. There is always some wisdom in coming back to the basics when you are feeling ungrounded in practice…

Basic meditation Instruction in three steps:

1. Working with the posture:

We began meditation by taking our seat and grounding into the body. Beginning with bringing attention to one’s seat, making sure we are seated in the middle of cushion. Then, moving to the legs, place them in a comfortable relaxed position. Legs do not need to be in lotus pose but one leg can be place in front of the over, slightly crossed in front of the groin area. Knees also should be lower than the hips.  If in a chair make sure you are seated with feet firmly placed on the ground. If necessary place a pillow under your feet.                                                                                                                      Now, move one’s attention to the arms, they should be loose, relaxed with hands placed slightly above the knees (or a comfort distance depending on the length of one’s arms.)                                                                                                                Next, imagine the torso raising up, like a string with a balloon at the end is moving toward the spine and out the crown of the head. The back should be upright but not stiff. The shoulders should be relaxed with chest and heart open. The head floating up, relaxed with a slight tuck to the chin.                           Relax the jaw with mouth slightly open and tongue placed behind upper teeth.                                                                                                                                          Finally, the eye gaze, about six inches ahead or a comfortable distance, lids can be partially open, with a gentle soft focus. If one becomes sleepy, opening the eyes more and raise the gaze.

2. Working with the breath:
In order to practice mindfulness of the present moment we bring our attention again and again to  a particular object. In this way, we are learning to keep coming back, returning to our direct experience. Usually in mindfulness practice we use the breath as our anchor. In order to practice with the breath we simply breath normally and notice where in our bodies we feel the breath. We do not hold on to the breath. We experience and let it go as it fades away. Then we return to the newly arising breath and continue that process.

3. Working with thoughts:

When we lose awareness of our breath it is because we are thinking. We label the thought “thinking” and there is no need to have judgment about the thinking.  Thoughts are not a problem and are a part of the meditation process. Just label them and come back to the breath again.

Finally, if you like writing, you can journal afterwards by asking yourself what you observed or experienced during the meditation.

*meditation is taught in a Shambala Buddhist fashion though can be used by non-Buddhists, of course.

Quote of the Day: A Path with a Heart

When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, and can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.
Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart

The one who perceives through Emptiness …

The one who perceives through Emptiness is neither male nor female. The ears,nose, mouth, body, and mind are also Empty. Just as the stillness of space is neither male nor female, If one can understand completely the origins of the eyes, then one is said to be enlightened.

The Sutra Of Sagra, the Naga King . Translated by Diana Y. Paul

meditaton on Words

Found this inspiring. Hope you do as well. it’s excerpt from a reading in one of my classes:

In the moment of Love, When overwhelming compassion flows freely,
Its empty nature nakedly appears.
May we meditate day and night
Inseparable from this unity, the supreme unerring path.

~Mahamudra Aspiration by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje