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Meditation 101: An Overview

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Meditation 101: An Overview

Many people use meditation to help bring spiritual enlightenment.

Image © David Freund/Getty Images

What is meditation?:

For some folks in the Western hemisphere, meditation is often seen as some sort of “new-age hippie” fad, something that you do right before you eat granola and hug a spotted owl. However, Eastern civilizations have known about the power of meditation and used it to control the mind and expand the consciousness.

Today, Western thinking is finally catching up, and there is an increasing awareness of what meditation is and what it can be used for. The benefits of meditation are mentioned not only by Wiccans and Pagans but by health practitioners and other everyday people.

How does meditation work?:

The mind is made up of many facets, many of which we have not even begun to tap into. The conscious mind consists of all the things you’re aware of on a daily basis: can I pay my bills? Does my lover still love me? Will my parents get sick? Did I forget to clean the cat box? There is also the subconscious mind – all the things you know, but don’t know that you know. This is where things like memory and involuntary body functions come from. Finally, there is the part called the super consciousness, which is the higher self, the center of spiritual growth and well-being.

What happens in a meditation session?:

Meditation allows you to focus on the subconscious and the super conscious minds. During a meditative session, you may find yourself meeting various archetypes, or encountering things that seem symbolic. This is your mind’s way of telling you what’s going on, and all you have to do is figure out how to interpret the message.

Guided meditations:

There are different meditation techniques, one of which is called guided meditation. In this technique, a guide – either in person or via a recording – leads the meditation, telling you where to go and what you see. They may include things such as, “You are walking down a path in the woods,” or “There is a person coming towards you who holds something in her hand.” For beginners, a guided meditation is excellent, because it provides a good idea of what meditation actually is, and allows you to center your focus. You can buy commercially produced guided meditation CDs, or you can create your own with a tape recorder.

Freeform meditation:

Freeform meditation is one where there is no guide, and you simply let your mind wander. To do this, sit comfortably and allow yourself to relax as much as possible. Some people like to lie down when meditating, but others find that they fall asleep when they do so. Choose whichever method is best for you.

Our site guide over at Holistic Healing offers some great tips on Mindfulness Meditation.

Where should I meditate?:

Find a place where you can be relatively undisturbed. Turn off the phone and the television, put the kids to bed, and close the windows if there’s traffic outside. In some traditions, meditation is only performed inside a sacred space, so feel free to cleanse and consecrate the area as you see fit. Remove any possible distractions, and wear clothing that’s comfortable. In fact, you can meditate skyclad (nude) if you choose.

When is a good time to meditate?:

As to when you meditate, the best time is whenever you can get some quiet time. If that’s in the morning before everyone else gets up, great. If it’s at night when your family has gone to bed, that’s fine too. Many people like to meditate at night so they can go outside and meditate under the moon and stars. Whatever time you decide to practice, try to do it at the same time every day. This will allow you for more consistency, and get you into good meditation habits.

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