I am perpetually fascinated by the changes we go through as we journey along our spiritual path. I feel that I am at a point now where certain aspects of my spirituality are here to stay; but the details of practice are infinitely mutable, with a spiritual freedom that I think can only really come with a self-made path.
So while one month, I may be heavy on ceremony, and acknowledge the Divine All primarily through devotional work and pathworking with deities, at another time my practice becomes simple and quiet, and the Divine becomes faceless and silent.
My first reason to meditate is for spiritual growth.
Meditation is one of those many practices that I initially undertook with a mixture of motivations. My primary reason was to enhance ritual – I already sort of meditated during ritual, but I had never really learned how, and wasn’t sure if I was “doing it right”. I also knew that a meditation practice would help me stay focused in ritual, and help me get into the right state of mind more easily.
My second reason to meditate is for peace and happiness.
I quickly became interested in meditation as a tool for emotional, mental, and physical growth and change. From childhood, I have struggled with mild to moderate anxiety, a temper, a somewhat obsessive tendency – and, in later years, insomnia. Essentially, I have a tendency to be uptight. I had always eschewed relaxation techniques, claiming they didn’t work for me. But having the added spirituality-related motivation was enough to make me finally commit.
I felt the positive effects of the practice almost immediately. It improved my sleep, my relationships, my general mood – and it deepened my spiritual practice beyond anything I could have expected. It wasn’t until I started a formal meditation practice that I met the Morrígan.
Returning to my practice
My practice got off track a bit after I started doing yoga, because I was filling my meditation time with yoga, instead, and also because I became lazy about it. I continued to meditate somewhat half-heartedly as a spiritual practice, but felt for a while that true meditation was a bit of a waste of time. I wanted to be praying or contemplating at the same time.
What inspired me to return to it recently was another physiological reason – sleep. It is a well-known fact that meditation helps you fall asleep, and sleep more deeply. And I also came across the notion that meditation decreases your need for sleep. I love both rising early and staying up late, and until recently was convinced I needed nearly nine hours of sleep to function – not a great combination. But I had noticed a decreased in my sleep length, and I’m excited to see if this improves as my meditation practice deepens. I will add that I don’t plan on trying to sleep less than, say, seven hours – but even half an hour makes a difference!
But what I’ve noticed above all else, as I’ve settled back into my meditation practice, is a change in how I want to practice my spirituality. I no longer feel that simply focusing on the breath is a waste of time, or not really a spiritual practice. Instead, I am starting to feel more spiritually connected than ever, within that quiet space. Silence is becoming ever more sacred for me.
I feel that meditation is bringing me back to my grassroots. I will always be a Pagan, I think – and I will always be devoted to the Morrígan. I imagine I will always do ritual, at least on occasion. But meditation practice is making me feel more deeply connected with Cosmos again. I walk or sit outside, and I feel the boundaries blur. I listen to the rain while meditating, and it is me. I sit by the window and watch the sunlit garden, and I feel a deep sense of peace and happiness that is unrivalled by any other joy.
Tips for getting started with meditation
If you’re like me, and you have a tendency to over-think your spiritual practice, I urge you to try meditation. My primary instruction has been from Eric Harrison’s Teach yourself to meditate, and I highly recommend it for a beginner.
Here are some quick tips to bear in mind:
- Meditation is the art of being relaxed and aware (~Eric Harrison).
- Allow your body to drift, but not your mind – remain alert.
- Let your body feel heavy and slow.
- Keep your shoulders back and your head lifted – this creates physical and mental space.
- Focus on the breath – follow the whole cycle through your body.
- You might get sleepy at first. Try doing yoga or going for a short walk before, and meditating by an open window.
- Remember: be still, be silent. Listen to your body – listen to Cosmos.
It’s a subtle art. I’m coming to see that true enlightenment might be the subtlest of all feelings. But it centres you, it grounds you. It helps you to live more fully, to feel each moment as you live it. It helps you to not only touch the Divine, but to truly feel yourself as a part of it.