Archive for the ‘Air Meditations’ Category

Samhain (Halloween) Meditation

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Photo by Chenspec under CC

Halloween can be a goofy but fun time: weird costumes, teeth-rotting candy, cheesy horror films. But Samhain (the Gaelic term for Halloween, pronounced SAH-win) has a rich history as an end-of-harvest festival marking the beginning of the “dark” part of the year when the nights get longer. Earth-based religions mark it as the new year; in fact, it’s been called “The Celtic New Year” and “The Witch’s New Year” to mark it as the time for new beginnings after the old harvest has been culled. It’s one of the four major Gaelic festivals and is great for orienting yourself with the Wheel of the Year  and the natural rhythms of nature. It gives you an opportunity to look ahead and contemplate new possibilities during a time of impending frost and death.

As far as elemental associations go, air rules Samhain, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was traditionally thought to be the thinnest. The element of air is associated with spirits, death and crossing over. Just as air is unseen, it’s the element that encompasses the unseen realm of the spirit, metaphorically. Air also is associated with the realm of thought and writing.

So in order to connect with the elements and this time of the final harvest, I’ve compiled the simple meditation below.  It combines four elements into a chant, honors the passing of the year and connects you to the air element by writing out goals for the year.

What you’ll need: lighter, one black candle, two orange candles, a journal.

Place the candles in a line of alternating colors: orange, black, orange.

Light the black candle in the middle and say:

So as fire burns and purges,
So as air erodes,
So as water laps away,
So as earth returns all to ashes,
We see the passing of another year.

Light the orange candle to the left and say:

So as fire burns to create way for growth,
So as air gives breath,
We welcome the possibilities of a new year.

Light the candle on the right and say:

So as water gives life,
So as earth gives nourishment,
We welcome the possibilities of a new year.

Now is a good time to look ahead to what you might want to accomplish or study this year. It could be as complex as learning about a new religion, it could be something related to your career or it could be as simple as starting a vegetable garden. It’s up to you and your needs. Write in your journal a list of goals (or just one goal to keep it attainable). You may also want to try some of these spiritual writing exercises while focusing on your goals for the new year.

Happy Halloween!

Spiritual Writing Techniques

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When you think of spiritual writing, you may think of a holy script set reverently on an altar, waiting to real its wisdom to those enlightened enough to understand it. Or possibly something in the more hokey realms like the Ouija Board, where the unconscious mind or a conscious prankster among the group guides the planchette to reveal messages (I don’t believe in the power of the Ouija, sorry).

However, there are several methods of spiritual writing that can help put you fully in the moment, reveal unconscious wisdom and help guide you towards answers. I’ve outlined some of my favorites below as a starter guide:

 

Automatic Writing

This is one of those methods that’s gotten some bad PR over the centuries. A favorite of “psychic” hucksters, it’s been believed that the writer channels spirits and writes messages that originate from the ghostly realm. If you ever want to give yourself the creeps, you can Google the crap out of it. I’d also recommend looking up the ideomotor effect first, however.

My purpose is not to turn everyone into a misty-eyed medium, however. Just as the ideomotor effect states, it’s merely writing that comes from the unconscious. You hold a pen, clear your mind and let the words unfold before you. It’s writing in a passive, open state. What will come forth will be forgotten ideas you learned a long time ago. I’d recommend giving it a shot. Breathe deeply, still your mind and let your hand do the work. You might gain some insights you had been lacking. Remember, it is your own subconscious and imagination at work, so don’t go nutso about it if Zeldar the Great tells you that you need more potassium in your diet. It’ll be like dreaming with a pen in your hand. Sometimes your dreams reveal insights, and sometimes they’re just bat crap crazy.

Haikus

Remember those little poems they made you write in grade school: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables? I remember when I was a kid, I thought they were the dippiest things on the planet. How could 17 syllables be worth much of anything?

But that’s just it- they cut to the essence of an idea or observation with their structured minimalism. They force you to sit right in the moment and capture the most important details. They teach mindfulness. They get rid of the clutter. They ask us to consider deeper truths gained in the moment. Consider the following haiku:

Fields and mountains
all taken by snow;
nothing remains
(Joso, trans. Horioka, amended by Marsh)

It puts you in the moment, picturing the stark mountains, and then also reveals the concept of nothingness and impermanence. Take the time in your life to go into nature, just watch what is around you and record it into a haiku. There’s a chance you’ll see an insight from the moment that you didn’t before.
If you’d really like to dig into haikus, I’d recommend visiting this site.  (Where the haiku above came from.)

Spiritual Journaling

If automatic writing doesn’t work for you, maybe you’re a Type A personality who needs structure to get things done, spiritual journaling is a great method to get to the heart of personal truth, reveal wisdom and think about life from a different perspective.

I like to start with a question or idea and just write until I run out of steam on the topic. You’ll be surprised what’s floating around in the back regions of your mind. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Pull up a tarot card and study it directly. They’re rife with symbolism. What does it say to you? What does it tell you about a problem? You’ll quickly find why they’re purported to tell the future. The images in them direct the mind to find its own answers forward and construct meaning out of randomness. Again, nothing otherworldly about it, really. Your mind already knows what’s best.
  • Look up some classic parables and spiritual writings: The Blind Men and the Elephant, The Lotus Sutra, The Prodigal Son, David and Goliath, The Charge of the Goddess, The Good Samaritan, etc. What do these say to you, what do they tell you about your life?
  • Go out to a natural spot and describe what’s around you. Like a Haiku, but it more detail. Let your mind play with the surroundings: draw connections, create metaphors, write what the environment reminds you of. That might take practice, but it’s worth it.

The best thing about all these: they’ll boost your writing skills. You’ll organize your thoughts better, make connections you didn’t see previously and you’ll consider things deeper than if you just went tramping down a trail.

Happy writing!

Wind Meditation for Creativity and Problem Solving

I mention in other posts that air is the element of intellectual creativity. It governs the realm of thought and innovation. This is an air meditation meant to awaken your creative side to solve problems. It’s easy to get scared or angry when thinking about problems, maybe even get addicted to complaining about them with no real solutions. You lose all perspective like that, and there seems to be no way out. This meditation will keep you calm, yet invigorated, so you can come up with new solutions for your life.

This one is a little tricky for timing. You’ll need a windy, but sunny, day. You’ll also need to go somewhere outside where you can be alone, preferably a high place atop a hill or at the edge of a cliff. If not, just a place where there is a strong, constant breeze works.

  1. Stand where there is a lot of wind, as I mentioned, preferably somewhere high like on top of a hill. The space should be open and it should be a clear day.
  2. Close your eyes, throw your arms out and let the wind play about your hair, clothes and face.
  3. Take deep breaths, feel like you are literally drinking in the wind.
  4. As you do so, you should feel your mind come alive. It’s a punch of oxygen straight to your brain.
  5. As you breathe, hold a problem you’ve been having in your mind. Or perhaps think of something you’d like to create that fills a need. Keep it in the back of your mind as you keep breathing and focus on the wind. This should keep you calm yet invigorated.
  6. Now as you continue to breathe expansively, free associate ways to fix that problem or create what you need. Keep calm, breathe, let your mind do the work as you hold the problem in your mind. It might not be anything world-shattering. It could just be an idea and the resolve to research more about it. If you come up with nothing, try the meditation again later. This could take practice.
  7. Return back to just focusing on the wind and your breath. When you are ready, open your eyes and get back home to start your new project.

Basic Air Cycle Meditation

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Photo by A. Davey under CC

Here is another guided mediation adapted from a ritual exercise for summoning the four elements. You’ll just need peace and quiet, a journal and your own visualization powers. It’s meant to open you up to the stages of air and connect with its levels of power. Through the exercise, you will hone your visualizations skills, reflect on the element and come to know the creative forces of air.

  1. Start by sitting straight with your legs folded. Slow your breathing and focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Keep doing this until you feel utterly relaxed and calm.
  2. You are outside in a park. Feel a light breeze play about your hair. Breathe in the fresh air, feel your mind come alive.
  3. Now a strong gale hits your face. Throw your arms up and feel the sheer force of it stir your clothes, your hair, your soul. Breathe it in for a moment.
  4. Now you are on the edge of a cliff. Watch the sky, see its blue brilliance. A hawk flies past. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air. As you do, feel the invigoration. Hold here for a moment.
  5. While still on the cliff, reflect on the gifts of creativity: think of your favorite story, a unique innovation. You may have ideas here yourself, you may not. Don’t feel pressured.
  6. Now take it back down again. You’re on the cliff, then the strong gale, then the light breeze. Think for a moment how these made you feel, reflect on any thoughts.
  7. Record any insights from the meditation in your journal. You may merely have basked in air’s full splendor, or you may have had an epiphany while you were on the cliff. Sometimes you might have a passing thought that is only understandable later. At any event, it’s worth recording.