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Author Topic: Meditations and Visualizations  (Read 3149 times)

Altair

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Meditations and Visualizations
« on: August 18, 2017, 07:39:58 am »
I'm not always the best at scanning through all the various threads at the Cauldron, but it seems to me this is one that might be until now neglected: a place to share various meditation techniques or visualizations that each of us may use. (Nod to the Buddhists as the masters of meditation par excellence.) Especially since meditations and visualizations aren't exclusive to any one religion or spiritual path, and the Cauldron is a multifaith forum, it would seem to be an exceptional area where we can learn techniques from one another.

I try to meditate daily; I have several meditations and visualizations that I've tried. My most basic and fundamental meditation is:

1. Three deep breaths
--I always start this way; I picked it up to calm my nerves back when I was in high school before I had to speak publicly at debate tournaments. With each exhalation I try to relax each muscle of my body and try to imagine all the tension draining out of me. It's now at the point where the 3 deep breaths are a signal to my brain to chill and enter a different state of mind.

2. Breathe normally, and focus on the natural rhythm of the breathing: in, out...in, out...
--I'm pretty sure this is classic Buddhist technique, but Buddhists, please jump in and smack me down if I'm lyin'. Too often I find myself counting the breaths at first, but I usually manage to let that go pretty quickly.

3. "Listen"
--The hard part! By "listening," I don't mean just with my ears, but also paying attention to whatever is happening right here, right now, to the other senses--touch, smell, even taste of my own tongue, and (whether eyes are open or shut, and I'll do this meditation either way) sight. Sight is particularly tricky; it can help, if I zone out on a single point of focus, but as the human primary sense it can also be distracting (say if I'm meditating outdoors and things are going on around me).

This can be laughably difficult. I try not to let random thoughts--e.g., "I have to do laundry by noon"--intrude (HA!), and I try not to label--"a house sparrow is chirping"--the things I sense (HA HA), and in fact, particularly hard for a writer/editor like me, I try to let language dissolve away entirely (HA HA HA!!). I try to just experience the textures of the moment.

After years of practice, I'm still terrible at it, but I'm better than I used to be and getting better all the time, and I find it incredible for a brain re-set (esp. at the start of the day, which is when I tend to meditate most often).

[variant] 4. Music
Not often, but sometimes I'll let a repetitive tune (I have two in particular that are my go-tos) loop in my head as I'm doing the above, to try to induce a trance state. Once or twice I've even cued it up on the sound system, but then I'm fretting a bit too conscious of what the sound system is doing.

Let's see if there are other techniques for meditation or useful visualizations that we can share.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Sobekemiti

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 09:31:41 am »
I'm not always the best at scanning through all the various threads at the Cauldron, but it seems to me this is one that might be until now neglected: a place to share various meditation techniques or visualizations that each of us may use. (Nod to the Buddhists as the masters of meditation par excellence.) Especially since meditations and visualizations aren't exclusive to any one religion or spiritual path, and the Cauldron is a multifaith forum, it would seem to be an exceptional area where we can learn techniques from one another.

Let's see if there are other techniques for meditation or useful visualizations that we can share.

I don't really have any specific techniques. For the most part, I simply just sit and breathe. I don't really do any particular breathing patterns, or techniques. I just sit and breathe. Most of the time, I find that's enough. I use the Insight Timer app on my phone. It has a built-in timer feature, and I use that, along with the soundscapes you can choose from, to take myself to various places in my mental landscape. I also find the sound keeps my brain from wandering too much, because it has something to focus on. Some of those sounds have become triggers that take me to specific parts of my mental landscape.

The exercise that really opened up mental/astral landscapes and visualisation for me was to imagine myself standing in a field of wheat, and from there, to explore the world and fill in the rest of the landscape around you. From there, I built up a landscape that I call Bakhu, where I go to meet my gods, and where gods go to meet me.

I've also found that telling myself stories, as if it's a first person story I'm writing in my head as I navigate the visualisation, works well for me. My brain works much better with a narrative, or at least some semblance of things happening, than just abstract visualisations.
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Altair

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 09:59:29 pm »
The exercise that really opened up mental/astral landscapes and visualisation for me was to imagine myself standing in a field of wheat, and from there, to explore the world and fill in the rest of the landscape around you. From there, I built up a landscape that I call Bakhu, where I go to meet my gods, and where gods go to meet me.

This is a really cool approach that I never thought of, and an enticing prospect. It's exactly the kind of fresh idea from others that I was hoping this thread would bring out. Gotta try it.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Sobekemiti

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 06:41:51 am »
This is a really cool approach that I never thought of, and an enticing prospect. It's exactly the kind of fresh idea from others that I was hoping this thread would bring out. Gotta try it.

Yeah, it was an exercise in an elemental course I did a few years ago. You're meant to just see what time of day it is, what the landscape is like, is it hilly, are there trees about, are there any other landscape features, you can see, etc. I'd never had much luck with visualisation before that, but for whatever reason, that exercise fkn worked like a charm and this whole world opened up for me. It's sort of become my go-to for anyone who struggles with 'imagine an apple' type of exercises, which is me, hi. I'd love to know how you get on with it if you give it a go.
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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 06:53:04 pm »
The exercise that really opened up mental/astral landscapes and visualisation for me was to imagine myself standing in a field of wheat, and from there, to explore the world and fill in the rest of the landscape around you. From there, I built up a landscape that I call Bakhu, where I go to meet my gods, and where gods go to meet me.

I've also found that telling myself stories, as if it's a first person story I'm writing in my head as I navigate the visualisation, works well for me. My brain works much better with a narrative, or at least some semblance of things happening, than just abstract visualisations.

This visualization technique sounds like it might be useful for me--especially accompanied by narratives, as you do.

In general, I struggle a great deal with mental visualization; it's really one of my weak points. Most of my inner world is either focused on sound and language, or purely narrative. I'll be keeping an eye on this thread for techniques.

My own techniques are rather brute-force. Legal drugs (marijuana in particular) have been key to unlocking my ability to meditate and visualize, but I'm hoping that now that I've spent some time doing that I can learn other methods as well.

I do sometimes rely on darkness, music, and rhythmic noise in general to help induce a trance-like/meditative state.
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MadZealot

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 07:14:04 pm »

Let's see if there are other techniques for meditation or useful visualizations that we can share.

Lots of times i like to sit and be still; to "listen" as you put it.  Other times I go to my 'inner temple'.  It's actually a ruined chapel in the middle of a forest. It is always either dawn or mid-morning. Rather than a podium etc on one end, there's a Masonic altar in the centre. 

I built it while going through C Penzak's "Inner Temple of Witchcraft" CD set of guided meditations. Imo it's a good set to use if you need help with meditation and/or visualisation.
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Altair

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2017, 10:12:31 am »
I'd love to know how you get on with it if you give it a go.

I tried it, briefly for my first go. The place I visited/mentally constructed was rolling hills covered in fields, some left to grow, some mowed, so there was a scent of newly cut grass when the wind shifted. The grassy hills were dotted with isolated stands of magnificent trees. It was a beautiful sunny day with a few silver clouds rolling by, and the minute I sat under the shade of one of those trees, I felt really relaxed.

I pilfered this place from a myth I wrote (it's a place of tranquility found in the house of dreams, appropriately enough). I figured, since my mythmaking has always served as a reliable map of things my subconscious holds as true, it was a good place to start. I'll try to expand on it and explore further on the next go.

Thanks again for this technique!

(I see that MadZealot has a mentally constructed site too; I imagined it with shafts of light poking through the ruined parts of the overgrown chapel.)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 10:14:23 am by Altair »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Sobekemiti

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2017, 10:38:04 am »
I tried it, briefly for my first go. The place I visited/mentally constructed was rolling hills covered in fields, some left to grow, some mowed, so there was a scent of newly cut grass when the wind shifted. The grassy hills were dotted with isolated stands of magnificent trees. It was a beautiful sunny day with a few silver clouds rolling by, and the minute I sat under the shade of one of those trees, I felt really relaxed.

I pilfered this place from a myth I wrote (it's a place of tranquility found in the house of dreams, appropriately enough). I figured, since my mythmaking has always served as a reliable map of things my subconscious holds as true, it was a good place to start. I'll try to expand on it and explore further on the next go.

Thanks again for this technique!

(I see that MadZealot has a mentally constructed site too; I imagined it with shafts of light poking through the ruined parts of the overgrown chapel.)

Oh, nice. I've just gone back to reread my first visit, and it's as similar as it is different to how it is now. I suspect some of the imagery at the beginning I borrowed from Spirited Away, but the rest is just what it is. I've posted the whole log over here at Per Sebek in case anyone wants to read it.

That said, looking back at the instructions out of curiosity, I discovered the original prompt was 'You are standing in a meadow at dawn...' and not a generic field of wheat or something, but whatever works for you. I find Bakhu changes a lot depending on when I visit, and who I'm going to see. I wasn't expecting it to become as dynamic as it is.
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Faemon

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 01:51:36 pm »
a place to share various meditation techniques or visualizations that each of us may use

Self Massage and Tension Shake-Off

I noticed that I can't relax when a recorded voice tells me to, especially not when it's slow and soothing. It works better for me when I can stretch and shake, even massage parts that I might not even have noticed were tense...and then lay myself down or sit and lend attention to each relaxing part of the body.

Noticing Thoughts/Feelings for Automatic Writing that isn't strictly automatic
 
The most spot-on way I have read this described is as "an internal voice that originates externally", though I will also quote:

Quote
By "listening," I don't mean just with my ears, but also paying attention to whatever is happening right here, right now, to the other senses--touch, smell, even taste of my own tongue, and (whether eyes are open or shut, and I'll do this meditation either way) sight. Sight is particularly tricky; it can help, if I zone out on a single point of focus, but as the human primary sense it can also be distracting (say if I'm meditating outdoors and things are going on around me).

This can be laughably difficult. I try not to let random thoughts--e.g., "I have to do laundry by noon"--intrude (HA!), and I try not to label--"a house sparrow is chirping"--the things I sense (HA HA), and in fact, particularly hard for a writer/editor like me, I try to let language dissolve away entirely (HA HA HA!!). I try to just experience the textures of the moment.

My kind of "automatic" writing embraces random thoughts and feelings, and maintains a...dissolved-but-not-completely process of matching those maybe-me-maybe-not thoughts and feelings to language so I can write it down.

My way of listening hovers the focus over what you try to ignore! It's cool that we both find what works for us.  ;D

As for writing during this...I have tried isolating my arm to just let whatever that had something to say just move it, but, the result was just squiggles. I would call it the ideomotor effect.

As I'm writing, I am awake and alert, usually sitting up so not necessarily relaxed into an altered mindstate, but I do feel that the timespace and habit dedicated to writing like this is in some way altered mindstate in the sense of where my attention and intention is, what and how I make of the not-at-all-otherworldly experience.

Where the Imagery Comes From

One of the things I hated most about starting psychiatric medication was that I had had years of practice by then getting to an utterly blank mind, and then I suddenly couldn't.

The inner chatter simply would not stop.

Rather than aim for the blankness again, then, I started daydreaming a crowded restaurant. That worked really well.

Some other visuals I graft into my mindscape come from vivid dreams, or well-written descriptions in fiction, or video games I feel are good at this because I get a better sense of moving a character through that space.

I especially like meditations with tarot cards that are illustrated well. Memorize the image, imagine the image is on the other side of a doorway, and then walk on through...I imagine the same would work on really any work of visual art, photographs or paintings.

Meditation Materials

I guess the not-so-automatic writing can be considered one of these?

But I also like having a tactile meditative focus, so pics attached of miniature labyrinths I trace my finger on the path of. The one with my hand for scale is a Chartres labyrinth, the terracotta one is supposed to be Cretan.

I suppose beads like rosaries or mala provide something like that, but I would also really like to try meditation with a vortex marble! (It's a way to heat colored glass so the globe that results has a swirl pattern inside.) Glitter jars might also be meditative—the kinds with gelatin or glue inside so that the glitter falls like in a snowglobe. What others...? I'd like to try scrying in blue sandstone, but it's difficult to find a shop that would admit it's glass and not some rare precious natural stone.
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Noctua

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 03:37:59 pm »
I tried it, briefly for my first go. The place I visited/mentally constructed was rolling hills covered in fields, some left to grow, some mowed, so there was a scent of newly cut grass when the wind shifted. The grassy hills were dotted with isolated stands of magnificent trees. It was a beautiful sunny day with a few silver clouds rolling by, and the minute I sat under the shade of one of those trees, I felt really relaxed.

I pilfered this place from a myth I wrote (it's a place of tranquility found in the house of dreams, appropriately enough). I figured, since my mythmaking has always served as a reliable map of things my subconscious holds as true, it was a good place to start. I'll try to expand on it and explore further on the next go.

Thanks again for this technique!

(I see that MadZealot has a mentally constructed site too; I imagined it with shafts of light poking through the ruined parts of the overgrown chapel.)

You can add me to the list of people with mentally constructed sites used in meditation. Mine always starts with a gate, beyond which is a path that leads into the woods. This path is always the same, and never changes, though the time of day and weather varies (and doesn't seem to correspond with the real world either). I go down a hill, cross a stream (which also changes- sometimes it's a bare trickle between stones, sometimes it's full and hard to cross without getting wet) and then the path climbs steeply to a clearing at the top of the next hill; at the center of that clearing is a large, flat stone like an altar. Sometimes things are waiting for me on that altar. Sometimes there are other paths leading from the clearing that take me to other places. But my initial path through the gate and across the stream to the clearing is always the same.


MadZealot

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2017, 06:24:08 pm »

(I see that MadZealot has a mentally constructed site too; I imagined it with shafts of light poking through the ruined parts of the overgrown chapel.)

Yes, sir, it's very like that.  The points of light peek through the canopy of (very-green) trees. The man-made roof is mostly gone. 
Oh, is it time again to say "Fuck Trump gently in the ear with a swarm of pissed-off hornets?"?

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MadZealot

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2017, 06:42:37 pm »
imagine myself standing in a field of wheat

Totally different mythos from what you're working, but this made me think of the wheat imagery in Gladiator. 
Oh, is it time again to say "Fuck Trump gently in the ear with a swarm of pissed-off hornets?"?

Okay. Fuck Trump gently in the ear with a swarm of pissed-off hornets.

Morbid

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2017, 06:52:35 pm »

Let's see if there are other techniques for meditation or useful visualizations that we can share.

Like you, I try to meditate every morning to start the day.  Usually when I do, I visualize being at the ocean and floating.  I start off close to the shore, and just gently and gradually float away.  I usually have a full fledged conversation with the parrot that usually comes and floats with me.  He's a very curious little thing I've nicknamed Fluff over the years. 

If anyone is interested in hypnosis, I use a similar technique when inducting someone, except they're walking into the water and allowing themselves to sink deeper into the water. 
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Altair

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2017, 11:27:22 pm »
Totally different mythos from what you're working, but this made me think of the wheat imagery in Gladiator.

I thought of the GLADIATOR wheat imagery when I envisioned my fields of grass, too, but in rolling hills instead of a flat plain.

Also, I just realized that those same grassy hills showed up in a dream I had long ago--one of those dreams I've always cherished and deemed significant, that seemed more than just an ordinary dream. I was taught how to fly by my lover (I had a lover in the dream who already knew how to fly); he tipped me forward gently until my feet slipped out from under me, but instead of falling I started soaring low over the contours of the grassy hills, picking speed, height, and confidence, giddy with delight.

Dr. Freud would have a field day (pun intended), I'm sure.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Meditations and Visualizations
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 12:00:27 am »
Let's see if there are other techniques for meditation or useful visualizations that we can share.

OK, here's another. I did this one for the first time in a while this past week, and it's actually what made me decide to start this thread.

The Eagle Visualization

This is meant to put you in touch with the East and its correspondences of air (/the mind). As such, it's probably best done in the morning, facing east and the rising sun:

[I start with 3 deep breaths, to relax the body and begin to clear and calm the mind.]

Imagine an eagle, a speck in the distance flying higher than the rising sun. Now imagine you are that eagle; imagine you stretch out your arms and wings unfold, and something as intangible as the wind (thought) has the power to bear you aloft. You float on it, you can feel it move through your feathers, and you're keenly aware of every shift in its direction (perceiving the subtleties of different arguments and shifts in currents of thought).

Feel how cold the air is up here! (The cool rationality of thought.) The heat of passions is for somewhere else; here, things are cool and dispassionate, as clear as the air around you.

Look down. The world is spread beneath you, and you can see the breadth of the landscape from this vantage point as from nowhere else (you see the big picture). You have an eagle's eyesight, impossibly keen, so while you see the broad contours, you also can pick out the slightest detail, even at this great height (important details do not escape you).

But most of all, you are completely, utterly free (breaking your thinking out of habitual modes, imagining new possibilities). Where as a human we think of possible paths in 2 dimensions--front or back, left or right--there's a whole new dimension of thought possible for you now, up, down, and all around. You make your own path through the limitless air, anywhere encircling the globe within reach, and any height achievable with the right air beneath your wings. You keep climbing higher and higher...

Returning to your human housing, watch the eagle soar away and thank it for lending you its attributes.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 12:05:08 am by Altair »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Last post May 06, 2018, 03:20:22 am
by Froði Ingsson

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