Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Pagan Lifestyle
If you’ve been around for any of my posts on mental health you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of mindfulness and daily meditation. These two simple practices ( Yes, meditation can be simple. I promise.) can be a great foundation of any life. They are a way to appreciate the current moment fully, notice any negative patterns that may be causing you issues, and finding solutions rather than letting worry eat up your life. For me, they are both a fantastic way of keeping myself balanced and focused despite living with Bipolar 2, Autism, ADHD, and C-PTSD.
The lives we live in 2019 are ones that are packed full of things to do and places to be. It is not a life that is designed for getting to know oneself and the world around you. Unfortunately, It is not until we begin to grasp these skills that we can properly practice witchcraft. Although it may seem difficult with all of the Netflix we have to catch up on or that group text that just won’t shut up. However, when we look at meditation as a means of connection with ourselves and our ancestors it becomes a little easier to find a minute or two for this important practice.
There are books out there with about a million different suggestions on how to get started with a pagan path. To an extent, I agree with many of them. Some are a bit stuffy for my preferences but most have wonderful ideas that have lead me through much of my practice as a pagan. Many begin with learning moon phases or understanding correspondences.
While both useful skills, they aren’t going to give you the foundation needed to easily step off into the pagan world. Of course, you can start gathering stones, herbs, and trinkets before doing any actual spells. This can be a great way of understanding the deity who is speaking most to you. By choosing those that draw your attention you may find that there is a common thread to them. This can lead you to know their correspondences and which gods or goddesses they may represent. Learning to take the time to look inward and trust your intuition through meditation can help with not only this practice but also many of those to come as you walk the path of a witch.
Related: Getting Grounded as a Mom with Mental Illness (Tips on Dealing with Anxiety and Stress)
Mindfulness for Beginners
Mindfulness, essentially, is the practice of being present in the current moment. It means enjoying each moment in life as it is rather than worrying about what it could be or what could go wrong. If you are a high anxiety person like me this most likely sounds just about impossible. With a little practice ( not nearly as much as you would think) anyone can master this skill.
Mindfulness is a natural state for us as humans. You could even go so far as to say that it was a survival instinct back in our hunter-gatherer days. It was absolutely essential for us to have a heightened awareness of the world around us without spending the time to evaluate or catalog each piece of sensory input that we received but rather just be aware of everything.
In today’s world mindfulness can come into play as a way to handle stress or bad mental habits such as ruminating or intrusive thoughts. Some see mindfulness as a means of ignoring the world around us in a blissful state. While I’m sure there are plenty out there who strive for this (who doesn’t from time to time?) this is not what mindfulness is meant to do. There is not a force in the world that can stop you from experiencing the good and the bad of your day. The good and the bad will happen. Mindfulness is more of a practice in training yourself to react in a way that will most beneficial to your wellbeing.
Here’s an example: Say you are stuck in heavy traffic. Now, your natural reaction may be to cuss the guy next to you, drive erratically, or even to just stew over your situation. None of these reactions are good for you or beneficial in the long run. Sure, it may feel good to blow off the steam but that then turns your experience to a negative one. Through mindfulness, you can look at the situation objectively to see that it is a minor inconvenience and not really worth stressing yourself out over. This will help you to leave the experience with more of a positive tone.
Related: Don’t Let Depression Sneak Up on You (Tips on Checking Your Mood)
Meditation for Beginners
For many, the idea of meditation can be a daunting one. There is a wide variety of gurus out there who will tell you that you need absolute laser-pointed focus to get anywhere with meditation. As someone who already struggles with ADHD, I was happy to find that this isn’t always the case.
It’s perfectly fine to still have a lot of chatter going on in your head. Completely clearing things out can be next to impossible for some and that’s ok. The key to successful meditation is to let the thoughts flow through your mind like a peaceful river. Do not let your attention drift off to any one but just acknowledge them and let them pass on by.
For some, it is simple to just turn everything off and focus on a bell, music, or other sounds. For others, it can be MORE distracting to try to stop thoughts and get frustrated when they find it is difficult. By focusing on and becoming aggravated with every thought we are having it is actually getting some further from a beneficial meditative state than they were to begin with.
It is important to try a few different styles of meditation until you find one that works best for you. Even when following teachers or gurus it is important to remember that everyone is an individual and each of those people may be very different from you. Just because one method works well for someone you are following does not mean it will work well for you, or vice versa.
There are many different styles of meditation out there to choose from. Some prefer guided meditations that use visualization and vivid scenes to capture the mind. Others use music or nature sounds to help them tune out the world around them. There are even individuals who prefer silence or the use of singing bowls for their meditation.
Related: Our Favorite Apps to Help Learn Meditation for Chronic Pain
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Witchcraft
Flowing through each of us, whether acknowledged or not, is a source of energy. Through daily meditation, we can learn to focus this energy and to hone it in on a particular objective or goal. This practice is one that is used in many ways, not just witchcraft. When given a little oomph through the use of magical herbs or charged with intention through the use of a spell this energy can help us in our daily lives.
By working with daily mindfulness we can strive to keep this energy positive and working in our favor. It is said in many books and traditions that “your vibe attracts your tribe”. This goes for more than just the people we surround ourselves with. Our “vibe” can attract negative experiences if we are focusing only on the negative.
On the flip side, when our energy is positive we can attract more positive people to our lives. We can have more positive experiences, and attract things such as happiness, abundance, and peace. We can also help those around us by lending this energy to them rather than overburdening them with grumpiness, irritability, and stress.
When starting off with daily meditation practice it is important to not overdo it. Your image of meditation may be of monks sitting for hours at a time in complete reverence. However, it is important to remember that this level of practice can take years to master. To begin your practice a good amount of time to aim for is about 3 to 5 minutes. This may seem like a trivial amount of time but it can begin to help you level your breathing and begin the process of letting your body release tension and stress.
Once you feel you have mastered these first practices you can move on to maximizing and extending your focus. This will help you in charging your spells, trinkets, or home items with your intentions. This will also help you in visualization for protection or healing rituals.
It is important to remember to practice meditation daily. This can be the first thing you do to begin your day or the last thing you do before going to bed. Try to make sure that you are picking a time when you will have minimal interruptions and won’t be burdened with stress. This may mean getting up before the kids in the morning or going to bed a few minutes later than your husband each night. While it can seem a little tedious at first you will quickly begin to see the benefits to your wellbeing, mindset, and life after consistent practice.
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Updated 9/1/21 to reflect a change to current diagnoses.
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