I thought it would be nice to dive in to where it came from, how you can benefit, types of meditation, and how to use it in a pagan or magic setting.
Let’s get started!
Origin of Meditation
We can’t pin down exactly when and where meditation started. Part of this is because it is hard to give it a solid definition.
Meditation is more of an umbrella term that can include mindfulness, chanting, contemplation, trance, and sometimes even prayer.
We do know that meditating, in one form or another, predates written history. Archaeological research shows evidence of meditative practices being used across the globe. Many different cultures included it in their traditions which were passed down orally.
While it was practiced all over, meditation as we think of it today comes from eastern spiritual practices.
We often view meditation as a means to find a state of zen. This idea comes directly from Zen Buddhism.
The earliest written documentation of meditation comes from Hindu.
Traveling the world eventually became easier. As that happened, cultures began exploring imported traditions and practices.
As a result, the eastern idea of meditation began to gain popularity in western cultures by the mid 20th century.
While this is the source of a lot of our current views and methods, meditation has also been seen in other traditions.
Western cultures had their own explorations of it around 20 BCE, but it didn’t take hold.
The Torah mentions meditative activities.
Many other spiritual and religious practices involve a meditative practice. Often it is used as a way to connect to the divine.
Meditation hasn’t always been as popular as it is now, but it’s been all over the world in one form or another for as long as human thought has existed.
Not only are there a plethora of personal accounts for the benefits of meditation, there is also evidence from scientific studies. This is leading to meditation being recommended more and more for a variety of purposes.
That’s right. The benefits of meditation are backed by science. And I love it.
I won’t get in to the sciency stuff here, maybe another time. This article has some great information about studies that have proved a lot of the following points!
Benefits of meditation:
- Reduces stress
- Helps regulate/control anxiety
- Promotes emotional health
- Increases self awareness
- Increases attention span
- Boosts positive feelings resulting in more kindness
- Might assist in reducing age related memory loss
- Can help fight addiction
- Helps you sleep
- Help control your perception of pain
- Decrease blood pressure
- Coping with depression
- Increase creativity
- Increase mental clarity
Types of Meditation
When most people hear the word meditation they think about sitting in silence. Usually in lotus pose with hands palms up on the knees.
While this is a way to meditate, there are many more methods.
This article from Mindworks breaks things down in a really awesome way, here’s a shorter version:
- Spiritual meditation – Connecting to the divine. Or, if you are non-theistic, connecting to yourself on a deeper level.
- Mindfulness meditation – This is the type growing in popularity. It focuses on recognizing and observing your thoughts and teaches you to return to your breath and find rest.
- Movement meditation – That’s right, you don’t have to stay still to meditate. This is when you do a physical activity with full awareness of your body. Yoga and tai chi use this, and it can be used with just about any other activity.
- Focused meditation – This is a the opposite of multitasking. You give one task all of your attention. Eat a piece of chocolate and notice the texture, how it melts, the different notes in the flavor, only focus on the chocolate.
- Visualization meditation – Imagining a setting that provokes a certain feeling like calm or joy.
- Chanting meditation – Repeating mantras or sound. This can be done to contemplate meaning, or to only focus on the sound without the attached meaning. You can see variations of this in many spiritual paths.
Pagan and Magic uses
Alright, enough of the mundane stuff. Let’s get to how us witchy and pagan folks can use meditation in addition to the “normal” ways.
- Connection to deity and guides – Other people use this one also, but it tends to look a little different to us. Many pagans use meditation as a way to connect and communicate with their deities and spirit guides. Sometimes this takes the form of conversations, other times it is visualizations. Even those who don’t believe in deity may use meditation to tap into the collective unconscious.
- Preparation for divination – Meditating helps you get in the right mindset and open up to your intuition for divination.
- Non-physical sacred space – The imagination is a powerful place. Many people who are can’t have a physical altar, or sacred space in general, will create one using visualization.
- Preparation for ritual or spell work – Meditating before performing ritual helps you hone in on your intent and focus your energy.
- Energy work – Energy balls, energy healing, chakra work, and others are all done in some sort of a meditative state.
- Shadow Work – Meditation can be particularly useful when tapping into the deeper emotions and thoughts of the shadow self.
- Centering/grounding/shielding – These basic practices are often done as part of a meditation.
Of course a witch or pagan can meditate for its mundane benefits as well. But there are SO many uses for meditation in a magic or pagan based practice!
What else would you add to the list?