Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

This is the first of a series of what I hope to be weekly posts about a subject I’ve become passionate about – filling my life with magic.   To the uninitiated*, living a “magical life” must sound fruity and idealistic at best, and delusional at worst.  To many Pagans, magic is very real.  What people outside of the proverbial magic circle struggle to understand most is that a lot of magic is just a different way of seeing and interacting with the world.  Magic means intentionally focusing on the intent of an action.  Magic is very much living a purposeful life.  Although some of what I talk about may seem to some as an impractical waste of time, to me my little rituals and magical acts are how I maintain a spiritual connection to the world outside of ritual and meditation.  Some of what I write about will be influenced by Druidism, folk-magic, and kitchen/green witchcraft.  A few will incorporate other cultural/religious practices.

I’m going to begin by talking about the object pictured at right**.  It’s called a neti pot and I’ve been using one for the past two months.  My father gave it to me after I told him I was suffering from possible allergies and wanted to obtain one.  It has been one of the best and most practical gifts ever.  This may sound gross to those of you who have never tried a neti pot before, but you combine water and salt to make a solution.  You then pour the liquid through one nostril at a time while you lean over a sink and breath through your mouth.  The solution flushes the irritants from your nasal passage and is very effective at reducing the symptoms of allergies and colds.  From what I understand, it is a Yogic practice but many Muslims also us a form of nasal irrigation.

“Ok Grey,” you say.  “Yoga aside, what does flushing snot out of your nose have to do with magic?”

Everything!  First of all, healing is one of the most basic ways of practicing magic.  By taking your health into your own hands and using a natural method to fight allergies instead of using expensive drugs, you are moving into what I would argue is a closer relationship to the Earth Mother.  That’s pretty Druidic!***

How else is using a neti pot magical?  When I prepare my solution, I go about it in a semi-meditative/ritualistic way.  I fill the pot with warm water and think on the fact that this is the combination of fire and water.  I add the salt which represents the earth – land.  Fire/sun/sky, well/sea, and sacred tree/Earth are present in this simple healing ritual.  They mix in the neti pot (cauldron of transformation).  As I stir the ingredients together, I perform the Two Powers meditation and direct the energies of above and below into the “potion.”  I say, “By fire, well, and sacred tree / let this salt water heal me!” before using the neti pot.  Trust me, approaching any form of traditional healing according to your spiritual practice is really empowering****.

Finally, using a neti pot is a great way to prepare yourself for another ritual or magical act.  Many cultures or people talk of purifying baths to prepare for ritual.  If you are the sort who likes to mentally and/or physically prepare yourself for a rite, but you either can’t or don’t want to bathe, a neti pot is a great practice before ritual that can be combined with washing your hands and brushing your teeth.  Even if you believe that our bodies don’t need any such preparation to enter sacred space, using a neti pot has a great practical use before ritual – it helps to alleviate sinus discomfort so long as you are gentle and make sure to blow your nose after using it.  As someone who often sniffles, this is a great practice for helping to remove a distraction to myself or others during magical workings.

*And by that I mean the non-Pagan people in the world…
**I wish I took that photo!  I found it on this blog.  
*** For all the whiners and nitpickers out there, I am not against modern medicine.  If someone has a real debilitating issue going on, by all means take what the doctor prescribes you!  I just think our society is a little too pill-popping-happy.  There are more natural ways to fight common allergies.  Even my doctors agreed with me about that.  
****Yes I realize this is a type of cultural appropriation.  I’m giving credit where credit is due and learning more about it all the time – so there.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I strive to meditate daily, at least for five minutes.  Ideally, I would be meditating for 15-30 minutes every day but something invariably causes my schedule to become irregular.  Often it’s fatigue, pure and simple.  I will either begin to fall asleep during my practice, or I will feel too exhausted to even try.  These are always the days that my meditations are a shallow five minutes.  I still do it, but the experience is more akin to a breathing exercise.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to move beyond.  Compared to where I was when I started meditating seven or so years ago, I’m leaps and bounds better, so I’m not entirely unimpressed with myself.

The annoyance of fatigue can be controlled by mental discipline, to a certain extent.  Sure there are days full of activity and obligation – days when overwhelming fatigue is assured – but for the most part, one can make a schedule and stick to it fairly well.  This is something I’m working on now.  But what about those aggravations beyond control?

I seem to have caught something over the weekend.  I wake up with a sore throat and I spend the remainder of my day coughing and feeling somewhat hoarse.  Physical discomfort is very difficult for me to overlook when meditating, especially when they include involuntary reactions.  Just try to breath comfortably and remain still while coughing every few minutes!  Congestion is another annoyance difficult to overcome.  When an exercise depends so heavily on a relaxed breath, congestion is the worst.

I’ve often wondered about Buddhist monks who meditate frequently.  Do they ever feel ill?  Do they still meditate if they do?  Can they overcome their physical ailments through mental focus?  Has meditation increased their immunity to illness, or are most Buddhist monasteries dedicated to meditation situated in very healthful climates?

I recently attended a real, honest-to-goodness yoga class as opposed to my usual exposure to yoga on Wii Fit.  Rather than having to focus on my balance, I was instructed to focus on my breath and that that was the most important part.  It is easier said than done and, of course, balance is still significant, but by not having to fixate on where my center of balance was in a pixilated yellow circle, I was free to attempt turning to my breathing.  As I contorted myself into occasionally uncomfortable positions, I found myself starting to move away from my physical being.  I visually focused on knots in wood paneling or the texture of the ceiling while paying attention to the inhalations and exhalations.  There were some poses I would have liked to spend more time in because I felt I was achieving some subtle peace of mind through them.  

I’m seriously considering more yoga.  While coughing and congestion may always get the best of me, yoga could help me build greater discipline overall.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I’ll be able to transcend my more corporeal annoyances.  If not, I’ll just do a shallow, five minute breathing exercise.  It’s better than nothing, right?

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I had a really great experience keeping the flame last night.  I started to do some housework between finishing up some internet tasks, so I got that out of the way before I even started.  As the sun set, I closed my eyes and steadied my breath, focusing on the task at hand.  I then lit the candle and said a prayer.

After that, I got to work and did some exercise.  I’ve been trying to work out for 30 minutes every day.  I inevitably skip some days, but, on a whole, I’m proud of the progress I’ve been making.  I love doing yoga before my aerobics.  I’ve lost some weight and I feel good about myself.  In addition, it’s helping me improve my breathing.

After exercising I took a cleansing shower before going to my ritual room for an hour’s worth of self-reiki and meditation.  The reiki felt amazing and I’m definitely getting better at sensing my own energy flow.  The meditation was all over the place.  I started breathing and quieting my mind.  I’ve been envisioning a flame into which I throw all of my worries.  From there I met my lynx spirt guide who took me on a walk.  I was hoping to do a meditation suggested in the book I’ve been reading (more on that in a later post) but I guess last night was not for it.  I happened to see someone I know in real life in my meditation.  He was wearing a blacksmith apron and working in a forge which was strange.  He’s not the sort of person I envision doing things like that.  I said hello and asked what he was doing there, and in typical fashion he shrugged and basically said “you know, doing stuff.”  I don’t know why it was him or what was going on, but I was keeping Brighid’s flame and she is associated with blacksmithing.

I kept seeing a city in the distance, a place I wanted to go as part of another meditation, and I even got to the doorway.  My fox spirit guide showed up and said that I wasn’t ready tonight.  I was feeling sleepy so it was decided that I should return until another day.

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