Visiting the Well of Release

Visiting the Well of Release

A Meditation to Process Pain

by Melanie Fire Salamander

Okay, it’s that time of year again. I don’t know about you, but the first part of the year, New Year’s through Valentine’s, way too often finds me breaking up with someone. I hate it! You’d think I’d have figured out how to avoid it by now. But the pain of leaving, or worse of being left, never seems to get easier. All I seem to be able to hope for is a few more tools for dealing with it.

Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid this pitfall, pain is all around us. Life, as the Buddha said, is suffering. This is a bad time of year for family pain, our having just gone through the holidays. The earth lies fallow, exposing her wounds: building sites like open sores, old mines and dumps, places whose ruin makes you weep. And it’s a dark time of year, when during long nights and short dreary days all the specific, personal drek we’ve avoided in summer and fall can rise and engulf us.

Don’t let that happen! You can process pain. Not shove it, to find it later, having grown runners to other, older pains, but truly process it — be in it, feel it deeply, then let it go. It’s not a hasty process. Expect to do this work over and over again. But each time you do, I promise you, you can and will let go a little pain. It’s hard work, because to release the pain, I find, you have to feel it again and know its roots, its causes, which usually go back to sufferings of early life or even before. But if you’re willing to do the work, you can heal.

Following is a meditation to help that process happen. In honor of the season and of the goddess Brigid, I’ve built into the meditation an image of a sacred, healing well, an image of this goddess, whose holy day Imbolc or Candlemas is. To use this meditation, either record it on tape and play it back or ask someone to read it to you. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Before starting, find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed; take the phone off the hook and if necessary shut out your pets. If you’re prone to falling asleep, try sitting up as you meditate, preferably on a chair or against a surface that helps keep your back straight; alternatively, you can sit cross-legged or in lotus position. If you have problems relaxing, stretch out on a bed, couch or the floor.

The Meditation

Close your eyes, and begin to relax. Take a few deep breaths: in, out; in, out. Feel your body, wriggle your fingers and toes, your nose, your hips and arms; roll your head. Feel where your body ends and what’s around you begins. Feel the air around you, the surface underneath you. Be here now, present in your body, in the present moment. Feel yourself begin to relax.

Continue to breathe deeply, and begin to release the cares of your day and week with your breath. Be completely here in the present moment.

Throughout this meditation, you will have a complete, deep experience, and you will remember everything you sense and learn. If you need to return, you can always recall yourself to the physical world by moving your fingers and toes. You will feel utterly safe and protected throughout.

Relax more fully still, and breathe deeply. Feel in the center of your body, behind and below your belly button, a spark of life, your life, your eternal fire. Feel that flame pulse with life. Let that flaming center send a spark of energy downward, a liquid trail like molten fire, down through your groin into your base and down into the earth. Feel this energy flow downward, through the foundation of the building, down into the deep, wet, cold earth, the soil, through hidden underground streams, cool water slick on rocks, and below that into the solid rock of the earth’s mantle. Feel the personal flame from your body push down through rock into the deep core of the earth, the earth’s molten center, where all is fire as it is fire inside you. Feel your own personal fire connect with the energy of the earth, deep and red, the red glowing heart of the earth.

At the same time, feel a spark of energy flare upward from the center of your body, up through your torso, through your neck, through your head, through the top of your head into the air. Let this energy flow upward through the air of the room, through the ceiling, through the roof of the building into the cold air. Let the energy fountain up, up, up, through the cold damp air, past clouds of rain and ice, up into the clear sky above all clouds. Feel your personal fire energy connect with the fires of the sky, the energy of sun and stars and moon, fiery, swirling sky energy.

Feel your deep energetic connections to both earth and sky, tap into those connections and deeply feel them. Let sky energy begin to flow downward into you, and at the same time let earth energy flow upward into you. Feel the two energies combine in your center, swirling together gently and cleanly, into one combined healing energy. Let this energy flow outward from your center, filling your torso, filling your lungs and throat, filling your head, filling your groin and pelvis, your legs and arms, touching and washing away remaining tension, cleansing and healing. Let all negative energy you can let go of flow with this wave out through your grounding. Let negative energy, tension and pain and anger and everything you want to let go of flow sweetly and cleanly down your grounding, into the earth, which can reuse the energy for other things.

Now let a wave of sky energy come through you again, combine with earth energy, and fill you, cleansing you, and wash away another layer of negativity down your grounding. Release everything you need to release. Keep any information you require, but release pain, tension, fear and error with the cleansing, healing energy down your grounding.

And again, let another wave of sky energy come into you, combine with the energy of earth, fill you and cleanse you, washing trouble and pain away down your grounding into the earth. Feel your deep connection to earth, and let trouble and pain wash into the earth. Keep any information you require, but let all the pain you can go into the earth.

Feel yourself cleansed and sparkling, full of earth and sky energy, and deeply connected to both earth and sky. Ground out any energy you

don’t need into the earth.

Now imagine yourself at a stone boundary marker, standing beside a gravel road. It is dusk, wintertime, and you are in farm country. The landscape is wintry, with a light dusting of snow, the tree branches bare of leaves, but you don’t feel the cold. Smoke rises from chimneys of houses here and there, some far away on bare hills of cropped brown. The air smells cold and of woodsmoke.

You turn and walk a while down this road. To either side are fields full of stubble, tan. As you pass, crows rise cawing. Far across a field, you see a lone scarecrow standing.

The road slopes gently down a hill, and you come into a small wood. Tree limbs rise gnarled and black around you, shadowing the road. A rabbit raises its head, brown against white shadowed snow, looks at you a moment and bounds away.

You come out of the wood into a flat landscape, cropped fields to either side behind board fences. You walk awhile, the scenery barely changing, all in colors of brown and grey. The smell of the air changes, and you realize you must be coming to a body of fresh water. Walking forward, you crest a shallow hill and see before you stands of rushes around a large lake.

You continue forward on the road. The gravel stops, and you keep going on an earthen path. Tall rushes stand at either side, the air brushing through them, whispering. You push down the path through the rushes and find yourself at a dock where a small rowboat is tied up, oars lying in its bottom.

From here, at the lake’s edge, you have a clear view across. A band of gold haze lies along the horizon, between long bands of grey-purple cloud. The water is steel-grey, and in the center of the lake lies a small island, crowned by a grove of birch trees. The island attracts you strongly, and you decide to row out to it.

Knowing this is the custom of the place, you get into the boat, untie it, and fitting the oars to the oarlocks begin to row. The island is not far away, but it takes longer to get there than you think it will. The boat moves slowly and dreamily through the twilit water. The twilight stays constant; the sky does not get darker. This seems strange, but you feel perfectly safe and protected, and you accept that twilight stays in this place.

You come to the island shore, step out onto gravel and pull the boat up so it won’t float away, setting the oars in its bottom. The grey water, tinged lavender in the light, laps the gravel shore. You walk toward the grove of birch, and again though the trees don’t seem far away, it takes you longer to get to them than you thought it would. Things move slowly in this place. All around you lies dusk-purple light. Know that you will remember everything you need to from this place.

You edge between two birch trees and come to the center of the island. Here sits a stone well. Over the well hangs a weeping willow. The long arms of the willow move gently in the air, rustling.

You see among the willow branches, sitting on the edge of the well, a woman clad in sage-green. Her hair is long, falling almost to the ground, and a very fair blonde, or colorless, or grey — it’s hard to tell in the light. She greets you and tells you that this is the Well of Release, and she is its keeper.

You greet her with reverence. You know she is no ordinary person but a goddess. (Pause briefly.)

She asks you what you would release, and you tell her. (Pause briefly.)

She asks you to sit on the edge of the well, sit comfortably. When you are seated, she asks you go deeply into the problem you would release, saying she will protect you as you do.

You agree to her suggestion and begin to go into the problem in your mind. See the problem in your mind. See pictures of scenes around this issue, the people involved, the places. Take some time and bring the problem you want to release fully into your consciousness and emotions. (Pause for some time.)

Feel the emotions around the problem. Name these emotions. Be in them. Avoid resisting them, but let them be present and flow through you. Feel them fully. (Pause for some time.)

The keeper of the well watches you, understanding fully and protecting you as you do this work. When you have fully gone into, recognized and felt the emotions around this problem, she nods deeply and says she will give you something to hold this issue, a symbol or object to contain this pain. She holds out her hands, and between them is this symbol or object. (Pause briefly.)

You take it into your own hands. This symbol is a container and is meant for your use, to protect you. You feel perfectly safe and protected.

She instructs you now to put the problem you want to release into the symbol, to let flow into the symbol everything you need to let go. You do so gently and fully, letting your emotions and memories and thoughts flow into the symbol, keeping only that information you need and letting go all pain into the symbol. (Pause for some time.)

Once you have put what you need to into the symbol, the keeper of the well cranks the well-handle and draws up the bucket. She instructs you to put your symbol into the bucket, and you do. It goes easily, no matter how big or amorphous it is, as if that’s where it belongs. It disappears into the bucket.

Then the well-keeper lets the bucket back down into the well. The Well of Release, she tells you, lets into an underground stream, a stream that is able to change and break up pain and trouble and old blockages and let energy go where it belongs. You look down into the well, and you see the bucket hit the water, the dark water with just a ripple of light, see the bucket go into the water, disappear into the water. As it does, you feel released of your pain, you feel it gone. (Pause briefly.)

Now the keeper of the well brings out a crystal decanter full of water, and she motions you to stand in a silver-edged basin whose drain feeds into the source of the well. “This is the cleansing Water of Release,” she tells you. You see the water in the decanter sparkle with its own inner light. She pours the water over your head; it cascades down over you, and you feel not wet but as if cleansing, healing energy were going through you, washing away the last vestiges of pain and trouble, releasing the last blocks and letting them pour downward into the underground stream and into the earth. (Pause for some time.)

The well-keeper smiles at you and says, “Now you are cleansed and healed, and in token I give you a gift.” In her two hands she holds out this gift, and you take it. You examine it, and she tells you what you need to know to understand it. (Pause briefly.)

Know that you will keep the memory of this gift as you need to, and all else that you need to retain.

Now you say your good-byes to the keeper of the well and thank her. (Pause briefly.)

Leaving her, you pass out between the birch trees, and on the gravel shore find the boat. You draw it toward the water and get in, push off with your oar and slowly row back to the lake shore.

At the lake’s edge, you tie the boat to the dock, replace the oars in the boat bottom and, turning, walk back through the rustling reeds along the path. You pass through the reeds to the long flat land, the road with brown fields on either side, and into the dark wood. You notice that it has begun to get dark. But it is a reassuring darkness, a warm and protective darkness, a blanket drawn over the land that lets it sleep.

You pass under the black, gnarled branches and out of the dark wood, and you walk up the slope of the hill, looking at the cropped fields on either side. You greet the scarecrow and the crows that rise from the fields to caw at you. You continue along the gravel road, the landscape getting darker around you, and you find yourself back at the boundary marker from which you started.

You settle down beside this marker. All around you darkness falls, comfortable, comforting and calm. Know that you will remember everything you need to from this meditation. You will keep everything you need to keep.

You begin once more to feel your body. You are coming up from trance, feeling warm and relaxed yet energetic. Feel your body; wiggle your fingers and toes. Feel the surface below you and the air above. Retain in your mind everything you want to remember from this meditation.

Feel yourself present in your body, present in the here and now. Notice your breath; feel yourself draw breath deep into your lungs and let it go. You feel present and calm yet full of warm energy.

Breathe deeply once more, and open your eyes.

Can Meditation Be Sexy?

Can Meditation Be Sexy?

  • Ed and Deb Shapiro

From Madonna to Christy Turlington, from Sting to Richard Gere, meditation is what’s happening. We use the term “sexy” because meditation is now the IN thing, with more and more people, both young and old, chilling out by doing it. At the same time, cross-legged yogis and monks can be seen in television and magazine ads selling everything from cars to herbal teas.

You do not have to be a hippie or on a spiritual quest to meditate. We have taught housewives, athletes, musicians, and therapists, in yoga centers and town halls, high school gymnasiums, on ski slopes, and on television. We were invited to teach meditation in Thailand to corporate CEO’s, as more businesses are incorporating stress-release and meditation techniques.

But if meditation is so available and as well-known as it appears to be, why is it not already an integral part of everyone’s lives? If health reports are saying how good it is as a way to cope with stress, heart conditions, and psychological issues, why do we ignore it or find excuses not to do it? Why do we think of something as a waste of time when all the research tells us it is of such immense value?

Perhaps it is because meditation just doesn’t seem that sexy! The mind seeks constant entertainment and much prefers being distracted than facing the endless dramas racing around inside it. The idea of sitting still and watching our breath can appear boring, meaningless, even a time-waster, and not at all fun, challenging, or creative.

Yet meditation is all of this and much more. It is about discovering our authenticity and the magic of being alive. It is sexy because it feels great and there is nothing more joyful.

Meditation is simply about being fully present in this moment, no matter what we are doing. If you are washing the dishes, then let any thoughts and distractions dissolve into the soap bubbles; if you are ironing, then become one with the rhythm of the movement; when you are eating, be aware of every bite, the tastes and textures. In this way, everything can be an awakening experience.

Appreciation Meditation

Sit comfortably with a straight back. Spend a few moments watching the natural flow of your breath.

Now begin to feel a deep appreciation and gratitude for the cushion or chair you are sitting on, and for the building around you, appreciating the space they provide in which you can meditate. Silently thank those who made the building, and the work that was put into its construction.

Then extend that appreciation to the world around you, to this earth that sustains all life, for the tress, plants, animals, birds, the oceans and fish, the sun and the rain.

Now extend your gratitude to your body, appreciating how it cares for and nourishes you, how it is connected to the food you eat and the water you drink, how it is within this body that you experience love, joy and happiness.

Now bring your appreciation and gratitude to your breath. Become aware of the flow of your breath entering and leaving your body. Spend a few moments appreciating your breath and the life it brings you. Then take that appreciation with you into your day.

Introduction To Scrying – Preliminary Considerations

Introduction To Scrying

Preliminary Considerations

To start with, the reader should understand that scrying is as much a learned skill as is reading or ice skating. Persistent practice is necessary to teach the nervous system how to do it, even where the person has some innate talent. And as with other learned skills, there is a “learning curve”. At first there will be a long period when you don’t seem to be making any significant progress. Then things will suddenly fall together and your practice will improve markedly in a short period before leveling off again at something close to your highest level of skill.

It is best to expect a learning period of at least several months; don’t expect quick results. It is likely that you will have occasional sessions where things work much better than usual. Don’t be too encouraged by these, as it is likely you will fall back to a lower level in the next session. When an improvement lasts for a week or more, you are justified in judging it a genuine advance.

Before getting to scrying techniques as such, I want to discuss the various kinds of distractions that can cause trouble for beginners, and suggest some solutions. Distractions can be generally classified in three types:

  • Physical distractions. E.g., itches, muscle aches and twitches, etc.
  • External distractions. House and street noises, other residents of your home, etc.
  • Mental distractions. The internal “chatter” that we are all prone to.

Four of the traditional practices of yoga are intended to reduce and eliminate such distractions. Asana and (to a small extent) pranayama deal with physical distractions; pratyahara with external distractions, and dharana with mental distractions. These high-discipline practices are more than most people will need for our current purposes; perfection isn’t necessary, just something “good enough”. But those who find they do need more than the simple techniques described here may wish to look into them.

Traditional asana practice seeks to eliminate physical distractions by training the body to remain in a single posture for long periods of time. The muscles are trained to maintain a state of tension such that the body remains locked into the chosen posture. The lack of movement reduces the intensity of the body’s sensory signals to the brain. That is to say, repetitive, unchanging signals are completely processed at the pre-conscious level and are never brought to the attention of the conscious mind. Unfortunately, the traditional practice usually produces extreme pain for a long period before the muscles are trained to a given posture.

The same effect can be produced without the painful intermediate stage by achieving a state of profound physical relaxation. The nervous system doesn’t care why it is getting repetitive signals from the body, but only that it is so. Lack of movement engendered by relaxation is just as good at producing such signals as is lack of movement produced by muscle locking.

The practitioner should begin by choosing a comfortable posture that can be maintained without muscular tension. A sitting posture is recommended over a supine position, since relaxing while lying down easily leads to sleep. I preferred to sit cross-legged on a bed, with my back supported by a pillow against the wall. A high-backed easy-chair is as good. All that matters is that you can be perfectly relaxed in the position without falling over.

A certain type of breathing can help promote relaxation. Take a deep gulp of air through your mouth, breathing from the belly; don’t strain to take in the maximum. Hold it as long as comfortable, and then release it, allowing the weight of your ribs and the natural tension of your diaphragm to push the air out of your lungs without forcing it. Relax for a moment at the end of the breath. Repeat for one minute, or until you start to feel dizzy. You will find that as you release the breath, all your muscles have a tendency to loosen. (This type of breathing is, perhaps not coincidentally, identical to the way one tokes a joint of marijuana.)

Once you are comfortable and have done the breathing, begin to work at relaxing each muscle in your body individually. Start with the scalp and face, and work your way down the body, working outwards from the spine at each level. Complete relaxation of any muscle will be accompanied by a pleasant “melting” sensation; try to make your whole body feel as if it has melted into a puddle of warm pudding.

By the time you have reached your feet, you will probably find that your face and scalp muscles have tensed up again, just from your concentration on the task. Start again at the top and work your way down, repeating as often as needed to get to a state of complete relaxation. When the physical relaxation is complete, try to extend it to the inside of your head as well, letting your awareness float in a warm internal glow.

While this exercise is simple and easily mastered, it is very important. Most of the other forms of distraction practitioners encounter are accompanied by tension reactions in some part of the body. An extreme example is the “startle” reaction, in which some small noise triggers a state of high alert in your body; your heart suddenly jumps and increases its rate of beating, and every muscle in the body suddenly tenses. The parts of the mind responsible for these reactions and distractions are often not directly accessible to consciousness; but since body and mind influence each other, you can begin to subvert and eliminate the reactions by eliminating their physical manifestations.

The other aspect of controlling distractions is to understand the nature of the human mind. Each of us is not a single being, but a multitude. Our minds are composed of many “sub-minds”, each with its own special functions. Some of these (the visual sub-minds, for instance) are so intimately connected with our consciousness that we never notice their functioning unless something goes seriously wrong. Others act with greater independence.

But while they are not accessible in the same way that, e.g., the language forming parts of the mind are, there is communication back and forth between them, and between them and the conscious mind. The conscious self, the part of the mind which calls itself “I”, is supposed to function as a mediator, arbiter, synthesizer and director between these other aspects of our being. Its function is to take the results of their work, compare and evaluate them, make use of them to act in the world, and direct their future work on the basis of the results obtained. When there are conflicts between different sub-minds, the conscious self is supposed to “keep the peace” by balancing their respective needs and viewpoints.

Unfortunately, human evolution is not yet at the point where the consciousness automatically functions in the best way possible. The capability for it to do so is there, but it requires training and experience to develop its proper relationship to the other sub-minds. Lacking that training, we too often end up acting as censors and tyrants rather than mediators, suppressing troublesome messages from these parts rather than dealing with them. And as often as they are suppressed, they leak up through some other channel, producing distractions and what Crowley called “breaks” in one’s practice.

The key to permanently relieving both physical and mental distractions is to deal with them in the right way, _immediately_ as you become aware that they are occurring. You have to re-condition yourself into the desired response while the distracting sensations or thoughts are still present in your mind, and the physical tensions are still in your body. The sub-minds aren’t particularly time-conscious; they understand what is happening “now” much better than events in the past or future.

Once you have achieved a state of physical relaxation, try just sitting in the relaxed state, with your mind not focused on any particular thing and with no intention of doing anything else for a while. It is a sure bet that after a few minutes, some part of your mind will take the opportunity to bring its own concerns to the surface, and you will start talking to yourself mentally about whatever it is concerned with.

As soon as you realize you are following some line of thought, stop and assess your body’s state. Do the relaxation exercises until you are back in a completely relaxed condition. Then imagine that you are extending that relaxation to the part of your mind that brought up the thoughts you were thinking; imagine that part enveloped and permeated by a warm, melting glow, while simultaneously you talk to it, telling it: “Relax, be still, there is nothing you need to do right now.” Successful relaxation of a sub-mind through this procedure will produce a sensation of a sudden, mildly pleasurable energy-release in some part of your brain, sometimes accompanied by a sensation of “clearness”.

It is likely that by the time you get one sub-mind quieted — or even while you are still working on it — another part will pop up with a different thought-train. Keep working on the first instance and ignore the new one. Don’t be concerned if you don’t get to everything that comes along during this practice; the things you miss are certain to show up again at a later time. Do one thing at a time and don’t jump around. If you forget what you are doing somewhere in the middle of things, just start over with the relaxation exercises, and unfocusing your attention.

This same technique can be applied to external disturbances. The only difference is that when telling the disturbed sub-mind to relax, you tell it that the noise or other distraction is unimportant and not worth attention.

The Fellowship of the Inner Light teaches a slight variation on this method, which some people may prefer. They use a particular biblical (?) phrase when speaking to the sub-minds; it is almost a mantra in their version of this practice. The phrase is: “Be still, and know that I Am god.” The intent of this usage is to consciously and deliberately assert the conscious self’s rightful place as director and decision-maker, while at the same time acknowledging the existence of the sub-minds as quasi-separate entities.

And rather than just sitting with one’s attention unfocused, they prefer that the practitioner use a mantra: “Eheieh”, meaning “I am”, the highest name of God in the Hebrew cabala. The mantra should be spoken internally, in a relaxed and casual manner; i.e., whenever the practitioner happens to think of it, rather than in steady repetition. I personally find that the use of a mantra tends to produce tensions rather than alleviate them, but this may not be the case for others.

Continued use of this simple practice will, over time, result in a profound reduction in the amount of verbal “noise” your mind produces, and make it substantially easier to concentrate on the visual images of the “magickal space” techniques to be described in the next section. You don’t have to be proficient at this before going on to create a magickal space; the two efforts can be done in parallel, with each reinforcing the other.