Way back on Easter 2001, I had the experience of sitting in on a Pagan meditation in Springfield, Oregon. The theme was an "astral projection" where we closed our eyes while some kind of ambient music played, and we visualized walking through a rainbow-colored tunnel, then ended up outside. I could go into depth about the visualization I experienced, but it would take too long.
Anyway, what I'm looking for is some kind of meditation routine that I can use to connect with this astral world. I've tried variations over the past year, where after closing my eyes and breathing/relaxing, I visualize that I'm in some kind of mystic place (sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors, and sometimes underground. Often I listen to Dark Ambient Radio while doing this, but lately I've had problems staying focused, and I find that "my mind gets ahead of my body" in this visualization.
Seriously, there's a lot I need to learn about developing a set of prayers and meditations and rituals in order to better commune with the Divine & Arcane Powers, but the problem is I really don't know where to start. Anybody here who can suggest some links or articles or books or whatever to read?
You should probably start off small. If you first meditation was jumping right into visualizations and astral traveling, it should come to no surprise that you could easily lose focus. Meditation is not about traveling, coming to great epiphanies, or having visions of things. Meditation is the simple practice of letting go, letting go of the here and now, the worries of everyday life, and a moment to just completely relax.
Clear and regular breathing is a staple of a good meditation. Practicing your breathing can become a meditation in itself. Most will tell you to breath in through your mouth and out through your nose. This is because a lot of people will breath in more than they exhale, leaving little room in your lungs for your next inhale. Concentration on where you inhale and where you exhale can help control the amount of air your are both inhaling and exhaling. A simple practice you can use is the 1:2:1 breathing exercise. This exercise makes you concentrate on how long you are inhaling, how long you hold the breath, and then how long you exhale. The general goal is to work up to a suitable ratio where you are comfortable, but able to maximize the amount of time it takes to breath in, hold, and breath out. I would say start out small, with a 2:4:2 breath in for 4 counts, hold for 2, breath out for 4, hold for 2, repeat. Remember to exhale as much as you inhale. Breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose.
Thoughts are always in our head. They come and go at a pace that is rather unfathomable if you actually think about it. Sometimes the human mind is fickle, it moves from subject to subject at a breakneck pace. One reason for meditation is controlling the rate at which thoughts enter our minds and controlling WHICH thoughts enter our minds. The breathing exercise above can help with this. Concentrating on the breathing helps to not think on other things. As soon as you get into the motion of breathing, your thoughts will stray. This is OKAY. A key practice is acknowledgement of these thoughts. Acknowledge the thought, and then simply let it go. Don't dwell on the thought. Move one. If another thought enters your mind, acknowledge the thought, let it go. Do this until your mind goes quiet.
The Quiet Mind: The quiet mind is a powerful tool. When you can quiet the mind, you have achieved something great. Quieting the mind takes focus without the conscious decision to focus. When you can achieve the quiet, you can then achieve focus. This focus can then be aimed at other things, such as astral travel, magick, or communion with the divine. It is often said that greatest tool a witch has it their mind, and that refining the skill in which on uses their mind should take precedence over any other practice.