Earlier this week, Lisa Eddy wrote about why New Year’s resolutions so often fail. I completely agree with her that trying to force yourself to do the things you are told (or you tell yourself) that you “should” do is a sure fire way to fail. After all, who likes that nagging little voice that says you aren’t good enough as you are and you have to do lots of unpleasant things in order to be acceptable?!
I also agree that you can set yourself goals that you want to achieve at any time, rather than just at New Year. As Goethe said:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
There is something about making a commitment that is powerful in itself. However, the start of a New Year is a time when lots of people think about new beginnings, and there is also power in the energy created by group awareness, rather than just a single mind. In that sense, this is a good time to think about changes you want to make in your life, as you have the support of tradition, and of other people. And succeeding when other people fail is also a big ego booster 😉
How can you ensure you succeed?
Lisa said that you have to feel passionately about whatever you choose to do, and that it is best when it comes from a place of love. I wholeheartedly agree with both of those.
Let’s take Lisa’s example of weightloss (click link for a free pdf offering my “Top 5 Magical Ways to Achieve Your Ideal, Healthy Weight”). If you see this as being about having to apply strict discipline, eat things you dislike, deprive yourself of everything you like, force yourself to do unpleasant exercises that hurt or are uncomfortable, or that you just find boring, well then it’s no surprise that you have no motivation and give up on your resolution. This approach is punishing, rather than loving.
On the other hand, if you can connect to the positive motivations behind your desire for wellness and well-being, the approach is very different!
You might want to feel more confident, to present your best self to the world. You might want to be able to do things you enjoy, like playing with your kid/s or fur babies, or moving without pain, or getting up each morning with a sense of energy and enthusiasm. You might want to go shopping for clothes and easily find items that you like, that feel comfortable and where you feel you look your best. You might want to know that you are as healthy as you can be in this moment, and that you are giving yourself the best chance to stay healthy far into the future. You might want to eat foods that you enjoy, knowing that you can take pleasure in the tastes and textures of what you eat, and still do something good for your body.
Finding your motivations, things that inspire you to want to make positive changes, is a great first step. And making sure that these feel loving towards youself is important, too. However, often you fall back into self-sabotage and negative patterns of thought or behaviour, even after identifying these positive motivations.
That’s where a magical mindset comes into setting your New Year’s resolutions.
Tapping into your subconscious is a way to stop self-sabotage. Often, your rational mind tells you one thing, but your subconscious mind isn’t really behind it. And so, you find yourself doing things that go against your resolution.
Dion Fortune described magic as ‘the art of changing consciousness at will’. And while there is more to it than that, being able to tap into your subconscious or Younger Self (as Starhawk describes this magical part) is fundamental.
Once you achieve that magical mindset, where your rational mind is in communication with your subconscious mind, you can make changes that you will follow whole-heartedly, that truly motivate you and feel joyful and easy.
So, how do you go about altering your state of consciousness?
Here is a run down of 15 practical ways to get yourself into a magical mindset.
I’ve separated these by ‘route’. You know the world through your senses, and it is also through them that you can change your perceptions and enter trance, altering your state of consciousness to connect the rational and subconscious parts of yourself.
1) Gazing at a candle – this is used by yogis, too. There are several approaches you can take. First, there is gazing at a candle, fixing its image in your mind, and then closing your eyes and continuing to visualise the candle. Another is to stare hard at the candle, unblinking, until your eyes tear. Then, you can gently close them.
2) Focusing on an image of deity – the idea, once again, is to fix the image in your mind, along with feelings of love and/or awe. When you close your eyes you can continue to visualise the image. This is especially appropriate if you feel a close connection with deity, if this is something that helps you feel loving and loved.
3) Staring at a tarot card – the benefit to this practice is that of either incorporating the card’s energy into your magical state of mind, or else of journeying into the card. With the former, you choose a card that supports the changes you want to cement. For example, you could choose the Star card for a sense of hope, the Sun for a sense of joy, or Temperance for healing. As for journeying, this can be done by fixing the image in your mind, closing your eyes and picturing the card growing larger, until you can step into it and interact with the people, animals, plants and so forth. This can be another great way to immerse yourself in the energy of the card you have chosen.
4) Looking into a crystal ball/bowl/scrying mirror – this method is great if you are someone who daydreams, who easily sees visions in your mind’s eye, who sees images as part of your intuition, or who is clairvoyant. The blank surface allows you to more easily project your own vision, to see it more clearly, and to have it be shared by both your rational and subconscious mind.
5) Following a pendulum – this exercise might also be seen as falling under the next heading, the kinaesthetic route: feeling the rythmical movement of the pendulum. However, that movement is controlled by your subconscious, rather than by “you”. So, I think it’s more relevant to talk about watching the pendulum move, as it will not feel like “you” are moving it. Following the movement of the pendulum is both a way to enter into a light trance through your focused attention, and also a way to speak with your subconscious, making sure you are both on the same page. For a video on how to go about this, click here.
6) Chanting – a personal favourite 🙂 Chanting is great in that it is very easy to do, and also activates several different areas. For one thing, there is the act of chanting as a focus for your mind. For another, there is the sound of the chant (and listening to chants as well as chanting yourself can work really well). If you are chanting out loud, there is also the vibration you set up in your body. And if you chant silently in your head, it is still effective as a point of focus – in fact that’s what I do most often, as chanting while walking down the street is somewhat frowned upon 😀
Another good thing about chanting is that the chant itself is not only a focus, but can represent your intention in achieving your magical mindset. For instance, if you are doing a spell for health you could choose a chant like om shree dhanvantre namaha. If you are doing a spell for love, you could chant the name of your beloved, or choose something like aum kleem shreem brzee. If you want to connect with deity and don’t like sanskrit, try So Much Magnificence which honours the awe-inspiring nature of life, emotion and connection.
Gregorian chants will work, as will any devotional music from any spiritual or religious path, so long as it means something to you!
7) Guided Meditation – there are quite a lot of guided meditations out there, for one topic or another. You can find plenty of free ones on YouTube, as well as many sold either digitally or on CD’s. Guided meditations can be really helpful because you can just sit (or lie) back, and let the words carry you into your magical mindset. If they aren’t specifically targeted, though, you then need to do your own spell work once you are in that focused, relaxed head space. I have recorded a number of magical meditations, some for healthy eating and wellness, some of a “make-your-own-spell” type, and some for chakra balancing. These help you achieve that magical mindset, and then also guide you through the actual spell work 🙂
8) Drumming – just listening to the sound of a drum is powerful. This harkens back to the sound of the heartbeat which you heard in your mother’s womb. It also echoes your own heartbeat, and there is evidence that you can influence your physiology through sound – lowering your heart rate by listening to a slow, steady drum beat. Listening to a drum can take you into a deep trance, which has a very natural, organic feel to it, and is great for earthy types of people, or spells. You can also use a faster drumbeat if you want to build a lot of energy and dynamism for a spell, so this is a very flexible route to different kinds of altered states.
9) Bell sound – a bell sound is another great auditory cue to take you into a magical mindset. The chime of the bell keeps you focused, while the vibrating tone takes you deeper into trance. So, it’s a great balance between staying with what you are doing and also reaching a deep place of connection between conscious and subconscious mind.
10) Music – there are many other musics that are designed to help you achieve a magical mindset, beyond those specified here. Pick your own favourite, or just google music for meditation and give some a try.
11) Shuffling cards – this has a very meditative feel to it. While shuffling, you also set the intention to tap into your intuition. The rythmical movement, the feel of the cards in your hand, and the intention all work together to create a light trance state. This is also especially appropriate if you want to draw a card as part of your magical working – allowing spirit to guide the communication between your everyday mind and your magical mind.
12) Breathing – once again, a practice shared with yoga. There are a myriad of breathing techniques that you can use to enter a magical mindset. At its simplest, just the fact of mindfully following your breath creates a light trance. Techniques such as counting your breath can also be very effective. The simplest of these would be counting as you breath in, and possibly also holding your breath for a little while, and counting both the hold and the exhale. You could start breathing in on a count of three, holding your breath for a count of three, and exhaling on a count of three. Find counts that feel comfortable to you, and try to stretch the outbreath as your breathing practice develops.
There’s a simple, clear article on 15 clever things to know about your breathing here, if you’re interested.
At a more complex level, there are all kinds of breathing techniques or pranayamas, such as kappalabhati, ujjayi, anuloma viloma, and many more. You can google any of these, if you are interested in deepening your breathing practice.
13) Dancing – in some ways this goes along with the idea of listening to music, or with drumming. Stomping your feet, clapping your hands, and swinging yourself around are all great, rythmical movements to induce trance. As with drumming, this works especially well for higher energy spell work, and is often used in group castings, where you can get very interesting organic patterns developing. For solitary magic, too, it works beautifully, bringing you into a buzzing, energised magical mindset.
14) Shaking – probably best tried somewhere private, this is exactly what it sounds like. You literally start shaking your body. You can start with your hands and feet, and then let your whole body begin to move. No need for coordination, nor to try to do anything in particular, it is just shaking yourself. Give it a try, though. Five minutes of shaking really does take you to a different head space. You really can shake off your troubles, and your everyday thought patterns!
15) Drumming – I mentioned above the power of listening to drumming. However, some people say it is even more powerful if you are not just passively hearing the drumming, but actually creating it and feeling it through your hands and the whole of your body. You get the same benefits as with listening to a drum, with the added bonus of controlling and being able to respond to the effects it is having, changing your pace to match what is going on in your magical working.
16) Whipping – I’m not including this in the official count, as it’s not one I would personally recommend! However, mystics and yogis of old have often used self-flagellation to achieve a magical mindset. Still, when there are so many other great techniques to use, damaging your physical body seems rather redundant!
Well, that’s another big topic! However, the brief answer is that you communicate with your subconscious, get it on board with your resolutions. To do this, you speak in terms that your subconscious understands: through art, poetry, images, and through your senses. Use your imagination to create a scene that you can immerse yourself in: imagining what you will feel, see, hear, taste, and smell as you are putting your goals into effect, and when you achieve those things you are willing into being. The more real you can make this – and the more joyful, creative and loving – the more your subconscious will take it on. Then, it will do all the hard work for you, leaving you to just enjoy the changes that flow easily from your resolutions 😀
For a bit more help in this regard, download this free report explaining the top five magical ways to achieve your ideal, healthy weight.