Q&A with Joy: Why Meditate?

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

The following is a transcript, edited for clarity, of a discussion we had in my Practical Qabalah class earlier this month. One student asked, Why meditate?
Here’s her question and the discussion that followed:

The Fool from the Servants of Light Tarot, by Jo Gill. Cover art from Inner Landscapes by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, published by The Aquarian Press, 1989.
The Fool from the Servants of Light Tarot, by Jo Gill. Cover art from Inner Landscapes by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, published by The Aquarian Press, 1989.

D: Meditation, as I encounter it, seems to be a fundamental process wherever I go in the metaphysical world. Why? Why do I have to meditate on a Hebrew letter? Why do I have to meditate on a glyph or any of those things? What is the point of meditating? Why?
Joy: There are an infinite number of reasons and so I’m not going to go into them all.
One, setting up a daily meditation practice teaches you discipline.
Two, it teaches a certain degree of self-control because you have to sit still and not jump up and wash some dishes for awhile. If you’re doing 20 minutes of meditation, you’ve got to control yourself, you can’t just follow your impulses and go and do something. So that’s kind of related to discipline, but to me, they’re a little bit different. The discipline is sitting down to do the meditation. The self-control is staying there to do the meditation.
It gets us away from external information because we’re not reading a book or watching something on the internet or hearing somebody talk, we’re just sitting in silence. So it turns off the outside noise.
S: It’s how you connect with God.
Joy: And then the next thing that happens once you’ve turned the noise off and you’re not getting your information from all this different stuff is that you develop self-awareness. I think that’s one of the major—I mean all of these are important, discipline is important, self-control is important, … but you can get those things from taking a belly-dancing class or something. Well, self-awareness you can get from belly-dancing too. It’s like, huh, my body doesn’t go that way.
S: Mine doesn’t!
D: I do that I want you to know.
Joy: Oh, did you?
So self-awareness is the next step. … Because the meditative process tends to have an objectivity to it you tend to step outside, kind of step to the side, become aware of yourself and so that’s where the self-awareness comes from.
Once you reach that point of self-awareness, then I think, well, one of the next steps, I’m not sure that I’m going to have all of these exactly right or precisely in order, but I think one of the next things that happens is that you start receiving insight. And that’s the — I don’t care what you call it you can call it talking to your guides or you can say you’re communing with God or you can say you’re talking to your higher self or you can say that you’re inspired or you can say that it’s a gnostic knowledge and I really don’t care what words you say but all of a sudden information arises from within and I think that’s — all those words refer to that. And there are certainly differences in each of those different approaches that I mentioned but generally those are all examples of the type of insight that arises from within.
S: And even physically it’s good for you. It can lower blood pressure, lowers stress.
Joy: Absolutely all those things too, a lot of physical benefits. It increases psychic energy. So your energy is stronger which increases health. And that’s probably enough for now.
D: So all of a sudden we have to meditate on aleph. It assumes that we’ve gone through all these things. Now one has self-awareness and one is receiving insight. When does, because it’s a process, it’s not like you sit down and close your eyes and presto. When does one start applying the topic to meditate upon. How does that work? Today I will meditate on aleph. Ommm.
Joy: That’s kind of why you do the Middle Pillar exercise for six months because that gets the discipline into place and it gets some of your basic correspondences down and it clears your energy and increases your capacity to channel psychic energy.
John Michael Greer in his book Learning Ritual Magic says, “Meditation Day 1. Sit in a chair for five minutes without moving. Seriously, see if you can do it.” Because a lot of people can’t. And that’s just about being aware of your body. It’s just like, can I sit still –you can’t be completely still, I mean your breathing is going to be changing, but try not to scratch if you get an urge to scratch, don’t shift your weight, don’t start tapping your toe. These are all things that people … I do this with my fingers I don’t know what it means I’m starting to get worried about it. {laughs} Not when I’m meditating but I’ll be just standing there talking to somebody and I’ll realize I’m doing this and I’m like what the heck am a doing. All of those things that we do that we’re not aware of. That’s where the self-awareness comes in.
So just first of all sit and see if you can sit for five minutes and then ten and fifteen. And then you start employing some simpler meditations, the four-fold breathing that we’ve done so that you actually have some control over your breath so that you’re not breathing shallowly but you’re able to take deeper breaths. And you need the deeper breaths so that you can do some of the vibration work when we do the Hebrew god names. And if you’re not doing Hermetic Qabalah, if you’re doing any other meditation practice there’s always going to be some kind of — most traditions have some kind of mantra work. And so again you want to be able to have a full breath to do your mantras and so if you haven’t already worked on your breathing you don’t have enough breath to do supportive work on your mantras.
Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff to it. And if you sit down and haven’t ever meditated before and say I’m going to become enlightened as to the meaning of the Path of Aleph chances are it’s not going to happen; you’re going to say this meditation is BS and I don’t want to have to do it. It’s a process and a discipline and a regimen to be engaged in on a regular basis so you can get better and better at it.
D: And then when you get to the point, when one gets to the point, then it’s time to say today knowing what I know and intuiting what I intuit, I will now sit and meditate and so I hold that thought of aleph and I go in to just plain old garden variety meditation and clear the path if you will of thinking about Elvis and the Beatles {laughing from other participants} but I mean reality and then I look for aleph.
Joy: Well, no, if you want to meditate on the letter itself yes, that’s what you’re going to do or you can do a gazing meditation where you print the letter out or draw it yourself and look at it and gaze at it. If you’re doing a path, like the Path of Tav, again you’re going to, like in the Ciceros’ book, create the temple of Malkuth, enter that, see that door with the World card on it, with the Tav on the lintel, go through the door, and that’s how we approach that kind of pathworking. So meditating on the letter Tav is different than meditating on the Path of Tav.
D: I understand. But if the principle is the same that you have a topic and you go for it and you focus on that and you let it come to you but you have to decide what’s going to come. Whether I’m going to do Tav or the path or the letter or whatever it is…
Joy: Right, yes, yes, yes. And then the other thing is that … there’s different types of meditation obviously. Developing the ability to do your basic kind of stillness meditation, your typical blank mind meditation, that actually comes first. …Because that’s the state that intuition can arise from so you’ve got to be able to get to that first so that you’re not thinking about Elvis and then once you’ve become adept at the still mind meditation then the next thing is called discursive meditation. And discursive meditation is when you have a topic. And you say I’m going to meditate on the idea of the letter aleph or on the idea of the tarot card The Fool or on the idea of Elvis and then you can meditate on Elvis. Or any other thing that you want to get some insight into. But that’s called discursive meditation and it’s different than your basic garden variety stillness meditation.
H: What I would add on that is that I think that for me I didn’t necessarily do it that way where I went blank and just {inaudible} or whatever. I had to learn how to visualize. And that’s something that I think our intellectual minds, our imagination, yes, but it’s different when you kind of leave this world and go into another which is what I kind of view meditation as. You’re exploring something that is bigger than what we can see with our eyes.
D: Thank you so much. I don’t know, maybe you guys all know exactly what that’s all about and I’ve meditated for thirty years but not as a ritual and not in this way and not, again, as a religious thing but for relaxation and I think it’s different. … I get a sense that I can go outside my body like I’m not there anymore I don’t feel anything but I’ve never gone beyond that.
S: But that is good preparation.
Joy: I would say that most of the meditations I learn are not at all about going outside your body but of having an expanded awareness of your body and your mind and all those things. And the expanded awareness does take you away from pain and things like that but there’s a lot of presence to the type of work that I’ve learned.
D: Thank you very very much.
Source: Practical Qabalah Class 5 recording, Aug 3, 2014, 38:38 to 54:41
Recommended Reading for Qabalistic Pathworking:
Ashcroft-Nowicki, Dolores. Inner Landscapes. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: Aquarian, 1989.
Knight, Gareth. Tarot and Magic. Rochester, VT: Destiny, 1991.
Regardie, Israel. A Garden of Pomegranates: Skrying on the Tree of Life. Ed. Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 1932, 1999.
Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks and Denver Tarot Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the Psychics of Isis and has been featured at SpiritWays, the Mercury Café and psychic fairs throughout the Denver Metro and Northern Colorado. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2014 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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