Magical practice involves new ways of seeing. In the course of performing a spell or ritual we will visualize the flow of energy. Learning to recognize what we see and how to visualize clearly helps rituals work toward the result we want.
Just as we observe the world with sight, sound, and feeling, so do we represent the world to ourselves with images, sounds and words, and internal feelings. We move back and forth between creating an internal world and observing the external world without being consciously aware of the transition. Our first task is to notice when our awareness shifts from the outside world to the world within. Then we can get really good at observing with eyes and ears and skin, and practice the skills involved in creating an interior world.
Notice the World: Colors
Find a place where you can do this exercise comfortably. It can be in your own house, in your office, or commuting to work on a bus, train, or ferry. In your own house you might feel a little less self-conscious, but out in the world you have a lot more stimuli. Set a timer for one minute or put a clock in your field of vision. Now look around. How many colors do you see? Keep counting until the minute is up.
Did your mind wander during the exercise? Did you find yourself thinking about what you did for lunch, how upset you are with your boss, how happy you are that you get to see the movie tomorrow? Most people find it hard to concentrate for one minute, especially at first. I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of people, and none of them lasted longer than a minute the first time they did it.
One way to get better at concentration is to learn breathing exercises. Many disciplines, such as yoga, Buddhism, and martial arts, teach breathing exercises to quiet the mind.