|The Floating World
Traditionally the outlook of any onmyouji saw the world as fundamentally a place full of chaos. The magic of onmyoudou was looking past that chaos for any foothold and using special abilities to create small pockets of order, however temporary, to weather out the tides of chaos that occasionally became overwhelming to regular humans and their creations and habitations. At the time of onmyoudou's highest popularity, onmyouji used knowledge of the stars and the heavens, as well as the originally Chinese discipline of feng shui, in order to carefully assist those in need; as well as this, certain mystic traditions both from China and originating in Japan found themselves within the disciplines of onmyoudou, all in the name of bringing order to chaos.
A common belief in Japan is that of the energy of life floating through all things, so that even objects regarded as 'inanimate' may be seen as living, in a way. This is the true nature of kami, these amazing and all-pervading energies, given personalities by their ways and actions in the legends of Japan. Often translated as 'god' or 'gods', kami is so much more than just that. By knowing nature, we understand kami and commune with kami. Through nature, we are able to meditate and find the stillness and serenity within ourselves that allows us to stride unharmed through the chaotic flow and pick out the things that others are unable to see.
As such, meditation is an important, even crucial, part of onmyoudou. It is essential that an onmyouji understand how to meditate. All that meditation involves is relaxing oneself and becoming in harmony with one's surroundings. You don't have to chant, although some people find it helpful. You don't even have to sit down or close your eyes. The only important thing is to feel at peace and relax, to concentrate. With practice it will come more and more easily, and more and more naturally. Some people can meditate anywhere, even within a crowd, moving, or simply by gazing into a cup of tea in a cafe. To be able to focus and relax at the same time gives you so many treasures.
Some who meditate prefer to light incense, as it puts them in a contemplative mood. Incense is now easy to buy, but the prospect of selecting the right scent may be daunting for those who have never used it. There are so many kinds of incense, both in forms and in scents, that a simple trip to the store to purchase some may be confusing and frustrating if you have no experience in doing so.
First of all, incense comes in several forms. The most common ones are stick incense, cone incense, and spiral incense. There are also powdered forms available in some cases. If you are buying incense for the first time, you will most likely need a holder of some sort.
Stick incense, which comes in two varieties: the most common is a thin wooden rod dipped in incense, and the other is a stick of pure, solid incense. The wooden sticks (often called 'incense wands' and such) are made for the wooden part to fit in a small hole in their holder. Some of the best holders for these are long and thin, longer than the incense rod and slightly angled up at the end, with a hole to hold the incense stick. You can also sometimes get circular holders where you can put several sticks in at an angle, but these do not have a surface below to catch the ash. For the pure incense sticks you can often use a smaller holder that will hold the stick straight upright, and several brands come with one of these included in the package.
Incense cones may be put on small disclike holders (they often come carved out of stone) or in more ornate metallic holders with two parts, where the lid may be put down after lighting and smoke filters slowly out through holes in the lid.
Spiral incense is often placed in a likewise spiral holder, but many are small enough to fit on the same kind of discs that hold incense cones if you get a large holder.
Most incense is very easy to use. You simply light the end on fire, then blow it out when you see that it has kindled inside. You can see this by the presence of a bright red inside the incense, which means that it is lit and will burn down, producing fragrant smoke. Sometimes the incense wands will be more difficult to kindle, and you will have to leave them afire and blow on them steadily without blowing out the fire, until you're sure that they have kindled inside. Most pure incense sticks, incense cones, and spiral incense may be blown out almost immediately, as they are very quick to kindle since they are pure.
To meditate is easy. All that is involved is relaxation and focus. I will describe some helpful methods that you may wish to use in order to meditate at any time. You don't have to be seated in a special position, hands at your sides, breathing in a special rhythm to meditate. All that is required is inner peacefulness.
Breathing is one of the most important things to remember in meditation. Of course people breathe naturally, but if you concentrate on your breathing it is easy to ignore other things. If you simply listen to your breathing and feel your breathing, you will be able to focus on that. Everything else will fall away, and you will be able to appreciate your breathing as you breathe in, then out, slowly as you relax.
In ideal circumstances, some people like to put on music while they meditate. Usually this is only possible if you are meditating in a place that is not crowded, or perhaps your personal space at home. Some people recommend instrumental music only, while others feel that lyrics do not detract from the experience. It is of course up to you what kind of music you use. Lyrics can oftentimes be helpful, since many songs are constructed in a way to have a repeating chorus. This is reminiscent in its own way of a chant, which many people who meditate regularly understand the value of in meditation and focusing. You may chant or you may feel it is not for you. Some people prefer to hum or sing to themselves to focus, and this is just as good. It is also useful when you are not in a place where you can easily put on music, but you can still focus on your own music!
It helps if you can adopt a position that is relaxing to you, but it is not necessary. A master can meditate even under physical duress. A beginner, however, may wish to be seated or lie down. Sometimes you may fall asleep in the attempt to relax yourself, and this is fine as long as you are somewhere you can do this safely. Try to practice relaxing and not falling asleep, though. This will help you when you need to do something in omyoudou and cannot have ideal circumstances around you. The best onmyouji can focus nearly anywhere.
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