“Maybe this question is quite banal – but what I want to know is how to actually deepen my practice and my understanding of the I Ching.
Is there a special procedure that I should follow to do this, or should it be accompanied by a special meditation……?”
No, this is not a banal question – this is a wonderful question. I’ll take a slightly different perspective in answering it, though.
Many I Ching and other books will offer you descriptions of special rituals and meditations, and these will help to deepen your attention in the moment of casting. And this is good – but I don’t believe that it amounts to deepening your whole practice and understanding. That changed quality of attention needs to expand beyond the moment of sorting stalks or casting coins.
To begin with, there’s attention to what you’re asking. What is your intention for this reading? What kind of help are you requesting, and what kind of difference is this going to make? Where are you headed with this, why are you asking the oracle? Then comes what you are asking about – the background, your beliefs and desires – and finally the question itself crystallises out.
A simple way to bring awareness to all these things, for most people, is to write. Or if writing doesn’t come naturally for you, then draw, or create a mindmap, or talk to a friend, or whatever you can do to make these things firm and clear in your own mind.
The best advice I can think of to deepen your practice is to allow Yi into all areas of your life. Ask about anything and everything; don’t let any part of life be ‘off limits’. Seek out questions you’ve never asked before. (There are some suggestions in one of the ebooks in the free members’ area.) So if you regularly ask about business, try asking about your marriage; if you regularly ask for guidance for the day or week ahead, try asking for specific advice on a particular problem or decision. Especially, ask questions where you know the answer will make a practical difference to how you act. Immerse yourself for a while in the oracle’s patterns, and watch the conceptual barriers between life’s different ‘compartments’ turn translucent and fade away.
Next, give wholehearted attention to interpreting your reading. Try ignoring the translator’s commentary for a while, and simply living with the words of the text. Write them out; carry them with you; memorise them.
There’s a whole lot more to divination than just finding out ‘what the reading means’ – and this starts to emerge when you live with the words, images and stories of the oracle itself, rather than skipping over them to get to someone else’s interpretation. Probably this is my next best piece of advice: go direct to the oracle, and don’t panic if it doesn’t ‘make sense’ straight away. There are more things to do with a reading than ‘make sense of it’. (Have a look at ‘Seven ways to live a reading’, also in the members’ area.)
Finally, keep a reading journal – which’ll probably evolve into a whole-life journal before you know it. Readings – and the evolving patterns and connections between readings – are like that. They naturally weave into the structure of your life.