Channeling can basically be defined as the process of receiving and relaying information from an outside entity while in an altered state of consciousness. The consciousness level varies from individual to individual, from deep trance to a very light meditation-like state. It appears that the channeler must go into this altered mental state to get in "synch" or reach a compatible vibrational level with the entity to be channeled. Entities that people claim to channel are as varied as the channelers themselves - angels, demons, spirits, aliens, higher dimensional entities, dead relatives and friends, and even living people in some cases - the list is long and quite individualized. As virtually all of us have some psychic abilities to some degree, most of us are perfectly capable of channeling with a little bit of practice if we are so inclined.
Channeling can take many forms and is not just a trance-like state with someone lying on the couch and talking in a foreign language - which is how most of us picture it. Many of the psychic tools we are familiar with are actually forms of channeling, including psychic healing, automatic writing, séances, and ouija board usage. As anyone who has heard a ouija board horror story knows, channeling by inexperienced people can be a dangerous proposition. Having said that, a primer on how to prepare and seek out an appropriate entity is in order here.
To begin, there are two main types of channeling. The first is Trance Channeling, and involves basically going to sleep, relinquishing control of the body, and letting an outside entity take control, usually by speaking through the body and voice of the channeler. Upon awakening, the channeler has no recollection whatsoever of what transpired while he was out, and for this type of channeling to be effective, a 3rd party or a tape recorder should be at hand to record the material. The material that comes out of this type of channeling is generally quite clean and elegant, as there is little ego on the part of the channeler to interfere with the information being presented. Edgar Cayce provided us with a remarkable long-term example of trance channeling, as did Carla Rueckert, whose work resulted in the fascinating Ra Material.
The second and most prevalent type of channeling is Conscious Channeling. This is the origin of the Jane Roberts/Seth material, a compelling modern-day example of channeling. With this type of channeling, the channeler remains conscious and allows expression to be processed through his body. This is not the cleanest of ways to channel, as the material can be edited at will by the conscious channeler, but it is certainly safer than Trance Channeling, especially for beginners. Ouija boards, psychic healing, most seances, and automatic writing all utilize this type of channeling.
An important note here is that there are a lot of ways to connect with a spiritual higher plane. Anything you love doing and find that you are good at could be a form of channeling. Who is to say that Michelangelo or Einstein weren't tapping into some higher consciousness as they worked in their fields of expertise. If you love playing music, by all means try music as your way to communicate. If you love reading, try automatic writing (computers and keyboards work just as well as pencil and paper). If you love dance, cooking, sports, painting, crafts, gardening, or any other creative endeavor, feel free to modify the guidelines here to fit your situation and open yourself to a higher plane while you enjoy the activity of your choice. There are as many ways to channel as there are individuals on this earth, and we have all experienced the feeling of "drifting off" as we go about our daily lives. This is the stuff of channeling!
As with all worthwhile endeavors, channeling takes a little time and practice to produce results, so don't expect to get a Seth or Ra quality right out of the gate. Your goal is to put mind, body, and soul into a peaceful meditative state in order to "connect," and this does take some practice. Once you have read the general guidelines below, try to go to your place every day at about the same time and devote at least 15 minutes - this is to establish a ritual, much like your cup of coffee in the morning or brushing your teeth every night. If you have to miss a day here and there, that's perfectly okay - you want this to be a short, pleasant break - not an annoyance.
Start by finding an quiet area in which to relax and prepare. This can be anywhere inside or out, but it should be the same every day. You can sit on the floor with legs crossed meditation style, or on a comfortable chair. It is not recommended that you start practicing by lying down on a bed, especially at first because the relaxation techniques are a recipe for falling asleep. Take a hot bath or shower before starting for cleansing and relaxation if desired. Go to your place and light a scented candle or incense stick to set the mood. For the first few days, just go sit in your place and try to clear the mind as much as possible. Breathe in deeply a few times, mentally pushing out all the clutter with each exhalation. As thoughts try to creep back in, focus again on your breathing to dispel them.
Once you are comfortable with the above procedure, you can start trying to contact others through channeling. A little known rule for all channeling is that you have to agree to let the entity in before it will come in and start relaying information. If you are not comfortable with what you get, you can ask the entity to leave, and it must do so upon request. A common mistake with Ouija boards is that the users get so rattled by what is coming through that they never demand that the entity leave, opening the door (and leaving it open) to all kinds of weird occurrences. The same thing can happen with channeling, so do remember to close any session and listen for a like response.
So, you are sitting in your quiet meditative place, and you have practiced clearing your mind for a few days. When you are ready, watch for the signs. You can either ask (mentally or aloud) for entities to speak, or you can listen for them to ask you for a connection. Believe it or not, this will come once you have got your basic relaxation techniques in place. You can ask for someone specific or just ask for the highest beings of light you are capable of communicating with and see what you get. Again, if you are not comfortable with what you get, do not hesitate to ask the entity to leave.
When you do connect with an entity, you will know it. You might feel a numb or tingling sensation - or you may just be dimly aware of a "presence" and get messages and images telepathically. You will be aware of your own body and surroundings in varying degrees day-to-day. Until you become practiced, many of these messages received will be muddy, broken, and even inaccurate, but with time they will become much clearer. The key is learning how to get into that relaxed state and recognizing and acknowledging the input when it does come knocking.
On a last note, you can only channel what you are capable of channeling. If you tend to be money-oriented, greedy, or dishonest, expect your entities to be of like mind. If you try to be honest, loving, and live life in an ethical way, you will attract the same sort. Your inner strength in either case is what determines how high in the realm you can go, and there is a limit for most of us.