“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”
I have tried all sorts of meditation, all of them wonderful, but I come back over and over to visualization. This is a less common practice with yogis than vipassana styles of meditation, which focus on the breath exclusively as an anchor to keep the meditator in real time and able to observe, rather than engage in, thoughts and feelings.
However, when I practice visualization, either led or on my own, something magical occurs.
I reach a deeper state of relaxation and sense of unity with the universe, and when I finish, am invariably smiling, suffused with peace. For a slightly cranky, thought-bound, some might say neurotic person, these are momentous occasions indeed.
If I am meditating on my breath, and a visualization begins to occur, I roll with it and follow it to it’s natural conclusion. I think because I’m a writer, they tend to unfold quite frequently.
Here are two recent experiences I had, which you can re-create. I advise laying down as you would in savasana (corpse pose) to try them, as that will help you relax more deeply. Remember though, as relaxed as you will feel, this is not savasana! Stay focused on the images in your mind, and if you lose your way, simply follow your breath as you would in a typical meditation. You may or may not pick the thread of the imagery back up.
Either way is okay.
If your mind follows other paths, simply observe and release them dispassionately.
Begin by laying in corpse pose and focusing on the breath. As you feel your abdomen rise and fall, also feel your body becoming heavier. Relax all the muscles in your face. Relax your neck. Relax your chest and your belly. Relax your arms and your hands, your knees and your feet. Scan your entire body for places that might be harboring tension. Release them. Breathe. Relax. Feel yourself becoming heavier and heavier.
Spend as much time here as you like.
When you are ready, begin to focus on your connection to the earth. You and the earth feel like one thing, with no separation or delineation. You begin to feel your body so connected to the earth that tiny roots seem to be growing down out of you and into it. See these roots. They are growing from your entire back body; the head, the neck, the spine, the legs, the arms, and the legs. They are strong, white roots which tie you indelibly to the earth. You can feel yourself becoming heavier and more tightly bound down.
Now imagine the warm sun on your face, as you lay there. Imagine the sun pouring down over your entire body, warming you, comforting you. Your body feels as if it needs to reach up towards the sunlight, but the roots are holding you down.
You begin to feel an unfolding in your hands. Your hands are opening and changing into beautiful flowers. See the color of these flowers, whatever it may be. Are they pink? White? Purple? These flowers, your hands, are extraordinarily beautiful. As the sun further warms them, they unfold completely, each petal perfect and lovely.
You begin to feel a similar unfolding in your feet. Your bones seem to be softening and separating, and without seeing them, you know your feet are blooming into beautiful flowers. As you lay there, you reflect on these miracles; the roots attaching you to the earth, the sun warm upon your body, and the transformation of your hands and feet into flowers.
Pause here as long as you like and drink in these feelings of connection and openness.
When you are ready, bring your attention to your knees, then to your belly and finally to your heart, feeling in succession each of these areas bloom into flowers. What do each of these flowers look like? Are they all the same size and color? Or is each different from the other?
Observe each of these areas and flowers, allowing yourself to move back and forth among them gently, continuing to watch the expansion and growth of each. If one of these flowers does not look as you expected, don’t worry. Just see it, and move on.
Finally, when you are familiar with all the areas of your body in this transformed state, move to the head. This will be the largest, most luxurious opening of all. Feel every nook and cranny of your brain begin to soften and unfold into the petals of a flower. The deepest parts of your mind ease, and open to the sun, uncurling, releasing.
You are amazed at the complexity and perfection of this flower. You let all your thoughts melt into the being of it.
Pause here and feel your entire body as it has been transformed. Meander lovingly and gladly through the garden you have become. Feel your roots plunging deeply into the dark moist earth, feel the sun blanketing you in comforting warmth, feel the explosion of blooms which have unfolded from your feet, your knees, your hands, your belly, your heart and your head.
See the beauty in this softness and connection, this openess.
When you are ready, allow the flowers to gently close, one by one, beginning with the hands and feet and moving upward. Let the flower of your mind be the last thing to fold into itself, and as it does, feel all the extra space that being open has created there. Feel your roots retract softly into your back body.
When all this amazing growth has been tucked neatly back into the natural form of your body, begin to slowly deepen your breath. Feel the weight of your body lighten. Feel the energy of your breath course through you. Gently move the fingers and the toes. Stretch the arms overhead as you slowly awaken. Roll to one side, head resting on your arm, and pause.
Reflect on how this mediation made you feel.
Rise to seated, place your palms together in prayer, and give thanks.
This is a much more straightforward meditation than Open Flower, and requires a bit less time. Of course, once you find Heavy Rock, you can stay there as long as you like.
Begin by laying in corpse pose and focusing on the breath. Piece by piece, relax your body. Relax all the muscles in your face, relax your neck, relax your chest and your belly, your arms and hands, your knees and your feet. Take an inventory of the body now. Are there any places where tension remains?
Soften these places, let them sink down and relax. With every exhale you feel more and more relaxed.
Imagine you are laying in a field. It is a field of vivid bright green grass. What does the grass look like? Is it tall or cropped, waving in the breeze, or still. See it in detail. Are there flowers in the grass?
Hear the sounds of this place. Perhaps there is a stream nearby, making the gentle sounds of water as it passes over stones. Perhaps you hear crickets, quietly singing to themselves in concert, hidden in the field. You might be able to hear your own heart beating. Notice any other sounds which might be there.
Overhead, a clear blue sky arcs. The sun is shining, but you feel neither hot nor cold. Simply allow yourself to rest comfortably in this field. Pause here.
Slowly, you feel the sun’s heat begin to build. Your body seems to be soaking up the sun’s rays and energy like a sponge. You feel yourself mysteriously transforming into an enormous rock. You embody the ancient nature of this rock. It has been here forever and will be here forever, in this field. You are totally at ease with your substance and weight. Enjoy the feeling of stillness. You have nowhere to go. You are supposed to be here.
Stay here as long as you like, soaking up the sun and enjoying your eternal nature, the essence of this rock. You are strong, yet relaxed, stable and peaceful. Imperturbable.
When you are ready, begin to deepen the breath. Feel your breath awakening the body. Your body, once again, feels as it normally does, but the sense of stability of the rock and the warmth of the sun linger. Continue to breath. Stretch your arms overhead, and then roll to one side and rest your head on your arm. Pause here and reflect on how the meditation made you feel. Slowly move to seated, place your hands in prayer and give thanks.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise