This guided visualization is based on the path to Shambala, which is a mythical kingdom in Tibetan Buddhist and Indian tradition.
Before I begin, please find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
The tea bushes stretch across the hills in neat, perfectly straight rows as far as your eyes can see. The precisely pruned hedges could almost have been transplanted here from an old English topiary garden.
There isn't a soul in sight. A large woven basket of freshly picked tea leaves has been forgotten next to one of the hedges.
On the horizon, you see your destination. The ancient monastery clings precariously to a fold in the ravine under a snow-covered mountain that rears high above the clouds.
After a while, you reach the forest of the foothills. You begin walking on a well-travelled terracotta-coloured path.
Impressions of bird tracks in the soft earth look like tiny arrows pointing you to the place you are travelling.
The track switchbacks gently upwards through a dense forest of rhododendron and pine trees. The rhododendrons are in full bloom. Layers of large scarlet blossoms festoon the deep green leathery leaves.
Shafts of afternoon sunlight slant through the foliage, weaving a tapestry of shade across the forest floor.
The trail reaches a small river, which you cross on an unsteady footbridge. Faded prayer flags hang on one side of the railing, which sways gently in the breeze.
The water below looks fresh and inviting, so you climb carefully down a small animal track to the edge of the river. You take off some clothes beside a shallow pool that has been smoothed and hollowed out over aeons.
Plunging in, the water is cold, but as you immerse your body, all your troubles seem to wash away in the gentle current.
When you climb out of the pool, you feel refreshed. Renewed.
You dry off and continue walking along the path that now starts to wind upward through the forest.
Some people are heading toward you, returning from their pilgrimage. They are dressed in bright flowing clothing that jingles as they skip down the path.
Their eyes are kind, and they smile. As they pass, one of them gives you a deep orange marigold.
As they disappear, you hear their laughter through the forest.
A warm rain begins to fall, and you run over to an abandoned shepherd's hut. It is unlocked, so you can shelter inside.
The strangers who were here before you were kind enough to leave behind a collection of wood in the fireplace and some matches.
Before long, you have a fire going. Blue smoke coils in the still air. As the room warms up, a fragrance of incense permeates the room.
You look around and admire the beautiful woodwork around the window frames and shutters. The carvings have been painted indigo blue, with edgings of teal and red.
Today may not be the day you reach Shambala. For now, the small shepherd's hut feels like a sanctuary with a spirit of deep calm and connection.
You listen to the rain on the roof and the crackle of the fire in the hearth. The noise of the birds you don't know the names of in the forest outside. And you settle down for the night.
This guided visualisation is through the Camargue region in France. The Camargue region is sometimes known as the "Wild West of France." Located in the southeast of the country, it is Western Europe's largest river delta. You will drift peacefully down a saltwater lagoon, encountering shorebirds and wild white horses along the way. The visualisation will end up at an antique lighthouse.
The kayak drifts slowly along with the current through the shallow lagoon.
The edges have disappeared. The calm water of the salt flats meets the horizon seamlessly mirroring the sky, creating an illusion that you are floating in the air.
A slight breeze gently sweeps the low lying clouds overhead, casting an inky patchwork of patterns on the surface of the water.
Nearby the shore teems with different birds. You notice curlews, ducks, grebes, ibis and herons feeding in the shallow water that laps up against the mudflats of the marsh.
A disturbance on the horizon out of the corner of your eye.
You turn the canoe.
Like an apparition emerging out of the water, a herd of white horses gallop towards you. Stampeding in spirited wild abandon, kicking up the water into a veil of foam and spray.
When the horses see you, they veer off into the marsh, tossing their heads, bucking high sideways scattering the shorebirds.
As they disappear the air trembles from the disturbance of their hoofbeats on the earth.
Then tranquillity returns.
In the distance, you see a white lighthouse with an orange tiled roof.
At a wide strip of sand, you pull the canoe ashore up the bank,
and begin walking towards the lighthouse on a trail made of gravel and crushed oyster shells.
Sea lavender, grasswort, tamarisk and wild rosemary grow in hedges on either side of the track. The middle of the road is overgrown with thick grass and dandelions.
After walking a while, you arrive at the entrance of the lighthouse. The front door is wide open, so you go inside and begin climbing up a spiral staircase to the first level. A bolted trap door blocks you from going any further.
Here there is an empty circular room. The place is white except for sheepskin covered chair in front of a window. On the floor next to it is an accordion with numerous buttons.
You walk over to the window, open it and look out at the view.
The sublime lagoon. The surreal way the sky meets the water. The sound of the birds. The scent of the sea air and lavender wafting through the air.
Suddenly a vivid flash of colour. Flamingoes. A flock of flamingoes. Their necks outstretched, followed by a pink bloom of flamboyance. A hurling cloud of brightness and noise.
And then silence again. You sit down. The sheepskin on the chair is warm from the sunlight shining through the window.
You feel drowsy. You close your eyes and listen to the soothing sounds of nature surrounding you.
This guided meditation is from a deserted corner of Baja, Mexico.
You are alone on a deserted beach. You can feel the granular texture of the sun-warmed sand under the soles of your bare feet.
Away, to your left, you see a stark landscape of tall, jagged mountains. The mountainsides are covered with Cardon cacti, like the saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert. An eagle lazily glides on a thermal breeze above the peaks.
There isn't a cloud in the sky. The air carries a faint scent of sage and mesquite.
You gaze shifts to the sea.
The aquamarine waves gently lap against the beach.
You decide to walk through the water along the shoreline.
A formation of pelicans glides in front of you. One of them breaks away, dives into the water and returns to the surface with a silver fish in its beak.
You notice a small yellow-painted boat coming toward you. At the helm is a woman with long, black hair. Her dress is almost the same colour blue as the sky.
When she reaches the shore, she invites you to join her on a boat ride to a small island, you can faintly see in the distance.
You climb on board. As the boat heads out into the water, a refreshing breeze gently brushes against your face. The sails give shade from the sun, and the motion of the current feels relaxing.
You can see the island more clearly now with a mountain rising from the middle like a sombrero.
A few seagulls follow the boat.
Other sea birds are diving for food. But then you recognize they are manta rays leaping out of the water. Momentarily hanging suspended in the air, flapping their fins like birds, before plunging back into the sea.
The woman points to fins in the water over the starboard side of the boat.
Soon there are more and more fins. An infinite number of dolphins, chasing and leaping past the boat.
When you look down over the edge into the clear water, you can see layers and layers of them swimming below to the inky depths.
In moments they vanish and the calm sea breeze once again envelopes you.
The boat continues sailing towards the small island.
The woman once again looks intently over the bow of the ship.
In the water are several large, perfectly formed pads of ripples.
Within moments a broad barnacle-encrusted back appears by the boat.
The whale exhales, and the mist from its breath captures the sunlight.
Two rainbows appear.
Then a pure white tail rises above out of the water. It hovers for a while, then vanishes beneath the surface.
The island is getting closer now.
The small ship glides into a shallow lagoon.
The woman beaches the boat on the sand.
She points to a narrow sandy path leading into the island.
You start walking on the path.
Soon you arrive at a cave.
The cavern is cool inside.
The walls are encrusted with skeletons of sea animals. You recognize shells of giant clams, nautilus, sea urchins and seaweed.
The fossils are a snapshot in time. An impression life teeming in the sea here ages ago.
You sit down in the cool sand and gaze out of the cave. There is no hurry. You dig into the sand to create a pillow for your head. Close your eyes. And relax.
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.