We will begin our visualization today with a quote from Henry David Thoreau.
We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature."
You are on a small yellow ship sailing on a sapphire sea. You are hanging over the edge and watching as the bow of the ship slice through the waves. Occasionally sea spray splashes over you.
The woman with the long black hair is at the helm of the small yellow wooden boat. The dress she wears is almost the same colour as the bright blue sky.
She steers the boat along the rugged, jagged coastline, interspersed with rocky inlets. At the shoreline, the waves thump the cliffs with a steady intensity you can hear even at this distance.
You pass a small fishing village perched on top of the cliff. All the houses are white and have orange tiled roofs. You see a steep stairway carved out of the rock face which leads straight down to a small cove with several vividly coloured fishing boats beached in the sand.
A flying fish suddenly jumps into the boat. The fish is about the size of a small bird and has rosy, iridescent wings. When you pick it up, it feels cold and smooth in your hands. You place it back gently into the sea.
The woman begins to steer the boat towards the shore. After a little while, you arrive at a wide bay.
Smiling, she helps you out of the boat and suggests you begin walking inland and points toward some small bluffs surrounded by a sheer rock wall.
Here in the shallows, the seawater is emerald green. It feels cold, but you don't care because the Mediterranean sun is bright and hot and offers no shade on the beach. The sand feels granular under your feet.
The further away from the beach you walk, the landscape changes from sand to coarse grass mixed with tall agave plants, which tower over your head and have bright yellow blooms. You start to hear a chorus of cicadas.
As you get nearer the cliffs, you notice a vast cavern.
Within a few moments, you find yourself within the mouth of the cave. The cavern envelopes you and gives you the comfort of shelter, shade and cold air. It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the dim light, and when they do, Strange animals emerge out of the darkness. Spread all over the wall are prehistoric cave paintings. You have stepped back into an early time surrounded by a herd of raging bison, woolly rhinoceros, a half-horse, and mammoth boldly rendered in dark red and black strokes.
Below the animals are a pair handprints that are you imagine the signature the artist made thousands of years before.
You stand rapt in awe and wonder experiencing the most beautiful thing-- the mysterious.
It is time to leave the cave now, and slowly you walk back down to your friend waiting in the boat.
For our visualization today, you will need to bring along a virtual bathing suit, snorkel, mask and towel.
We will begin with a quote from Dilgo Rinpoche:
"To feel love and compassion for all living creatures is the best way to fulfill the wishes of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Even if for the moment you cannot actually help a sentient being in an external way, meditate on love and compassion until compassion is knit inseparably into the very fabric of your mind".
You find yourself walking through a tall grove of palm trees on a wooden walkway carved through emerald green thickets of sea grapes. You can hear the soft calls of tropical birds overhead, and the gentle sound of the surf.
The trail ends at a deserted sandy bay. The soft waves show an edge of lacy foam that caresses the beach. The damp early morning air has solidified the top layer of sand, and the sunshine has fixed it so when you walk, you feel the surface crack and crunch underneath your bare feet.
As you are walking along, you can see someone has been here earlier. The word LOVE has been written in the sand.
Randomly in the sand, you also see a variety of clamshells, cockle shells, small pieces of coral and sea glass.
The sea is the colour of electric neon turquoise, so brilliant it's almost too exotic for your eyes and mind to comprehend.
On the horizon, enormous cumulus nimbus clouds cast shadows on the sea and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White lines of seagulls are flying beyond the shoreline.
As you are walking along, you notice dark shadows like big inky dots under the surface of the water. At first, you think the darknesses might be reef or rocks, but then you see all the shadows are shifting and stirring slowly underneath the surface. When you get closer, you can see the shadows are a large group of stingrays congregating in the shallow water. They seem to have a roundish shape and are undulating their whole bodies in a wavy motion like large birds flying through the water.
You put on your snorkel mask and push yourself off into the water. The water is so clear and warm that it feels like you are jumping from air to air, and suddenly you are flying through the water like a bird. Floating free of gravity, soaring over a dappled, sandy landscape. Your body is encased in silver bubbles that dance up to the surface. You are deeply aware of your breath as you are breathing in and out. The sound has a hypnotic and calming effect.
Within a few moments, you are flying amongst the stingrays. They observe you calmly with their large, tender eyes on the top of their heads. The water is shallow here so you can swim closely next to them. They are not afraid of you, nor you of them. Soon you are floating together, and you enjoy the sensation you have of being one of them. A part of the fever of Stingrays as they are known to be when in a group together. Occasionally you can feel their soft fleshy wings brush against your legs. Emboldened by their gentle communion, you reach out and stroke the wingtip of the stingray closest to you. The skin is the softest and most delicate thing you have ever felt before.
You feel it is time to head to the shore now. When you get out of the water, you take off your snorkel mask and lie down on your towel. You feel peaceful, relaxed and satiated. You gently close your eyes and drift off into a deep sleep.
We will begin our visualization today with an Irish blessing.
“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
The foresight to know where you are going,
And the insight to know
when you have gone too far.”
You find yourself alone on a cliffside path that meanders beside the Irish Sea. The weather is sunny with the fog and mist mixed up in between.
Along the side of the path, flowers grow. You notice Queen Anne’s Lace, ox-eye daisies, sea campions and dandelions in between. Their faint fragrance mixes in with the damp air from the sapphire Irish sea that glimmers and glints through the soft haze.
On the horizon, you see a small rocky island with a lighthouse in the middle that has been painted black.
A small fishing boat is slowly moving away from the shoreline.
As your eyes travel gently up the coast, you notice various sea birds. Some seagulls are chasing after the fishing boat, and others seem to be nesting in the large smooth rocks that tumble down the cliffs to the lapping water below. You can hear their noisy calls carried upon the breeze.
The path turns away from the sea now, and the landscape changes into gently rolling hills scattered about with flowering hedges and other bushes. You also see a herd of sheep. Now and then you can hear their bleats and their bells chiming gently.
The path soon traverses a small stream which has carved a path through a thick green carpet of clover. You follow the brook, and soon you have to decide whether to continue along the trail or follow the imprint of footsteps you see, leading in the opposite direction.
You decide to take the path less travelled, and after a while, the trail ends at a stairway carved into the cliff face heading down to the beach. As you descend slowly down the steps, you hear a spring tumbling over the rocks.
When you reach the bottom of the stairs, you find a small waterfall with fresh sparkling water. Growing abundantly in the shade all around it is a thick living pelt of moss, which is probably the deepest, most vibrant shade of green you have ever seen. While you are standing in the small shady corner of the cliff, you can smell the dank, old, rich smell of it. When you gently touch the moss, it springs back like a fluffy sponge.
The tone of the water is so calming you are tempted to stay for a while, but the sound of the sea lures you away. As the mist lifts, you see a small cove with smooth sand.
You sit down, take off your shoes and socks. The sand feels hard, compact and even under your bare feet. You walk down to the water’s edge and feel the sea water cover the tips of your toes, then the rest of your feet.
Suddenly a large grey seal surfaces in the water a few feet away from you. The seal looks at you with kind, soulful black eyes. For a few moments, you make eye contact, and then the seal slips quietly away below the glassy surf.
The water on your feet begins to feel chilly, so you walk over to a large low boulder nearby and lie down on it. The rock is about the size of a bed, and somehow the action of the waves at high tide has moulded it to the exact shape of your spine. You feel the heat of the day trapped in the stone which warms your muscles as you stretch out. The fog has lifted entirely now. You look up at the cobalt blue sky painted with thick impastoed layers of clouds. You turn your face to the afternoon sunshine and close your eyes.
We will begin our visualization which takes place in Iceland
with a poem by ― J.R.R. Tolkien
"I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair
I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see
For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green
I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know
But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door."
You find yourself on the gentle path meandering through a barren nordic landscape. The track is well trodden and continues between shambles of broken flat rocks. You are the farthest north and probably the closest you will ever be to the arctic circle. This is a place you have never dreamed of going.
It is the middle of summer, and it's still day when it should be night. At this time of year, the sun is making a low orbit right above the horizon.
The desolate nature of the place is alien like the surface of the moon. You see no trees, no grass. There is nowhere to hide. The barren tundra is separated only by the small spring you see flowing beside the track you are walking on.
Soon you leave the stream, and the trail begins rising gradually over a series of switchbacks which are not physically challenging at all. There is a mineral, shattering silence separated by the quiet crunch of stones underfoot.
The rocks that litter the landscape appear dull, but when you stop and look closely at them, you notice they have abstract patterns of light green lichen or are covered with dry green moss.
A diaphanous cloud of mist creeps down over the hilltop and floats gracefully over the valley. The once sharp edge of the ridgeline becomes an amorphous shape. Not as daunting as it seemed when you began your hike. The cloud appears to envelop you like a long lost friend.
At the top of the rise, the haze lifts, and you find yourself at the edge of a slope that falls away from you into a dramatic panorama of deep purple mountains, countless fjords with small islands in the middle that are all strung together with a bridge. Faraway on the horizon, some peaks have snow still on them. Here and there brilliant shafts of sun spotlight random patches of the landscape.
You could climb even higher, but you sit down and relax to experience the view from this particular spot. Nearby you notice clumps of flowering pink arctic thyme which have a delicate sweet fragrance.
A big raven flies closeby overhead and disappears over the rise.
Randomly you start moving and examining some of the rocks with your bare hands. Amongst all the flat grey rocks, you notice a small smooth black stone with a white silhouette on it. The design is distinctive and resembles a stick figure with the arms raised aloft.
You can see clearly the inscription was carved by someone into the stone a long time ago... and you wonder at the randomness of finding it high on the incline, overlooking the epic scene. How many years has the stone been here, and what sort of magical power does it possess. You will never know. The person who could reveal the mystery to you has long since moved along on their journey.
What was the person like whose hands worked to fashion the stone? When they dropped it here were they hunting, were they running away, or were they just out walking like you to get the view.
You hold the amulet and take it as a universal gift. The mystery of the stone will never be explained, and you will never know or understand it, which is the most meaningful lesson of all.
It must be getting late. The sun is beginning to get lower in the sky. The sky looks like it has been spray-painted streaks of gold on lavender melting into saffron.
A sense of peace and appreciation overwhelm you. You stay in this place until you feel it is time to head back down the trail. There is no need for you to worry about getting back because at this time of year time does stand still. There is no darkness in the Nordic summertime.
We will begin our visualization with a quote from Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
"Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know."
You wake up, and for about ten strange seconds, you don't know where you are. Then you remember, you're inside the monastery.
Soft light filters through the open window. You hear the whisper of rain falling outside and the chirruping conversation of birds enjoying the morning in the courtyard. You recognize the cinnamon sparrow, the swifts, and the doves.
The air holds the delicate fragrance of earth and flowers.
You get up and slowly walk over to the window and sit down on a small stone window seat which commands a view over the terracotta roof to the fountain, the doves, the fruit trees, and the distant golden fields of sunflowers and the lines of grapevines stretching away for acres and disappearing into the horizon.
A man is walking across one of the grass fields with several white dogs that are working as a team to herd a flock of sheep through a gate. Occasionally you can hear him faintly whistling to them.
You try to imagine the different people who have sat in this window seat and observed the landscape which probably hasn't changed at all over the centuries.
The sun begins to shine, and a startling band of different brilliant colours arc in the sky above the low sprawling clouds which break over the faraway hills like waves. In a matter of moments, the rainbow fades away like a dream.
You decide to leave the monastery now. You open the door and walk down the long passageway through the dining room and out into the courtyard, and the sunshine. The people who were here yesterday must have left.
As you approach the simple stone fountain in the middle of the courtyard, a dove perched on the side of it flutters away.
You pick an orange from one of the trees. The fruit fits neatly in the palm of your hand and smells irresistibly sweet. It peels easily, and the flavour brings back sweet memories from your childhood.
Suddenly you smell a waft of incense, and when you look up, you notice a whirl of smoke suspended in a shaft of sunshine. You walk across the courtyard following the fragrance to a large room.
The room is uncomplicated, cavernous with rows of old oak benches, flagstones on the floor and a vaulted ceiling overhead. As you gaze up at the rafters, the height of it makes you feel dizzy.
The high rose window at the end of the room appears to float in the darkness, as if without any support. The colours it casts about on the floor, and the walls are jewels of deep red and blue.
In another corner of the chapel rows of white candles stutter and burn to mark the devotions to the absent loved ones from the people who have recently lit them.
The smell of frankincense is pleasant and not overpowering in any way at all, and there is a peaceful, sacred hush. You feel connected with your breathing and your heart, and for a delicious moment, time stands still.
Like all moments, this one has to end, as you feel it's time to continue on your journey back across the fields from which you walked the day before.
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.