Before we begin, the visualization, which is from a secret garden. I want to start with a quote by Carl Sagan.
"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that Science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both."
Purple heather and yellow gorse cover the hillsides. The rainstorm has recently ended, and a mist has been swept away by the warm, mild breeze. Summer sunlight breaks through broken clouds with long shafts of light illuminating patches of the landscape for fleeting moments.
The breeze carries the slight aroma of wildflowers and damp earth warming up in the sunshine.
Swifts soar overhead.
The pathway descends gradually down the hillside into the valley, and as it does, it becomes increasingly overgrown, almost like a tunnel. Animals stir around in the underbrush.
The trail ends at a tall ancient brick wall covered by a thicket of ivy, honeysuckle and rosehip bushes. When you pull some of the vines and branches aside, you discover a heavy, wooden door with a big iron key in the lock.
The key opens the door so you can go inside.
The garden has been forgotten about. Tangled rose bushes are blooming despite their neglect, binding the walls, wrapping around the tree trunks, and the branches. A multitude of colours scarlet, pink, and white.
In addition to the roses, there are all sorts of other flowers growing wild.
The birds have found sanctuary here and built numerous nests in the trees and bushes. On the ground, by your feet, you notice a hawk feather and broken pieces of a blue eggshell.
In the middle of the garden, is an enormous weeping willow tree. Its branches hang down like green curtains.
You go over to the tree, part the leafy branches and suddenly you are enclosed by a vault of green.
Underneath the canopy, surrounding the massive tree trunk is a fuzzy bed of moss. You sit down and look up through the branches. The willow leaves glow neon-lit from within—the spaces in between them, the blue sky.
You lie down on the soft bed of moss close your eyes and allow yourself to completely relax.
Before we begin, the visualization, which is from a hidden corner of Europe. I would like to start with a quote from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh.
"Around us, life bursts with miracles--a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colours, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life's daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there."
You are walking through a vast grassy meadow. The wind pushes the grasses one way and then another and as it does the field undulates downwards and upwards. It flows and looks like water. In the distance, you notice some of the grass has been cut for hay. Large circular bales are strewn about randomly on the hillside.
In places, clumps of crimson poppies swaying in the breeze give the impression that the fields are alive with flares. You also notice blue cornflowers, clover, teasels and tall purple thistles.
Soon the path cuts through a field of sunflowers. They are taller than you are, and their flowers are all facing away from you toward the east. The big blooms are full of life- not just bees, but butterflies and emerald-toned beetles. The sun warmed sweet haze of the yellow flowers fills the air.
After a while, the field of sunflowers ends, and now you are following the trail through a vineyard. The vines are knarled and stretch out for acres in lines of trellises. The clusters of grapes are budding green.
You come to an ancient, crumbling wall with an archway and a thick oak door. When you push, the door opens easily, into the courtyard of a monastery.
The courtyard is filled with lemon trees. In the middle of it, white doves are drinking from a fountain.
When you approach, they fly away on to the terracotta tiled roof.
An elderly monk in a black habit walks over and greets you in broken English. He has silver hair, with kind deep-set eyes. He explains that the monastery is also a retreat, and you are welcome to stay overnight.
You accept the invitation, so he leads you through the courtyard to a covered walkway overgrown with roses. When you look up at the monastery, you notice a couple of gargoyles crouching under the rooftop. They look weathered from centuries of being exposed to the elements, one has the face of a lion, and another resembles a monkey with a full mouth.
The monk leads you through a large kitchen. A group of people are sitting together at a long table, having lunch. They smile at you as you pass by. You follow the monk down a wide corridor to your bedroom.
The room is whitewashed, with oak floors and a simple wooden bed, desk and chairs. You walk over to the window; the view overlooks the tiled roof and the places you have recently walked.
It is dusk, a purple dusk over the sunflower fields and the long grass pastures. The sun setting is the colour of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red. On the horizon you see a small village nestled in the between the faraway hillsides.
You turn around and see the monk has left. You walk over to the door and close it then you lie down on the soft bed. The room is peaceful. And quiet. A balanced inner calmness radiates from your heart. You breathe slowly and deeply. Your eyes are still under your eyelids, your mind is still. You feel relaxed as you listen to the birds outside your window. And now a light rain begins to fall.
Have you heard of forest bathing? It's not actual bathing in water, but immersing yourself in the woods. Being present, noticing the trees, the wildlife, the sounds and the aromas.
Forest bathing became an integral part of Japanese preventative health care in the 80s. They discovered that being in a forest lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone production and boosts the immune system as well as increasing feelings of well-being. In this visualization, you won't actually be in the forest. Still, I hope to help you experience the next best thing.
In the red cedar forest, the trees tower overhead, and their size creates a feeling of insignificance.
The atmosphere is hushed and still. The ancient forest has trapped the air around you, which vaguely smells like incense and earth.
A path winds through the cedar grove which feels like a sacred space, almost like a cathedral. Shafts of sunlight hang suspended through the branches touching the forest floor. You quietly walk on the trail which loops through stands of ferns. The path feels springy from the pine needles scattering over the forest floor.
The trees have endured through thousands of years of different eras and many challenges. Each tree is unique in size and shape, and some of their trunks and branches are carpeted with green moss.
There is some rustling in the twigs overhead. When you look up, you see a speckled owl with amber eyes. You gaze at each other for a few moments, then you continue walking down the path.
You tread lightly so as not to bother any other gentle spirits that live here.
You pass a totem of a frog carved out of a cedar log. Nearby, a spring splashes into a shallow collecting pool cut from the rock. You scoop the clear water up with your hands and put it to your lips. The spring has distilled deep within the earth since the beginning of time and tastes pure and sweet.
The trail widens. As the path opens up, the sky is visible through the trees. Cerulean blue, without a cloud.
Now it begins to meander through monolithic boulders. You reach out and touch one of the rocks which feels cold.
The trail ends at a waterfall plunging over a cliff. The mighty mass of water carries chills the air. Occasionally you feel a slight spray on your bare arms and face. Rainbows dance in the sunshine.
To the side of the trail, you notice a bench cut from an old cedar log. You go over to it and sit down—the sound and beauty of the landscape flood your senses in a comfortable and relaxing way. You close your eyes and breath. Feeling peaceful and relaxed.
The small black fishing hut stands by itself on the northernmost peninsula in the land of the midnight sun.
From inside, the sun streams through the antique lace curtains that cover the small window. Even though it is early evening, the sun shines brightly in the sky.
The gentle sound of the waves lures you out of your tranquil retreat to the beach.
A brisk wind greets you when you step outside the front door.
The path to the beach starts at the end of the garden by the smokehouse shack. Here a stack of lobster pots and a weatherbeaten white rowing boat have been turned upsidedown.
The neat, straight path is overgrown by blackberry, purple heather and rosehip bushes that have grown wild on either side of the trail. The brambles are high enough that you cannot see over the top.
You reach the white sandy beach and walk out on the peninsula. A sandy spit that juts out into the water. Here the Baltic Sea and the North Sea meet supernaturally with an invisible barrier. One side is dark green, the other indigo blue.
The tide has strewn Jellyfish and purple starfish that shimmer on top of iridescent pink seaweed.
Bracing yourself, you take off your clothes and walk into the gentle surf.
At first, you can hardly bear how cold the water is, but when you do, the water feels refreshing to the core of your soul.
After the swim, you wrap your shivering body up in a soft blue towel and let the summer evening rays warm your salty skin.
A flock of birds fly overhead.
You feel restored and weary at the same time. You stay like this for a while. Listening to the sound of the waves, and the birds who make their home here every summer.
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.