This guided meditative visualization is from a retreat.
A retreat can be a time of solitude. An opportunity to withdraw from routine. A time of soul-searching and reflection. A chance to refocus and adjust energy that might be stretched thin in multiple directions.
Retreats can be held in silence, at rural or remote locations, and sometimes they can be taken at a monastery. Spiritual retreats allow time for reflection, prayer, or meditation.
This visualization is from a monastery, but first, I will begin with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life."
You wake up, and for about ten strange seconds, everything is unfamiliar. You don't know where you are. Then you remember, you're staying at the retreat.
Pale morning light filters through the open window—the sound of whispering rain falling outside blends with the birdsong from the courtyard. You recognize the sound of the cinnamon sparrow, the swifts, and the doves.
The air from outside carries a delicate fragrance of earth and citrus from the orange trees in the courtyard.
You get up, walk over to the window and sit down on a weathered stone window seat which overlooks the terracotta roof, the fountain and the tops of the lemon trees.
Beyond is a landscape of sunflower fields, pastures and straight lines of vineyards stretching away and disappearing over the horizon.
A man walks across a field with two white dogs herding a flock of goats through a gate in the fence.
You imagine the people who have sat at the window. The view probably hasn't changed much over hundreds of years.
The sun breaks through the clouds—a perfect prism of brilliant colours arc in the sky above the landscape. In a matter of moments, the rainbow fades away like a dream.
After a while, you decide to carry on your journey. You open the antique door, walk down the empty stone passageway and out into the courtyard, and the sunshine.
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.
There is a fragrance of incense. A whirl of smoke hangs suspended in a shaft of sunshine. You walk across the courtyard following the scent to an open room.
The room is cavernous with flagstones on the floor and a vaulted ceiling overhead. As you gaze up at the rafters, the loft of the height is dizzying.
There is an unusual rose window at the end of the room. It appears to float in the darkness, almost without any support and casts deep jewels of red and blue light about the floor and the walls.
In the corner, rows of white candles sputter and burn.
The essence of frankincense is pleasant. 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.
This guided visualization is from purple fields of lavender.
Lavender flowers are known to symbolize purity, silence, devotion serenity, grace and calmness. Lavender essential oil is the most commonly used essential oil today, known for its soothing, calming and antidepressive properties.
Lavender oil has been used for over 3,000 years. The Egyptians used lavender for mummification and as a perfume. When King Tut's tomb was discovered and opened in 1923, the air inside possessed the faint scent of lavender.
Now I will begin with a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much, you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door."
You find yourself in an Olive Grove. The sun is shining, and a faint aroma of earth and thyme float on the soft, salty breeze that has been carried inland from the nearby Mediterranean Sea.
The olive trees have stood in this grove for years. They have survived while civilizations rose and collapsed. The ancient trunks are broad, and their gnarled branches twist and reach for each other overhead. The road maps of their shadows they spill onto the ground. Small green fruits ripen for the harvest as they have for infinite seasons before
The ground is dry. Tufts of coarse grass grow where the boughs of the olive trees have provided shelter and relief from the afternoon sun.
The cicadas have recently surfaced from the dry ground. Their combined song fills the air like a primitive concerto.
As you walk along, you notice the herd of sheep are strolling through the olive grove too. They have thick curved horns and are followed closely by a couple of white sheepdogs who pay no attention to you.
The path ends at an ancient stone wall with a wooden gate with wrought iron hinges. When you turn the handle and open the gate, the landscape opens up into fields upon fields of purple lavender. Rows upon rows stretch as far as your eyes can see rolling into the distant hills. The perfume of the lavender is suddenly all around you; curling and diffused in the air with warmth and subtlety.
The lavender bushes are alive with bees and white butterflies. You pick one of the lavender stalks and touched the tiny violet-blue blossoms, and bring your scented fingertips to your throat.
You decide to slowly wander over to a small stone barn with a tiled roof you can see in the distance.
When you reach it, you can see the swifts flying overhead. They dip and dance around the barn. Some of them are soaring high up on the thermals. You notice a nest under the eaves by the doorway.
The door is ajar and creaks when you gently push it open. The interior is whitewashed and light-filled — bunches of harvested lavender drying in bunches that hang from wooden beams overhead.
In the corner are huge burlap sacks filled with the dried lavender. You walk over and sit down beside them, cross-legged on the floor. You close your eyes, and breath deeply in and out, and with each breath, a more profound sense of peace and calm overwhelms you. You appreciate your tranquil mood, and you almost feel as if you could fall asleep.
This guided visualization is from a tidal river in the East of England.
But first, I will begin with the lyrics of an uplifting Brazilian song called "Aquas de Marco", which translates in English as "Waters of March". It's a beautiful song, and if you don't know it, please check it out.Both the Brazilian and English versions are good.
A stick, a stone
It's the end of the road
It's feeling alone
It's the weight of your load
It's a sliver of glass
It's life, it's the sun
It is night, it is death
It's a knife, it's a gun
A flower that blooms
A fox in the brush
A knot in the wood
The song of a thrush
The mystery of life
The steps in the hall
The sound of the wind
And the waterfall
It's the moon floating free
It's the curve of the slope
It's an ant, it's a be
It's a reason for hope
And the riverbank sings
Of the waters of march
It's the promise of spring
It's the joy in your heart.
The tide is high, and the path leads through a marsh. Tall gold reeds sway gently back and whisper in the breeze. In places, some of the reeds have fallen over the trail, obscuring it from view, so you have to push them aside to keep moving forward.
Legend has it that in ancient times, local fishermen captured a merman in their nets here. At first, they thought they had caught a seal or a dolphin, but soon realized it was a man with long hair who was completely naked, wild and unable to talk. The fishermen brought him back to the town of Orford and locked him up. However, he was able to escape never to be seen again.
The trail ends a broad beach. The calm water perfectly mirrors the sky, so it's hard to see where the river ends, and where the air begins.
Here a narrow wooden pier extends out into the river, and the stillness of the water creates an optical illusion like the wooden walkway is hanging suspended in space, a pathway to infinity.
From around the river bend, a murmuration of birds appear. They blend together, then break apart, then together, then apart, creating a myriad of undulating galaxies of patterns. The sound of their wings beating together takes your breath away.
Within moments the birds disappear from view, and you notice the tide is rising and starting to cover the beach.
You walk away from the river on a different path carved through hedges of brambles to a forest of oak trees.
The trail ends at the broken ruins of an ancient building. The roof is missing, but parts of an old chimney and the walls of a great hall take up most of the clearing.
At the top of the remnants of a fireplace, an owl drowsily peers at you. The flint walls have been weathered by the ages. The place feels peaceful to you. You sit down inside the ruins and breathe in the atmosphere. It is a broken-down place, but you feel safe and incredibly relaxed here.
When you close your eyes, you become aware of the other sounds of the forest: the bees, the grasshoppers, wood doves. As you breathe in and breathe out the combination of the sounds and the feeling of the afternoon sun on your face makes you feel calm and relaxed.
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.