The visualization today will begin with a quote from the philosopher and poet Suzy Kassem. Then we will explore a ponderosa pine forest before discovering a secret, thermal springs waterfall.
"Everybody has a little bit of the sun and moon in them. Everybody has a little bit of man, woman, and animal in them. Darks and lights in them. Everyone is part of a connected cosmic system. Part earth and sea, wind and fire, with some salt and dust swimming in them. We have a universe within ourselves that mimics the universe outside. None of us are just black or white, or never wrong and always right. No one. No one exists without polarities. Everybody has good and bad forces working with them, against them, and within them."
You find yourself walking through a ponderosa pine forest on the Eastern Edge of the Great Basin.
The pine trees tower overhead. Growing in between their tall, straight trunks are brushwood and quaking aspen. Sunlight illuminates their golden leaves, and they appear to glow from within. Their leaves scatter and are carried everywhere by the soft wind.
The wildlife is keeping hidden. The quietness interrupted by the sound of crickets and occasionally by a woodpecker in the distance. The air carries a scent of butterscotch, unique to the ponderosa tree.
Among the wild grasses that line the sandy pathway, you see purple and white asters, yellow rabbitbrush, bush sunflower and horsemint.
After a while, the trail begins to curve through a narrow slot canyon next to a creek strewn with massive granite boulders. Where the rocks block the flow, rapids form and tumble down into shallow pools.
As the ravine walls become steeper, the terrain becomes wilder. You can almost feel the canyon breathe with pockets of warm air in the small patches of sun and cooler air in the shade.
The cliff walls are smooth, the colour of vermillion. In places small grasses and other plants pushing the possibilities of life, growing out of the sheer rock face.
The canyon ends at little waterfalls cascading gently into several deep natural pools. You walk over to feel the water with your hand, surprisingly, the water is perfectly warm. You realize you have discovered hot spring nirvana. You take off your clothes and step into one of the pool, and then float on your back. You gaze up at rock walls and a puffy white bank of clouds beyond. A feeling of tranquillity engulfs you.
After some time has passed, you decide to go to a shallower pool. It isn't as hot as the one you were in before.
The water is crystal clear. You wade in and then stretch out on the flat smooth stones that line the base of it. You can support your head and neck on a large flat rock.
You relax like this for a long time, allowing your body and soul to breath in dreams like air.
Our visualization today is from an ancient fern forest. But first I would like to share one of my favourite description of trees by Herman Hesse. It is a long poem, so if you would like to skip to visualization, look for the time stamp in the show notes.
"For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more, I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs, the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity, but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, healthy tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labour is holy. Out of this trust, I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness."
You find yourself walking in the middle of a vast forest, and you have a sensation that you have travelled back to an unknown time. A whisper of luminous gauzy fog floats around the trees — the moisture in the fern forest has the scent of an elixir.
The ferns adorn every tree-trunk and cover the floor of the forest. You notice all the ones you have seen in books with names such as "adder's tongue," "moonwort," "maidenhair" and "spleenwort". You admire the natural elegance of their curving fronds and at the ends of some the fresh uncoiling fiddle-head.
When you look upwards, you notice the foliage of the trees also resemble long fronds of ferns and form such a dense canopy over your head that the sky is not visible.
The carpet of moss you are walking on muffles your footsteps. Even though your footsteps are soft, the noise startles small birds in the undergrowth.
The path crosses a small stream. You hesitate for a few moments to listen to the sound of the water, and then walk over stepping stones and continue along the trail.
You disturb a cloud of red cardinal butterflies. They hover close around your legs and your face for a few moments on wings of jet black and red then fly away.
The trail leads to an ocean cove and a volcanic stone beach. There is a striking contrast between the aquamarine water, black rock, and the lacy foam edging the waves. The stones on the beach have been worn smooth by the tides. They massage the soles of your feet as you walk along the curve of the bay.
After a while, you reach some large rocks blocking your path, preventing you from going any farther.
Tucked away here is a perfectly circular, clear rock pool shaped and carved out by the waves and the tides. You dip your toe in the shallow water and decide to take a soak.
The temperature of the water is perfect. The pool is long enough for you to stretch out comfortably. Above the high clouds resemble layers of gauzy strands. You feel relaxed by the remoteness of this place, the sound of the surf and the gentle ocean breeze.
Someone has carved a small Maori twist design into the smooth black rock on one side of the pool. You trace the shape with your fingers. You understand the traditional knot symbolizes the bond between two people-- This one could have been made long ago by friends, family or lovers.
You notice the sun has shifted lower in the sky and the time has come for you to retrace your steps back through the fern forest.
Thank you for listening to Your Sleep Guru Podcast and allowing me to help you relax or fall asleep.
To exist today, you have come from twelve previous generations or four thousand and ninety-four ancestors over the past four hundred years. Sadly many of us do not know who relatives are going back even a couple of generations.
Who were our ancestors? What sort of struggles, challenges, happiness, relationships and lives did they experience? We can never know. But one thing is for sure, we are connected to them.
This episode is based on an extraordinary ancestral place. But first I will begin the visualization with a quote from Jerry Spinelli,
"It's in the morning, for most of us. It's that time, those few seconds when we're coming out of sleep but we're not really awake yet. For those few seconds we're something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our most distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments, we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then...and then -- ah -- we open our eyes and the day is before us and ... we become ourselves."
You are voyaging on a small boat, hanging over the edge watching as the bow of the ship slices through the inky blue waves. Occasionally cold water from the sea gently splashes your face and bare arms.
The woman with the long black hair is at the helm of the boat, wearing a dress which is the same shade of blue as the cloudless sky.
The boat moves slowly along a jagged coastline, scattered with rocky inlets.
A small fishing village with white houses and tiled roofs perch on top of a cliff gleaming in the sunshine. A steep stone stairway carved out of the rocks descends to a protected cove where several brightly painted fishing boats are moored.
A flying fish startles you by landing at your feet inside the boat. It is the size of a small bird with iridescent wings. It feels cold when you place it back into the water.
The woman begins to steer the boat towards the shore, and soon you arrive at deserted bay.
Here in the shallows, the seawater is clear, emerald green. It feels cold and refreshing—a relief from the blazing hot sun. You climb out of the boat and begin walking inland toward some nearby hills surrounded by a sheer rock wall.
Away from the beach, the landscape changes to patchy grass mixed with tall agave plants. There is a chorus of crickets and cicadas.
You arrive at the base of a ridge. The cool from the shade seeps out of the rock. As you walk along, you discover a vast cavern.
The cavern envelopes you with complete shelter, and the heat from the day seems like it is being sucked right back into the sky.
As your eyes to adjust to the dim light, Strange animals emerge out of the darkness. Spread all over the wall are prehistoric cave paintings. You have stepped back into the story of an earlier time surrounded by a herd of raging bison, woolly rhinoceros, deer with massive antlers aand a mammoth boldly rendered in faded red and black strokes.
Below the animals are a pair handprints that you imagine are the artist's signature made thousands of years before.
You stand in awe of the unfathomable mystery of this place.
You breathe in the spirit of this connection to the past.
It is time to leave the cave now, and slowly you walk back down to your friend waiting in the boat.
This guided meditative visualization is about the gift.
The word gift originated with the ancient Norse word gipt, which meant 'something given'. Over the years, the name emerged in the English language, with the word 'gift'. In Swedish, the term evolved into giva, which was the word used for being given in marriage.
Gifts can be talents too. For example, you can have the gift of gab or a musical gift. Gifts can also be intangibles like the gift of happiness or the gift of a peaceful day.
This visualization is from Iceland, but first, I will begin 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 beside a small spring between the ravine in a barren nordic landscape.
You are the farthest north and probably the closest you will ever be to the arctic circle. A remote place you have never dreamed of reaching.
It is the middle of summer, and even though it is late at night, the sun is still up.
The desolate nature of the place resembles a lunar landscape. There are no trees, no grass. No shelter.
The shambles of broken flat rocks covering the landscape appear dull. Still, closeup, each one seems airbrushed with different shades of delicate light green lichen.
The trail heads away from the stream and rises through a series of gentle switchbacks.
The silence is broken by the sound of rocks disturbed by your footsteps.
When you reach the top of the rise, you enter a diaphanous cloud of mist. The once sharp edge of the ridgeline becomes softened by an amorphous shape, and it seems to envelop you like a long lost friend.
After a while, the haze lifts. The edge of the slope falls away into an inspiring panorama of deep purple mountains. Faraway peaks still have snow on the top of them—a fjord with little islands in the middle that appear to be strung together by a bridge. Brilliant shafts of sunlight break through the clouds and illuminate random patches of the landscape.
You could climb higher, but you sit down to experience the view from this particular spot.
Nearby you notice clumps of flowering pink arctic thyme which have a delicate sweet fragrance.
A raven flies closeby and disappears over the ridge.
Amongst all the flat rocks, you notice a small smooth black stone etched with a primitive symbol. The form clearly resembles the outline of a woman with her arms raised up above her head.
The image was etched into the stone ages ago... You marvel at the chance of finding it on this desolate incline, above the vast, empty landscape. Who was the person whose hands worked to carve the image into the stone? Was it dropped while they hunting? Were they running away, or just out walking like you.
You hold the amulet. The mystery of the stone will never be explained. You will never know. The person who could reveal the secret has long since disappeared from this place.
It must be getting late. The sun has disappeared below the horizon. The sky looks like it has been painted with streaks of gold on lavender dissolving into saffron.
A sense of peace and gratitude overwhelm you. You will stay here for a while because there is no darkness in the Nordic summer. At this time of year, time does standstill.
Photo by Davide Cantelli | Unsplash
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.