Friday, 21 December 2007

Guided Meditation: Into the Earth

It is December 21, the shortest day of the year.

About a month ago I planned to put aside time on this day for a guided visualisation on the element of earth. As the right location in which to do the meditation I chose the maze in Crystal Palace Park.

The park holds happy memories for me, of childhood summer days feeding the ducks, playing hide and seek with friends and being taken to see the statues of dinosaurs, which still fill me with a sense of awe as an adult.

The park also has a maze. It isn't the largest maze, or the most difficult to navigate. In fact, the hardest part is trying to tell the difference between intentional paths and places people have broken through the skimpy hedges. But it seemed the right place for my meditation this midwinter.

It felt as though my pysical journey to the maze was an essential part of the spiritual journey of my meditation. At the park entrance is a wide avenue of trees and, walking through it, I felt myself move from the normal world to a place full of symbol and significance.

I turned my camera on, aware that I breaking a magical taboo but feeling I wanted a record of my journey.


The park wasn't quite deserted in the early morning and a few other hardy souls were there, walking dogs or just enjoying the park's stark winter beauty. There were more birds than people.

Pigeons, with feathers puffed against the cold, roosted in a bare tree. A magpie, one for sorrow, flew away before I could photograph him.

Two crows, or maybe rooks, picked for worms in the hard soil. A flock of seabirds landed on an open grassy space before being chased off by a dogwalker's hounds.

Ducks huddled in the distance on an icy lake. Then I reached the entrance to the maze and felt that was the moment to turn off my camera.

Earth meditation

Close your eyes.

You are sitting outside in a familiar place on a fine day. It is a place you have come before to sit and rest. It is a pleasant spot that you like, a place that you feel safe and at ease. Spend a few moments taking in the familiar surroundings, listening to the sounds around you and watching the sights. Relax and enjoy being in this place.

After a little while you suddenly see something that you have not noticed before. It is an opening – perhaps a doorway or an opening into a passage. It is open and you are curious. You get up and take a closer look at this entranceway. You have an urge to go through it and see what is inside but your feelings are mixed. Examine your feelings and resolve them before going through the entrance.

There is a short passage inside the entrance, leading to steps going down. You go along the passage and down the steps. They seem to go down for quite a way. At the bottom of the steps, you find yourself facing another passageway. Far ahead in the distance you can see light but the distance from where you are until you reach that light is in darkness. You will have to go through that darkness. Plucking up your courage you take the first step into the dark stretch of the passageway.

Imagine your progress. How do you proceed without being able to see where you are stepping? What is the passage like? What sounds are there? What smells? What does it feel like underfoot and, if you touch the sides of the passage, what do they feel like? Take as much time as you need to get through it.

You eventually reach the source of the light and find a portable light that you can take with you. You pick it up. Looking ahead now, you realise that you are underground. Around you, you can see evidence of past human endeavour. The underground system you are in was perhaps originally a natural cave, perhaps it was hewn from the rock or perhaps it was covered by earth or rock in times gone by. But carrying your light source you can continue further into this area. You can observe the past achievements of human beings, preserved within the Earth. Take your time to explore. There is a lesson from the past to be seen here and to learn from. Think about what it means to you and what you can learn from it.

When you feel you have spent enough time exploring the underground area with its evidence of human endeavour, you come to a cleft in the rock with a narrow passageway beyond it, once more going downwards. You squeeze through and into the passageway, heading onwards and downwards.

This passage is different from the area you have just explored. It seems to be part of a natural cave, unaltered by man. You travel onwards and as your light illuminates the surface of the rock, you become very aware of the texture, colour and consistency of the rock – its mineral structure and the way that it was formed giving it its unique appearance. As you move onwards through this passage, you feel that you are learning secrets of the past that only the rocks can tell you. You continue, observing the rocks as you go, seeking to understand their message. You feel that the further and deeper you go, the more the message will become clear. Travel at your own pace and spend some time to understand the rocks’ message.

After some time, when you feel you understand more of what the rocks wanted you to know, you come to another narrow cleft. You can see that get through this will be a very tight squeeze. You cannot see what lies beyond, even when you hold your light up to the opening. And you also realise that, although you can get through it, it opening is to narrow for you to carry anything with you. You must divest yourself of anything you are carrying, including your light.

Having put aside your possessions, you squeeze through the narrow opening. It is not easy, but with a considerable effort you manage at last to get through. And you find yourself in the most awe-inspiring cavern you have ever seen. Natural wonders glisten on every surface and it is lit by some strange glow from within the rocks themselves. You look around in astonishment, taking in the scene.

You become aware that you are not alone. At the far end of the cavern you see a figure that you know to be the guardian of earth, and you realise that you are in their realm. You have come this far and you must now cross the cavern and go to the guardian, to hear what they have to say to you. Taking a deep breath, you approach them, giving them the greeting that you feel is right.

The guardian replies. Leaning closer to you, and speaking some words that are meant for you alone. Spend some time listening to what the guardian has to say, and conversing with them as appropriate.

Now your conversation draws to a close. You thank the guardian for what you have learnt and what you have seen.

The guardian beckons you forward again, and hands you a gift, for you to take with you, back to your realm above the ground. You look to see what the gift is, as it is placed into your hand. And, as you look at the gift, you become aware of a change around you. When you look up you realise that you have returned to your familiar spot in the world of men.

Take time to reacclimatise yourself with the normal world and, when you are ready, open your eyes.

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