Vanilla ~ for innocent sensuality
Did you know that true vanilla is the second most expensive spice, the most expensive being saffron? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla Obtained from the cured and processed seed pod of a tropical orchid, true vanilla is one of the most widely used and well loved of flavourings.
It’s also well used in aromatherapy because of its varied and powerful benefits: http://theresaann.hubpages.com/hub/the-benefits-of-using-vanilla-essential-oil-in-aromatherapy
It’s a powerful antidepressant, has anti-oxidant effects and is used to promote relaxation, better sleep and is also said to be an aphrodisiac.
Vanilla gets a bad press, really, and despite being a popular flavouring is often regarded as bland and boring. It’s also used (somewhat ironically given its anecdotal evidence as an aphrodisiac) as a synonym for unadventurous sexual activity.
Perhaps it is because of the ubiquitous nature of vanilla products that we have lost our true appreciation of this wonderful spice. Most of us grew up with vanilla essence being used in home baking, but sadly most vanilla essence bought in supermarkets does not come from the vanilla orchid. Artificial vanilla is made from vanillin, a by-product of the paper industry, and while the signature sweet ice cream scent is present, vanillin is only one of the 171 separate aromatic compounds present in true vanilla. There is no substitute for the rich, complex aroma of true vanilla so for this meditation I strongly suggest you use either a fresh vanilla pod, a high quality extract or essential oil. The essential oil is not too expensive when bought pre-diluted in jojoba oil.
For this meditation you may also like to use a recording of waves on the seashore for background and to add to the ambience. You can use the oil on a smelling strip, or if it is diluted, on pulse points. If you have an extract, you can add a few drops to hot water, or to the reservoir of an oil burner. You can even put a drop or two onto a cold light bulb and then turn it on; as the bulb warms the scent will fill the room. Once you have arranged how you diffuse the fragrance, take a few slow deep breaths, and settle into your chair. Let the scent fill you and feel its calming arms holding you.
You are standing on a quiet beach, with a warm wind flowing off the sea ruffling your hair and caressing your skin. The sky is blue, and almost cloudless, except for a few fluffy white cotton puffs high above. Look at your feet, buried slightly in the softest pale golden sand imaginable. Move your feet a little, as if treading a deep pile carpet and enjoy the sensation of the sand massaging your soles. The sound of the sea is soothing, and you can see the little waves breaking on the shore, so go closer. The water sparkles as if there are diamonds in it, and beneath the foam you can see the sand beneath shining golden, studded here and there with smooth pebbles that look like jewels with their brilliant colours. Take a few steps into the water. It’s cool but not cold and it feels intensely refreshing and exhilarating. Feel the waves touching your ankles as they break on the shoreline, and start walking slowly. The rounded pebbles embedded in the wet sand give the most wonderful massaging effect as you walk upon them; there are no sharp or rough ones. The sun on the sea lights up the water, making it a pure crystalline shade of turquoise, through which you can see to the sea floor. Strands of seaweed float with little fishes and other small creatures darting among them. Above you, seagulls soar high and let out the occasional cry.
Enjoy walking in the waves for as long as you want. When you start to feel tired, leave the water and walk a little inland. The beach is bordered by dunes of marram grass and wild-flowers, and where the grasses start to grow there is a little hollow that shelters you from the wind. You will see there is a brightly coloured beach towel laid out, and a huge beach umbrella in rainbow colours. Go and lie down on the beach towel. It’s very soft and feels brand new and plush. The velvety fabric is lovely to touch and there’s even a little pillow to rest your head on.
It’s warm in this hollow, and the sun on your skin is like a blessing, but don’t worry about burning. Here you cannot get sunburned, but if you feel too warm, move into the shade cast by the beach umbrella. Feel the delightful warmth of the day ease any aches and pains and let the tensions of being an adult seep away into the sand.
Near you in a brightly coloured heap are beach toys: buckets and spades, in lots of shapes and sizes, and moulds for making shapes, and little flags. There’s even a bucket filled with shells and stones of every size and colour that someone has collected specially for you. There’s a big bottle of sea water to wet the sand if you wish.
It may be many years since you last made a sandcastle, or this may be the very first time you have ever had the chance, but the sand and the toys draw you to start playing. It feels strange at first but after a few minutes it feels like second nature to scoop up bucketfuls of the sand, pack it tight and turn out castles. Enjoy decorating your castles with the shells and stones and flags. Let yourself be a child again.
Just as you are putting the finishing touches to your castles, you sense someone is approaching and you look up. Coming up the beach is someone you love very much and they are carrying something. Go to meet them. Whoever your visitor is, here they are very welcome and they are bringing you a small gift.
Your visitor holds out to you an ice cream cone filled with the best vanilla ice cream in the world. You can smell the aroma from a few feet away and you accept their gift with joy. A few drops of ice cream are already spilling down the side of the cone; in this sunshine, it will melt fast so do not delay your enjoyment of this sweet treat. Walk with your visitor along the seashore as you both eat your ice creams. You can talk if you like but if you prefer to, you can enjoy the beach and the ice cream in silence.
When you crunch the last of the cone, it’s time to say goodbye to the beach and to your visitor. You can come back any time you choose but for now it is time to go back to your normal reality.
Let the beach fade away as you return, but let the relaxation remain with you, and any insights you may have gained. You are back.
Be sure to eat and drink something before resuming normal activity and also make some notes of what you saw and experiences.