Monday Meditation ~ Jasmine, for sensuality and relaxation

Jasmine Meditation

You are standing in front of an archway set in a long high wall of mellow old bricks. The archway frames a gate of heavy but plain wood, standing a little ajar, inviting you to investigate. It is twilight and the sky is starting to darken and as the sun slowly sets the sky changes  colour steadily. Shades of rose pink, apricot and gold at the horizon deepen and then turn seamlessly to indigo. Birds are singing their evening songs and the air is full of the remnants of the day’s heat.

Push the gate open and step through.

You find yourself in a courtyard surrounded by high walls and filled with an atmosphere of peace and privacy. This is not overlooked by
anything and you feel safe and secure here. The courtyard is laid out
as a formal garden, in a somewhat Arabic style. At the centre is a
rectangular pool, lined with tiles of cobalt and midnight blue
decorated with geometric patterns in vivid colours that resemble
flowers. A simple fountain plays in the middle of the pool and the
falling water shimmers in the fading light, glowing brightly as the
last rays of the setting sun catch the droplets and make them light
up like molten gold.

The air is still warm from a day of sunshine but standing near the
fountain brings a pleasing coolness and freshness. The sound of the
water is gentle and musical and is a perfect counterpoint to the
birdsong.

The courtyard is filled with ornamental tubs planted densely with shrubs of varying sorts- bays rub shoulders with olive trees, and the
glossy leaves of citruses contrast with the silver-grey furry leaves
of lavenders. The walls are painted white and close to each wall is a
neat flowerbed each with a climbing plant trained up a trellis.
Tendrils of greenery reach down and brush your head as you walk
slowly round the little garden. Here and there a small candle burns
in a jar, flickering and dancing in the still air.

As you move you notice that the sky has passed through its sequence of colours and is now changing to deep midnight blue. A few stars are
now appearing and you see that the flowers on the climbers are tiny
white stars too, opening as the night begins and surrounding you with
their scent. The flowers are mostly pure clean white, slightly waxy
in appearance, their unopened buds pinkish, but some are a deep
crimson colour too. Whatever the colour the perfume that emerges is
sweet and heady and intoxicating. It comes in waves of intensity,
almost too powerful to enjoy, but fades away just at the point where
it might be unpleasant. The scent fills you with a sense of joy and a
longing you find hard to quantify.

At the far end of the garden directly opposite the gate where you came in is a white painted table and matching chairs, the ironwork complex and oriental in design. They are positioned so you can experience the full glory of this garden with its sights and sounds but most especially the scents.

Go and sit down.

In the middle of the table is a white porcelain teapot and two small
cups. A wisp of steam emerges from the teapot and if you lift the lid
you will see that it contains jasmine tea. If you wish, pour out two
cupfuls. Inhale the mingled fragrance of the tea and the jasmine.
Take a sip. Enjoy the taste as well as the fragrance.

If you wish, you may summon anyone you would like to share this moment with, sitting in this tranquil evening garden, the air filled with
the aroma of jasmine and the music of birds and falling water from
the fountain. Think who you would like to be here with you and as the idea forms in your mind, see the gate swinging open and watch them coming to join you. I will leave you in peace now to enjoy your time here.

The moon is rising, a sliver of silver in the starry sky and the air is
feeling cooler. Your visitor has left and the teapot is empty and so
are your cups. You feel peaceful and happy after your time here, and
a sense of joy still tingles in your blood. As you get to your feet
to leave, look round the courtyard one last time. It will be here
again exactly as you wish it to be next time you come. When you step
through the gate into your room again, notice that the scent of
jasmine, faint but resilient, clings to your hair and clothes.
Whenever you smell this fragrance again, you will recall the feelings
of peace and joy you felt in the garden.

Breathe deeply and fully several times before opening your eyes again. You are back.  

         Written as part of the Meditating with Aromatics project

Crystal Cave Meditation ~ for refreshment of spirit

I posted this about two years ago but thought it could do with another airing now.

Crystal Cave Meditation

 

 For this meditation you may like to have a crystal to focus on; a geode works especially well. Remember to turn the phone off and make sure you are not going to be interrupted. Using either soft music or a natural sounds tape of perhaps a stream will enhance the experience but is not essential as long as you have reasonable quiet around you.

Breathe slowly but without forcing it. Allow yourself to relax and become calm but alert. Let your eyes close naturally and become still.

You walking along in the cool air of an underground passage; the tunnel is lit with softly flickering candles in niches along the walls. The sweet smell of beeswax reaches you every time you pass a niche and your movement causes the candlelight to flicker. It’s very peaceful here and you sense that many people have come along here before; it’s totally safe. The carefully smoothed walls of the tunnel glisten and gleam in the candlelight; when you touch them they are slightly damp and slippery to the touch.

Continue along; the floor slopes steadily but not alarmingly and after a while you come to an opening ahead of you where a light gleams. Go through the opening. You are in a large cave, lit only by candlelight. A single candle floats in a pool of very clear water in the centre of the cave. It seems far lighter in here than you might expect from just one candle and you look round for the reason.

The whole cave is lined with the finest and most lovely crystals you can imagine. You are inside a living geode, a bubble of earth where crystals have grown for centuries. The light from the single candle is reflected from each facet of the tens of thousands of crystals that cover every inch of the walls and ceiling of the cave.

It’s simply breathtaking.

You sit down near the pool of water, there is a low stool carved from oak and you find it very comfortable. As you sit and marvel and the cave, you notice something else. The pool of water is not still; bubbles rise steadily from the centre and you see now that water softly spills over one end of the natural stone bowl, and into a groove in the floor where it trickles away with a lovely sound like living music.

Sit quietly and enjoy the radiance of the earth-born crystals and the music of the earth-born waters. The air is cool and fresh and moist and any difficulties you may have had with breathing vanish in this pure healing air. You feel deeply peaceful and at one with the earth. Touch the water and scoop a little in your hand and bathe your face with it; feel the worries and cares melt away.

Stay as long as you wish, feeling the deep healing this place gives to any who visit, and when you feel it is time to return to the outer world, whisper your prayers to the cave. They will be heard.

As you leave, your movement sets the candle flickering and the light dances and casts rainbows across your face.

Return up the stone passage way and find yourself back where you began. Breathe deeply and when you are ready open your eyes. You are home.

 

New Year Meditation-Madonna Lily

 

New Year Meditation- Madonna Lily

This meditation is intended to help review the year that has just passed and prepare for the new one about to start. If you are a regular meditator, go through your usual routine of preparation. The fragrance for this meditation is that of the lily so if you are lucky enough to have a bunch of lilies to hand, place them somewhere close so you can inhale their lovely scent. This is not essential to the meditation but may help if you feel the need.

Find somewhere quiet and comfortable and sit down. Make sure your back is straight and your legs are uncrossed.

Close your eyes and breathe in slowly. Hold the breath for a moment and then let it out again slowly. Do this a few times until you feel calm and centred.

You are standing in an ancient building. The stone flags beneath your feet are worn to a sheen by generations of feet that have walked upon them and the walls are thick. The few windows are small and set quite high in the walls and as your eyes get used to the dimness, you see that you are in a tiny church or chapel. It looks to be at least a thousand years old and you are the only person present. Here and there, clusters of candles burn, giving a glow of golden light. The scent of lilies is heavy in the air and arrangements of the flowers are stationed around the church. Facing east, you see that the altar has a simple pottery vase containing a few stems of lilies, illuminated by the group of beeswax candles nearby.

As you walk towards the altar, you see a casket standing on trestles in front of the altar and you realise with a sense of shock that you are here for a funeral. The casket is open and as you draw near and steel yourself to look, you see that it is empty. This is the funeral for the year that has just passed, your year and you are here to review its life in its entirety. Next to the casket is a bag, and you reach inside. It is packed with snapshot photographs, each one representing a moment, a day, a memory from the year that has passed. Some you smile at, some you feel tears welling up. One by one, gaze at each photo and allow yourself to remember, but without judgement. When you feel ready, drop the photo into the casket.

When each photo reaches the floor of the casket, a transformation takes place. Each memory changes into a precious stone, a jewel. The bright joyful memories become stones like sparkling diamonds or light blue sapphires or golden amber; the darker, more painful memories become jewels like polished onyx, blood red rubies or perhaps sapphires so deep blue they seem almost black. Observe each memory as it is transformed; some may surprise you what they become.

Once the bag of photos is empty, look closely at the jewels that now cover the floor of the casket. Give the casket a little shake and see how the stones shift around and make patterns. They seem to form groups of related memories, and it seems also that the darker stones give the lighter ones a deeper shine and the lighter ones make the dark ones sparkle. You can still identify which memory is which; if you wish, you may pick a few up and examine them more closely now they are transformed.

The time has come to say goodbye and you must shut the lid of the casket. As you do so, you see now that it is not a coffin as you had thought, but rather a treasure chest made of polished cedar, with a domed lid carved with beautiful patterns. Take the chest now and carry it towards the altar. You will see that the altar bears symbols that are special to you, and you feel happy to place your treasure chest of memories beneath it. It will be safe here and you can revisit and ponder the meaning of your treasures any time you choose but now it is time to go.

Walk back down the nave. The worn stones under your feet feel comforting but you have a sense of emptiness as one so often does after a funeral. The old year is gone and the new one is yet to begin; you are suspended between times now, just for this short time. It’s a little uncomfortable because now you are starting to worry about what the new year will bring.

Close to the door there stands a great stone basin, a font of immense antiquity. The carvings around the bowl of it are worn but you can see patterns similar to those on the lid of your treasure chest. On the rim, flanked by groups of candles is another vase of lilies. You can smell their sweet fresh fragrance and as you watch, some of the powdery red pollen spills onto the surface of the water that fills the font. The powder spreads out and you watch fascinated as the play of candlelight and reflections make pictures come alive in the water and you realise that you are seeing scenes from what the new year may bring. Watch, but without judgement or attachment; these are things that may happen. Nothing is certain yet. Just as the previous year had good and bad in it, so too will the next one.

The great battered door, armoured with blackened iron swings open a little and the breeze scatters the pollen and the pictures cease. You walk towards the door and glance back. At the altar, the lilies still glow golden in the light from the candle flames and your treasure chest nestles beneath in the dancing shadows. The water on the font ripples with the wind that enters and shakes the flames like leaves on a tree and you know it is time to leave this place.

Outside, you can feel the changes that have taken place and the first rays of light of a new dawn turn the sky a heavenly pink, and you know that this new day heralds a new year full of joys and sorrows, and you step forth, determined to understand the treasure in both.

Monday Meditation: Narcissus

 

Chapter Seven 

Seasonal Meditations: March 

Narcissus meditation 

Background

 The narcissus is a member of the daffodil family and has been bred to produce some spectacularly pretty spring flowers. The usual colours are shades of yellow, and cream, though others have been produced in other combinations. They usually bloom throughout the early spring and are often on sale in pots having been ‘forced’ to bloom a little earlier than they do naturally.

 

The scent of the narcissus is very sweet and almost hypnotic. It is available as an absolute, but is very expensive and aromatherapy books advise caution when using it as it is considered somewhat narcotic in effect and can be toxic.

The flower is named after a handsome youth in Greek myth who fell in love with his own reflection in a forest pool. Unable to reach the beautiful image, he pined away and died, and the flower sprang up where his body lay. The various different versions of the story all reflect a moral of avoiding self-obsession, though the details of both the events and the outcome change from one version to another. This meditation is aimed at promoting both understanding and love for the inner self.

To do the meditation I would suggest buying some ready prepared bulbs in advance and waiting till they are in full bloom. You may also like to buy them as cut flowers, but buying them as bulbs means that you may plant them later and have a reminder as the bulbs grow and spread and flower every year thereafter. If you are unable to obtain the flower, you may use the absolute, placing a single drop on a strip of blotting paper.

If you can manage it, performing this meditation outdoors on a sunny day enhances the effect; sitting by a sunny window works well too, with the pot or vase of narcissus flowers in front of you. Go through your usual preparations of grounding and relaxing; breathe the sweet, intoxicating aroma of the flowers, letting the petals brush your face. 

Meditation

 

Let the sweet scent fill your mind and feel the soft brush of the flowers against your skin.

The soft breeze touches your face and brings a fragrance of fresh leaves as well as that of the flowers. Sunlight dances through the newly opened leaves above you; each leaf is still soft and crumpled from the bud. You are in a grove of trees, widely spaced and the grass below them is finely grown and neatly trimmed as if this were parkland and not wild meadows.

Spring flowers grow here and there but the strongest scent of all is coming from a short distance away. You can see an ornamental pool, perfectly round and encircled by smooth stone, coated with a soft layer of the deepest moss. At the four points of the compass there is a stone urn, fixed securely to the stone surround of the pool, and each of these is filled with narcissi in fullest bloom. Today they are at their very best; you have come at the perfect moment to see them and smell them.

Go over to the pool and walk around it, clockwise. It’s a surprisingly large pool and it seems quite deep. A few deep green leaves from a water lily float on the dark surface of the water but it’s far too early for the flowers. The fragrance of the narcissi floats on the mild spring air and bird song begins. A single flower head floats on the water.

 

It’s very peaceful here and you sit down on the stone encircling the pool. The moss acts as a cushion, softening the stone for you. In the centre of the pool there is a statue that might well be a fountain, but the water is still today and the statue does not seem to cast a reflection. Then you notice that the water does not seem to be reflecting anything, not even the sky.

Lean out a little way and look into the water. What do you see in the water? Do you see yourself looking back? Do you like what you see? What would you change if you could? Let yourself have some time contemplating this.

A brisk wind rises and shakes the surface of the water and disperses the images you saw there, as if they were being wiped away by magic. You glimpse the bottom of the pool and maybe a goldfish or two before the breeze drops entirely and the surface of the water is completely still, and becomes mirror like. As you sit there, inhaling the sweet fragrance, let yourself gaze into the water. Who or what will appear there for you, now? I will let you spend as long as you need here.

*

You come back to yourself and see that the short spring day is drawing to a close, and the pool is now reflecting the sky as you would expect. The evening star has appeared, and shines as brightly in the water as in the sky and you know it is time to go back. As you look, the flowers seem to have faded already, past their best now though the scent is as sweet as ever.

As the daylight fades too and the evening sky turns to deep blue, walk back to where you started, leaving the lovely pool behind and when you are ready take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. You are now back.

Meditating with aromatics

The following is a table of contents for the book I have slowly been working on. I’d be interested in any suggestions for things that you’d like included, any special scents you feel I have missed out, or that have significance for you.

This is one of my winter season projects and I need a bit of a kick in the pants to get going.

Provisional List of Contents

Introduction: About this book

Who it is aimed at and why has it been written. How to use the book

 

Chapter One: Introduction to meditation

History, cultures, benefits, spirituality etc

Chapter Two: Introduction to aromatics

What are aromatics, history of the use of aromatics through time, science of aromatherapy, limbic system etc, benefits of using aroma in daily life etc

Methods of use (incense, vaporisation, smelling strips etc)

Chapter Three: Basics of meditation:

Posture, setting, timing, breathing, music etc

How to use the guided meditations

Preparations, relaxation, grounding, recording of experiences

 Chapter Four: Everyday Aromatics

Using ordinary and familiar scents to deepen meditation

May include:

Orange, chocolate, coffee, bread, mint, lavender, vanilla, rosemary, apple, honey, aniseed, strawberries, pine cones, freesia, hyacinth, honeysuckle 

Chapter Five: Less Ordinary aromatics

Exploring less familiar but readily available scents

May include:

All spice, patchouli, white sage, rose, lemon balm, eucalyptus, seaweed, cloves, cinnamon, cedar wood and sandalwood

 Chapter Six: Exotics

Using exotic substances (but all available through mail order or from specialist shops)

May include:

Frankincense, benzoin, amber, myrrh, storax, labdanum, spikenard, sandarac, dragon’s blood, elemi, jasmine, neroli, opoponax, colophony  

Chapter Seven: Seasonal Scents

Using seasonally available scented substances to enhance meditation through the year

May include:

Snow and ice for January, snowdrops or hyacinth for February, narcissi or daffodils for March, lilac or violets for April, may blossom for May, roses or elder for June, elder or linden for July, strawberries or honeysuckle for August, hay or pencils and paper (back to school!) for September, apples or pumpkin for October, bonfire or toffee apples for November and clove-orange, mulled wine spices or pine for December

Chapter Eight: Scents for sleep meditations

Specially selected soporific scents and words for meditations to aid sleep and dreaming

May include:

Lavender, hops, chamomile, clary sage

 

Chapter Nine: Where to go from here

Suggestions for own explorations

Feedback reports from “guinea pigs”

I aim to have a small selection of friends write a little about their experiences using the meditations

Chapter Ten: Sources

Bibliography, suggested reading, useful sources for materials, helpful websites

Afterword: About the author

Short bio and thanks

Orange Meditation

This is a sample of a book I have been messing about with writing. What do you think and should I carry on and write the whole thing?

Chapter Four

 

Meditation One

 

Orange

 

Background

 

To a modern person there is nothing terribly exciting about an orange but historically, for everyone but the very rich or the royal, the orange was a highly prized commodity and every part of it was used. Discarded peel was not thrown away but was dried to add to pot pourri or was candied to add to cakes, or was ground up and used in medicines. The vitamin rich fruit was until quite recently extremely expensive and hard to come by; those lucky children who found one at the foot of their Christmas stocking would have been more excited and pleased about it than any modern child can now imagine.

The sweet scent of an orange being peeled can lighten and freshen the atmosphere of a room and is especially helpful during the winter when its flesh and its fragrance can help ward off colds and also the blues.

For this meditation you will need either an orange (or Satsuma or other small citrus fruit) or you may use essential oil of orange placed either on an oil burner near where you are to sit, or a single drop on a strip of blotting paper.

Using the techniques described in chapter 3, begin to relax and enter a receptive state. When you feel comfortable, using a fingernail or a paring knife, scrape along the very top surface of the orange skin releasing the volatile oil. Hold the orange close to your face so that the aroma of the wounded skin can reach your nostrils without having to touch your skin. Breathe in the scent, slowly, allowing yourself to breathe normally, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow the fragrance to fill you.

Now is the time to begin, still breathing steadily and softly allowing the scent of the orange to enter your nose and then your mind.

Meditation.

 

You are standing amid a grove of mature orange trees, their trunks thick and strong. Through the canopy of branches you can see a brilliant blue sky, without a hint of a cloud anywhere, and the sun shines fiercely down, baking the ground to brick hardness. It is very still and distantly, beyond the trees you can see the shimmer of a deeper blue, telling you that you are not very far from the sea. Crickets sing but the birds have all sought shelter from the heat of the sun.

Walk deeper into the grove. The thick leathery leaves provide some protection from the intense sunshine, but when you look closer at some of the lower branches you can see that the leaves are dry and coated with a fine white dust. When you look at your feet as you slowly walk along, you can see little puffs of pale dust rising each time you set your feet down.

Look up at the trees. They are covered in both flowers and fruit and the scent of the flowers in particular is intoxicating, but the flowers are beginning to look slightly dry too, and the fruits are not as big or as juicy looking as you might imagine. Under the trees a little grass grows but it is looking tired and dusty too. You’d like to sit down but the grass looks uninviting. Walk a little further.

As you go deeper into the grove, the air grows heavier with both heat and fragrance, but the shade is very welcome and as you walk you see a bench built around the trunk of one of the oldest trees. The bench curves beautifully to encircle the orange tree; the wood is polished to a soft sheen by countless years of use. This is where the workers sit to take their ease and enjoy refreshment during the day. There is no one here now so approach the bench.

On a small earthenware plate lies a pearl handled knife and an orange that one of the workers cut in half to eat and then left to seek the coolness of the farmhouse a short distance away. Sit down near the plate; the worker is fast asleep and will not be returning soon.

The bench is surprisingly comfortable, low and broad in the seat and the supporting back is angled so you can lean back a little and peer into the branches of the tree and see bright glimpses of the blue of the sky above. The scent of the opened orange rises to greet you and is incredibly refreshing and relaxing all at the same time. It cuts through the heavy scent of the flowers and dust.

Make yourself comfortable on the bench. I will leave you here for a while to enjoy the rest and the shade and the fragrance.

*

 

You are brought back to awareness by a change in the air. The light has changed too and as you look at the ground, a single immense drop of rain falls onto the ground and sends up a tiny cloud of dust. A second drop and then a third falls. Finally, the dry spell is being broken by the much-needed rain.

Stand up and begin walking back the way you entered the grove. Even through the thick canopy of leaves, the rain still strikes you, but it is warm rain and very pleasant after the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun. Pretty soon you are wet through. It’s a nice feeling, like a warm shower.

As you leave the grove, stop a moment and turn back and look. Each leaf has been washed clean of the white dust of high summer, and all the fruits seem to be swelling and growing before your eyes, their skins clean and vibrant with the new rain. The flowers seem to perk up, their scent changed by the falling rain into something lighter, fresher and sweeter. The grass below the trees is also looking better, though the dust is turning to soft mud like a milky wash of clay.

Turning back, there is a faint rainbow in the sky, shining, and a rumble of distant thunder encourages you to seek shelter. The drumming of the rain on hard earth continues as you return now to your room and to full consciousness. Breathe deeply a few times and open you eyes. You are back.

 Vivienne Tuffnell 2009