The following suggestions of preparation for a time of inner withdrawal and the guided mediation are from “The World is in My Garden.”1
The Garden of Imagination
There is, in addition to the outer garden of your home in everyday physical life, a perfect and beautiful garden within your creative imagination, which is found when you withdraw from the outer world into inner quietness. This is a unique garden created in the personal safety and peace of your own thoughts—thoughts being the basis of all your outer creations. The inner garden of your imagination, which is not susceptible to the ecological fragility of the outer material world, is a manifestation of the highest aspiration and purest thought within you, that which captures your concept of the perfection of Nature. You are that which you visualize, and, through your own visualization, you create beauty and harmony.
In creating a garden within the privacy of your inner imagination, you have wide choice and artistic freedom in selecting the setting, its contents, and the season. By way of example, it may be the awakening of Spring that speaks to you in your garden, or the height of Summer with all its vibrant color and hum of life. Your garden may be set in a perfect landscape with majestic, wise, old trees, with flowering shrubs and herbaceous borders. Yours may be a carefully sculpted oriental-style rock garden with a trickling brook of pure, clear water, where stones sparkle like jewels and fish of iridescent colors may be seen. In the center of your garden might be a still pool with water lilies or a lake of crystal blue-green water, where you can rest in total peace. Here, in your special garden, you are awakening your inner senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and intuition, and you are as free as your imagination to fly beyond the physical limitations of the outer world.
After the following list of preparations, there is an example of an inner garden that you may either adopt as your own or merely use as a template from which to create your own. To help pass into your own garden, which is a journey of spiritual awareness, this exercise is a guided visualization to help you withdraw from the hectic activity and turmoil of the outer world to a quiet, inner garden of peace and renewal.
The turning inward is to see with your mind’s eye through your imagination, with your inner vision, instead of your physical eyes. By using your power of visualization, your awareness will gradually arise from the heart rather than as a strictly mental picture. The intent of this exercise is to find within a place of quiet and silence, where your true Self may be known. Indeed, this is what poet William Blake meant when he wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear as it is, infinite.”
Simple preparations for quiet withdrawal and visualization
The following are a few practical recommendations in preparation for beginning your guided visualization:
1. If you do not already have a place or room that you use for meditation and inner withdrawal, choose a quiet spot, where you will not be disturbed. It may be called your “quiet place.” If you have a small room that you can devote solely to this purpose, it will be a great advantage.
Whichever place you choose, reserve it for meditation and spiritual reading only. As you begin to associate your special place with meditation, you will find your mind starting to become quiet as soon as you enter. If you find it helpful, put up an image of a spiritual figure or beautiful garden that inspires you; otherwise keep your special place simple.
2. Make sure you will be warm enough by using a shawl or soft blanket, because your body temperature drops when you shift your awareness inwardly and begin to relax completely.
3. A little lamp or lighted candle is helpful to create an initial point of focus and to establish a quiet center of reflection.
4. Soothing music is also a useful addition, if this is something that will augment the process for you.
5. Have a comfortable place to sit, either in a chair or on the floor with a pillow, and sit comfortably upright with your spine erect, so that your body is perfectly poised and balanced, as best you can. Make sure your posture allows your body to be as relaxed as possible and at peace, so all tenseness and tightness may be released.
6. As you begin to relax and prepare, notice your gentle rhythmic breathing. Let it be slightly deeper and slower than usual, but without any strain. The breathing must remain calm and peaceful with a gentle, easy, soft inhalation and exhalation. Become aware of your breath with its slower tempo, with its soothing in and out rhythm. Move now into this quiet period and your visualization.
7. When you feel the process is complete and you are ready, quietly breathe your way back into the physical, outer consciousness and your physical surroundings. Make sure you are well and truly grounded. One way to do this is to seal each of your seven chakras (from the base of your spine to the crown of your head) with a cross of light within a circle. It is also helpful to imagine you are wearing a robe of light that protects your sensitive aura from the busyness and harsher energies of normal, everyday life. Remain for a few moments savoring the peace within your heart and in your sanctuary. When you do get up, do so slowly and without any sense of haste.
The Guided Meditation into the Inner Garden
The following is a possible example of how you might prepare yourself to relax and open in a safe, gentle way as much as feels comfortable to you, which will increase as you become more practiced and dedicated to time spent deeply relaxed and inwardly focused.
Sit as comfortably but as upright as you can, poised and relaxed. Be sure to sit so that you are well balanced, with your spine as erect as you can comfortably manage. Actually, there is a ninety-degree angle between your spine and your thighs, where you are properly balanced upright, and this place of alignment and balance is an important place for you to find. It is important to know that your spine is a channel of light and its uprightness and straightness (symbolically as well) will help you to make a gentle, quiet inner contact.
Begin to consciously relax your shoulders downward, as well as any other areas of tension or tightness you may notice in your body. Let your shoulders lower and sink, and in so doing let go all tension. Stretch the back of your neck gently upwards. Feel your shoulders being relieved of all the responsibility and worry they normally tend to carry, like a burden that has been lifted and become light.
Focus your mind on the place where your neck meets your shoulders. Imagine and consciously feel a gentle, warm hand pouring a ray of golden light into your spine, which is helping to further relax your shoulders and warm that entire part of your body. You may notice that the cares, worries, tensions, feelings of rushing and the challenges of your everyday world are receding and fading quietly away. There is a sense of freedom and joy, because these inconsequentials do not take up any space within your thoughts. Notice the lovely feeling of warmth, comfort, and peace that is beginning to envelop you —a sense of wholeness and total well-being.
Your awareness is drawn to the natural rhythm of your breath as you breathe a little more deeply now, a little more gently and easily, more and more quietly and softly. Make no effort to alter or control your breath. Each time you breathe in, your lungs are being filled with the Divine essence within the air, called “prana” in the East, the breathe of life and of healing. With every easy breath you take, the cells of your body are being recharged through this healing, life-renewing essence. It is the Light of Life.
Become more and more aware now of the feeling of peace and tranquility you are experiencing throughout your body and within. You feel restful, content, and comfortable, as your awareness has gradually shifted from your outer surroundings to your quiet, still inner world. Your breathing is slower, slightly deeper, and very relaxed. You rest peacefully, feeling safe and ready now to venture through the arched gateway into your inner garden—the garden of your own creative imagination.
Withdraw, now, from the senses of the outer world and move through the arched gate into your beautiful sunlit garden within. Little by little, you become aware of just how lovely your garden really is. All is quiet and peaceful here—there is a hint of “the peace that passeth all understanding.” As you breathe in the sweet pure air, you feel the warm sunlight bathing you in such comfort. The temperature is perfect. The sky is a soft madonna blue and is swept clean by an occasional white billow of cloud touched with shades of rose pink and sunshine as it drifts by from distant snow-clad peaks. All is well here. Much that you are feeling now is gratitude for the abundance of God’s life that surrounds you.
There are flowering honeysuckles and gardenias and a soft carpet of green grass intermixed with many tiny perfumed flowers. Your feet do not even crush these delicate blooms as you walk because of the harmony and joy in your heart. The flowers and roses are the colors of the rainbow and the softest hues imaginable—colors that are illumined from within. Touch the sensitive petals of a flower if you like, and see their iridescence. Inhale the perfume and absorb the flower’s delicate essence. The flowers are attended to by hummingbirds and hosts of butterflies, each dotting the warm, gentle afternoon with a bit of winged color. You may also catch a whiff of the warm fragrance of aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and sage growing among the smooth stones.
Take some moments now to be very still within your inmost being, while you listen deeply to all the rich sounds of Nature that come into your attentive awareness. Everything seems to be enhanced in the best possible ways, as though all life is seamlessly interconnected. Harmony, perfect harmony is the keynote here. Listen to the quietly flowing water, the sound of little creatures, the hum of bees and the trill of crickets, the familiar songs of favorite birds, and the soft movement of gentle breezes among the sunlit leaves of the trees. Notice the various kinds of animals in their free, peaceful state. See and feel their natural gentleness, their native trust. You feel completely safe and secure in their presence. Perhaps one or two animals approach, ones that you are most attuned to. You are aware of a silent communication and understanding between you and them. This is indeed the peaceable kingdom wherein all life is one.
There is a true unity of life in your garden, a deep underlying serenity and affinity. It is the peace of eternity, the active stillness of the Universe. Here you may sense and feel the very heartbeat of the Earth, rhythmic and harmonious.
In the center of the garden is a calm blue lake with crystal clear water. It reflects the sky, flowers, and trees, and the reflection makes the garden even more tranquil and lovely. Rest here, if you like, on the grass by the lake and bask in the life-giving sunshine, absorbing the revitalizing essence of its light. Rest serene in your innermost heart. Time is of no consequence here. You only know you are enfolded in peace . . . peace . . . peace. In your heart, you know all is well. All is harmony. All is unfolding in the perfect rhythm of your life. Rest as long as feels right for you.
When you feel refreshed, renewed, and ready, walk with leisure back through the places you visited in your garden, absorbing with all your spiritual senses the wonder and harmony of this special place filled with the healing vibrancy of Nature. Take its essence with you in your heart and rest assured you can return any time you desire for renewal and peace of spirit.
When you are moved to do so, walk back through the arched gate of your interior garden. Gradually, slowly, and gently bring yourself back to consciousness of the room where you sit, of your relaxed physical body, feeling well and truly earthed—fully back and aligned in your physical body. Your attention is fully withdrawn now from the inner world, and you are once again firmly focused and functioning with your outer, thinking mind in the everyday world. Feeling absolutely at peace and rejuvenated, you feel ready to take up once again the duties, responsibilities, and joys of your physical life. The beauty and harmony of your inner garden and the at-one-ment of life therein is something that remains real and true as spiritual food for life in the world.
Before you rise from your seat, make sure you have sealed each of your chakras (at the base of the spine, the spleen—lower left side on the back, the solar plexus, the heart center, the throat, the third eye, and the crown chakra) with the cross of light within the circle of light. It is also helpful with the in-breath to draw light up your left foot, leg, and up the left side of the body and then down the right side on the out-breath, filling yourself with pure white light. Then, on the in-breath draw a seven-fold spiral up the entire body and at the top of the head take it down through the center of the body. Thus, you will be fully back together and happily ready to greet the outer world!
• Venturing Out (the garden as an oasis of sanctuary and peace)
• The Wesak Festival Of Lord Buddha (another entering the inner garden of peace)
1. Chris Maser with Zane Maser. The World is in My Garden: A Journey of Consciousness. 2005. White Cloud Press, Ashland, OR. 303 pp.
Text © by Zane Maser, 2011. Illustrations © by Leslie Edgington, 2011. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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