Meditation: Experiencing the River

McKenzie River white water parade

Image by Oregon State University Archives via Flickr

Close your eyes.  Take several deep breaths, allowing the tension to flow out of your body.  Feel every muscle in your body relax.  Take a moment to make sure you are comfortable.  Reposition yourself if you must.  Breathe.  Allow your focus to draw inward.

See yourself walking through a meadow.  The sky is a clear, beautiful blue.  The sun shines brightly in the sky, and a gentle breeze adds just a hint of comforting coolness to an otherwise warm day.

As you walk along, allow yourself to notice a soft, constant noise in the distance.  As you continue to walk, it slowly becomes louder.  It is the sound of a swiftly moving and turbulent river, the sound of water cascading and crashing against rocks.  Walk towards the source of the sound.  As you get closer, the rushing river comes into view.  You can see the white spray of the water as it crashes against the rocks sticking up from the riverbed.  The foam and eddies of the rapids make a beautiful sight to behold.

Allow yourself to stand beside the river and take in this site.  Notice how the water crashes against the solid rocks, but cannot move them.  It crashes down, and then parts to rush around the obstqacles, leaving a trail of foam and undercurrents as it rushes by.  The water can shape and wear at the earth in its way, but it cannot move it.

Consider the events and aspects of your life that are like this.  Consider those things that crash against you, but cannot move you.  Consider the forces in your life that can shape you and wear at you, but cannot bring you down.  Consider how they must eventually flow around and past you.

After a while, walk alongside the river, headed downstream.  Continue to watch the river and ponder.  Eventually, you get beyond the rapids.  You find yourself walking alongside a much calmer river.  Notice that the water still flows swiftly with a mighty current, but notice that it does so calmly and smoothly.

As you walk, you eventually come to a small path that leads down the riverbank.  You follow it and step into the flowing water.  Wade out into the center of the river.  The current is strong, but your footing is sure.  The water pushes against you, but you remain safely rooted on the firm riverbed.  As you wade into the middle, the water comes up to your waist.  Stand there in the current, allowing it to push against you as the water tries to flow past you.  It exerts a force against you just before it slips around you and flows past you toward the sea.

Consider again those forces and situations in your life that is like the water of this river.  Consider how they press against you, but cannot move you.  Consider how you are immovable, rooted to your foundation.

Feel the riverbed beneath your feet.  Consider its texture and composition.  Consider how it compares to the foundation of your life.  Consider those things that support you through life, that keep you rooted firmly as the waters of life push at you.

After a bit, wade back to the riverbank and climb back up.  Turn one last time to look at and consider the river.  Take a moment to thank the river for this experience and the lessons it offers.  Then turn and walk again towards the center of the meadow.  As you leave the river behind, notice how the sound of the flowing water begins to fade into the distance.  Notice how the sun dries the drops of water that cling to your body.

When you are ready, allow yourself to become increasingly aware of your body and your surroundings.  Feel your toes and fingers.  Wiggle them.   As you come back to conscious awareness and the present moment, open your eyes.

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