Guided Meditation: Cultivating Gratitude.
Regardless of your experience or familiarity with meditation, sitting alone in silence can at times be challenging. Guided meditations are a great tool to focus your mind, kindle your imagination, and enliven your practice.
Gratitude for Our Mother (Earth)
Mother Earth, as westerners often refer to our planet, is a symbolic reference to our dependence upon the place where we live. In western society, it is easy to live blind to the connection we share with our planet. We are driven by the stress of jobs, relationships, and goals. We lose sight of where our ancestors came from and the life beyond the confines of our cities. Many cultures before us, however, had a relationship with Earth and viewed her as a sentient being with human qualities. Being the provider, Mother Earth was viewed and worshipped as a deity. In this meditation, you can cultivate a feeling of oneness with Earth where you recognize her as a being and even a provider. In doing so, you can offer gratitude to the source that sustains us and provides for us. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to recall our impact on the planet and the importance of respecting and loving our her like a mother.
Below is an Iroquois prayer to Mother Earth that may give you an insightful perspective to another culture’s reverence for and relationship with our planet:
We return thanks to our mother,
the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines
for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn,
and to her sisters, the beans and squash,
which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air,
has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light
when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
who has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth
with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit.
in whom is embodied all goodness.
and who directs all things,
for the good of his children.
Whether guiding yourself or another through these meditations, allow for a comfortable pause whenever you’d like to focus on a specific exercise. Each should be repeated for several cycles of breath or until you are ready to move on. Enjoy!
Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Without changing anything, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body – perhaps the rise and fall of the belly, the movement of air at the tips of the nostrils, or the quiet oceanic noise of the air flowing in and out. Allow each breath to calm the body, your mind, and focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)
As you breathe in, feel your body lengthen and grow from the ground beneath you. With each exhale, feel yourself relax back into the Earth supporting you. Feel the vast ocean of energy deep inside you rooting and connecting you to the earth. (pause for several breath cycles) Now breathe awareness into the muscles around your face. On your exhale, feel the muscles release. (pause) Breathe your awareness into your lower back. On your exhale, feel the muscles in your lower back relax. (pause) Now, choose another part of your body to bring conscious relaxation. Use your inhales to focus your awareness and your exhales to bring relaxation. (pause)
Moving in to visualization, imagine yourself walking through a peaceful garden. All of the plants are green and healthy. The soil is soft and rich beneath you. The sun gently peaks through the trees above. There are birds chirping, butterflies swirling. You come to a fountain where water gently trickles and splashes and rest there to enjoy the beauty of our Earth. You feel completely free and safe. (pause)
Inhale an awareness of the majesty of Mother Earth. The depths of her oceans, the heights of her mountains, the power of her winds, the richness of her soil. She gives unconditionally and exemplifies purity in her beauty.
Recall all that Mother Earth provides for life to exist – the rivers and rains that bring fresh water, the wood for fires and shelter, the air we breathe, the vegetation that nourishes us. Let us return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us. On your inhale, invite a growing sensation of gratitude in the center of your chest for Mother Earth. On your exhale, let the gratitude flow through you and back down into the Earth beneath you. Feel yourself connected to the earth. (Pause until ready to move on)
When you are ready, inhale and invite your awareness back to your body and your senses. Sense the relationship you’ve cultivated for our Earth and the gratitude you feel for all that she provides. As you move on from your meditation, be mindful of what you give and take from our planet and how you can have a positive impact in our world.
On your inhales, imagine that you are taking in energy from the soles of your feet through the back of your body. Follow the energy up through the backs of your legs, your back and neck to the crown of your head. On your exhales, watch the energy descend through your third eye and down the front of your body to the soles of your feet. (repeat 3-5 breath cycles)