Guided Visualization

Season One: Episode Three

This episode is a guided visualization that is very much influenced by the children’s tale about Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad. Do you know the book? Yes, it’s The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. . This guided visualization takes us down a gentle river for a visit with a dear and trusted friend, and then back home again.


Show Notes:

Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Bedtime Stories: A Unique Guided Relaxation Program for Falling Asleep and Entering the World of Dreams by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


Transcript

Hello and welcome to Crafted Connections, a podcast by Fully Woven. Here you will find a collection of embodied contemplative activities to calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. Activities such as guided meditations, journal writing, creative arts, and gentle mindful movement. 

My name is Monique and I trust and practice these activities to help me live peacefully with chronic disabilities. Their introspective nature is subtle yet profoundly effective at amplifying wisdom. In practicing them with you, I seek to create a space to ease your suffering and where you will perhaps feel less disconnected.

Today I would like to share with you a guided visualization with the intention of tapping into the collective unconscious. That phenomenal thin place that Carl Jung said contains our universal archetypes, narratives, and mythology. The collective unconscious is that endless well where we quench our thirst with stories about those large overarching themes we all experience – love, death, illness, fear, joy, and so on. You could engage with this contemplation as a tool of divination by having a question in mind as you go into it. Or you could have no question in mind and allow something unknown to surface. You may or may not understand what’s revealed and writing it down could come in handy for deciphering your divinations at a later date. 

I’m calling this guided visualization “Down a Gentle River” and full-disclosure here: this visualization has been greatly influenced by the fact that I’ve been reading The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I’ve been reading this book these last few evenings before bedtime. It’s a wonderful book about four close friends and their life along a slow-flowing wide river. The narrative feels very much like a river itself as it flows and winds along giving glimpses of life on the river banks. Yes, the four friends are Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad and yes they are anthropomorphised animals and yes this is a children’s book but the stories contained within are perennial and relatable. The Wind in the Willows can be a deep dive into friendship and neighbourliness or it can be a lighthearted escape into a gentle landscape. It all depends on how I approach the book. One thing I almost always do with any book is to play around with the genders. I like to queer up my narratives which means that she becomes he or he becomes they. You get the idea. I’ll be doing this as I read snippets to you from The Wind in the Willows during this guided visualization. 

Children’s books are my go-to medicine when I feel myself descending into sadness or when I feel my creativity starting to wane. There’s just something so pleasing about the familiarity  of the predictable story arc. In the past couple of years I’ve been experiencing a decline in my cognitive functioning  and reading the page has become almost inaccessible. Thankfully we have audiobooks and they hit the right spot to soothe my heart and spark my creativity. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy having someone read me a story. 

Do you know Dr. Clarissa PInkola Estes? She’s a Jungian analyst – and so much more – and she reads all her books and she sings. She has a series of bedtime stories that never fail to send me off to sleepy land with lots of fertile dream fodder.

Are you ready to be taken on a guided visualization Down a Gentle River? The invitation for today is to make yourself comfortable however that looks. Find yourself in a heap of comfort and warmth. I’m sitting on a warm blanket on the floor with my dog snuggled in at one hip and my cat at the other. Perhaps you’ll hear their soft snores? Please find yourself in an equally comfortable spot.

Maybe close your eyes or soften your gaze. 

Begin to sink into the sensation of your breath. Notice the ebb and flow of its rhythm. 

Can you hear your breath? Maybe it sounds like soft waves moving in and out with the tide?

Can you feel a gentle rocking in your pelvis? Can you discern this subtle movement as it travels up your spine to your skull? Can you sense a gentle rocking in your whole body?

. (pause in silence)

Are you comfortable? If not, move around a bit and find that sweet spot where you feel fully supported. Take a long easy inhale and a full soft exhale. Try that again and maybe even sigh on the exhale. And one more time – inhale and exhale. Allow your breath to unfold as a gentle clear deep river. See if you can let go of guiding it. 

. (pause in silence)

You find yourself standing upon the shore of a river. Notice the sun in the sky and the warm breeze upon your skin. Look, there’s your trusty little row boat. As you climb aboard you thank Mother Water for welcoming you and you acknowledge that her currents won’t overwhelm you. As you settle into your seat and take hold of the oars, you thank Little Brother Boat for providing transport; you know that he won’t leave you adrift or steer you wrong.

. (pause in silence)

“Today, to her gazing south with a new-born need stirring in her heart, the clear sky over their long low outline seemed to pulsate with promise; today, the unseen was everything; the unknown is the only real fact of life.”

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

You push off from the shore and begin to move downstream. Your arms are strong and the motion of rowing opens your lungs up for even deeper breaths. You feel invigorated and happy to be out on the water today. The passing scenery is familiar and you take the time to greet your favourite spots. That tree? Hello! Hello, wildflower meadow. Hello landscape.

. (pause in silence)

“The pageant of the river bank had marched steadily along, unfolding itself in scene-pictures that succeeded itself in stately procession.

Purple loosestrife arrived early, shaking luxuriant locks along the edge of the mirror whence its own face laughed back at it. Willow-herb, tender and wistful, like a pink sunset-cloud was not slow to follow. Comfrey, the purple hand-in-hand with the white, crept forth to take its place in the line; and at last one the diffident and delaying dog-rose stepped delicately on the stage,”

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

The river is moving very slowly now and your arms are beginning to tire. You pull the oars into the boat and allow yourself to float wherever the river will take you. The gentle rocking and soft birdsong is soothing. You’re at peace and curious about what’s around the next bend.

. (pause in silence)

“This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,’ whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. ‘Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely”

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

Your boat begins to turn towards the shore and standing there is one of your dearest friends. Someone who you don’t see too often yet whenever you two get together it’s as if no time has passed. 

You spread your blanket on the grassy shore and your friend begins to share a most remarkable story. Weren’t you just pondering this very thing the other night? Sleep seemed to mock you as your mind sought to reason out this mystery. And here’s your dear friend sharing the piece that illuminates it all and brings it to understanding. 

Imagine that.

You listen with rapt attention.

. (pause in silence)

“They had got down to the bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple.”

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

With your friend’s tale finished, you bid them farewell and climb once more into your trusty little boat. It’s with a light heart and renewed strength that you trace your way back to your home shores.

. (pause in silence)

“As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. 

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

As you arrive home, begin to notice the rhythm of your breath once more. Linger for a few moments on the shoreline and gather up some of your thoughts to visit with later.

. (pause)

“The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river they trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, she sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to her, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

. (pause in silence)

Begin to wiggle your toes and fingers. Rock your head from side to side. Maybe shrug your shoulders and shake out your arms. Depending on your posture, raise either your arms or your legs towards the ceiling and once more feel the soft buoyancy of water. Imagine your limbs are seaweed floating and swaying in the moving currents of the water.

Let your limbs float back down to a more supported and neutral place. 

If it feels right to do so, then come into a different posture and we’ll close our meditation together.

Draw your palms together and place your thumbs on your sternum, bow your head towards your heart. Take a moment to honour the fathomless wisdom you contain. Take a moment to honour the dear friends who stand upon your shores.  May your knowing of both wisdom and friendship illuminate the mysteries you encounter. And until next time, peace be with you dear one.