Guided meditation offers you serenity and gratitude, says writer Judy Darley. Immerse yourself in this relaxing guided meditation in a peaceful Japanese garden.
You’re sitting comfortably cross-legged with your eyes closed. Water splashes gently nearby. Rays of sunlight warm your face.
When you’re ready, you open your eyes and find yourself in the centre of a well-tended Japanese garden.
Appreciating the scent of a Japanese garden
You take a moment to breathe in deeply through your nostrils as you start this meditation, drawing the wonderful air right down to your abdomen and slowly releasing it through your mouth.
You repeat this several times before, in the garden, you unfold your legs and stand up.
The ground under your feet is carpeted with springy moss interspersed with stepping stones. You inhale the fragrant, cool air, noticing the subtle scent of some of your favourite flowers.
The path of stepping stones leads you through the garden, past crimson azaleas and blush-pink peonies growing in vibrant clumps.
Perhaps you run your thumb over the silky petals, or pause to watch bees wriggling happily in and out of the blooms.
The feel of the blossom
The path guides you towards a pool shaded by cherry blossom trees. As you stroll amidst the trees, petals fall and alight on your skin.
Above you, small birds dart from branch to branch. Perhaps you spot a long-tailed bird, which hangs upside down to feed on nectar, or a petite bird with dramatic eye-markings and a long narrow beak.
The branches are abundantly frilled with tiny pink blossoms that dance in
the breeze. They are mirrored in the water, which enhances the impression of a profusion of flowers.
The sound of the past
Your own reflection smiles back at you. However, it doesn’t show the you from now, but from many years ago.
Perhaps the expression on your reflected face brings to mind something reassuring you’d like to tell your younger self.
Maybe it prompts you to recall the feeling of being a child spending time in a place you loved.
Perhaps you hear an echo of the voices of former playmates and remember the fun games you used to share.
Reach out to touch the water and observe how neatly one droplet contains itself in a small shining bubble on your skin. Pond-skimming birds fly past, barely rippling the surface.
A vivid red bridge crosses in a low arch from one side to the other. You walk over its curving surface and watch koi fish swimming beneath lily pads in the serene pool below.
Japanese maple trees drop starry leaves into the water and feathery hare’s foot ferns rest in shadowy nooks. Here and there, carefully pruned bonsai cloud trees catch your eye.
You have the sense that the water is observing you and smiling on you.
A stone statue rests to one side. Something in the delicately carved face reminds you of someone you know, or knew.
Look at the statue for a moment, considering the person it resembles. You find yourself wondering if this garden is your dream, or theirs.
Close by, a bamboo pagoda shelters the setting for a tea ceremony. Beside the elegant, simply painted crockery, a gong is burnished by the sun.
The benefits of touch
You run your finger over the metal, noting the faint vibration that rises. Perhaps someone is present who can draw sound from the gong.
Lie down on a soft woven mat and let the sound waves wash over and through you.
Your skin tingles as you absorb the swelling and falling resonance.
Allow yourself to feel embraced by the reverberation and perhaps imagine being carried by it towards a personal goal or desire.
As the noise dissipates, sit up and pay attention to the cup set on the low table beside you. Admire the glaze of the ceramic and feel its weight in your hand.
Perhaps you taste the tea, holding it in your mouth to savour the greenness of the flavour with its hints of jasmine. You think about the person you would like to share this moment with and what you might want to ask them.
Tuning in to the wind
You wander until the path winds between tall trees. A fallen trunk is shaped perfectly to hold your body when you lie down.
Above you, aspen leaves quiver in a breeze. You inhale the smell of sun-warmed earth and absorb the sound of birdsong weaving around you.
Listen to the wind caressing branches and run your hands over the soft moss blanketing the ground beneath you. Feel the stem of a leaf between your fingertips. Let the stillness surround you.
Perhaps you close your eyes and let the sounds nudge you from one thought or memory to another. If unwelcome, wandering thoughts rise up, look at and accept them and then move your mind back to the garden, the woodland and the plants growing around you.
When you’re feeling satisfied and fully rested after reading this guided meditation in a Japanese garden, you can sit up and carry on with your day.
This article originally appeared in issue 11 of Planet Mindful magazine.