Healing Body Meditations is a unique set of 30 beautiful colour mandalas for meditation based on the natural miracle of the human body, focusing on the heart, the eyes, the lungs, the skin, and other organs and systems.
The Root Chakra (above)
Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing / Enter a relaxed awareness / Gaze at the mandala: four lotus petals; square; triangle; glyph / Think of the lotus as the life force and the square as rootedness / Imagine red molten energy, drawn from earth to surround the chakra at the base of your spine / Visualize that strength expanding upwards inside you and flowering in wisdom / Feel your inner strength and security
Strengthening your Foundations
The root chakra meditation draws upon earth energy, envisaged as a red molten flow within the body. This powerful force is gathered at the base of your spine and grows upwards within yourself, blossoming in an unbeatable combination of four-square strength and wisdom.
Sit comfortably with the Root Chakra Mandala in front of you.
Empty your conscious mind of all concerns and attend to the rise and fall of your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly. Be aware of yourself becoming more relaxed with each in-breath and, with each out-breath, moving deeper into awareness.
Now turn your attention to the Root Chakra Mandala. Run your gaze over the mandala image, starting with the outer frame and working inwards.
Contemplate the four petals, then within them the square and inverted triangle, and around the triangle the central glyph, which summarizes the chakra’s essence: the primal life force. Think of the square as stability and the colour red as earth energy.
Contemplate the double symbolism of the mandala: the lotus representing the sacred essence of life emerging from the physical body, and the square meaning rootedness – the physical and spiritual aspects of the self firmly grounded in the earth. Think, too, of the colour red as representing the primal life force.
Imagine the colour suffusing this chakra as red molten energy. Picture that energy as an infinite reservoir of power not only in your mind but also under your feet. With your mind, draw that power up into the root chakra at the base of your spine, where it rotates clockwise.
You have used the mandala as a portal to gain access to a tremendous fortifying and healing elixir. This will provide you with sustenance and self-confidence, combining physical with emotional strength. You know that you have the means to be secure and to let go of fear.
As your gaze penetrates the root chakra symbol at the heart of the mandala, imagine that the source of energy in your root chakra is not just power but also wisdom as it grows upwards, flowering into maturity. The inverted triangle within the mandala is acting as a map for your inner self-development. As your roots get stronger, the flower of the wise and mature self is able to grow strongly too – however bad the weather that buffets it.
Feel the molten energy of the root chakra filling your body and spirit, like the blood coursing through your blood vessels and capillaries. Remain for as long as you wish in this state of fortification: you are strong and the earth itself is your ally.
When you’re ready, return your attention to the mandala, using it as a bridge for your return to the everyday world.
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
The Skeleton And Muscles:
The Supple Body
The skeleton gives us stability and protection, while the muscles give us movement, interpreting the commands of the brain. The intricate interplay of bone, muscle and mind is our wonderful daily dance on this Earth.
Together the skeleton and muscles make up the mechanics of the human form: the highly engineered, subtly articulated device that carries us from place to place and enables us to manipulate our environment. We learn in later life what it means when mobility and dexterity are reduced. At the very least, we might struggle to climb a hill, or even the stairs, or to bend to tie a shoelace or dig for half an hour in the garden. Our joints might get inflamed and cause us pain, even at rest. Meditation, luckily, can have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. One scientific study has shown that a group of people who did mindfulness training had lower levels of Interleukin 6, a biomarker of inflammation, than a control group who undertook less focused ways to relax. It is likely that stress reduction lies behind this finding, since stress is a known inflammation trigger.
The mandala opposite offers an exploration of the relationship between bone and muscle, with resonant symbolism. One of its aims is to liberate the skull (depicted as a dome) from associations with mortality, since the skull, after all, is nothing more macabre than a tough protection for the brain with all its connections – the inexhaustible wonder of consciousness. Also, the mandala brings us awareness of another natural miracle: the skeleton and muscles responding to the unvoiced commands we transmit through the nervous system. This meditation helps us to relish the power of human agency: our ability to lift things, to travel, to be dextrous and to get things done, to labour for good purpose, and to express our-selves through movement. For those concerned about joint pain it provides a focus for sending anti-inflammatory energy where it is needed, by means of the healing solar rays.
The mandala also emphasizes, in the dome, the idea of the skull as a protective capstone. Both skull and dome are approximations of the half-sphere, a gesture towards the perfection and completeness of the globe. Our own skulls are robust though not indestructible vaults for the most precious wonder of all, conscious being, which is approachable through meditation but not, without falling into cliché, through words.
“The whole soul is in the whole body, in the bones and in the veins and in the heart… ”
– Giordano Bruno
Skeleton and Muscles Mandala (above)
Focus on your breathing / Enter a relaxed awareness / Imagine yourself lifting the tree branch in the forest – you are happy to tidy the clearing / Visualize warm, bright sunlight penetrating your bones and muscles / Contemplate the dome – symbol of the protective skull / Meditate on the tai chi symbols – a balance of yin and yang energy
Sit comfortably with the Skeleton and Muscles Mandala (above) in front of you.
Empty your mind of thoughts and Now concentrate on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly, becoming more relaxed with each in-breath and going deeper into awareness with each out-breath.
Before engaging with the mandala, pause for a few minutes of mindfulness. Starting with your toes, move your attention up each leg in turn, onto your body, and up each arm from the fingers, concluding with neck and head. During this exercise visualize your muscles and bones under the skin – the working parts of the engine that gives you the power to do good things.
Now turn your attention to the mandala. Imagine yourself copying the figure, putting to use your muscles and bones, lifting heavy branches, chopping wood and tidying the forest clearing – this is the job you have to do.
There are certain tasks you lack the strength for, but where necessary you find workarounds – for example, chopping a branch in two before dragging along each half separately. You rejoice in all the movements of which you are capable. All this is work, not play, but you are happy to be of service.
You are working in summer sunlight, which blazes down from three suns charged with infinite healing energy. Pause for a minute or so in your imaginary work to contemplate the triple sun depicted in the mandala. As you gaze at the suns, spend a few minutes feeling the solar warmth penetrating your skin and strengthening your bones and muscles.
Be aware also, for a further couple of minutes, of that solar energy massaging all your joints, the ultimate anti-inflammatory agent of healing. You feel your whole body relax and become more supple as you meditate.
Finally, turn your gaze to the dome in the mandala. Recognize this as a metaphor for your skull. Just as your brain is protected by your skull, so too your essential being is protected by your positive spirit – your faith in the meaning and purpose of life.
Conclude by contemplating the tai chi symbols. Feel within yourself the perfect balance of energies they represent. Select any one of the points of light or dark within the symbols and take your mind through this portal into a profound awareness of being itself – the ultimate reality. Whenever you feel ready, return your thoughts to the everyday moment, feeling – paradoxically – deeply refreshed by your labours.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
-Francis of Assisi
The Legs: Rhythms Of Movement
Walking, in the Zen tradition, can be a form of meditation (kinyin). Another approach, more cerebral, is to make the legs, with their connotations of adventure and connectedness, the focus of a mandala practice.
The leg allows us to approach each other, and can therefore be seen as a symbol of social bonding. A society characterized by healthy exchange – of trade, of resources, of ideas, of charity – is one where people move around freely. Walking has obvious health benefits, for heart health, circulation, lung power, digestion, immune system and bone density, but equally important for spiritual well-being is the sense of self-sufficiency: look back and you will often be surprised at how far you have come.
One characteristic of walking is its natural rhythm, which, like a shaman’s drumbeat, offers a parallel to the perpetual pulsing of the heart. There is an element of trust in this, since we do not make our strides one by one with conscious will, but instead we simply get the ambulatory process started, relying on our inner autopilot to continue it unconsciously. Walking as a meditation, indoors or out, is a form of mindfulness: the idea is to walk very slowly and focus meditatively, within the moment, on the sensations in our muscles as we do so. At the more relaxed end of the spectrum is the “philosopher’s walk” – a country amble that allows you, either alone or in dialogue with a companion, time and inspiration to range freely over philosophical issues and perhaps come to profound insights. The inspiration comes from nature – more specifically from pleasing views of a landscape or gardens.
The archetypal Philosopher’s Walk is a path that follows a tree-lined canal in Kyoto, but the feature has also been adopted by German university towns. The mandala here encourages you to envisage healing, whether spiritual or physical, as a path, along which to travel in a natural rhythm. The journey towards well-being or fulfilment may be long and twisting, with some apparent backtracking. But the sense of ongoing practice – of putting one foot in front of another and moving forward, in a positive frame of mind, as encouraged by this meditation – is one that will suffuse the mind with purpose and hope. This is true regardless of whether you have an immobilizing condition. The journey, in any case, is not to be taken too literally, since inward travel, in mind and spirit, can accomplish far more than outward, into the everyday world.
“In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Legs Mandala (above)
Focus on your breathing / Enter a relaxed awareness / Contemplate the walker and the path, lake and mountains / Look at the bicycle border – another pace of travel / Imagine you are the walker, with a journal for your best insights / Think of yourself resting by the lake and writing up new thoughts / Walk on / Find deep rest in the refuge hut.
In this mandala meditation, we discover the rhythm of determined step-by-step progress. The image shows a walker, but for those who lack mobility this may be interpreted as moving forward in one’s journey of self-development – for example, in dealing with an illness or progressing with recuperation.
Sit comfortably with the Legs Mandala (above) in front of you.
Let all concerns and anxieties drift out of your consciousness. Be aware of the rise and fall of your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly, becoming more and more relaxed with in-breath and going deeper into awareness with each out-breath.
Now turn your attention to the mandala. Contemplate the setting for the central walking figure. He walks around a lake – a place of mental refreshment. The path winds. There are mountains in the distance, with a refuge hut. Around the circular perimeter of the scene are bicycles – a reminder that different people are likely to progress at a different pace from yourself.
Gaze at the walking figure in the mandala, carrying a notebook. Imagine this is you. The notebook is a journal where you have written down the best thoughts you have had so far on your journey. After a while you stop by the lake to write up your latest thoughts.
Think of yourself hearing the lake water lapping on the shore, the breeze whispering in the trees and birdsong all around. Look at your surroundings too.
As you rest, a precious thought comes to you out of the blue and you write it down in your journal: what is it?
As you get up and walk on, you become absorbed in the rhythm of your legs, doing your bidding without your overreaching yourself. You know that the important thing is not how far you travel but what you write in your book. Reflect on the experience or insight entered there.
Imagine your progress: soon you will be far away from where you are now. Look in the distance for the mountain hut, reached by steps. This is not the end of your journey, only a hospitable way station where you can spend the night.
Know that by the time you reach the hut you will have plenty of new thoughts to write up. You have met fellow travellers on the way. You are eager to write down their kind, wise words and what they have told you about their journey.
The entrance to the hut is intriguing: you cannot see what it will be like inside. Imagine progressing into the hut, which is full of rich insights others have left there, including the secret of inner peace: a sense of being fully at one with yourself and with the cosmos. As you walk across this threshold in your mind, a healing light floods your being.
“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”
– Henry David Thoreau
This has been an excerpt from Healing Body Meditations by Mike Annesley with Steve Nobel.
Healing Body Meditations