At the beach, the boundaries between sand, sea and sky become blurred. It can be hard to tell exactly where one ends and another begins. As waves reach the shore, they soak into the sand; crashing waves stir up sand, mixing it with water. Sea mist rises as breaking waves curl around and splash through the air. This merger of water, earth and air can be a useful visualization for meditation. As a series of images, they form a path to follow when quieting the mind and moving your awareness inside.
To begin this meditation, find a comfortable place to sit or recline. Take a couple of minutes to relax your facial features and direct your attention inward, away from the outside world. Maintain your posture and alignment without becoming tense. Once you feel settled, turn your awareness to your breath.
Your Breath Moves Like Water
Think of your breath as water; it flows freely, filling whatever vessel or shape you provide for it. Let a soft inhalation rise through the body like a wave that is flowing onto the shore. The wave, your breath, continues to flow as long as it can remain whole and complete without faltering. At the top of your breath, pause for the briefest moment, just as the water does before it starts to soak into the sand.
When you begin to exhale, releasing your breath, let it go softly like ocean water sinking into the sand. The water disappears smoothly and evenly. Allow your exhalation to gently spread through the body the same way. Your body will soften and relax like sand on the shore changing from dry to wet. At the very end of the exhalation, there is a brief pause before the next wave or breath begins.
A Mind as Clear as Air
With your body receiving the breath like sand receives water, allow the mind, your attention, to infuse both of them. The interaction of ocean and air creates bubbles in the water; the porous sand has space for air between each grain. As the air is present in both the water and sand, let your mind follow each movement of breath and spread throughout your body. Continue to breathe and stay present with the breath and body until there is no distinction between them.
There are many approaches to meditation and a variety of visualizations that can be successful. This ocean imagery may be useful when you need a new way to transition into a quiet, attentive mental place. Ultimately, in meditation, the boundaries between our mind, body and breath disappear. The breath serves to unite our mind and body just as the sea blends with the air and sand at the water’s edge.