Mountain Meditation

Picture the most beautiful mountain you know, or know of or can imagine.  One whose form speaks personally to you, focusing on the image or the feeling of that mountain.  Noticing its overall shape, its lofty peak, the base of the mountain rooted in the earth, the steep or gently sloping sides.  Notice how massive it is, how unmoving, how beautiful, whether seen from afar or up close.  Maybe your mountain has snow at the top, and trees on the lower slopes.  Perhaps it has one prominent peak or a series of peaks or a high plateau.  However it appears, just sit for a moment with the image of this mountain.  Observing it -- noting its qualities.

Throughout the day, as the sun travels the sky, the mountain sits.  Lights and colors are changing moment by moment, the mountain just sits, motionless.  As the light and shadows change, night follows day and day follows night.  The mountain remains still as the seasons change, the weather changes, moment by moment and day by day, the mountain remains, abiding all change.

In summer, no snow may remain on the mountain, except perhaps a small bit of snow at the very top.  In the fall, the mountain may display a coat of brilliant colors, in winter it may be covered by a blanket of snow or ice.   In any season, it may at times find itself enshrouded in clouds or fog, or pelted by freezing rain.  Visitors who come to visit may be disappointed that they cannot see the mountain clearly.  But it’s all the same to the mountain, seen or unseen, in sun or clouds, broiling or frigid, it just sits being itself.  At times, visited by violent storms, snow and rain and in strong winds.  But through it all, the mountain sits.

Spring comes, and birds sing in the sun, leaves return to the trees, flowers bloom on the mountainside, and streams overflow with water from melting snow.  Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens on the surface, by the world of appearances.

When you feel ready, see if you can bring the mountain into your body, imagine you are the mountain.

Your head becomes the lofty peak, your shoulders and arms become the side of the mountain, your bottom and legs become the base, strongly rooted in the earth.  The elevated quality of the mountain felt deep in your spine.

You are the mountain, unwavering in your stillness, a centered, rooted, unmoving presence.

As we sit holding this image in our minds, we can embody the same rootedness and unwavering stillness in the face of everything that changes in our own lives, over seconds, hours and years.  In our lives, and in our mindfulness practice, we experience constantly the changing nature of mind, and body and the outerworld, we experience periods of light and darkness, vivid color and drab dullness, storms of various intensity and violence in our own lives and minds, and in the world around us.  We endure periods of darkness and pain, as well as savory moments of joy and uplift, even our appearance changes constantly, just like the mountains, we experience the weather and a weathering of our own.

We can adopt this strength and stability of the mountain as our own.  We can use it to encounter each moment with mindfulness, equanimity and stability.  Our emotional storms and crises are more like weather on the mountain.  We tend to take it personally, but its strongest characteristic is impersonal.  It is not to be denied or ignored, but respected and acknowledged.  But we can also acknowledge our own power, incredible strength and inner stillness that will allow us to recognize that storms will pass, the sun will shine, the weather changes, but we can weather the storms just like the mountain.

As the mountain, we remain still, strong and powerful, through whatever changes surround us.