The Rose Meditation
The path of the unfolding soul has often been compared in Eastern mysticism to that of a lotus growing up from the muddy earth and finally blossoming on the water's surface.
In Western spirituality, an unfolding rose can also be symbolic of the evolution of the soul. The rose represents many different levels of spiritual development, from the tightly closed green bud which hides its folds of blooms in the calyx to the fully fledged rose that has opened to its limit.
Using symbolism in meditation can be very potent in providing a point of mental focus and inspiration. As spirituality uses the language of symbols, it is important to recognise that any visualisation involving imagery will have an effect upon your consciousness.
We will make the assumption that you know a little about meditation, and have seated yourself in whichever way works for you. Get yourself very comfortable with a straight spine, either on a chair or in half-lotus posture or full-lotus posture, if you are familiar with them.
Give yourself about 15 minutes for The Rose Meditation, but you can go longer if you feel that you have the visualisation capacity for it. However, longer isn't necessarily better. We're aiming for depth and clarity rather than an exercise that causes mental strain.
Bring your attention to your breathing, just slowly in and out, through the nostrils only. A good deep breath for several breaths is beneficial if you breathe in and push the abdomen out as if filling up the abdomen with air. Allow the breath to expire and pull the stomach in a little on the out-breath. The abdomen is working rather like a bellows, so do this gently and slowly.
Once you feel sufficiently settled, just allow the breathing to find its own level. Next, take a breath, and feel that it goes right up to the top of the head. Let the out-breath out, slowly, and on the next in-breath, feel the breath go right up along the spine to the crown of the head. (If you are familiar with chakras or energy centres, feel that the breath is illuminating the Crown Chakra, found here at the very top of the head.) See if you can now visualise a golden sun shining at the top of the head.
I call this type of breathing the Energy Breath.
The golden sun at the top of the head might represent the physical sun that we all know, radiating down into our world, or it might represent your Higher Self, or the Over-Soul as it is sometimes known.
A Rose in Bud
If it helps you, use a picture of an opened rose that you like and which particularly appeals to you. Gaze at the picture for a few minutes before closing your eyes to visualise your own imaginary rose. If you are good at mentally creating a rose then you do not need to do this part and can go straight into the visualisation.
First, let's hold an image of a rose bud held firmly in the mind. Don't think about the 'background' to your rose, as it's best if that is left blank in your consciousness. Just focus on seeing a green rose bud in your mind's eye. The background usually ends up being quite dark, I find, with the rose standing out against it.
Spend a few minutes just seeing the rose bud, hiding its potential colour and fragrance. We don't yet know what colour it will be or what it will smell like, or even if it has any smell of any kind. We're just holding the rose bud as a strong image at this point.
Internally, without thinking thoughts about the rose, per se, we simply recognise that the tightly held calyx is representative of the soul which has not yet revealed its glory. And that's all right, because the calyx surrounding the growing rose inside has a protective influence whilst the delicate process of development takes place within the bud itself. In the practice of meditation, we go within and allow unfoldment to take place safely in the security and protection of our inner sanctuary and the rose bud is symbolic of this internal process.
See if you can turn the rose bud around in your mind, and see it from all angles; really get to 'know' your rose bud.
Perhaps the light at the top of your head is shining on the rose bud, like the sun invoking a response from the developing, but hidden bloom. Using your mind, what would it feel like to touch the rose bud? See if you can feel the rose with the 'fingers of the mind' as I call it. Let it feel really firm and solid, a true object, a living, vibrant thing. You can both see and feel the rose using the senses of your mind. It has taken on a life of its own. It is tangible and real to you.
An Unfolding Bloom
Now, using your Energy Breath and taking the energy into the top of the head, see if you can feel that the bud is starting to become fuller, burgeoning with energy and pushing towards opening. You can feel the power of growth taking place within the bud itself.
The top of the calyx opens a little, and you see some colour. (It can be any colour you like, including unusual colours like deep blues and purples.) The first tips of the blooms emerge, and you can actually hear the bud opening. There is a slight crackle as the bud allows the green calyx to open up and the bloom to emerge forth. What might the blooming bud feel like to touch now? Quite a bit softer compared to the firmness of the enclosed bud before. There is a gentle texture to the emerging flower. You are seeing, feeling and hearing the bud unfold. Three of your mind's senses are engaged.
Turn the unfolding bud in your mind's eye. Allow whatever colour (or colours if you want more than one) that you have chosen to be bright and vivid. Can you see the tiny veins in the blooms? See the different layers of the blooms as they gradually emerge from their imprisoned state.
The Imprisoned Splendour
With the theme of soul development in mind, you might now wish to notice the thorns on the stem of the bud. Perhaps you already had seen them? How sharp are they? Can you feel them? Or are they soft, as we find in some young and tender roses? The thorns represent the many trials that the spiritual aspirant must endure and ultimately master before the rose can emerge in its fullest glory. There has been a lot of suffering to get to the stage of the bloom. Gently meditate on this aspect, as the rose slowly emerges.
The calyx drops away, the mask of the false personality is gone, and the true, spiritual self is emerging as represented by the opening flower. Layer after layer of blooms unfold, revealing ever deeper layers at the centre of the rose itself, which are still closed at this point, yet to reveal even more of the inner life.
Really feel the sun at the top of the head. Using the Energy Breath, you recognise that you are the rose itself, unfolding. As the sun draws out the rose from the calyx, so the Higher Self draws you up towards the Light.
As you gaze at the rose, what might it taste like? This might seem a strange suggestion, but in our imagination we can do anything; so, what taste does your mind convey to you? Would the rose taste like honey? Vanilla essence perhaps? You are now seeing the rose, hearing it unfold, feeling its delicacy and tasting it. Four senses of the mind are involved.
Allowing your mind now to really enjoy the rose in all its glory, turning it around if you wish, to see it from every angle. Let the colour of the rose mesmerize you.
Fragrance of the Gods
As the rose unfolds further, you can now see the innermost petals that surround the stamens, the very epicentre of the flower. Here is where the fragrance emerges. Can you smell it? What does it convey to the mind's sense of smell? Is it like sweet honey, or perhaps it smells like fresh lemons or apples? Allow whatever smell you like to waft forth from the centre of the rose.
You have now utilised all the senses of the mind, those of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. All of the familiar senses of the physical body have been aroused at the level of the mind, enriching this visualisation and giving it a life of its own.
Try and stay with the smell of the rose, as you visualise it in full bloom and all its fragrant glory. Really feel the reality of the complete rose in your mind's eye.
When you feel ready, just let go of the rose image. Either simply let the mind become empty, (if you can) or in some way dissolve your rose if that helps you better. Otherwise, just forget about it, let the visual image go, and slowly open your eyes but stay with the presence of the feeling that the rose engendered in you.
Know that the rose is a symbolic representation of your evolving soul, going through all the trials of thorny growth, shielded in the protective covering of the calyx, yet gradually emerging to reveal ever more of its inner splendour, never fully complete until every petal has revealed itself. Finally, there is the culmination in the fragrance that comes from the Higher Self, the soul.
You are now Complete.