Imagine you’re walking along the ridge of a snowy mountain on a sunny day in January. The sky is a solid dome of royal blue, enclosing the path where you walk in an idyllic alpine globe. The air is cold on your cheeks, but you’re dressed warmly and you feel snug and comfortable. You love hiking in the mountains and feel at peace here.
You share the mountainside with statuesque pine trees lightly dusted with snow, and the playful chattering of birds. The leaves of the aspen trees flutter in the breeze, making the whole mountainside appear to quiver.
As the path bends to the right, you look up at the rugged cliffs slated with snow, like white stair steps sparkling in the brilliant sun. As the path narrows and begins to climb, you slow and shorten your stride to keep from slipping on the loose rocks. You pause to take a breath and look up to where the path leads.
There staring down at you is an enormous elk, standing on the lip of the cliff. You inhale sharply, the bite of chilled air fills your throat. The elk’s head is raised and his antlers reach out like strong branches of a tree. The dark wooly mane and muscular flank strike an imposing, imperious presence. Dark eyes assess you curiously and you stare back, completely captivated by the strength and beauty of this great animal. Surprisingly, you are not afraid. In fact, being in this powerful animal’s proximity you feel a profound sense of safety and even kinship.
Drawn by a mysterious force you begin to climb the steep ridge toward him, and you marvel at your own courage. You climb the loose rocks as strong and sure-footed as if you too were born on this mountain. Once level with the great animal, the tracks of your boots mark the snowy path companionably beside his two-pronged hoof-prints. You regard each other for awhile in what feels like a timeless dimension.
The elk then lifts his large head toward the sky and bellows deeply. You close your eyes and feel the resounding vibration in your chest. You breathe in a quality of strength, power, and connection as the sound reverberates throughout the mountainside and echoes down to the valley below. A sense of oneness with the elk fills your heart and with all living things that make this mountain residence their home.
When you open your eyes, the elk is gone. In his place, nothing but the blue-dome sky, the gentle breeze and chirping of birds. You stand still, breathing in the wonder of the moment and feel quite changed, stronger somehow, more centered and at ease.
You begin to make your way back down the mountain to your cabin at a comfortable pace, finding no reason to rush. You feel a deep sense of reverence with these wonders of nature. The shadows of the trees on the snow grow longer as the sun begins its slow descent, the air crisp and still.
You imagine a warm bowl of soup and freshly baked bread waiting for you back at the cabin, sitting in your favorite chair next to a vibrant fire in the hearth. You breathe in a sense of gratitude simply for being alive.
It occurs to you that the qualities of strength, power and connection the elk imparted were already within you, to be called upon whenever you need them, the elk was there simply as a powerful reminder of your inherent gifts that need only to be noticed, recognized, embraced.
You understand so fully now that you are connected to the strength and power of all things in nature.
Take a few more cycles of breath here and visualize the magnificent elk at your third eye chakra in the middle of your forehead and repeat to yourself: I am strong, I am powerful, I am connected to all things.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Hansen completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga. She teaches traditional mat-based classes as well as chair yoga and beginning meditation to seniors. She is particularly drawn to guided visualization meditation techniques for the immediate access to the expansiveness of our imagination and creativity, and believes that when we transport the mind to a place of beauty and serenity, bolstered by symbolic imaging and the power of intention, we can bring positive change and healing into our lives. Judy is a published poet and dedicated journaler.
“The mind cannot tell the difference between an actual, ‘real-life’ event and a vividly imagined one.”
Denis Waitley, counselor to Olympic athletes and Apollo astronauts