Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Harvest the Power, 2nd Edition: A Lay Leadership Development Program for Adults

Leader Resource 1: Bodies of Water Guided Meditation

For Workshop 4, Caring for Ourselves and Others, Activity 2, Bodies of Water Guided Meditation


Read the meditation in a slow, calm manner, pausing between sentences for a second or two. Pause for about 10 seconds where longer pauses are indicated in the text.


Please sit in a comfortable meditation position. Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so, and focus on your own breathing. Take three deep breaths, breathing in and out, in and out, in and out.

Picture in your mind your favorite body of water. It may be as large as the ocean, or as small as a brook. (longer pause) Notice the way in which the water moves, the way it holds its own space, the way it impacts that which surrounds it. Notice how the water feels. Is it cool? Or warm? Is it icy? Is it refreshing? Notice how it tastes. Notice the color of the water—and its smell. Be aware of what is carried by the water—small bits of plant or animal, particles of soil or sand, fish and other aquatic creatures, some too small to be seen by human eyes. (longer pause)

Become one with the water, carrying what it carries, taking its form. (longer pause) In your mind’s eye, trace the water back to its source, back through the rivers and streams and lakes and waterfalls—back to its source somewhere in the mountains. Experience yourself as a stream beginning with rain and melted snow somewhere high above sea level.

As you begin your journey, you are but a tiny stream, bubbling with new possibilities, exploring and shaping your own path through crevices in the rock or channels left by glaciers that receded long ago. Feel your energy. Feel your power and strength as you shape your own path through the mountains. Feel the changing nature of your being as you grow with spring melts, contract with summer drought, and freeze in the depths of winter. (longer pause) You are full of joy, enthusiasm, and the energy that can literally move mountains.

Now trace your path downstream a bit to a place where you become a freshwater lake, with water spilling in through the lake’s inlet and leaving at its outlet. You are constantly renewed by a fresh supply of water, and sending your own living waters forth, carrying a rich mixture of life and life-giving soil. (longer pause) You feel full, but not overfull, strong and deep, full of motion, and yet somehow stable in your lakebed.

Trace your path downstream to the mighty river, broad and moving, carrying not only life, but also commerce. You are in a hurry, in constant motion, moving things relentlessly and powerfully downstream. You remain mostly in your riverbed, but not always. Sometimes, the water coming in from melted snow or heavy rains leaves you with not enough space for its volume. You spill over the banks, for blocks, or acres, or miles, covering everything in your path with water, bringing destruction and at the same time bringing soil and nutrients that will enrich the earth when the waters recede and you return to your riverbed. (longer pause) You feel powerful, even mighty. You are responsible for much, and you receive from everywhere. And sometimes it gets to be just too much, and things spill over.

Now trace your path to the small stagnant pool left behind by the receding waters. There is no inlet or outlet for this pool. You are self-contained. Your warm waters and rich broth support life well, and your ecosystem is isolated from other bodies of water. There is calm here, but there is decay and stagnation as well. (longer pause)

And now trace your path to the mighty ocean, constantly in motion, answering to the forces of the moon, and wind, and weather, moving in warm and cold currents interconnected with one another. You are the place where life arose on Earth, the cradle for billions of species. (longer pause) Storms rock you, but only in isolated places. You are too big, too broad, and too deep for one hurricane, one snowstorm, one tsunami to affect more than a small part of who and what you are. You are always in motion, ever restless, always changing, part of the essential nature of the earth itself. Feel your endless motion as your waves rise and fall and churn.

As you breathe, reflect on the ways in which your life resembles the different bodies of water. With which images do you most closely identify?

(Pause for about a minute.)

When you are ready, please return slowly to your own body, to your chair, to this room. And when you have returned, open your eyes.