This guided visualization was shared as part of “Refuah Shleimah: A Healing Ritual Marking One Year of Pandemic,” hosted by Ritualwell on March 11, 2021.
Find a comfortable position, where you can relax and breathe. Breathe in and out, in and out. Inhale. Exhale. Concentrate on your breaths.
Imagine you are at your favorite body of water. Alone. It can be a lake, a spring, your favorite beach. Even a swimming pool. Or a The ritual bath. The waters of the mikveh symbolically purify – they are seen as waters of rebirth. A convert immerses in the mikveh as part of conversion. Many Orthodox married women go to the mikveh following their period and before resuming sexual relations. Couples go to the mikveh before being married. Many, including some men, immerse before Yom Kippur; some go every Friday before Shabbat.. Place yourself there, taking in your surroundings, including the smell and temperature of the air.
Keep breathing, while you slowly make your way to the water’s edge. Step by step. Step by step. Breath by breath. Breath by breath. If you are wearing shoes, take them off and put your toes into the water. Or simply touch the water with your fingers. How does it feel to your touch?
Now, remove your clothing. Piece by piece. Even your underclothes. Down to your bare skin. No one is here but you, so there is no need to be concerned someone will see you. You are going to immerse in the water. Two full body immersions. And for that, you need to be completely nude. Like the day you came into this world.
Once all of your clothing is in a pile at the water’s edge, slowly ease yourself into the water. Feel the water surrounding you. Holding you. Supporting you. If you are not a good swimmer, or if you do not especially like to be in water, or even if you do not know how to swim, imagine that suddenly you have overcome that fear or discomfort. Or suddenly you can swim. You feel at home in the water today, adept at staying afloat.
When you are ready, hold your breath and dunk your entire body, including your head, underneath the water, feeling the water surrounding every part of your being. You are safe in the embrace of the water, in the calm silence of it. Just you and the water. Like a fetus in the womb, a fish in its element, a human returning to their watery essence, touching their innermost core. Wholeness. Dissolving into unity. A time to return to yourself.
As you remain in the experience of your full body immersion, reflect on the twelve months that just passed. The pandemic year that we are marking today.
How did your life change? How did it feel to have to let go of plans and expectations? Were there any unexpected gifts you received from this experience?
How has this period been for you emotionally? Have you felt yourself growing and expanding? Or has this been a time of contracting and stifling? Do you feel filled with gratitude when you think of this period? Have you been scared? Angry? Resentful? Have you been ill? Did you lose people close to you? If you need to cry into the water, let those tears go and mix with the waters that surround you. We are each unique like a tear drop, yet part of a collective flow.
Have your emotions been mixed? Embracing the blessings amidst the suffering? Let your whole range of emotions surround you and wash over you like the water. Let them hold you. You cannot escape them. So instead, invite them in. Welcome them. They are uniquely yours. Our experiences of this time have been varied, our circumstances different. Let the water hold you in non-judgment.
Before you begin to allow your body to float back up to the surface, mark this time as sacred because it was lived and experienced fully by you. Honor it with your immersion in the water now.
You may now come up for air.
Now, take a deep breath and go back under the water. Imagine yourself moving forward into the months ahead.
What does your life look like? How are you choosing to spend your time? Your money? Expend your energy?
What have you learned from your experiences in these past months? In what ways have you grown? Changed? In what ways have you stayed the same? What have you discovered about yourself? What about you has helped you A writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. through these past twelve months? What strengths have carried you through and guided you? Take a few moments to own those strengths as you move forward.
In what ways did you feel you fell short? Do you forgive yourself your limitations? Can you learn from them, nevertheless?
Take time to set intentions moving forward. What are your dreams? Your hopes? Your aspirations? What feels within your reach? What feels like a dream you can let go of for now, set aside for another more practical time, if at all?
Take a look at the relationships in your life. Who would you like to spend more time with? Who would you like to spend less time with? In which relationships would you like to invest? From which would you prefer to back away? In what ways can you nurture your relationships without neglecting yourself?
What aspects of yourself would you like to affirm, work, and keep strong like a muscle? What aspects would you prefer to gently let go of? What coping mechanisms can you allow to take more of a back seat moving forward? Which will you need now even more than ever? In what ways can you be kind to yourself while also allowing room for growth?
Are there things you want to accomplish now that feel within your reach? Things you would like to study? Books you’d like to read? Classes you’d like to take? Friends you’d like to make? Career goals? Personal goals? Hobbies you’d like to nurture and expand? What makes you feel most alive and fulfilled in your life? Can you imagine doing more of that in the near future?
As you feel ready to start your ascent to the water’s surface, leave what no longer serves you, behind, in the water. It will all be safe there. Take with you only what will serve you now as you move forward towards the light at the end of this dark tunnel. See if you can find a spark inside of you to help light your way, to help you move forward with hope.
When the time feels right, float to the water’s surface. As you come up for air, allow yourself the time to look around, to take in the sights and smells. To feel the air on your wet face. Slowly, swim to the water’s edge, and step or climb out of the water.
Your immersions are complete. You are ready to be rebirthed onto dry land.
When you are ready, slowly and gently open your eyes and join us back on Zoom.