All the pebbles on Aldeburgh beach
a pebble meditation for you and your family
You know that thing when you say to your kids I love you to the moon and back? Well, we have a Suffolk version of that. In our family we say: I love you all the pebbles on Aldeburgh Beach, all the sand at Southwold, all the waves at Walberswick and all the boats at Bawdsey. The Suffolk coast is a big thing in our house.
So I’d like to share with you this simple idea for creating calm with your own kids based on Thich Nhat Hanh’s pebble meditation. Head off to a shingle beach. I like Aldeburgh and the pebbles near Maggie Hambling’s shell are perfect for this; smooth and oval shaped. But if you like a more remote location you could try Shingle Street.
Pick four of the smoothest oval shaped pebbles you can find. Something that fits perfectly into the palm of your child’s hand and feels just right. When you get home ask your child to paint on them. On the first one paint a mountain; this can be just a triangle shape. On the next one paint a flower. On the third paint three wiggly lines to represent water. And on the fourth a star to represent space. You can do some yourself too if you like and try this mediation together.
Line them up in front of you in the order above and sit comfortably on the floor cross legged or kneeling. Have the hands with the palm uppermost with one hand resting in the other, thumbs touching. Take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Feel yourself settled where you are sitting, feel yourself in contact with the ground. Just notice the rise and fall of your breath.
Take the pebble with the image of the mountain upon it and place it in the palm of your hand. Close your eyes. Picture this mountain against an endless blue sky, notice the peaks are covered with snow. It is so high and so solid. It has been here for thousands of years. As you breathe out say to yourself I am solid like this mountain. Imagine how strong and stable you are, how unshakable.
Put this pebble down and take the second pebble with the image of a flower upon it. Imagine the flower in your mind’s eye. What colour is it? What shape and smell? It is the most beautiful flower you have ever seen. It is new and fresh. As you breathe out say to yourself I feel fresh and beautiful like this flower. Imagine how bright, how colourful, how vibrant you are.
Put this pebble down and take the pebble with the image of water upon it. Imagine a beautiful calm sea. The expanse of water is blue reflecting a cloudless sky. The water may have only a tiny ripple as the warm breeze blows on it. It is clean and pure, reflecting the sky. As you breathe out say to yourself I am calm, I am clear.
Take the last pebble with the image of the star to represent space. Imagine the endlessness of a blue sky as it reaches space and expands outwards. Out into the stars and endless galaxies. As you breath out say to yourself I feel endless space and freedom. You like are a star in this endless space glittering and shimmering.
Replace the pebble and think of these images and feeling again: solid and strong as mountain, fresh and vibrant as a flower, calm and reflective as the sea and free as endless space and see which one truly resonates for you. It may reflect your chosen pebble or not, if not you can always change this later. Take a few breaths and think of your favourite image. Slowly return to the sense of your body and the sounds around you. Take some deeper breaths in and out and slowly open the eyes.
You may want to carry this pebble with you throughout the day, feeling its smoothness and the quality of the image that resonated with you. We also made a little pebble pouch to keep our meditation pebbles in. Some children find it helpful to keep their chosen pebble with them at school to help them through the day.
You can develop this mediation as you wish. Maybe just feeling the ocean like quality of the breath ebbing and flowing while you hold your pebble. Remembering what it feels like to be by the sea. Maybe just choosing one pebble a day to focus upon. Perhaps elaborately decorating and painting your pebbles. It’s not only a beautiful way to connect with our wonderful Suffolk coastline but also to bring a little of that refreshing expanse home.
Angie lived for 20 years in London as a contemporary dancer then shifting career entirely working in advocacy and public policy before making the move to Suffolk. She leads an eclectic life as a consultant, yoga teacher and is a practicing Buddhist training for Ordination. Later this year she will undertake an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology.
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