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Date: 01/01/2014
  • Practices
  • Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes
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Meditation on the Web of Life

from chapter 13 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.


This spoken meditation is most effective if participants can stretch out.

Lie down, stretch out…relax into the floor…

Feel your breathing in your lungs, abdomen… how it glides in and out…  The oxygen ignites each cell, stirs it awake as it burns in the metabolism of life… Extend your awareness deep within to feel this energy…  

It is all around you, too…  sustaining all the bodies in this room…  weaving us into the web of life. 

Imagine you can see interlacing currents, like threads of light… See how they connect us, and extend beyond this room, this moment…  Experience the great multiplicity of strands…  formed by countless relationships, woven of the work and food, the laughter and tears you’ve shared with others…  They shape what you are… they hold you in place…  Sense those interwoven threads, rest into them.

The web sustains your bones and blood and skin, concocted so intricately out of the food you have eaten… out of grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts…  The soil that yields the grain for your bread, the boughs of the tree that bear apples for you… The hands that plow, sow, reap, gather… They all are of your body now…

Back through time this web extends… mothers, fathers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers… giving you your coloring and features…  your gestures, your tone of voice… The web extends back through countless generations, through numberless ancestors we share… all the way back to those with gills and wings… For it is of star stuff evolving that we all are made in the flowing of time…  We are each a jewel in this vast net, that called us into being… Each of us an irreplaceable gem, sparkling with awareness, reflecting the world… Sound of gull crying over the sea, sight of mountain rising…  colors of sunrise…  scents of pine and loam… the excitement of a new idea… the melody of a half-forgotten song.

There is pain, too, coming in along the strands of the web… a friend with cancer… an oil spill coating the beach… an Iraqi mother weeping for her lost children… Do not shut them out, they live in the web of this planet time… Open to these sorrows, breathe them in, so the channels may stay open for the flow of energy and life and change…  If we block the pain, we block the joy as well… There is power in the flowing of this fluid net, love that has enriched us, and love that we give… Feel the caring and love that flow through you…

Open to the pulsing of the web, its murmurs, whispers, tugs… Through that vast network all forms arose, intelligence arose… It shaped you as it shaped the mockingbird and the deep-diving trout… You are of it… of it, even to the terrors we’ve unleashed now… Open to it all, unafraid, relaxed, alert… We are the universe knowing itself.

To all our brothers and sisters we open now… in this time of great hardship. We go now through a dark place, but we do not go alone… And we do not go without our own timeless knowledge of the dark… We come from it, it is behind our eyes… and we will look into it, together, until the dark itself is clear… and home… There is nowhere you can go where you’re not held in the web that sustains us all.

Still sensing these connections through space and time, we stir and stretch now, open our eyes…

Contributor/Author: Joanna Macy & Molly Brown