Meditation for Martian Intimacy
presented at Decolonizing Mars Unconference
Library of Congress, Washington DC

Think now, and go slow. Whatever you choose will be the first of its kind.

This text was presented as a guided meditation at the Decolonizing Mars Unconference, hosted by the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The meditation narrated moments of Mars’ geological and atmospheric history, ending with a sensory visualization of waking up to your body on Mars’ surface, and of becoming ready for movement. 

Within the context of decolonization of Martian exploration, the meditation takes on the challenges of physical and perceptual distance that arise when we regard Mars from Earth. These distances can strengthen a colonialist mindset of regarding Mars as a body without intrinsic rights to existence that must be respected and taken into account, but instead as something to be drilled into, tested, extracted from, and eventually settled. The meditation aims to evoke in participants a felt sense of the presence of Mars, to provide a space for reflection on the impact of their own presence on Martian terrain, and to emphasize the importance of centering Mars’ own beinghood in our interactions with this planet.

Excerpts from Meditation for Martian Intimacy

Audio recording from Mars’ surface played during the meditation

4 billion years ago

The thickened atmosphere begins to thin. No longer nestled in its gaseous nest, the planet grows cold. The water below the surface begins to freeze, turning to ice. On the surface, liquid pools and collects into a large ocean.  The ocean freezes.

3 billion years ago

Dust blows along its surface, over time changing the form of its rocks, its patterns of soil. Plains and sand dunes emerge and shift and re-emerge. From time to time, a volcano bubbles up, and lava flows once more along its surface. Ice melts, and sometimes liquid water flows. It refreezes, or it evaporates. The wind continues to blow, blanketing older, craggy landforms with soft pillows of sand. 

It is tomorrow.

Slowly, you become aware of your body. Your eyes are closed. They have been for some time. As your mind awakens -- you realize, you are lying down. You are curled on your side, comfortably. Your awareness of yourself grows. You feel the ground beneath you. It is hard and cold. A pebble digs into your thigh. Another pokes into your ribs. They are uncomfortable, but not so much that you feel that you are ready to move.

Eventually, you open your eyes. Your head is resting on the ground. In front of you — dust, pebbles. The color orange, golden red. Your eyes move farther away, along the ground. Nothing interrupts your view except rocks, here and there. The small ones are the size of your fingernail, the large ones the size of your head. 

You realize — you can move your body. It is waiting for you, ready for you tell it what to do. 

Feel in your body, in all its potential — in this moment, you might choose to press your palm into the ground, push your body to sit. Or perhaps, your head might turn to gaze up at the sky. Or you might inhale deeply, bring your lips together, and blow out a breath onto the dust before you, sending it scurrying away.

Think now — and go slow.