Potholing & Meditation: awaken your senses in a lava tunnel in Réunion.
Today, we are going to meet Sébastien and Aïtana. He’s a potholing instructor and she’s a qualified yoga instructor. An unexpected pair, they guide us to the volcanic depths of Réunion for a unique sensory journey… Helmets firmly on and senses ready, the kingdom of darkness and absolute silence awaits us!
The Bassin Bleu lava tunnel in L’Epéron: a volcanic backdrop for learning to meditate!
Located just minutes from the lagoon on the west coast, the tunnel in the Bassin Bleu is the result of a lava flow from Piton des Neiges and offers one of the largest underground areas on the island.
Dating back about 400,000 years, it is one of the oldest lava tunnels in Réunion. With many rooms and different atmospheres, geological diversity, a palette of colours ranging from red ochre to intense black… Visit the lava tunnel in the Bassin Bleu. It’s absolutely enchanting!
It is also the setting of an unusual experience for us, with our small group of friends and Sebastien and Aïtana.
After a quick climb to reach the entrance of the tunnel, we are almost instinctively immersed in a peculiar atmosphere.
We turn off our lights and allow our senses to develop freely. The first sense that is very quickly emphasised is our hearing. We hear the strange tick-tock of the hundreds of Mascarene swallows flying over our heads in darkness that is already absolutely complete.
Fresh air blows around us. It feels pleasant. Our senses are awakening…and it’s just the beginning. Sebastien knows the area like the back of his hand and we benefit from his explanations about the origins. He also takes the opportunity to tell us about the wildlife living here. That’s right. The Bassin Bleu is inhabited.
From the Salle des Etoiles or the “star room” to the Salle des Pluies or the “rain room”: a sensorial journey with meditation!
We continue on our path. After a narrow passage where we thread around walls of lava with multiple layers of colour, we discover several rooms with huge vaults where it is easy to stand.
In the first one, called the Salle des Etoiles or the “star room”, Aitana suggests we raise our heads to understand why. Above our heads, by the light of our headlamps, the sky seems to shine with a thousand sparkling splinters. It’s magic. This is where Aitana invites us to start working on our breathing for the first time. We close our eyes and are suddenly aware of our senses. Truly. Completely.
After this first meditative pause, we venture further into the volcanic bowels of Réunion. That’s when we arrive in one of the biggest rooms in the lava tunnel.
It is several metres high. We feel a few drops of water gently sliding over our skin. The noise of the drops multiplies with echoes around the immense vault. You are in the Salle des Pluies, the “rain room”. Lights off. The atmosphere is suddenly almost mystical.
Welcome to the Salle d’Ancrage or the “anchoring room” for a meditation session several metres below the ground.
Here we are, finally settled in the Salle d’Ancrage. It’s like a small nest, dug deep into the rock, where we are about to experience a unique meditation session.
Aitana has prepared the room. We are greeted by soft music resonating around us. We settle ourselves comfortably for a unique meditation session – the only one of its kind in the world.
The silence is absolute. Aitana invites us to join her in some breathing exercises. We become aware of our body, our senses and the energy within us. We are transported by her voice and the volcanic energy of the Piton de la Fournaise.
Our bodies relax, our minds voyage, and our senses are awakened. We feel all the energy of the surroundings in the depths of a volcanic island. Gradually, Aitana helps us to become conscious of our bodies at our own pace.
Our meditation interlude is coming to an end. We feel calm and relaxed. And connected to each other. We slowly return to the tunnel exit where we observe the ballet of Mascarene swallows greeting us for the last time.
The sensory experience ends in this basalt universe, in the heart of the Piton des Neiges and Réunion. An ephemeral episode where time stands still. It’s unforgettable.