Guided imagery is based on the concept that your body and mind are connected and by using all of our sense to imagine a place or an object our bodies respond as though what we are imagining is real.
For example, using all of your senses, imagine an orange or lemon. Think about how it smells, what does the texture of the peel feel like, can you describe the colour, how does it taste, can you describe what it’s like to take a bite?
Many people salivate in response to this exercise thus demonstrating how the body reacts to what we imagine.
Benefits of guided imagery:
• Promotes relaxation
• Lowers blood pressure
• Reduces problems related to stress
• Helps to reach goals, manage pain, and promote healing
• Aids preparing for an athletic event or for public speaking
• May aid sleep, learning, creativity, and performance
• Can help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes, which may improve your attitudes, health, and sense of well-being
• Use with children at bedtime or to promote relaxation, bonding, creativeness and learning
There are so many fantastic guided visualizations out there, take a look around the internet or on you tube for ready to listen guides.
I particularly like the following visualization, it comes from Rituals of Healing, by Jeanne Achterberg. Get someone to read it out to you while you lay back or record yourself and listen back to it.
A Safe Place Guided Imagery Exercise
Sit comfortably, with your back and neck completely supported. Allow the floor, or chair, or whatever you are sitting on to hold you. Let tension melt away as you bring your attention to your breath. With each breath in . . . feel your diaphragm moving down toward your feet. . . and your lower abdomen beginning to expand. . . With each breath out. . .as your abdomen relaxes. . . feel the muscles in your neck and shoulders drifting down with gravity. . . and relaxing even more deeply. . .
Take a mental journey now, through your body, beginning at the bottom of your feet. Tighten the muscles of your feet, your toes, then let them relax and release the day’s tension. . . Next tighten your calves and thighs, then loosen them. Move your attention slowly to the top of your head in this way, letting go of any tightness or restriction you find. (Pause about one minute.)
Your mind has just moved through your body, connecting with it, giving it attention, soothing the tense, tired places. Now let your mind move to a still point, a place of pure peace and calm. In your imagination, think of a place that is safe and comfortable. . . a place where you can retreat and care for yourself. . . a place where you can go to replenish your body and spirit. . . a place that is absolutely your own, secure and private. The place that you choose will be uniquely yours . . . It can be a place you have been to before, or somewhere you would like to find. . . It may be a beautiful outdoor scene. . . a beach, a meadow, an ancient forest. . . or it may be a special room. . . a childhood bedroom, a music room, a chapel. . . it may be a bubble in the clouds. You may decorate this place any way you wish.
Imagine it with all your senses, smelling the fragrance of flowers, incense, or the ocean breeze. . . Feel the texture of the surface under your feet and against the skin of your hands, your arms. . . Hear all the sounds of this place . . . birds singing, wind blowing, waves on the beach or beautiful classical music or jazz. See the colors and shapes as you turn full circle to get a complete view. Let this place be a safe and nurturing hideaway, full of color, music, all the things that you need to feel sheltered and cared for.
Find a place to sit, on an old hollowed-out log or a rock that feels as if it were contoured just for you, in a billowy cloud-chair, or whatever fits in your special place. Make yourself very comfortable. For in this place of safety, only you are allowed. In this place of safety, no one can come without your invitation. In this place of safety, you are always at peace…. Allow the images to come…. Notice the color of the sky at your favorite time of day. And in this place, at this most perfect time of day, at the season and the temperature that you like on your skin, allow your senses to become more and more alive. Look around at the surroundings and allow yourself to see; if not with your eyes, then sense with your heart…. Each time you come to your safe place, you may develop it and allow it to become more and more beautiful. Allow yourself to see, feel and hear what is here today…. Let yourself bask in the safety and the peace….
Allow yourself to walk around, to be in this place, to notice more and more, to create more and more in this place…. Perhaps you would like to build a shelter of some kind, a cottage, a cave, a tent, a tree house. And if it’s already there, you may add to it…. Plant flowers, adding a splash of color. Add special places or rooms to your safe place…. Create special places for special kinds of feelings that need to be healed, special places to wash away fear and pain…. Create a waterfall or a pool of healing water. Stand under the waterfall to wash away the fear…. Let the healing waters wash away what you’d like to be finished with. Each time you come to the waterfall or the healing pool of water, you can wash away more and more of the past…. Each time you come, you are cleansed and rejuvenated, shame is washed away. Wash away the pain. Wash all of it away, as you are ready. [Long pause.] When you are finished, step out of the water and you will find a robe or a towel to dry and warm yourself.
Now allow yourself to continue walking around your safe place…. You find a place for a healing garden, a place that is just for your healing. You can plant anything you would like…. You can plant wishes and dreams for the future. You can plant seeds of your healing. And you can weed out what you want to be finished with. Take some time to work with your garden now. [Long pause.]
And now, find your favorite place in all of safety. Walk around until you find just the right place. [Long pause.] Sit down, and get comfortable…. Breathe in the safety and the peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. And just be in this place as you breathe and heal…. Stay in this place as long as you would like…. And when you are ready, simply count yourself out by counting from one to five. When you reach the number five, your eyes will open. And you will be awake and alert, and feeling safe and at peace. One…. Two…. Three. Take a deep breath…. Four…. And five.
Hope you’re feeling warm and relaxed and ready to take on what’s around the corner.