Guided Imagery Exercise
Click here for Text of the Guided Imagery Exercise.
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To begin, sit in a comfortable chair with your back rather straight. Place your feet flat on the floor. Let your hands rest comfortable in your lap. Slowly take a deep breath and, as you slowly let it out, let your eyes close and your body relax as deeply as possible right now.
In this exercise, I will describe a pleasant scene, and allow you time to experience that scene just as if you were there, while remaining as relaxed as possible. Just let your imagination play freely, much as you did when you were a child. You may experience the scene in a variety of ways by seeing it, perhaps hearing it, or smelling some part of it, or feeling more peaceful. If you have difficulty imagining, just follow your own method of relaxation, or recall a pleasant experience from your own memory.
Let your eyes remain relaxed as you think of nothing. You are standing on a road on a bright sunny day. It's a warm day. Feel the warmth of the sun, the warm, warm sun on your face and hands. If you feel too warm, there will be a breeze to keep you comfortable. As you stand there, just enjoy the warmth of the sun.
Slowly, now, walk to the edge of the road. You're walking down the side of the road and across a small ditch or ravine. Off in the distance is a small gurgling stream. You're walking over to the stream. Stop and look around at the trees on either side of the stream. If you are really relaxed now you just might even be able to hear the wind as it blows gently through the trees. The leaves are rustling and, as the breeze comes toward you, it brings with it the smells of the trees and woods. It's a very cool, clean, damp smell.
It feels good as you fill your lungs with the cool air. Walk along the stream through the trees, and notice the different varieties of trees and the different intricacies of the bark. Look up through the intertwined limbs at the deep blue sky.
Now, the gurgling sounds of the stream draw your attention. And, as you look in the stream, leaves float past you, spinning and twirling. You have come to a large tree that overshadows a small waterfall. Sit down on a large, smooth rock that is next to the tree and stream.
As you sit on the rock, lean over the stream and look into a calm pool of water. Dip your hands into the cool water and bring the refreshing water to your face.
Now, sit back against the tree and let the sounds of the water and the breeze dancing through the grass and the trees fill your ears. Just enjoy the peacefulness and allow yourself to relax even more deeply.
Now, as you gaze on a hillside in the distance, notice a small building standing there. As you look at the small building you can see smoke rising up out of the chimney. The smoke is lazily drifting up, into the sky. For a moment, allow yourself to feel what it's like to be smoke. The smoke drifts upwards. Feel the wind carry you upwards, going up higher and higher, rising up, and, as you do, feeling light and free.
You're high above the trees now, floating effortlessly.
Several birds are circling above and come gliding gracefully through the smoke. For a moment, allow yourself to become one of the birds. You're a bird now. You're still a bird as you fly back towards the smoke that is rising out of that small building in the woods. Return to your feelings of being smoke. Allow yourself to become one of the particles of burnt ash in the smoke. You begin to drift slowly and gently back to earth, drifting back and forth, back and forth, just as you've seen leaves fall through the air, descending slowly. Now you've landed. You are right next to your body. Now, feel yourself sitting there very relaxed on the rock, with the tree behind you: very, very warm and comfortable. Just enjoy sitting there next to the stream.
Now it is time to return to the road. So, get up slowly, and begin to walk back down along the stream again, walking down past the leaves as they rush past you in the stream. Climb the side of the ditch beside the road. You are standing on the road, again, feeling the sun.
Let the image fade away for now. Begin to feel your body sitting here in a chair. Become aware of your body's surroundings. Pause a moment to feel the restful relaxation sensations within your body. If you are aware of a specific area of tension, allow it to relax. Let yourself settle down and become even more deeply relaxed. If you can't let all the tension go, don't worry. Just let go as much as you can this time.
File in your memory how you feel now when you are allowing yourself to deeply relax. Later, during the day, even while being active, as you feel the need or desire to, you can recreate to some degree the same feelings of deep, refreshing, relaxed awareness in mind and body.
Take a long, slow, deep breath. Feel new oxygen entering your lungs. Feel your breath cleansing and, as you breathe out, releasing the tensions and stresses from your body.
Continue breathing in a little more deeply, feeling our lungs filling very gently with the new oxygen and energy. See the oxygen as clean energy coming into your body each time you breathe in. See your exhalation as ridding yourself of the wastes from your body. It's almost as if you're cleansing your body by filling it with renewed life and energy. Feel yourself rising up out of the relaxation even more with each breath. You are very gently rising up from the depths of a pool of relaxation.
Today has been an interesting relaxation exercise. Hopefully this relaxation experience will help you see that by passively sitting and directing your imagination you can benefit as if you have had a mini-vacation.
Learning a skill takes practice, be that skill playing tennis, dancing or writing. Learning to relax when we choose to, any time, also is a skill, so we need to practice it, too.
Choose several times during the week when you will practice this relaxation technique. Don't worry about doing it precisely the same way each time. Just doing it is more important. So, sit quietly, with your eyes closed, and practice the parts you remember, taking yourself on a mini-guided imagery. Go someplace that you really enjoy and can relax in. Then, occasionally, listen to this exercise, if you wish.
Enjoy learning to relax voluntarily.
Continue to breathe in slowly and deeply. Begin to wiggle your fingers and move your toes and feet. Continue breathing deeply while moving your legs and the upper part of your body. Whenever you are ready, go ahead and open your eyes.
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