Practicing Imagery-Based Relaxation
When you use imagery to relax, you take yourself to another location in your imagination. Below, I’ve provided a guided script based on the image of a beach to give you an overview of the process, but feel free to choose any location you enjoy. Choose a location you can explore and one that will create feelings of peace and comfort. The key is to
Start by closing your eyes and slowing your breathing. Relax your body as you mentally travel to your chosen location. Engage all of your senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste) and allow yourself to experience this special place in as much sensory detail as possible.
[You might want to record this script on your phone so you can just close your eyes, focus and relax.]
Imagine yourself walking on a sandy path to a beach. As you walk on the path, you’re surrounded by trees that keep you in dark shade. You feel the sand begin to get into your shoes as you walk along. You can hear the leaves in the trees softly moving in the wind, but up ahead you hear another sound: gentle waves washing up on shore.
As you continue, you leave the shade of the trees to walk out onto a sunny, sandy beach. The sun warms your head and shoulders as you stand still for a moment to take in your surroundings. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue, and wispy white clouds seem to hang motionless in the sky. You take off your shoes and feel the warm sand as your feet sink in. Holding your shoes, you move toward the water. The sound of the waves rhythmically washing up on the shore has a hypnotic quality. You breathe deeply, in unison with the waves.
The water is dark blue, and far off, on the horizon, you can see a darker blue line where the water meets the light blue sky. In the distance, you see two sailboats, one with a white sail and one with a red sail; they appear to be racing one other. The damp smell of driftwood reaches your nose, and you see some driftwood nearby. You place your shoes on a smooth, weathered log and walk toward the waves.
Seagulls swoop overhead, and you hear their excited cries as they glide on the gentle breeze coming in with the waves. You feel the breeze on your skin and smell its freshness. As you walk toward the waves, you see the sun reflected on the water. You walk into the damp sand, leaving footprints now as you walk along the shore. A wave breaks over your feet, surprisingly cold at first.
You stand still as the waves wash over your ankles. Listening to the repetitive sound of the waves and the cries of the gulls, you feel the wind blowing your hair away from your face. You take slow, deep breaths of the cool, clean air…
I recommend that you end each of your visualisation sessions gradually, by counting backwards slowly from ten to one. With each number, gradually become more aware of your surroundings – the actual environment around you. When you reach one, open your eyes and return to the present moment feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Through imagery, you can take a trip each day that’s limited only by your imagination. Using your imagination in this way can decrease your level of anxiety and stress in just a few minutes.
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