Relaxation, Meditation, Mindfulness

As someone who was a practicing Buddhist for almost 20 years I have observed the recent interest in meditation and mindfulness with great interest. The benefits of learning to let go of ones thoughts, of daily practice, of focusing on the mind/body interplay are ones I have personal experience of.

We all have different ways of learning however, and some people prefer a focus to their meditation, be it mantra, mandala or simply a candle flickering on the Wii fit. One particular tool which is very useful for those suffering from stress and anxiety is a guided meditation. In this you visualise a particular setting which you can return to at moments of tension. Below is a script I use, both myself and for clients.

Before We Start. 

Opening your eyes to read the script may break the mood and be too distracting. This exercise works best if someone reads it to you, or if you record it yourself first.

Make sure you are in a comfortable position, if possible with your feet on the floor*. This is to ground you and make you aware of your body, as well as your mind.

During the meditation you will be asked to picture an object which creates feelings of peace and calm in you. If possible select an object you already possess and which is small enough to be carried about in your daily life.

The Visualisation.

Close your eyes, Become aware of your body, of your feet touching the floor*, of your hands opening and relaxing. Breathe normally, focusing on your hands and feet.

Breathe in, 1,2,3 hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

Breathe in, 1,2,3 hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

In a few moments we are going to go to your safe place, a place of calm and peace.

Breathe in, 1,2,3 hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

Start with the physical layout, are you indoors or outdoors? Is it a small or large place?

Start to add details. Are you alone? Are other people present? If they are, are they distant or near by? Are there any birds or animals?

Can you hear anything? Perhaps birds, waves, traffic, children playing, the wind in the trees? What sounds can you hear? Focus on these relaxing, calming sounds.

Is there a breeze? Is is sunny or cloudy? Snowy or raining? Are you warm or cold?

Wriggle your toes, what can you feel beneath your feet. (note for people with disabilities or sensory issues, replace this with another “comforting sensation” if possible.)

Focus on the sights around you, the colours, shapes, shades and shadows around you. Focus in on one object. One special object catches your eye. Is is natural or man made? Can you pick it up? Does it feel rough or smooth in your hands?  See all of its details.

Now look around you, imagine turning in a full circle, capturing every detail of your place in your memory. Look in every direction.

This is your place of peace, of calm. A place where you have no worries, cares or concerns. If a thought comes into your head, let it go. Focus instead on your special object, remember its details, then return to the whole picture of your calm space.

Enjoy your place for a few more minutes. Memorize the sounds, sights, smells, emotions, sensations of being here. Remind yourself you can return at any time.

It is time to leave, picture yourself walking away from your place, leaving it behind, but still there whenever you need to return.

Turn your attention back to the present, feel your hands, your feet.

Breathe in, 1,2,3  hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

Breathe in, 1,2,3 hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

Breathe in, 1,2,3 hold 1,2,3, Breathe out 1,2,3.

Slowly, when you are ready, open your eyes.

 

The object. 

Did you chose an object known to you? Exploration of this object, its meaning, can be useful in a therapeutic setting. However its inclusion in the visualisation has another. Sometimes we may be too anxious or triggered to fully visualize our calm place, or we may be in too busy or stressful an environment. This is where the object comes in. If it’s something you can carry with you, do so, use it as a focus when you feel your body or mind becoming stressed and anxious. If for example you feel your hands clenching with anger or anxiety, hold your object, remember those feelings of peace.

If you chose something that you do not already have, don’t worry! There are creative ways to still carry “your object” with you. My object is a moss-covered rock, far too large to carry, but I do have instead a river polished pebble, which instantly reminds me of that rock.

I hope others may find this visualization useful, if you do, or don’t, or have any suggestions, please let me know  in the comments.

* This may need to be changed for people with disabilities, it is about feeling a physical connection through your body to your surroundings. explore alternatives that work for you.

 

 

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