How to Use Guided Imagery
Guided imageries come in many shapes and sizes but a popular version involves you finding your “safe place.” The process looks like this:
1. Imagine a Place
Imagine a comfortable, special place in your mind. It can be real or imagined. People often choose a favorite vacation spot or a place that brings feelings of peace and safety from childhood. It can be a place you’ve seen on TV or a perfect combination of favorites spots. Beaches regularly come to mind, but parks, concert venues, sports stadiums and even restaurants are suitable locations.
2. Immerse Yourself
Once there, begin to immerse yourself in all the location has to offer. You can do this by adding your senses to your imagination.
Normally when you imagine a location, you focus on the sights that are around you. This is great, but it is only the starting point.
Expand to your sense of touch by considering how warm the sun is on your face or how the breeze is blowing your clothes.
Expand to your sense of smell by taking in the fragrances of the tropical flowers or the spices of the food cooking in the kitchen.
What do you hear at your location? Are there birds singing from the trees or the crashing of waves against the shoreline.
Lastly, imagine what you would taste at your special place. Remember that you do not need to be eating to taste something. For example, at the beach you can taste the spray of salt water or the gritty sand in your teeth. Maybe you can taste your own sweat as it forms on your lips.
The addition of all senses enables you to fully transport yourself to another location that breeds peace.
After you exploit your senses, you can move towards optimizing your safe location. While there, you can engage in whatever activity you imagine for yourself. Some only like to lay on the beach while others take the opportunity to draw or paint in their minds.
Your imagination gives you the tools and security to freely express yourself without fear of judgment. What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to? What feelings need expressed? This is the time to do it.
Now that it has been expressed in your imagination, you can determine if you want to communicate the same in real life.
4. Return Home
When the time comes to leave your place, imagine that you are following a trail, path or street towards home. Be sure to remind yourself that this place you created belongs to you. You can return any time you would like.
If you need a break from the life around you, it’s time to explore the world of guided imagery. Whether you use it for damage control when symptoms are high or as prevention before anxiety builds, this relaxation can bring the peace of mind you have been seeking.
A happy, calmer you is waiting … in your imagination.