Basic Relaxation Techniques
Guided Imagery Fights Depression and Improves Relaxation
Practice Imagining A Beautiful Place that Will Improve Mood in 10 Minutes
Guided Imagery is a deep relaxation technique using the serenity of your own mind to imagine a safe and beautiful place that can be done anywhere, endorsed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the NIH. Guided imagery allows you to quickly establish control over your own mood and thoughts to easily manage stress and reverse the feelings of sadness and hopelessness. This is how you practice guided imagery:
Find a Comfortable Position
Make yourself comfortable where you sit or recline. Let your muscles relax. Take several deep breaths, stretch out your arms and legs. Let them relax and hang by your side while sitting. If you chair is hard or uncomfortable, then find a soft seat or cushion.
Begin Meditative Breathing
Begin guided imagery by taking calm, deep breaths. Inhale slowly for three counts, and exhale in a slow controlled fashion. With each breath you take into your lungs new energy, and blow out old energy. The air cleans your mind and soul. Focus on slow controlled breathing, enjoying each fresh breath.
Clear Your Mind
Now you can move to the next stage of guided imagery, which is to think of a blank space. Read through this exercise and when you are done, close your eyes. Imagine yourself floating in space, surrounded by a few stars. No sound exists here. No traffic. No talking. Just you. Wipe everything from your mind. Spend a couple minutes to finally achieve a blank mind.
Visit a Special Place
Now you are ready for guided imagery. With your eyes closed and mind clear, imagine your body floating into a new place. You pick the location. Pick a place that has beauty, peace, and something interesting about it. By entering a deep meditation in your mind, you create a vivid daydream that becomes a peaceful sanctuary.
Listed below are six examples of imaginary places to try: a lush forest, green meadow, zen garden, big lake, Asian landscape, or European city.
Take yourself to that imaginary place, and begin to look around you. Notice the trees, mountains, even the sky. Breathe the fresh air and imagine how the breeze would touch your face. Begin to walk through your imaginary place, noticing a running stream, or blowing grass. What do you hear? Birds, running water, leaves on the ground? Try to touch the grass, the river, the flowers, the wood structures. Fully embrace your safe place, and enjoy everything you see, hear, smell, and feel. Stay in your special place for as long as you can. Keep the real world out. Notice your breathing, your relaxed muscles, your smile on your face. Try to involve all of your senses. Enjoy your safe place. If you have calming music to play while you relax then feel free to play it during the session.
Return to Reality
When you feel ready, begin to count to five. Before you get to five, tell yourself that you are relaxed and transformed, and when you arrive at five to open your eyes you will remain totally relaxed and transformed. Now slowly count to five and then open your eyes. Stay still for a moment. Keep breathing in a relaxed fashion. Slowly get up, and then continue on your day with a new mind! Do this once a day and your will feel refreshed. Maybe you won’t need your antidepressants anymore. This completes our step-by-step guide to guided imagery.