Guided Imagery Meditation for Relaxation

Guided imagery meditation is a stress management technique that promotes relaxation and counters the effects of stress.

This guided imagery exercise enables you to regain control.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine lying on a beach.

Feel the warm rays of the sun on your skin and the sand between your toes.

Smell the salt air as you listen to the waves lapping the shore...

...take a deep breath and exhale...

...feel a wave of relaxation wash over you.

Imagination is a powerful tool for stress relief!

When you use guided imagery meditation you create nerve impulses that activate similar areas of the brain as if you are really doing the task.

Guided meditation or imagery for relaxation allows you to use your senses to recreate a scene of tranquility and relaxation if you are really there!

For example, can you remember the last time that you watched a really scary movie?

How would you describe your reaction?

You might say "I was scared stiff," or "It was hair-raising," or "I was shaking with fear."

Each of these descriptions describes your body’s reaction to the fight or flight response...all caused by images that you were viewing.

Well you can use the images that you view in a positive way also.

You can use guided imagery meditation of a relaxing scene to promote calmness and tranquility.

I have found this guided imagery exercise relieves stress and promotes relaxation.

What are the benefits of guided imagery meditation?

Einstein was able to visualize himself moving within a ray of light and conceptualized what the world looked like.

This led to his ground-breaking theory of relativity.

Jack Nicklaus, arguably the world’s greatest golfer, imagined before each and every shot the swing of the club.

He pictured the flight of the ball and where he wanted the ball to land, as though it was "like a color movie."

Both these examples represent the power of imagery.

However, there are many more examples of the power of imagery. These include:

  • cancer patients using pain and stress reduction to facilitate healing
  • athletes improving sporting performance
  • people with eating disorders such as bulimics
  • elderly people who want to improve their memory
  • clinically depressed persons as part of their treatment
  • individuals for relaxation and stress relief.

These examples have one thing in common.

They highlight the power of the mind as a means to achieve a goal!

As William James, one of the founding fathers of psychology, puts it:

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there for long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."

Great storytellers paint a picture in the minds of their listeners.

Some of the world's best athletes use imagery for peak performance, and doctors relieve pain and heal the bodies of their patients with imagery.

These guided imagery exercises also enable you to use the power of your mind to relieve stress and promote relaxation.

The Power of Imagery

Make a pendulum (a piece of string with a weight on the end) and hold it in your dominant hand.

Now close your eyes and relax. Imagine the pendulum swinging in a clockwise fashion.

Do this for 1 minute. Now open your eyes.

Most likely you will see that the pendulum is swinging in a clockwise direction.

This visualization exercise shows that apart from conscious will, you activate muscle movements that correspond with what you are visualizing.

Here are some steps for guided imagery meditation.

Steps to Guided Imagery Meditation for Stress Relief

guided imagery

Guided relaxation and imagery involves creating an image of a peaceful and relaxing scene.

The stronger and more realistic the sensory experience the more intense the relaxation experience.

What is important is that the image that you have in your mind’s eye gives you a sense of calmness and relaxation.

There are many ways to do guided imagery and it is generally better to have a guided imagery relaxation MP3 or recording that can take you through the guided imagery relaxation.

However, here is one of many ways to do guided imagery for relaxation. You are welcome to try this:

  1. initially, when learning mental imagery it is best to find a quiet place in which you will not be interrupted for 10-15 minutes. Later on you can practice imagery just about anywhere.
  2. close your eyes
  3. take a few diaphragmatic breaths and feel your body relax
  4. picture a scene in which you are really relaxed. Usually these scenes involve water, mountains, animals and other natural scenes. If you can, recall a previous time that you were very relaxed and mentally imagine that scene
  5. become engrossed in that imagination. Try to use all of your senses. What can you see? What can you hear? What does it feel like to be in the scene? Imagine the relaxing moment
  6. remain with the scene that you have created for 10 minutes
  7. imagine a wave of relaxation washing slowly through your body. Starting at the top of the head the wave of relaxation reaches and relaxes every muscle as it moves down your body to the tip of your toes
  8. slowly bring your awareness back to your breathing
  9. when ready, open your eyes and smile and feel the relaxation and recharging of the mind and body that has taken place.

Guided imagery for relaxation has been shown to activate the relaxation response and counter the effects of stress.

Applications of guided imagery

On a personal level I have used different guided imagery meditations for athletes from many sports and other elite performers in their chosen field (barristers, doctors, judges, and school kids) as part of their positive mental rehearsal and as a relaxation exercise.

I have also used imagery for:

  • people in chronic pain
  • people who are clinically depressed
  • individuals suffering from anxiety and stress.

However, there are many documented uses of guided imagery meditation with:

  • people with eating disorders such as bulimics
  • people who have been diagnosed as clinically depressed
  • people in nursing homes
  • cancer patients in hospitals
  • elderly persons who want to improve their memory.

Guided imagery for relaxation allows you to break the cycle of stress.

By imagining a scene that promotes relaxation you can deal with stress more effectively.

Guided imagery also facilitates mindful meditation and progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

Search here for other guided meditations

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