Another technique, under the umbrella of relaxation therapy, is Guided Imagery Relaxation. This technique focuses on cognitive arousal and uses techniques of visualizing a relaxing setting or activity. Imagery can be generated from within your own thoughts or it can be guided. Guided imagery is a type of visualization relaxation where the stream of your imagery is guided by someone else – a therapist, a coach, or a voice on a pre-recorded CD. The following are three examples of guided imagery exercises. Set aside some time when you won’t be interrupted. You can pre-record these exercises first and then listen with your eyes closed.
#1 Pick a favorite place. It could be a garden, a waterfall, a room, or anything else. A place where you feel good and safe. Now, close your eyes and go to that favorite place. Walk around slowly and notice the colors and textures around you. What do you see? … What do you feel? … What do you hear? … What do you smell? Take your time while you walk around. Spend some time exploring each of your senses. And notice how good and relaxed you feel. Remember these sensations, they are the sensations of your very special place. A place where you can relax. Say to yourself: “I am relaxed, my body feels warm and heavy, I am safe here”. Enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present moment.
#2 Day at the beach. Imagine – It is a beautiful sunny day…you are walking on a beach…the sky is blue…the water is crystal clear…you hear the sound of gentle waves lapping, as the light breeze caresses your skin…the white sand feels warm on your bare feet and between your toes…you are wearing flowing light clothes and breathing deeply, inhaling the smell of fresh ocean air…a sense of freedom washes over your body…you lie down and let your body sink into the warm soft sand…your are completely relaxed…you sink deeper and deeper into relaxation… When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present moment.
#3 Imagery for tension release. Imagine an object or a color that represents stress to you. For example, you can imagine color red, or a rope with knots, or a loud startling noise. When you have your image, say to yourself: “I release tension”. Imagine your image slowly transforming into something calming. The color red can slowly fade into a nice soft and gentle color pink. The rope with knots can slowly transform into a smooth and soft silk or velvet fabric. And the loud noise can gradually transform into a soothing sound of ocean waves. When you are done with the transformation, say to yourself: “I am relaxed”. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present moment.
I find these techniques for relaxing to be so effective that if I am not careful I may be taking a great nap before I even aware. Remeber, there are CD’s and recordings that provide a recited dialogue for Progressive Muscular Relaxation and for Guided Imagery Relaxation if that will help to get started or continue in therapy. As a reminder relaxation therapy and cognitive therapy have been shown in research to be more effective in the long run than prescription medications. So give it a try and relax.