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How can I practice visualization?

Alice Domar
Psychology
Here's how to practice visualization:
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Imagine yourself in one of your favorite places -- lying on a beach, hiking along a mountain trail, or floating in a pool on a beautiful summer day.
  • Create mental images of everything you would see, feel, hear, smell, and taste in this favorite place. Feel the sights and sounds.
  • Imagine yourself relaxing in this special place.
  • Try to put everything else out of your mind.
  • After several minutes of enjoying this visualization, take a couple of deep breaths and slowly open your eyes. You may find that you feel amazingly relaxed and refreshed from this “mental vacation.”
  • Don’t be disappointed if you can’t visualize perfectly the first time you try. It takes some practice.
Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Worry Less and Enjoy Life More

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Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Worry Less and Enjoy Life More

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Visualization, or guided imagery, that mentally conjures soothing scenes can relax and calm you. The images you choose -- whether scenes, places, or experiences -- break the chain of everyday thought. Lush descriptions of sandy beaches, bubbling streams, and fields of flowers are often verbalized by a therapist or recorded on a CD to help people visualize calming scenes.

If you aren't using a CD, conjure up your own safe or special haven and imagine yourself there. What do you smell -- pine needles, rain steaming off hot pavement, vanilla in a kitchen? What do you hear? Are birds singing? Drink in the surrounding colors. Concentrate on sensory pleasures: a cool breeze on your cheek, gravel crunching underfoot, or the scent of flowering trees. Make a voice recording describing all of this if you think that would help you find this spot again.

Before you start your guided imagery session, find a quiet place to sit. Arrange your body comfortably. Clear your mind while taking deep, even breaths for several minutes, and then envision the images you find relaxing. Accept intrusive thoughts passively by observing them. Then return to the web woven by your senses. Practice for 10 to 20 minutes.

Take the following steps to visualization:

1. Find a place where you can be comfortable and allow about fifteen minutes for this exercise. Take several deep breaths while sitting or lying down, and close your eyes.

2. Imagine a relaxing place--somewhere you have been before so it can be visualized in your mind. This might be sitting on the seashore at sunset or sunrise, a mountain cabin next to a babbling brook or floating on a raft in the lake on a sunny day.

3. Continue to breathe slowly and keep this image in your mind. As you explore your mental picture of your relaxing spot, imagine all the stress, worries and tension leaving your body. Feel the temperature of your special place. See the colors surrounding you. What sounds do you hear? Smell the freshness of the air. Touch the gentleness of the moment. Take in all the sensory details of your relaxing place and continue to de-stress.

4. After about fifteen minutes, slowly open your eyes and acclimate yourself to the surroundings in the room. Stretch your arms and legs; gently move your head from side to side and feel the tension release. Carry the calm feeling you now have with you through the day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.