That’s all well and good but we all know that it’s not easy to change our thinking.
That’s where guided visualization comes into play!
The goals of guided visualization can include;
- replacing unhelpful thinking with helpful thinking,
- increasing your ability to follow through with your fitness plans,
becoming more calm and confident in general.
Guided visualization is a skill just like any other skill. Just like becoming skilled at a sport, developing this skill takes regular practice. Just like becoming skilled at playing a musical instrument, if you want to be good at controlling what runs through your mind day in and day out, you need to some spend time every day learning this skill. Just as with any other skill, your skill level will increase more and more over time. The only thing that guarantees failure is if you don’t do it!!
By the way, it doesn’t matter what words you use (relaxation techniques, meditation, or self-hypnosis) to refer to this skill. Just to simplify, let’s just call it SITTING. And, there a lots of different methods that people use to become skilled. Again, those details don’t matter. It is the outcome, i.e. your skillfulness that matters.
Typically, a guided visualization involves getting to a very relaxed state and listening as another person’s words guide you to picture or visualize an outcome. This approach takes away your ability to do this work yourself. Once you understand the steps to take, you can take yourself where you need to go.
With that said, let’s go over those steps.
Determine what your goal is. The more specific your goal, the better. Goals can change over time. Some examples are:
- replace “negative thought A” with “helpful thought B”,
- add athlete to your self-image, or
- let yourself enjoy healthy food or healthy exercise.
Set up to get started doing basic relaxation techniques by:
- finding the best location to do your sitting,
- determining what time and how long you will do your sitting,
determining the best and most comfortable position for your sitting;
- If you already have a position that you are accustomed to, keep using it,
- If you are new to sitting, try sitting in a straight-back chair with your feet flat on the floors and your hands sitting comfortably on your lap,
- Lying down encourages sleeping; so, it’s not recommended,
- Close your eyes.
Learn how to get into a deeply relaxed state. There are many different methods to do this. Take a week or more to determine which method works best for you. Several are listed here:
- Tell yourself that as you count down from 20 to 1 you will become more and more relaxed with each number,
- Imagine yourself getting into an elevator. See yourself press the button that will take you to a lower and lower level of relaxation,
Notice your breath
- Do you breathe slowly or fast? Do you breathe shallow or deep?
- Begin to slow your breath.
- Notice your chest rise and fall as you breathe.
- Notice the feel of the breath as it passes through your nostrils.
- If anything distracts you, return your attention to your breath.
Visualize a wave that relaxes each muscle as it moves through your body. Move this wave through your body as many times as you like while telling yourself:
- The muscles in my face are relaxing.
- My neck and shoulders are dropping.
- My arms feel limp and heavy.
- My hands are falling easily into my lap.
- My abdomen feels calm.
- My legs feel heavy and still.
- My feet are grounded and quiet.
- In future sitting sessions, after achieving relaxation, run the “guided visualization script” of choice through your mind. You can record it and listen to that recording, just review it in your mind or you can read it if you’re comfortable with that. Next week I provide a variety of scripts for you to use at this step. To find all available scripts, search for “guided visualization scripts”. In the meantime, practice going deeper and deeper into your relaxation. Another alternative is to follow the instructions in a recent post where you were asked to write a list of 10 adjectives that describe how you think ideal fitness would feel to you. Every time you do your sitting, after you reach a relaxed state, pick one of those adjectives and let yourself FEEL that. Use all your senses and create a very detailed picture of yourself being and feeling that way!
When you are ready to return from your sitting session, there are a variety of ways to go:
- Give yourself permission to feel that changes are happening already in your life and look forward to enjoying the benefits. Allow yourself to return by counting yourself back up from 1 to 20.
- Shift your focus from your breath to your body.
- Feel your body touching the chair and the floor.
- Open your eyes and look at your surroundings.
Practice this daily and stay tuned for the scripts coming soon!