Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers. –Ester Buchhole
Visualization can be a powerful tool to help you improve your life circumstances, but it can also serve as a handy technique for transforming stress and anxiety into peace, happiness and confidence!
Stress and anxiety can quickly become a vicious cycle that keep you feeling powerless and frightened. The more stressed you get, the more your thoughts and emotions will move toward the negative side, which only makes you feel more stressed!
Using visualization to transform these feelings can stop the cycle by switching your focus to something more positive and uplifting.
First and foremost, it’s helpful if you can remove yourself from the stressful environment and engage in some relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing before you begin your visualization, because your mind will be more receptive if you’re calm and centered.
Once you’ve moved yourself into a more relaxed state, bring to mind a scene that soothes and calms you. You can choose a natural setting like a beach or forest, or imagine a place that is representative of relaxation such as a spa or temple. Imagine yourself being in this place, feeling balanced and calm.
Rather than simply “seeing” the images in your mind, make an effort to mentally transport yourself to this calm setting and engage as many of your senses as you can. Imagine that you can smell the fresh air or incense in the temple; imagine that you can feel the rich earth beneath your feet, hear the roar of ocean waves or bird song, and feel the cool breeze moving through your hair. The more you can involve your senses, the more “real” the scene will seem to you, and the more effective it will be in calming you.
Stay with the visualization for as long as you like, making an effort to fully relax your body and let go of worrisome thoughts. If you’re not used to visualizing or meditating, you may have trouble keeping your focus. Your thoughts may keep returning to the situations that made you feel stressed in the first place, or you may struggle to “see” these soothing images in your mind. This is completely normal. Just keep gently returning your focus to the visualization as often as necessary, and keep in mind that once you’ve made visualization a regular practice it will get easier to stay focused.
You can keep your visualization sessions brief at the beginning, but as time goes on you may want to lengthen the time you visualize up to 30 minutes or so.
Then, whenever you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious, simply recall a mental image of your calming scene again and make an effort to mentally transport yourself back to it. You’ll probably have to exert a fair amount of effort to achieve a calmer state of mind at the beginning, but eventually you’ll be able to shift immediately to a calmer state just by thinking about it.
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