Guided visualisation, guided imagery, guided relaxation, active daydreaming and visual mediation are all names for a mindbody relaxation technique we love here at Sava Therapies. Guided relaxation is one of our favourite skills to share in our counselling sessions. It is one of the many ways we can use our ‘mind’s eye’ for therapeutic outcomes, like returning our nervous system to homeostasis when we’re in a constant state of freeze/flight/fight.
If you can’t run away to your favourite go-to happy place right now, and you’re in a frazzled state, fear not- you can still reap the same calming, soothing, relaxing benefits of being there all while lying in bed, on your yoga mat or sitting at your desk.
Our minds do not know the difference between what is real and what is not. Let us give it a try now. Let’s imagine there’s a cold slice of ripe, juicy mango sitting on the table. As you connect to your senses, can you smell how sweet it is? Can you feel the coolness of the skin as it rests in your hands? Can you already feel the juice dripping down your arms? My mouth has started watering in anticipation, has yours?
Why is this important?
Roughly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety in their life, and anxiety levels are increasing due to financial hardship, unemployment, increased relationship strains, an insecure job market etc. Quite frequently, this leads to insomnia. Without proper rest, our minds and bodies strain against the constant overwhelm and deterioration becomes more likely. Being able to visualise and feel that we’re somewhere relaxing helps to counter this.
Here are some other reasons why we love guided visualisations:
- It’s low effort: all you have to do is lie down and listen along to the cues. Even practicing for two minutes, twice a day can be effective.
- It’s low cost: there are plenty of guided visualisations you can try for free on Youtube, or on meditation apps like Smiling Mind. At Sava Therapies, if it hasn’t already been included for free in your personalised wellness program, we can create a personalised track for you to keep forever for $20.
- It’s non-pharmalogical and non-invasive: you don’t have to pop a pill or have something stuck inside you, so there are no side effects to worry about.
- It’s an evidence-based coping tool that’s often used safely in therapy for trauma and PTSD and can be done at home just as easily. You have control- in a clinical setting and at home (either in your own time or during an online counselling session), you choose where to go during this relaxation and for how long- just slowly open your eyes and be welcomed back into the room when you’re ready. However, please speak to your therapist to see if a particular meditation will be appropriate for you.
- It’s an effective technique that can be used to help manage an array of health issues like stress, pain, fatigue and nausea (that comes with pregnancy, chemo or radiation therapies), sleep disorders, insomnia, anxiety, depression, anger issues and mood swings.
- It calms us down. In work, fitness and relationships remaining calm can increase our overall performance, focus, efficiency, concentration and ability to skilfully resolve conflicts.
- It can be effective in decreasing the effects of chronic conditions and can provide greater control over pain and the perception of pain.
- It’s suitable for all ages and is beginner friendly.
Like meditation and Yoga Nidra, guided imagery is an intentional practice in honing your attention. With persistence and patience, it becomes easier to recognise when you are in a heightened state and when you’re relaxed and that sweet middle ground of being calm yet alert.
At Sava Therapies, we love to pair this with a yoga or movement routine, a few stretches or a restorative yoga pose, like the one pictured below, for a truly healing, loving and utterly relaxing home yoga practice.
Before you try out one of our free guided visualisations, have one of your favourite places in mind, ready to go. Flicking in between places can be distracting, so think of just one favourite place of yours, that relaxes you, body, mind and soul. It should be a calm, safe space and can be real or imagined.
Free guided visualisations for stress reduction you can try now:
5 Minute Relaxing Guided Imagery Meditation
10 Minute Stress-reducing Guided Imagery Meditation
How did you go? We’d love to hear from you! You can contact us here.
Sava Therapies is a Sydney-based boutique clinic that offers counselling sessions which may utilise guided imagery, personalised wellness programs, tailored yoga classes and Thai massages.
You’re welcome to book in a consultation to discuss how we can create a personalised guided visualisation track for you.