Without getting heavy into the why’s and how’s of mindfulness and visualization, I’d simply like to share a brief exercise you might try when you need a time out for relaxation. Whether you have three minutes or thirty, adapt this one to suit your time and space. Read through the exercise at least once and then practice the visualization.
1. Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably for a few minutes. If you’re able, you might take off your shoes, slip into loose clothing, and stretch a bit to loosen up any tension you might be feeling.
2. Close your eyes and begin to take gradually deeper breaths that allow you to feel relaxation coming into your body. At this point you don’t need to be concerned with how deep, how many, or where the breaths are coming from. Just breathe.
3. Imagine that you’re sitting outdoors in a wide open space, where you’re seeing clouds overhead and hearing a light breeze around you. Sit in this place for as long as you wish, noticing the vast space that is so peaceful and natural. Engage your senses by noticing all that surrounds you. Feeling a lightness in knowing that you’re exactly where you need to be at this moment.
4. When thoughts come into your mind while you’re sitting, allow each thought to float through as though it’s one of the clouds you see in the sky. You don’t have to concern yourself with trying to get rid of your thoughts, or any pressure to attend to their message, just let them come in and out of your mind.
5. Think of your breath as though it’s the wind that’s gently blowing around you. Breathing in deeply, breathing out slowly, as though every breath is the wind that bends a blade of grass or rustles a leaf on a tree. Continue connecting with your surroundings with your gentle breath for as long as you wish.
6. At your own pace, when you feel relaxed and ready, bring yourself back to the space you’re sitting in. Gradually open your eyes to let in the light. Ground yourself in the space by noticing where your feet touch the floor or your back touches the chair. If you’d like, you might gently roll your shoulders, massage your feet, or rub your hands.
7. As you’re awareness shifts to your environment, you might set an intention for the rest of your day. Perhaps you’d like to say a prayer or express thoughts of gratitude. Then stand up gradually – making sure you have your balance – and take your next steps with this refreshed sense of relaxation.