By Anne Peters, LMFT
Hi, everyone! Anxiety is around us all the time. Some of us experience anxiety more than others, but anxiety is a stranger to no one. Today, I’m offering one of my favorite ways to tackle anxious feelings, and that is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that goes back many, many years. The goal of mindfulness is to focus on the calm of the here and now; not worrying about what happened last week, and not thinking about what may happen tomorrow. This resource below is a guided imagery mindfulness activity. This particular resource was produced at the Trauma Center in Massachusetts. Read along and practice being mindful.
Imagine going to a place, real or invented, where you feel safe, peaceful, and calm. You want to take the time to develop the imagery so you fully experience this place with all your senses. Start out with a simple check-in of your emotional state, your thoughts, and what you are feeling in your body. Just notice what’s happening, without judgment or expectation.
Let your breath deepen, and locate a spot in your body where you are starting to feel an opening, a lightness, or a loosening. Allow that to expand with every in-breath and every out-breath, imagining it gradually filling up your entire body. Imagine this relaxing energy moving through your body in waves, reaching every part of you.
Imagine you are at the sea shore on a beautiful day. It’s the perfect time of day, and the perfect time of year for you to be there. Recall the feeling you get in your body when you are at the beach, or what it was like when you were there as a child. Let yourself explore that feeling. Imagine the warmth of the sun on the top of your head and your shoulders. Allow this image to develop.
Perhaps there’s a pleasant breeze, which you feel on your face and arms. Imagine the refreshing, salty breeze off the water, and breathe. Maybe you can even taste the salt spray. Look up and down the beach and notice the expanse of sand, the color and texture of it, the way it sparkles in the sunlight. Imagine that you are standing in the dry, soft, sand, and feel it beneath your feet and between your toes.
Imagine taking a few steps, and feeling what it’s like to walk in deep, warm, soft sand. Move closer to the water and walk in the cool, firm sand. Feel it take on the shape of your feet as you walk. Look behind you and see your footprints. Notice the waves gently rolling in and lapping the shore, gradually smoothing those footprints out, rhythmically washing them away as the waves roll back out.
Look at the edge of the water and notice the color. Notice that color meeting the sand, and the waves gently lapping on the shore, rolling in, breaking softly, and going back out, over and over, endlessly. Hear the, deep, calming, rhythmic sound of the waves breaking on the beach.
Look out to the horizon, and notice the waves as far back as you can see, rolling toward the shore, breaking, glittering in the sunlight. Notice the dancing light moving rhythmically across the whole surface of the water. Notice the place where the surf meets the sky, and see where the colors come together. Notice the light. Let yourself feel the expanse of the sky, and imagine breathing that in, filling yourself with that feeling of spaciousness, brightness, and light.
If you like, you might imagine going into the water, and feeling gently carried on the waves, safe in the protected cove, warmed by the sun. Just rolling gently on the surf, carried safely on the buoyant waves.
When you come out of the water, find the clean, dry, soft towel you have placed there. Imagine lying down on the towel, feeling the warm sand beneath mold itself to your body. Notice how the warm, firm surface supports your whole body, and allow yourself to relax deeply into it, letting the warmth and comfort fill your body and mind.
When you have finished your guided meditation, take a few minutes to sit quietly, noticing what you are experiencing in your body, what your thoughts and emotions are like.
What was that like for you? If you found it calming and relaxing, there are so many options out there to practice mindfulness and decrease anxiety. I recommend the apps Headspace and Calm, or do a quick Google search for “guided imagery mindfulness activity.” The options are endless and nothing beats the calm, peaceful feeling that comes from mindfulness.