Early on into my self-help journey, I started hearing a lot about visualization. Whether this meant seeing your successes before they happened; listening to a song as you thought about a series of things you were grateful for; or re-imagining an unpleasant situation to be more comic; all the life gurus were in agreement that your imagination could be a powerful tool in creating the life that you want.
For me, though, it’s just never really stuck. In fact, I’d liken my relationship with visualization to my relationship with eyebrow makeup; I know it’s something that apparently everyone is doing nowadays, but every time I pull out the eyebrow mascara, I feel an inner voice saying, “What the hell are you doing?! They’re eyebrows!”
The only thing that did ‘stick’ was the knowledge that the human mind does not know the difference between a real experience or an imagined one.
So although admittedly, I haven’t kept up a regular habit of visualization; the knowledge that you can effectively trick your brain into feeling something, or even ‘being somewhere else’, has led me to guided mediation, relaxation exercises, mindfulness and just going somewhere else in my head.
I’ve written before about how I used to amplify my unhappiness by constantly wishing myself away on holiday, or planning to completely ‘up sticks’ and move somewhere less rainy that Yorkshire, England. (Imagine that!) If you read that blog, you’ll know that eventually I realised that I was simply trying to escape life because I wasn’t happy; and that my life became infinitely better when I switched focus on daily happiness and living a life that didn’t require an exit strategy.
With that said, everyone – even people with the most awesome lives – need to escape from reality or normality now and again.
And it’s incredibly freeing to know that you can do this from the comfort of your sofa!
As you can see, I’ve been having lots of fun with various photo apps so I couldn’t resist throwing this in. But I think it demonstrates the point I’m making. You don’t need a packed suitcase, a plane ticket and and all-inclusive wristband to escape your life: just use your head!
Sit down. Relax. Breath in through the nose to the count of 4. Breath out through the mouth to the count of 4. Repeat a few times. Then go…. find a ‘happy place’ where you can completely relax, in the moment.
Struggling? You might want to listen to a Guided Relaxation which lays out exactly what happens. There are countless phone apps, Alexa skills, You Tube videos and much more to support you in your ‘brain break.’
My favourite escape came from a free Guided Meditation that I got out of a newspaper years ago. A woman’s soft and soothing voice talked me into breathing and counting down from 10, before I stepped into a beautiful, wooden canoe. I gently rowed along a peaceful river on this beautiful, warm day, listening to the sounds of the oars hitting the water below. Eventually, I reached the shore and my meadow. Here, I stepped off, my bare feet sinking into the fresh, soft grass. I walked through the meadow until I reached my favourite spot nearby a huge Oak tree, where I laid down in a state of pure bliss. By this point, all of my worries and thoughts had floated away. I simply laid there, enjoying the sun on my face; hearing that sublime hum of Summer; gazing at azure sky.
This Guided Meditation lasted thirty minutes. Sometimes I was so sad to leave that I re-winded it! That meadow is my number one ‘happy place.’ I go back there regularly and I no longer need the CD to get there.
In this chaotic world, I think we’d fail to find anyone who wouldn’t benefit from an activity like this one. But it’s particularly useful for people suffering emotionally and mentally.
People who struggle with anxiety and mental health problems often find that their imagination can work against them. I certainly have! But if that’s true, it’s only because these same people often have the ability to create such vivid pictures and scenarios in their minds. Why not use this incredible skill you our advantage?
So try it now. Decide on a place that you’d love to visit, and go!
The only question is…. ‘where will you choose?’