Remember as children how you used to play and make up stories and games using your imagination? Or maybe you’ve got children and you’ve watched them play and chatter away to themselves, in their own happy little world? I had an active imagination as a child, so much so I even went through a phase around three years old where I had an imaginary friend called Peter. I don’t recall him now but ask my Mum and she’ll tell you the story of when I screamed at her for shutting him in the car and then, accidentally, shut her fingers in the car door!
I can also picture now my flower fairy wallpaper in my bedroom around eight years old, and I used to pretend I was asleep in order that I would catch the fairies when they woke up and came alive in my room at night!
Where did our imagination go when we became adults?
I recently spent three days at the UK Hypnosis Convention, listening to different workshops and lectures by other therapists from around the World, one of which was an amazing hour spent with Kathy Gruver – an internationally recognised speaker, massage therapist, reiki master and hypnotist. Her whole hour was dedicated to the power of visualisation and how it can not only provide an escape, but also heal the body and manifest the things we want in life.
On one of my walks in Epping Forest this week, as I relished in the autumnal colours, my usual muddy trail suddenly became the yellow brick road and I practically skipped along singing “We’re off to see the Wizard”, in my head I might add. But that’s just it …
it’s all in your head. No-one need ever know!
What do you want in your life?
Have you tried to picture it?
Do you need to escape sometimes from the stress of the day and would rather imagine you were somewhere else?
When we spend time visualising fun, relaxation or our goals then we encourage them to happen, rather than just day-dreaming about where we don’t want to be. Olympic athletes visualise themselves winning gold, and every single step of the track in order to get to that finish line, and Oprah Winfrey uses vision boards to realise her dream.
In hypnotherapy, I’ll often use visualisation to create a relaxed or safe place for a client, or to help them overcome a fear or experience an event (past or present).
Not all of us are ‘visual’, some of us respond better to sounds or smells for example or have more than one dominant sense, but there are a few who can’t visualise (although bear in mind that you can recognise people’s faces and places if you’re one of them!). If you struggle to imagine a scene or your goals then just pretend or get a sense of what it might look like.
The more you practice the easier it becomes.
So, go ahead and try it - you never know what may happen!
Exercise: Peaceful (safe) place
This is a technique that I often use in hypnotherapy, helping clients to find a place that they find peaceful and sometimes safe.
So, sit or lie somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed.
Focus on your breathing, with a longer exhale than inhale
Close your eyes and just begin to use your breath to relax
Begin to imagine a place where you feel calm and peaceful – this can be somewhere you have actually been to, like a holiday destination or a childhood place, a place you’d like to go to, or somewhere completely imaginary
Focus on what you see – try to pay attention to colours, shapes, maybe there are other people or animals there?
Are there any smells?
What can you hear?
What can you feel?
How do you feel?
Just continue to breathe easily in this place, visualising all the colours and shapes and you may even choose to give it a name for easier recall next time. For the more you practice the easy it gets and the more vivid it becomes. You can also use this anytime you feel stressed or overwhelmed by simply closing your eyes and recalling this place.
Stay here for as long as you like or use it to drift off to sleep.
Image: Warner Bros