I’m back! After blogging every single day throughout June I needed a break. I’ve taken 18 days off but it feels so much longer and I’m really ready to get back into the swing of things again, I’m hoping to post a couple of times a week at least. A lot has happened in my life over the last month, including my physical health taking a nosedive. I’m slowly getting back to normal again now but I’ve also learnt just how hand in hand our physical and mental health really go. The first few days after I was discharged from hospital, I struggled badly. I was happy to be home but really low in mood, feeling hopeless, lots of intrusive thoughts, my self esteem was on the floor and I was really angry. I also got cabin fever in hospital. On intensive care there were no windows to look out of and I was literally confined to a bed for 24 hours a day, it got boring and claustrophobic quickly and one coping strategy I used whilst in there was what I’ll be talking about today. It really worked for me so I thought I’d share!
If you’re after more stress reduction and relaxation techniques I gave my top 5 in this post here!
But for now we’ll talk about visualisation. All this involves is the conjuring of a mental image that is used as our sole focus of attention during a meditation. Now bare with me, I can almost hear your eye rolls! Our mind and our body are so well connected and the psychological impact this technique can have on us shouldn’t be underestimated.
If you’re new to this it may be more helpful to first practice guided imagery. This is where you first get yourself into a relaxed state of clear mind, perhaps using some of the breathing techniques in the above post. You are then guided by a script, someone talking you through an image or a scene which you picture in your minds eye. But I mean really picture it. Through the guidance it becomes a sensory experience; what can you see, smell, touch or hear in this scene. How does that make you feel, what emotions resonate with you when you’re in this scene? Sounds all a bit hippy dip right? But think about it, if I asked you to imagine a horrible scene; an image if someone you love being hurt or coming home to your house being burgled for example, if you immersed yourself in that image then it would evoke some pretty negative feelings. It works the same way for positivity.
For me I’m now practiced at getting myself into a place where I can concentrate on this so I prefer to not be guided. I go to my happy place; Iceland. It’s my favourite place on this Earth. I can’t describe the sense of calm I get whenever I go, I just feel truly content. I first went to Iceland at 15 and this is where my imagery lies, sat at the side of waterfall called Gulfoss. If you can ever go please do, it’s just an incredible sight. It was around this age I started having my first serious problems with my mental health and I so clearly remember being sat with my feet dangling over an embankment listening to the just awesome roar of Gulfoss and feeling wonderfully insignificant. It was respite. I could hear people laughing and trees blowing and water bellowing. I remember the wind and the cold of the snow on my legs but the warmth of the sun on my face. The smell of a body of water mixed with Iceland’s signature geothermic sulphur. And I felt nothing but utter peace. It was a moment I look back on very fondly and one that I find moving even 12 years later. I returned to Gulfoss in 2016 and burst out crying as soon as I got there. It will always mean a great deal to me and I’ll always be waiting till I can next return. I mean look at it!
So back to intensive care and I sat in my bed and took myself off to Gulfoss, to being 15 and to that moment. My heart rate reduced, I calmed down, my chest loosened and I slept like a log.
It takes some practice for this to feel experiential but it’s definitely worth it if you can get there. There’s loads of guided imagery meditations on YouTube to get going or the free Headspace app has some too (the one narrated by Stephen fry is a personal favourite). If you have a go, let me know how you get on!
Till next time x