Guided Imagery 2, Sunset
To get started, sit up straight in a comfortable chair, with your feet on the floor. If there is a more comfortable position for you, certainly use it. Sitting up will help you focus on the exercise. If any step in the exercise isn’t comfortable, either physically or emotionally, just focus on your breathing during that step instead.
Slowly close your eyes, or focus on one spot on the floor or wall. Invite your body and mind to begin to relax. Begin to focus on your breathing, following your breath as it comes into your body and goes out of your body. Take 2 slow, relaxed deep breaths, watching your breathing come in and then go out. Then return your breathing to a normal rate and normal depth, and continue to watch your breath. Imagine that with each breath in, you’re breathing in comfort and relaxation, and with each breath out, you’re breathing out any discomfort or worry.
Now, focus on your shoulders, tightening those muscles by raising your shoulders up to your ears. And on the count of 3, relax, 1, 2, 3. Let your shoulders drop back and down. Now I’ll have you focus on your feet, tightening those muscles by pushing your feet into the floor. And on the count of 3, relax, 1, 2, 3. Let any tension or discomfort flow out through the tips of your toes.
I’ll now have you imagine sitting outside in a comfortable chair. Imagine that it’s a little before sunset, and you’re facing in the direction of the setting sun. To begin, look out over the sky, starting with the sky above you, gradually lowering your eyes to the horizon. Notice if there are clouds in the sky, and if you see or hear any birds calling. Notice the temperature of the air around you, imagining a comfortable warmth. Notice the chair you’re sitting in and how well it supports you.
Now begin to notice the colors you see in the sky. As the sun is just starting to set, imagine seeing different shades of red in the sky. Begin to imagine that the discomfort in your body is reflected in the colors of the sky. Imagine seeing the red in the sky equal to the discomfort you feel in your body. If your level of discomfort is high, imagine bright red. If your level of discomfort is slightly less, imagine a softer red. As the sun begins to set, imagine seeing that red in the sky fade to a softer red and orange. Notice this softer red and orange for a few moments.
As the light slowly continues to fade, imagine the red hues lessening and slowly becoming softer orange. Imagine your body becoming more comfortable as the color fades in the sky. And slowly, you start to see some pinks coming into the sky, in between the soft orange colors. Notice how beautiful the colors are, and let them become softer and softer hues. Notice the sun is just about a half circle now.
As the sun continues to set, you might start to see some soft purple colors in the sky. Again, imagine your body becoming more and more comfortable, letting any discomfort fade just as the colors in the sky are fading. As you continue to sit comfortably in your chair, imagine the sky getting slightly darker. Notice more purple coming into the sky, perhaps some soft grey as the sun continues to set. Continue to enjoy these colors for a few more minutes.
Notice the sky becoming greyer, slightly darker, then slightly darker again. Imagine your body continuing to be more relaxed and comfortable, just like the shades in the sky. Notice that the sun is just about gone. Continuing sitting in your chair, enjoying the comfort you’ve experienced. (Pause here for several minutes or longer.)
You can invite your body and mind to continue to feel comfortable and relaxed, even as your attention turns elsewhere. Your mind can continue to lessen any discomfort which your body no longer needs to feel, continuing to let any unneeded discomfort fade, just as the colors in the sunset have faded.
Now imagine getting up from your chair. To bring this exercise to a close, I’ll count down from 10 to 0, and when I reach zero, you can slowly open your eyes.
10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5…
Continuing to feel comfortable and relaxed.
4… 3… 2… 1… 0.
Slowly open your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes and become readjusted to the room.
The guided imagery exercises described here are offered as possibilities, and you can try each of them separately. What may make guided imagery even more useful for you is to personalize the image you use. Use any imagery you’d like that helps you imagine your discomfort decreasing. For example, a patient of mine who liked to garden imagined watering the areas in which she had discomfort with healing water, and imagined using a trowel to remove the areas of discomfort as if they were rocks in her garden. Be creative and try different ones.