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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hold This Picture in Your Head

It snowed again! We made the biggest snowman on the block, as you can see. Actually, it was the only snowman on the block, can you believe it? As Flannery says, "We live in a snowy place now." So I guess the locals are bored by the snow and don't play in it like we Georgia natives do.

Today was a my-cup-runneth-over-with-happiness kind of day. We woke up to beautiful snow, had heart pancakes for breakfast, made a snowman, had cocoa, did art, I got to take a long hot bath, and then I went for a massage.

See? Cup overflowing. With marshmallowy chocolatey snowy relaxing happiness.

Anyway, what I wanted to write about today was visual images. I started thinking about this as I was getting my massage. I tried to do some mindfulness meditation while I was lying there getting massaged, but it was too complicated to try to focus on recognizing my thoughts while someone was kneading the tension out of my shoulders. So, I decided to try focusing on visualizing to increase my relaxation.

I learned about using visualizing for relaxation as an undergrad student in my Abnormal Psychology class. In class one day, we paired up with a friend, and while we took turns massaging one another's shoulders and necks, the instructor used guided imagery to help us relax. The instructor said that the more you visualized a certain scene while you were in a relaxing situation (ex: getting a massage, taking a warm long bath, etc.), the easier it would be later to just call upon the visual image to bring you the same feelings of relaxation. A little associative learning process.

So, back to the massage table. Me, lying with eyes closed, picturing people I love, places I love. Breathing. Trying to think of only the image in my mind and my breathing.

I'm sure the massage therapist thought I had fallen asleep or taken a heavy sedative before the session, because I'm generally a really chatty massage client. But I really didn't care what the therapist thought. I was getting my money's worth of relaxation!

And it really was one of the most relaxing massage sessions I've ever had. Which made my heart feel super happy. (Can you tell I've been watching Ni Hao Kai Lan a little too much?)

What pictures do you bring to mind to make you feel happy or peaceful?


By the way, I've also been using visualizing during my daily prayer times (usually as I'm driving in my car) as a way to increase my attention and focus while I'm praying. I'll try to hold the picture of whoever I'm praying for in my head for the whole time I'm saying a prayer. It's really a lot harder than you'd think it would be! Try it! And let me know how it goes! (Unless it's super easy for you, in which case, you should really keep that to yourself so I don't feel like a weird inattentive crazy person. Which I am. But still.) ;)

1 comment:

  1. Visualizing IS GREAT, isn't it!? I try to find specific moments and visual scenes to repeatedly call to my attention later. And actually it makes me recall one of your blog posts about standing in front of the house watching Robi and Flannery go inside, it was quiet and the snowflakes were falling (I think) and I often try to call up my own version of that image myself. We went skiing a few weekends ago and were up on the hill behind our house and i could see lots of the neighborhood - and there is just something about the quiet that comes with snow and the clear, crispness in the air that is wonderful - so I try to recall that particular image and the sensation of it at various times in my week and it's amazing how the calm that was there in the actual moment can come back wherever I might be!