Times for all of us, no matter what part of the world you reside, has been tough, really tough. And sometimes it seems it’s not getting better, until…you go outside. Outside where it’s defying all the scary stuff that’s going on. Outside in nature with the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees. Where the sun is shining and the fish are jumping. Peace is nature.
Maybe it’s time for you to get a little fresh air, or to go to that happy place, but maybe you can’t, due to the still pending virus, or your work schedule won’t permit an excursion of any sort. Well, then go in your mind. How you might ask? Well through guided imagery that’s how.
I discovered my happy place is anywhere in nature. Unbeknownst to me it has a name: Earthing. You can start earthing in real time, or you can begin earthing in your mind, through guided imagery. First let’s look at earthing in real time.
What’s earthing? It’s free and it’s wholesome. Let me introduce you to earthing…
Earthing is when you connect to the earth. It’s easy, take off your shoes and walk in the grass barefoot, and you are earthing. Simply touch your bare feet to the grass for thirty minutes, or take off your shoes and walk the beach and voila you are earthing. Why would you want to do this? Because instantly you will notice how fast stress and pain reduces, and energy improves.
Turn all the noise off when you’re feeling stressed. Turn everything off. Turn the TV off, turn the radio off, turn the news off—stop reading social media, take a step back, and connect to the earth. Quiet your mind, regroup, and you will feel a heck of a lot better, trust me.
And while you’re in this quiet space, hear the birds, listen to the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves, smell natures perfume…the earth and the flowers, and listen for the sound of the birds singing. Become one.
And what’s great is you don’t have to go to that special happy place physically, no, you can go in your mind.
Guided imagery is one way you can do this. Elizabeth Scott, MS., wrote a great article, “Use Guided Imagery For Relaxation,” on a really neat site, Very Well Mind, that shows you how to relax using guided imagery.
Guided imagery has been found to provide significant stress reduction benefits, including physically relaxing the body quickly, and efficiently. Some say this practice even helps participants to get in touch with deeper levels of wisdom, at a subconscious level. It’s at this deeper level they are better able to manage their lives in ways that would reduce stress.
What exactly is guided imagery? Well, it’s a relaxed state of mind, almost like a vivid daydream and, with practice, this technique can help you to a better access to your inner wisdom as Elizabeth Scott describes. She goes on to write, “Guided Imagery is a convenient and simple relaxation technique that can help you quickly and easily manage stress and reduce tension in your body.
I like to think of guided imagery as meditation, at the subconscious level. It’s an escape from your worries to your happy place filled with dreams and wants—whatever that may be for you.
In my upcoming book, Release Your Obsession with Aging: Heal from the Inside Out, I wrote a chapter on using guided imagery to move into reducing the obsession with aging, and forge ahead into aging with grace. The guided imagery script used in this chapter is one of taking a walk, along the seashore imaging the ocean, but it could be in the woods or climbing the mountain—whatever image you want that feels right for you.
In Releasing Your Obsession with Aging, I take you on a guided imagery trip for you to get to where you want to go in your mind through a sample script, suggesting the reader adjust the writing to their needs. Once it fits the needs the reader then records it using their voice so they can actually transport themselves to their happy place, whether it’s real or not. Remember your mind, your subconscious mind, doesn’t know the difference between real and pretend. So the readers personal script is filled in with the words he or she needs. You can do the same, write a script and record to your needs.
I find self-recording your personal script and listening in a quiet place, where you’ll not be disturbed, the best way to use guided imagery. You can go to an experienced therapist or yoga studio if you want to work with someone other than your own recordings. In my practice, I combine guided imagery with hypnosis—creating the list with the patient and then putting them in a trance to embed the words.
A few years back, my husband and I purchased 40 acres of the nearly 400 in Wisconsin that once belonged to my father and mother. I spent many years in my youth riding my albino Arabian horse, Pasha, through the landscape, but I was particularly attached to this 40 acres, as something about this spot called to me.
“The 40,” also known as Southern Grace Lane, is a thick forest filled with northern white pine, spruce, Jack pine, wild flowers, and edible berries. Trees are crucial to the stabilization of the soil, and in slowing water runoff, thus preserving nature. They’re left to grow, reaching up to the sky. Wisconsin forests are known for their hunting and fishing grounds, producing wildlife and recreational benefits as well as timber crops.
In these very parts, my heart lies, stemming from years back when I was a child in the Wautoma forests. The plush forests are known for cardinals, blue jays, crows, and streams where the dear and bear drink, sharing grounds with wild squirrel, chipmunks, raccoon, all while acorns and pine cones crunch underfoot while these creatures browse on raspberries, which run wild for the picking.
In my teenage years, I was insecure, hyper-focused on my body image, and saddled with quite the undiagnosed eating disorder. I wasn’t about my body, though, in the sense that I felt I wasn’t thin enough—especially in my formative years when I had no visible weight problem, though I’d eat enough sweets to warrant one.
The only place of peace where my mind shut down was out on the acres—one with Pasha. My time with her out there was a time of prayer and aligning to nature. The land was quiet, with the exception of Pasha snorting or swishing at flies with her tail as they buzzed about, and the crunch of pines needles when we powered through the forest. This was my serenity.
Something about the earth always called me. Even when I was a small child, I’d make my way into the woods across from the cottages on Big Silver Lake in Wautoma, Wisconsin. Sometimes I made my way in too deep and became disoriented and lost, but I never feared what might be out there. I felt safe.
Instead, I would spend countless hours daydreaming about what life would be like living among the animals in the woods. I imagined being free of traffic and noise, as we lived in Chicago, which was anything but quiet. I loved the sounds of the forest, a natural symphony created by the singing and calling of the birds and noise of the deer skidding off into the deeper parts of the woods when I startled mamma and fawn.
The land was a place of serenity, a connecting to something greater and more important. This was a place where I could feel the earth, trees, and all that nature could provide, filling my nose with heavenly scents of pine, grass, and earth. I felt centered.
Back in those early days I didn’t know what I was doing had a name, that it’s called earthing. Some great sages suggest in order to connect with ourselves, we need to first connect to the earth. Earthing is considered one of the most important self-care practices we can do each day.
I found, out there in the woods with Pasha, and earlier in my formative years, that I could hear an inner wisdom telling me what I needed to do next. You could say I was connected to my higher source, the earth, and my inner source all rolled into one—I felt a sense of home and wholeness, which later became foreign to me when I was caught up in the pleasing of others for acceptance. When I was trapped by the idea of my body not being thin enough.
So when I need that earthing feel I take off my shoes and walk in the grass, but if I can’t I go the Southern Grace Lane for real, I go in my mind and ride Pasha. You can do this too, with your happy place in your mind, through guided imagery. As noted, Guided imagery has been found to provide significant stress reduction benefits, including physically relaxing the body quickly and efficiently. Some say this practice even helps participants to get in touch with deeper levels of wisdom at a subconscious level. It’s at this deeper level they are better able to manage their lives in ways that would reduce stress.
Where is your happy place? When was the last time you went there? Can you go there in your mind? Have you ever tried guided imagery? Share your thoughts so we can learn from you.
You can leave a comment by scrolling down to the section that says leave a reply. I look forward to hearing from you! I’d love to hear from you, and learn from you. If you want to know more don’t hesitate to pop an email to [email protected], I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have…
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.