Created By: Tom Alexander and Lindsay Dombrowski
Relaxing Music (Optional)
Begin by asking the client to sit up straight with their feet on the floor and their hands in their lap and make themselves as relaxed as possible. Guide them through a few breathing exercises, asking them to try to focus on their breath, and remove bothersome thoughts from their mind. Once they have become relaxed and in a meditative state, begin the following guided meditation:
You wake up in your bed on a warm summer day. You can smell the crisp air through the open window in your room. You feel calm and refreshed from a restful night’s sleep. You pull back the covers and place your bare feet on the floor. You can feel the texture of the floor on your toes, and the slight sag of the mattress beneath your body. You notice that something seems different than when you went to bed. You feel much lighter. Even lifting your arms to wipe the sleep from your eyes seems to be less weighted. You stand up and again feel that something is just different about today. You dress and go outside. You can smell the summer air hit you as you open the door. The air is warm and comfortable. You can hear birds, maybe some people going about their day, and the trees blowing in the breeze. In a moment of excitement, you decide to jump out of your front door to the landing in front. You notice this lightness again as you float longer than you expected and land very gently on the ground. You notice any weight of your body get less and less. A smile comes to your face. Though you’ve never felt this way before, you feel very comfortable and safe. You realize the control you have of the weightlessness and push off from the ground. You begin to rise up, higher than you’ve ever been able to jump, and slowly continue up. You understand quickly. You can fly! You move up comfortably to the top of a nearby tree. You realize that you can control your movements simple by thinking, and feel a strong sense of confidence in your chest. You rise up above your home and see your neighborhood. Take a moment to look around and see the world from this new perspective. Maybe you see neighbors doing chores. Maybe you see birds in flight now at your same level. You feel the sun on your skin. You feel the wind on your face and in your hair. You move down your street but high above. You have the sensation that you can go anywhere without tiring. Think of your favorite place outside of your home. You turn to point yourself in that direction. You will yourself in that direction. You may start off slowly, but you proceed on at a speed where you feel comfortable and safe yet exhilarated. You breathe in deeply and notice the freshness of the air above the trees. Below you are the places you see every day. You can recognize them but know that you have never seen them like this before. You arrive above your destination and see that it is just as you left it. You descend slowly and comfortably. The trees and buildings coming up around you. You land softly on your feet. You feel the sturdy ground beneath you.
This guided meditation can be altered and adapted to meet the client’s wants or needs. After the first session, they may ask to be guided differently. Perhaps they would prefer you suggest they go faster or describe the flight to a specific place.
Clients of any age. May help specifically with clients suffering from depression or stressful life events.
Expected Results and Troubleshooting:
Holmes and Matthews (2010) review the findings of the ways in which image-based memory has been found as closely linked to emotion. They further discuss that in relation to psychiatric disorders, those characterized by exaggerated or dysfunctional emotions, imagery may not be just be a memory feature, but also may play a role in the aetiology of psychiatric disorders.
Guided meditations function to lead the listener to engage in visualizations of the prompted mental imagery through stimulation of the senses. This includes sounds, sights, smells, tastes, movements, and touch, such as temperature, texture, or pressure. The imagined content that invites the stimulation and engagement of these senses may also generate strong feelings and emotions for the listener. The hope of this activity is to invite the client into a state of relaxation and a temporary space away from the stressors of life. The sensory exercise of flying may allow the client to experience some relief from the stressors in life that they may experience to be tying or dragging them down. The nature of the script also offers a temporary space for the client to engage with positive mental imagery, serving as relief from negative or stressful state they may be in during and/or outside of the session. The guided mediation functions to not only lead the client into this space, but also invite the client to allow their own images to appear. This may allow the client to relate and engage in the experience in their own unique and creative way.
Guided meditations may be especially useful for individuals who have difficulty meditating in silence or with music. It is not uncommon for an individual’s mind to wander or begin to engage in distractive or ruminative thoughts during meditation. The guides are used to help the client engage with the content as it is given, allowing them to attend to and focus on the prompt, engage more fully with their senses, and experience a relaxed state.
Holmes, E. A., and Mathews, A., Mental imagery in emotion and emotional disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2010, p349–362.
Transcript | This American Life. (2016). Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 26 October 2016, from http://thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/178/transcript
Originally posted on the Geek Therapy Wiki, hosted on the now-defunct Wikispaces platform, as part of Dr. Patrick O’Connor’s course Geek Culture in Therapy.