In preparation for a relaxation or imagery exercise, make sure you have a quiet, private place for at least 25 uninterrupted minutes. You want a place where you can close your eyes, relax, and immerse yourself in your inner world of imagination. Whether at home or at work, tell the people around you not to disturb you for the time you will be relaxing or listening to your imagery tapes. If your workplace has a quiet place for such meditation, use that place. Some people listen to tapes in their cars during their breaks if they are comfortable and parked in a safe environment. Once you feel comfortable using imagery, you can learn to let outside noises fade into the background since they are not important or threatening to you.
Being physically comfortable makes it easier to relax, and many people find imagery is easier to do if they recline, while others find it better to sit straight with feet on the floor or in a cross-legged position. Sometimes people find it so easy to relax when lying down that they fall asleep during the practice. If this happens with you, then practice sitting up. Falling asleep will not harm you, but you won’t be able to get all the benefits of deep relaxation, and you won’t be able to use this quiet, focused state for imagery if you are not awake. Wear comfortable clothing, and loosen anything that is tight or restrictive. Having reduced lighting often is conducive to relaxation and imagery as well but, again, once you learn to do imagery, you’ll find it portable and easy to use in most environments.
The relaxation and imagery experiences that you can link to at the top of this page can be used in several ways. The least effective way is to slowly read the script to yourself, either mentally or out loud, pausing to sense the suggested relaxation or images at the end of each phrase. This is difficult because reading tends to draw your attention away from the relaxation or imagery experience. It’s better to experiment with the abbreviated audio clips recorded by Dr. Marty Rossman. For the full versions of these audio samples, visit the Academy for Guided Imagery’s online store. A third option is to record the scripts yourself on a cassette or tape player, reading it slowly, pausing at the end of each phrase, and using a soothing, relaxing tone of voice. Whichever route you choose, remember that relaxation and imagery are learned skills, like typing, playing a musical instrument, or playing any sport that requires coordination.