Make yourself comfortable. Lie down or sit up, spine straight, legs uncrossed…Take a slow, deep breath…Continue to take slow, deep breaths…Soon you will begin to feel very relaxed… This is how most guided visualizations begin — with a calm, soothing voice giving you directions on how to relax both mind and body.

Sometimes, soft music is playing in the background. A candle may be lit. The light aroma of incense may fill the air. Your senses are engaged to heighten your experience of deep relaxation.

After a while, with eyes closed, you may be asked to visualize a peaceful scene in nature or a healing white light or to see yourself accomplishing a goal, to name a few possibilities. You may also be asked to repeat affirmations to help you to feel good about yourself and to reinforce those good feelings.

Although it may sound a little mysterious if you haven’t tried it, it really is not difficult to do. You also might wonder, what exactly could I gain from this?

How Is Guided Visualization Helpful?

So many of us today lead extremely busy lives. We find ourselves constantly rushing around, always “on the go.” We have commitments to jobs, to family and friends, to our households, churches or temples, and even the gym! We are stretched and pulled in many different directions; no wonder we often feel “stressed out,” tense, and pressured. We need to balance all that whirlwind activity with some time to unwind.

Many people use guided visualization for that very purpose: to relax and refuel, since there are a variety of physical health benefits to guided visualization. These include a lowering of blood pressure as well as the level of stress hormones in the blood. After quieting body and mind, these individuals feel full of energy and exceedingly relaxed. Refreshed, they are ready to face the challenges that await them.

Others use repeated visualizations to achieve personal or professional goals. By visualizing every detail of his course beforehand, for example, a runner can improve his skill and increase his performance. A store manager may visualize herself becoming more self-confident in a work situation that is uncomfortable for her, growing in her assertiveness and self-esteem.

Still others are searching for a deeper awareness of themselves. They use guided visualization to find that place within themselves where they can get in touch with their intuition. Through images and sometimes feelings or thoughts that come up for them, they often find answers to questions they had been struggling to resolve within their conscious minds. A person who is uncertain about the direction of her career may, for example, turn to guided visualization as one tool to help her find her way.

How Do I Begin?

You might want to begin with some short visualizations. You could purchase a prepared guided visualization tape or you might choose to attend a class, since a live speaker adds energy that may not be conveyed on tape. Or you might prefer an individual session, where you could receive support as well as visualizations personalized to match your needs.

If you take time out to relax in this healthy way and journey within, chances are you’ll notice how much better you feel. It is truly a powerful technique to revitalize mind and spirit.