Today’s verse: John 14:27 Living Bible (TLB)
"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid."
One way that I know of to find peace of mind and heart is to use guided imagery, also known as guided meditation. If you have ever attended a meeting that I was leading you probably have experienced it. I use it often as a centering activity at the beginning of meetings. It is a wonderful way for us to take a step away from the world around us and refocus our minds, hearts and spirits.
I find guided imagery can be healing, centering, and motivational. It helps me to refocus and redirects my thinking, usually to a more positive frame. It can be very simple, taking a deep breath and focusing on a warm sun and cool breeze. Or it can be more involved, as when you focus on your breath as you breathe in and follow the air as it flows through each cell in your body, bringing with it a flow of energy.
There is a lot of research that proves the benefits of guided imagery, lowering pain, reducing anxiety, and blood pressure. Athletes and professionals use it to increase performance and productivity. I suggest using it during Lent as a way to be more mindful of what is important, our everyday lives centered on love and life with Jesus Christ.
Steps to guided imagery:
Get comfortable – make sure that there are no distractions around you.
Start by breathing deeply, as you breathe in fill your lungs and let the breath flow into your stomach. As you let your breath out, let go of all of the tightness and stress you might holding in. Relax all of the muscles in your body more and more with each breath.
Choose what you would like to focus on and start. Keep breathing deeply and search for the sensory details, warmth, cool breeze, sand on your feet, listen to the waves, Gods warm arms surrounding you.
There are a lot of different guided sessions that you can listen to online, or you can just think of a time where you felt joy and recall every moment of it. You could take a walk on a beach, in a forest or desert. A favorite of mine is that I am with Christ or God, and I feel the love and embrace as a child would.
As an example I am passing on to you a guided imagery of a walk in a garden that I found from the Center for Integrated Health Care.
Close your eyes. Allow yourself to get comfortable. ….
Begin with a few slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your body get relaxed. Let the chair fully support your body as you continue to breath and relax.
Now, use your imagination to picture yourself walking slowly along a path. It’s a pleasant path, any kind that you wish. It’s a beautiful day, and you feel relaxed and happy. You can feel the warmth and energy of the sunlight on your skin. ……
Soon you come to a gate. You know this gate leads to a special place where you feel welcomed, safe, and comfortable. Push the gate open and allow yourself to enter your very own private garden. Your garden is filled with your favorite things. Whatever is pleasing to you can be found in this place. Perhaps there are flowers, trees, animals, birds, water, or even music. Look around and notice what is in your garden. …..
See all the colors and objects that are in this place. Notice how beautiful they are. …. Look at the various shapes and see how varied they are…. Look at the ground, look at the sky, and see where they meet. …. Your garden is calm and tranquil. Everything peacefully co-exists in the garden. …… As you are looking, become aware of how things might feel in this private place of yours.
Explore this place with your sense of touch. Perhaps some things are soft and warm, and others are smooth and cool. Simply spend some time exploring, using your sense of touch as you continue to feel at peace and comfortable. …. Notice what the air feels like; is it cool or warm? … Is there a breeze or is it still? … Take the time to feel the peace and serenity in this private place. …..
As you continue to explore your garden by seeing and feeling, become aware of the sounds that you hear in your garden…. The sounds in your garden are pleasing to the ear and very comforting. Perhaps it is quiet in your garden, or maybe there are a number of sounds. Some of the sounds may be very soft, while others may be louder. Relax and listen for a while and see if you can identify the different sounds in your garden. …..
As you’re listening to the sounds in your garden, become aware of what smells you might smell. Take a deep breath in, and notice the fragrances that are present. Some of them may be familiar, while others may be unfamiliar. The fragrances are pleasant and soothing. ….. Take your time and enjoy your visit to the garden, using it in whatever way that you wish.
Spend the time that is necessary for you to rejuvenate and to care for yourself……… When you are ready to leave, slowly walk back towards the gate of your garden. You have enjoyed your visit to the garden and feel relaxed and content. This good feeling will remain with you throughout the day.
Push the gate open and return to the path that led you to the garden. As you make your way back up the path to the here and now, remember that you can use your imagination to return to your private garden at any time you wish. Visit your garden any time you would like to relax, to be comforted, or just to enjoy its beauty. ….. You are now ready to resume your day. Stretch gently and open your eyes, feeling refreshed