Relaxation though Imagery Back up to relaxation page

Two commonly cited imagery exercises for relaxing. You may want to practice imagery first on a neutral topic; images misbehave surprisingly easily if you haven't practiced before!
    The Tension drainer
    The Quiet place

Why it works:
People respond almost as well to what they imagine as to what they see - physically as well as mentally. There's good evidence that imagining body movement, for example, has your brain firing all the impulses needed to generate actual muscle action, even to the point that subliminal muscle response can be detected. (That has powerful implications for mental rehearsal, but for now we're interested in relaxation).
1: The Tension Drainer
Sounds weird, but similar images work for real people. this one can also be used to control mental tension and worry; see the variation below.
Find a comfortable place to sit. Settle comfortably, with your hands on your knees or slightly overhanging the arms of your chair.   Note: It often helps to have your eyes closed for imagery work.
Breathe normally    
Imagine your whole body filled with seething, red liquid. Feel the tension it's causing in your muscles.    
Now imagine you have little taps (faucets, for you US folk) on the ends of you fingers and toes.    
Imagine those drain taps being opened    
Iimagine that red liquid flowing out of the taps, being replaced with cool green fluid from your head downwards.   If that green fluid has a cool, fresh aroma, so much the better. Even imagined aromas are very evocative.
Feel your muscles relax as they're bathed in green, cooling fluid   Variation: If you;re going after mental relaxation - for worry control - let your head/mind be full of red seething stuff, and feel your thoughts settle and calm down as you 'drain the tension out'.

When your red fluid is all drained out, close the taps and relax for a moment before 'waking up' and carrying on.

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2. Quiet place
Much abridged version of the quiet place exercise in sporting bodymind. Practice this outside competition, so you can recall the images and feelings easily.
Settle and get as relaxed as possible; you have to feel comfortable to develop this well.    
Imagine yourself somewhere calm and refreshing. It can be somewhere you know well, or a complete invention. It can also be a time when things were going well - even a successful shoot. Visualisations including calm water and/or open spaces are often effective.    
Observe the scene carefully. Look in front of you and study the details. feel the air move past you, and notice the smells on the wind. If you're touching something in your visualisation, feel the surface. Notice the clothes you're wearing and how they feel. Listen to the sounds you hear. Notice how comfortable and relaxed you feel in this environment.   Imagery is effective if you just see the picture; it is more effective if you can feel yourself in the scene.
Look to the left, and examine the details again, with the same attention to all your senses. Do the same towards your right hand and upwards. Imagine turning round to study the scene behind you.    
Finally, become aware again of yourself in the real world, still feeling that sense of relaxation from your quiet place.    
  The sporting bodymind exercise suggests fading into the real world, and squeezing a thumb gently as you return to the quiet place; the thumb-squeeze can later be used as a cue for quick visits to the quiet place. Often, though, once you've built your visualisation and practiced, you can go there relatively quickly without a cue.
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