Techniques from various meditation methods are often adopted in targeted stress management and antianxiety programs. Such stress reduction techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxation, can be life-saving elements of natural, drug-free anxiety management. One of the hardest techniques for many people to master is the creation of a scene or mental image, sometimes called a "happy place" or other terms, to help with relaxation.
Meditation for Stress Management
The most common stress management methods instruct stress sufferers to engage in brief, meditative practices on a regular basis. Some programs involve following set steps for a few minutes to an hour, one or more times per week. Such structures often include audio recordings, in which a soothing voice leads the individual through a meditation, describing a pattern of relaxation, controlled breathing, and other techniques.
However, these recordings are not always available, and it can be useful to learn how to engage in stress management practices without direction, especially if you only have a few minutes here and there to relax.
Clear Your Mind
The idea behind creating a favorite mental image to use when meditating is to help release the mind from distracting thoughts. Guided recordings can have this effect, but without them meditating individuals can easily become distracted, especially if they are experiencing a great deal of stress. This type of distraction defeats the purpose of meditative stress management. That's why, having a mental image at the ready is an important part of the anxiety reduction process.
Use the Same Relaxation Scene Again and Again
It's crucial to create a detailed mental image, or relaxation scene, and to continue to use the same image in all your meditative stress management sessions. Trying to invent a new, relaxing scene each time you meditate can be time-consuming and stressful.
A Real Place or a Fictional Scene?
Decide whether you want your relaxation scene to be based on reality or to be a fiction. If there is a place that is special to you from your past, you might choose to use that place as the foundation of your relaxation scene. Avoid places with negative memory associated with it. If you don't have a perfectly relaxing, happy scene in your memory of the past, it is best to choose a fictional place.
Where Should your Relaxation Scene Be?
You have complete freedom in deciding what type of fictional place to create for your relaxing scene,. If you particularly like being in the mountains, you might opt to create a mountain scene. People who are comfort-seeking, indoors types could imagine a warm room with comfortable furniture filled with activities that they enjoy or atmospheric elements that they associate with positive, calming emotions.
Detail, Detail, Detail
The most important aspect of the relaxation scene is the detail. In order to create a mental image to relax you during meditative stress management sessions, you must take care to fill in the scene with every minute detail. You are aiming to develop a very strong connection between this mental image and a state of balance and calm. Without details, this is unlikely to happen.
When you're creating your scene, consider these questions in order to help you with detail: Is anyone else there with you? What are you doing? What colors can you see? If you are outside, how far can you see? What sounds can you hear, and where are they coming from? What is the temperature, and what time of day is it? If you are indoors, what decorations are on the walls and furniture? Are the doors locked or unlocked? Can you see anything through the windows?
Allow Yourself to Escape
When you engage in meditative relaxation, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on relaxing your muscles. Allow yourself to enter this scene and forget about everything around you. Take an interest in the scene you have brought before your mind's eye, and allow yourself to take a moment completely unaffected by stress in your daily life. This should help relieve stress so you can get on with your day happier and more productive.