Leaves on a Stream
Guided imagery is one of the oldest and most commonly used relaxation techniques. Words, images, and additional sensory stimuli can mobilize neurophysiology and biochemistry. By engaging the senses it can help not only with relaxation but aids with stress reduction, and promotes wellness. It is a gentle but powerful technique that can cause shifts in body, mind, and spirit.
- Reduces respirations, heart rate, blood pressure
- Supports relaxation
- Stimulates healing
- Enhances immune response
- Impacts metabolic rates
- Aids with psychological symptoms
- Helps with problem solving
- Aids in development of positive health behaviors
- Enhances creativity
- Promotes performance improvement
Try it for yourself! Below is a favorite imagery exercise for relaxation:
“The Leaves in the Stream metaphor is often used as an exercise to help us distance ourselves from our almost constant flow of thoughts. To stand back and observe our thoughts rather than get caught up in them. We can notice that thoughts are simply thoughts, passing streams of words that we don’t need to react to, we can just notice them.
Whilst sitting quietly, bring your focus to your breath, then start to notice the thoughts that come into your mind. As you notice each thought, imagine putting those words onto a leaf as it floats by on a stream. Put each thought that you notice onto a leaf, and watch it drift on by. There’s no need to look for the thoughts, or to remain alert waiting for them to come. Just let them come, and as they do, place them onto a leaf.
Your attention will wander, particularly so at first, and that’s okay – it’s what our mind does. As soon as you notice your mind wandering, just gently bring your focus back to the thoughts, and placing them onto the leaves.
After a few minutes, bring your attention back to your breath for a moment, then (open your eyes and) become more aware of your environment.”