“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
Guided imagery is a relaxation tool where children are given suggestions to use the power of their imagination to visualise positive mental images and find a sense of peace from within. Most children are naturally creative and can use their imagination to create images in their mind’s eye, particularly when listening to vivid stories or during free play with their peers. When adults nurture the imagination of children, it can build and enhance early cognitive and social-emotional development. By tapping into a child’s imagination with guided imagery, it acts as a therapeutic intervention to heal their physiological and psychological state.
Research states the human brain does not know the difference between real and imagined. If a child can use their brain to think of something that ignites good or sad feelings in them, they can use their imagination to experience and replay that event in their present state of mind and feel sensations in their body to match that mental state. This is regardless of whether the actual event is real or ‘make believe’. As adults, what we say to children on a daily basis can shape and form their subconscious minds; which is ultimately their beliefs, how they feel about themselves and their response to the world around them.
“Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.” – Maria Montessori
With practice, guided imagery can teach children how to relax and go ‘within’ to experience a more calming state. By visualising the best version of themselves or situations, guided imagery can help children reduce stress, worry and anxiety; improve self-esteem and confidence; gain mental clarity; improve concentration and listening; develop early critical thinking skills; enhance social communication; and make positive steps towards achieving their goals.
What happens during Guided Imagery? To start with, I guide a child through to a progressive relaxed, comfortable state, usually with their eyes closed and connecting to the breath. Next, I give positive suggestions to help create visual imagery and mental pictures in the child’s mind. These images help improve how they feel, how they view themselves and can offer a new perspective on how to relate to life’s ups and downs. I encourage the child to use their imagination to step into visual scenes wholeheartedly, connect with their emotions and use the senses to enhance each experience. I like to give the child time to process what is happening by slowly and gradually moving into the guided imagery and reminding the child that they can feel safe during the visualisation.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” – Albert Einstein
This is a guided imagery, where I take children on a journey to relax, climb into a bubble of peace and enter a special magical garden of calm.
Variations to Guided Imagery – For younger kids with a shorter concentration span, you’re welcome to stop the video above at 4 min 20 once they have completed the early relaxation and breathing part. Gradually, after a few times practicing, build younger kids up to ending at 6 min 36, where the child climbs into the bubble and drifts up and away. For any kids you feel that need to spend more time exploring the special garden, simply pause or stop the video around 10 mins. For older kids, early teens or even the adults in your life, encourage them to sit or lie back, relax and enjoy the whole recording! Simply put, every child is different, and it may take time to get things started, so adapt if necessary and use what ever works best.
Lastly, with all its healing benefits, guided imagery is a proven technique that can change the lives of kids and adults alike. I hope this inspires you to use visualisation to help improve the self-image of your child, their life chances and to find a sense of peace.
Miss H 🌟