Mental Imagery Exercises

Preparing for Mental Imagery

The mental imagery exercises below can be used to solve a variety of issues in your life.

Imagery for Children: The Dolphin Ride and the Rainbow

Children are excellent imagers and can be taught to do imagery at a young age to heal from illness, reduce anxiety and fear, change their self image, and cope with family and school issues.

Here are two imagery exercises for children created by Barbarah Fedoroff. 

The Dolphin Ride:

Imagery Exercise: For Secrets that are Gnawing at You

To Forgive Yourself
  • Sit up in a chair, hands in the arms of the chair or in your lap palms down.
  • Close your eyes and breathe out a long slow exhalation through the mouth.
  • Confess five errors in your life you have been aware of.
  • Afterward breathe out one slow long exhalation
  • Ask God or your inner source of wisdom to forgive you until you are satisfied within yourself that you have forgiven yourself.

Imagery Exercises: For Earth Day

Healing the Earth & Becoming One with Nature
Here are two imagery exercises for Earth Day.
 
Healing the Earth, Hope for the Earth
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out three times slowly, (e.g. long slow exhalations through the mouth, normal inhalations through the nose).
  • Imagine the Earth surrounded by a rainbow.

Imagery Exercise: Taking a Bite Out of Cancer

To Heal From Cancer
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out long slow exhalations through the mouth and normal inhalation through the nose, do this for three rounds of breathing.
  • Imagine cancer as a serpent come to swallow you.

Imagery Exercise: The Forest of Forgiveness

To Forgive Another

Thanks to Judy Besserman for sharing this exercise.

  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out slowly three times (e.g. long slow exhalations from the mouth, followed by normal inhalations through the nose).
  • See yourself walking on a country road.
  • You are dressed in blue or white. 
  • Walking along you come to a forest.

For Weight Loss: Eye of the Needle Imagery Exercise

To lose weight

  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out a long slow exhalation through the mouth, followed by normal inhalation through the nose.  Do this three times.
  • Imagine yourself passing through the eye of a needle.

Imagery Exercise: For Seasonal Allergies

To breathe easily in allergy season
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out three times slowly.
  • Imagine wearing an astronaut’s helmet of impenetrable glass. 
  • It is filled with blue golden light of pure oxygen that you breathe in.
  • Your out breathe comes out as black smoke disappearing through a tube at the bottom of the helmet. 
  • You hear the allergen(s) hitting up against the glass and bouncing off knowing they can’t get through.
  • You are breathing easily, your nasal passages and lungs free of any allergic response.
  • Breathe out and open your eyes.

Imagery Exercise For Freedom: Escaping From Jail Exercise

To Free Yourself (for Passover)

Based on idea/imagery by Judy Besserman

Imagery Exercise : Self Resurrection

To Resurrect Yourself Anew (for Easter)
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe out three times slowly, long slow exhalations through the mouth, normal inhalations through the mouth.
  • Imagine yourself dying before you die.
  • Become reborn.
  • What is your experience?
  • Keep all that you have discovered for yourself.
  • Breathe out and open your eyes. 

From Anger to Creativity

Transform anger into creative energy.

These two imagery exercises can help the anger ignite the creative process: 

Exercise 1

Becoming One With Nature

Connecting with nature; for Earth Day Celebrations, Arbor Day, Tu'beshvat, Gaia, Spring Equinox

Close your eyes

Breathe out, long, slow exhalation through the mouth

Breathe normal inhalations through the nose.

Do that three times.

On the next long out breathe, you become one with nature.

Imagine yourself entering a forest.

Listen to the silence of the forest.

Hear all the different sounds that are constructing the silence.

Feel and know how they are weaving together.

Recognize that at the same time they are threatening and full of life.

Breathe out one time slowly.

Imagery Exercise: Descend to Love

To Remove sadness and suffering

 Frequency: Repeat as needed when feeling blue.

  • Close your eyes and breathe out slowly, a long, exhalation, followed by a normal inhalation.
  • Descend into the deepest layers of self and find there the foundational layer of love upon which all the sadness and suffering rests.
  • Breathe out one time. Know this love is shared by everyone in the world, just as is the suffering.
  • Sense and feel this love absorbing and removing the sadness, suffering, and pain.
  • Breathe out and open your eyes.

Prayer: Using Mental Imagery to Call on Your Guardian Angel

To call on your guardian angel

1. Imagery Exercise for Calling on Your Guardian Angel

Imagery Exercise: The Zen Master

Setting An Intention for the New Year
  • Sit up in a chair and close your eyes, knowing that this exercise takes from 30 seconds to a minute to complete.
  • Set your intention for the New Year. 
  • Breathe out a long slow exhalation through the mouth and a brief, normal inhalation through your nose; do this three times. 
  • On the next long out breathe.
  • Imagine yourself as your own Zen master. See yourself dressed in a robe with an obi sash tied around it.

Imagery for Menopause: Till the Clouds Roll By

Reduce menopausal symptoms
  • Breathe out and in three times, long slow exhalations through the mouth and brief or normal through the nose. 
  • On the next long outbreath, imagine yourself at a beautiful beach, feet and head facing the water.  Cloudless blue sky, slight breeze blowing by. 
  • Suddenly you see out toward the horizon dark clouds forming.  There are claps of thunder, some streaks of lightning well off in the distance.  As these clouds draw nearer, the sounds of thunder increase.  They come closer and closer, drifting directly above you with sounds

Imagery Exercise for Kwanzaa

Knowing Ourselves Through Seeking and Finding

Frequency: Repeat once a day before lighting the Kwanzaa candles each day of the holiday.

Imagery Exercise for the Winter Holidays: Channels of Light

Frequency: Do this every morning for the eight days of Chanukah, the twelve days of Christmas, and the seven days of Kwanzaa.

Imagery Exercise for the Sacred Season

For Spiritual Protection

 Frequency: Repeat once a day upon rising during the eight days of Chanukah and the twelve days of Christmas.

  • Close you eyes.
  • Breathe out one time slowly, followed by a normal inhalation.
  • See, sense, and feel the Divine Spirit guarding you as “the protective shade at your right hand.” Psalm 121:5
  • Breathe out once and open your eyes.

Imagery Exercise for SADs (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

To regain vitality

Frequency: Repeat three times a day for twenty-one days.

  • Close your eyes. Breathe out slowly, followed by a normal inhalation.
  • Imagine that you are going from noon to twilight walking on a meadow bordered by a river and by a wood.
  • See and feel each change in the light until you see the light of the day glowing into the night.
  • Sense how the glow of this shining light is making your organs and your entire being more alive.
  • Breathe out once and open your eyes.

Imagery Exercise to Help Make Thyroid Function Normal: Red & Blue

To normalize the thyroid function

·      Close your eyes.  Breathe out three times long slow exhalations and normal inhalations. 

For Thanksgiving – Bread of the Earth Imagery Exercise

For Thanksgiving

Close your eyes.

Breathe out three times slowly, long slow exhalations, normal inhalations.

Imagine yourself in a field of wheat carrying a basket woven from a natural fiber.

Reversing Trauma Exercise

To change the memory of traumatic event
  • Close your eyes and breathe out a long, slow exhalation followed by a brief or normal — not exaggerated — inhalation.
  •  Imagine yourself at the traumatic scene at or about the moment of impact.  Breathe out once slowly and imagine a light coming to you either from within or without. 
  • Then reverse the memory of that moment in any way that you might.

Bridge of Love Imagery Exercise

to become loving
  • Close your eyes
  • Breathe out three times slowly
  • See a bridge of love streaming a light from your heart to the heart of some being or creature whom you love.  Get that feeling and physical sensation. Keep it for yourself.

Breathe out once and open your eyes.

For Our Military Heroes : The Room of Silence

To quell anxiety and reduce sensitivity to noise

The Room of Silence Exercise

Sit up in a chair, close your eyes and breathe out slowly three times.

Remember, just the act of long, slow exhalations and brief inhalations will reduce anxiety. You are doing The Room of Silence Exercise to quell or stop anxiety, and it takes up to 15 seconds. Use it whenever you feel anxious. 

  • Imagine yourself in a room together with the feeling of anxiety.
  • Turn your back on the anxiety and find the door to the right out of that room to go into another room.
  • If there is noise/cacophony go through that door to your right, eventually coming to a room of silence where the noise has stopped.
  • When you come to that room of silence, look around and see what you discover there.
  • You may have to go through door after door after door in each room until eventually you come to the room of silence and when you do, the anxiety is gone.
  • See what you discover in that room.  And when you are finished, you can breathe out and open your eyes. 

Why This Works

Care-Giver's Burnout Exercise: Encircled by Light

To relieve care-giver's burnout

Close your eyes. Breathe out slowly one time. See and sense the person you are caring for nurtured by your light and yourself being surrounded by the circling light coming out of your solar plexus (1”-2” below the tip of the sternum) 

Breathe out slowly one time. See, sense, and know that the person you care for’s own light is stimulated by your light, as you find yourself farther and farther from him or her.

Addiction Exercise: The Golden Ladder

To rid yourself of an addiction

Close your eyes. Breathe out evenly and regularly. Let your out breathes be longer and slower than the in breaths. Breathe out through the mouth and in through the nose. After several of these cycles, on the next long out breathe: 

Insomnia Exercise: The Meadow of Sleep

To fall asleep & awake refreshed

Can’t sleep? Get out of bed, go to a chair in another room (or in the bedroom if another room is not available). Turn on a light and close your eyes and breathe out, long and slow, through your mouth, and breathe in normally through your nose. Do this several times. Then on the next long out breath:

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Exercise: Seeing Straight

To regain sobriety

Close your eyes.  Breathe out one time.  Imagine yourself intoxicated or drunk walking on a dark street, wobbling to and fro, seeing with double vision, out of balance.  Breathe out one time and come into a brightly lit street full of sunshine surrounding, permeating, penetrating you.  You suddenly become upright, walking straight and determined, sober and with clear vision.  See clearly where you are going and what is waiting for you on this new road.  Remember what you have discovered.  Breathe out and open your eyes.

Clearing Up Chemo Brain

To take away confusion, mental slowness, memory loss, and lack of concentration that accompanies chemotherapy

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. Imagine yourself in the jungle of confusion in your brain created by chemotherapy. You have with you a golden vacuum that cleans away the entangled vines and overgrown underbrush, clearing a path in front of you. Know as you do so you are disentangling yourself from the confusion. Breathe out one time. In front of you now is your golden bridge to a new future. You cross it and find on the other side your path. Take it and discover what is there for you to give you healing. Breathe out and open your eyes.

The Revenue Stream

To increase your money or finances

Close your eyes.

Breathe out three times slowly.

Imagine yourself as a fisherman, standing in a crystal clear stream of water wearing rubber boots and your fisherman’s gear, carrying a net and basket.  See a school of dollar bills of all denominations swimming like fish down this revenue stream.  As the bills come swimming by, you catch them in your net and put them into your basket.  When the basket is filled, leave the stream knowing that you have caught what you need.

Breathe out once and open your eyes.

 

 

Find Your Valentine, Find Your Love

To find your valentine

Frequency: To be done only on Valentine’s Day once a year if you need to.  

Sit up in a straight backed chair, with your hands in your lap, palms down. Close your eyes.

Breathe out one long exhalation through the mouth.

Imagery Exercises for Guilt

One can master and eliminate guilt feelings through exercises of will and imagery. Here is an example of each respectively.

The Danielle Rigg Exercise for Breast Cancer

Building the Bridge of Health through the Milk of Human Kindness

Frequency: Do this exercise three times a day for 21 days – early AM, 5 PM, before bed, for 12–20 seconds each the first week, 10–15 seconds the second week, up to 10 seconds the third week. Use whatever intention you choose for purposes of healing breast cancer.

Imagery Exercises for Pain

Pain is an important mechanism for our bodily functioning. It alerts us to the presence of some trouble. In this sense, it is not only an "adversary," an enemy that we believe must be stopped at all costs, but also a messenger, a teacher of sorts, signaling some danger. In English the root of the word pain means "punishment"; in Sanskrit, it means "purification."

As I explained earlier, when you ask yourself for an image to express an emotion or sensation, the image usually comes quickly. Nowhere is this fact more evident than when working with pain.

Out of the Shadows

Frequency: Do this exercise in the morning upon awakening and in the late afternoon (5:00–6:00 PM). Tell yourself: "I’m doing Out of the Shadows Exercise to know love and it’s taking me a few seconds."

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly (out–in, out–in, out–in). See yourself hidden in the shadows. Breathe out one time slowly. See yourself now emerging from the shadows into the light. Note your experience and what you sense and feel. Breathe out and open your eyes.

From Illusion to Illumination

Frequency: Each morning upon awakening, for three weeks. Do the exercise sitting upright in a chair with your arms on the arms of the chair and the feet flat on the floor. Tell yourself you're doing this exercise with the aim – not goal – of detaching from your misconceptions and misperceptions, and that it is taking a few seconds.

Net Worth

To Increase Income

Close your eyes. Breathe out a long slow exhalation through the mouth followed by a brief inhalation through the nose three times; then breathe any way you wish. See yourself hurling a fine golden net into the cosmos catching for yourself the sustenance you need. Breathe out one time and bring the net back down to you. Open it, remove and keep what you have brought to you. Breathe out and open your eyes. Repeat this exercise each morning upon awakening for 21 days without skipping. Remember, do not be concerned or focused on the result.

Seeing Tomorrow

To Get Rid of a Painful Situation

Close your eyes. Breathe out long, slow exhalations and ordinary inhalations (then breathe any way you want) and see, sense, and feel now the difficult or painful situation or emotion. Breathe out one time and see how you look in this situation or emotional state one week from today; then one month from today; then one year from today. At each instant know that the current situation is in the past. Note what you sense and feel. Breathe out and open your eyes.

It’s in the Stars

To make a decision

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. Find yourself amongst the stars. See there the one that is brightest for you. Go to it. From there, look down on the situation for which you have to make a decision; see clearly what you have to do. Keeping this knowledge for yourself, quickly descend back to your chair, breathe out and open your eyes. Do this exercise anytime you have a decision to make.

Cutting the Tie that Binds

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. Imagine yourself cutting the umbilical cord and psychic cords binding you, preventing you from growing up. See to whom these cords are attached. Use whatever golden implement you need and make the cut without pity. Breathe out one time slowly. See yourself now growing up from an infant to toddler, to small child, to pre–adolescent, to adolescent, to adult. Do it quickly. Sense and feel what you experience during this transformation. Breathe out and open your eyes.

Unity

(provided by my 10–year old son Max)

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. See the two halves of yourself apart. Breathe out one time slowly and by any means you choose put the two halves together and experience what happens and note your feelings. Breathe out and open your eyes. Do this exercise any time you feel disquieted in any way. Tell yourself you are doing the Unity exercise to feel whole (or any intention you choose) and it’s taking a few seconds.

Through the Jungle

To Clear Away Confusion

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. See yourself in the jungle of your inner confusion or other turmoil. The vines are entangling. You have with you a golden machete and are dressed in protective jungle garb. Breathe out one time and cut your way through these tentacles, clearing a path in front of you. Know as you do so you are disentangling yourself from this disturbance. Breathe out one time. In front of you now is your golden bridge to a new future. You cross it and find on the other side your path. Take it and discover what is there for you.

Imagery Exercises for Grief

Frequency: Each morning for seven days with the intention of overcoming the grief (or any intention of a similar nature you may wish to use).

Imagery Exercises for Bonding to Loved One(s)

Frequency: Do this exercise every morning upon awakening and before bed. Remember to give your intention silently before starting, thus: "I’m doing the Golden Rope exercise to keep myself in life with ________ [name(s)], and it’s taking me a few seconds." When finished breathe out and open your eyes.

Anxiety

Frequency: Daily, as needed. Do any exercise, or a combination of the exercises, whenever you experience anxiety, for up to 3 minutes each.

Light in the Lake

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes, breathe out three times slowly, and go to the bottom of a lake, breathing in easily and exhaling slowly as you enter the lake and go under water. Sit on the lake bottom quietly enveloped by golden light. Afterward, leave the lake and sit under a maple tree near the lake. Take a maple leaf, touch it, and experience its texture. Then, enter the leaf and become one with the breathing process of the leaf. Next, leave the leaf, knowing that your breathing is regulated. Open your eyes.

Pine Forest

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times and see yourself in a pine forest. Stand next to a pine tree and breathe in the aromatic fragrance of the pine. As you breathe out, sense this exhalation traveling down through your body and going out through the soles of your feet; see the breath exiting as gray smoke and being buried deep in the earth. Then, open your eyes, breathing easily.

Excerpted from Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery, Gerald Epstein, M.D.

The Birch Tree

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes and breathe out three times slowly. See and sense yourself taking a bath using the essence of birch tree. Sense and feel its active elements penetrating through your skin and cleaning out the lungs of all its dirt. Now, see the heart, and the rest of the body becoming cleansed. Now see the lungs becoming a beautiful clear color. Open your eyes.

Exorcism

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times. See your in a mirror, nude from the neck down. In the mirror, with your right forefinger (left forefinger if you are left–handed), touch on and into your chest from the front all the way around to the back, making a complete circle. Now touch the area of greatest discomfort and see to whom you can’t breathe, that is, see whose face appears in the area. Who is restricting your breathing, and what color appears there? Breathe that color out via long, slow exhalations while removing from the area whomever you’ve seen, at first as gently as you can.

New Lungs

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes and breathe out three times slowly. See, sense, and feel your stomach flipping over and coming above your diaphragm into your chest. Breathe out one time slowly and see the stomach split in two vertically, each piece becoming a new lung and see them jumping into place. Breathe out slowly and open your eyes, sensing the easy breathing these new lungs give to you.

Taking a Weight Off your Chest

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma

Close your eyes and breathe out three times slowly. See and sense a weight on and in your chest. Feel and sense the constriction it gives you. Breathe out one time slowly and remove this weight. See and sense your lungs expanding and filling with white light as you find your breathing becoming easy and flowing. Then, open your eyes. In addition to its scheduled use, this exercise is to be done at any time chest constriction is sensed.

Cleaning the Airways

An Imagery Exercise For Asthma or lung conditions

Asthma is a respiratory difficulty having multiple meanings. Those meanings are:

  • Internal weeping
  • A conflict between dependence and independence
  • A cry for help and attention
  • A cry to be free
  • Caught between a wish to live and a wish to die


"Cleaning the Airways" – An Imagery Exercise For Asthma:

The Communication & Networking Exercise

To Get a Job, to network, to increase publicity, to get referrals for clients/patients

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. See yourself into a large tv screen sitting at your desk or table. Your appointment book is open. There are many phones there ringing. You are picking up each one who is calling you to come for an interview. You are hurriedly writing down all the appointment times in your book. Breathe out one time. Outside your door is a line of people going around the block who are waiting to offer you a job.

The Golden Net Exercise

To Get a Job or something you need; or to contain something you don't want

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. See yourself as a fisherman casting a golden net over the city in which you live to bring in the job you need, want, or have to get. Draw the net in knowing that some jobs have slipped through the mesh but that others have been caught. Spontaneously take out of the net the one that seems most appealing to you. See the form of what you remove and the title or name of the job. Do it without reservation, doubt, hesitancy, or inhibition.

The Bell Exercise

Bring a man or woman Into your Life

Frequency: Do for 21 days, twice per day: when you awaken and before you start your nighttime activity.

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly and imagine yourself ringing a large bell from your open window. Ring it several times knowing you are calling the man/woman to you. After, look to you right and see the man/woman coming through the door of your apartment and greeting you spontaneously in any way that may take place. You may or may not see his/her face. It doesn't matter. You may ask for his/her name. After, breathe out and open your eyes.

The Golden Machete

Clear Obstacles and Make New Discoveries

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. Have with you a golden machete (or any other similar sort of cutting tool) to clear away the entangled vines in a jungle blocking your way. You cut them away to clear a path to a bridge that takes you to a new future. You may experience the vines themselves as your obstacle or you may immediately see, in image form, whatever the obstacle may be. If you see an image of the obstacle you will know immediately what to do about it. As the vines are cleared and the path revealed you reach the bridge.