We’ve all had the experience of laying in the grass staring up at the sky. It’s such a wonderful thing to do, so relaxing, majestic even. And when we’ve lay there staring up at the sky there have usually been clouds up there floating by. And maybe you’ve imagined those clouds were animals or some other object; creating a scene in the sky with your creative imagination. As we get older, our experiences, our busy live steal our creative imagination and sometimes worried thoughts are what replaces it. So, why not use the creative imagination to ease worried thinking?
Take a few moments now to get comfortable, sit back in your chair and close your eyes. Take a few deep breathes in through you nose, hold your breath for a moment or two, and then exhale, letting all the air out through your mouth. Continue breathing in this way for a few more breathes. Take your time to get comfortable and relaxed.
And when you’re ready, imagine yourself lying in a grassy meadow. Perhaps you are laying on a blanket or find yourself laying on the bare ground. Feel it beneath your body. Take in the sights, smells, texture of the ground. Is it hard or soft? Does it smell like the grass has been freshly cut? Can you see anything else as you lay there gazing up at the sky?
Allow the image of the sky to come into your mind. Curiosity building within you. A sense of wonder and amazement at just how brilliant it is. Large and seemingly unending. And perhaps you will notice clouds filling the sky. There may be many clouds or just a few. They may be brilliant white, fluffy and soft.
Or they may be dark, grey and heavy. I’m not sure what your clouds will look like. Just observe them closely. Taking it all in and curious about them. Notice if they are fast moving or slowly passing by.
Noticing, observing the changing scenery above you.
And it is so fascinating how similar these clouds are to the thoughts that run through our minds. Our thoughts, like the clouds, can be compassionate and kind, or dark and depressing. They can be fast, anxiously moving, worried or slow, steady and focused. They can seem to get stuck for long periods of time, becoming heavy and difficult to handle.
And like the sky, our thoughts can become stormy, dangerous, even. You may find, if the clouds in your sky are dark and depressing, that a storm is brewing. And you can ignore the storm, ignore the warnings that pass across your TV screen or pop up on your phone. Or, you can take notice, grab an umbrella and stand prepared, able to move forward with your day’s plans, without much interruption. And, if the storm is particularly bad, you can take cover, shelter in place and wait it out.
And just like the clouds in the sky that tell us what the weather might be like, our thoughts can provide important information about how we might be feeling and how we might respond in various situations. And just like how we might respond to a storm, we can use these warning signs to choose how we will respond to our thoughts.
Storms, like thoughts, are always changing, never constant. So, too, are our emotions, physical reactions and responses. Sometimes the clouds stick around for a long time, storms can seem to hover overhead for days, but they do eventually pass and what we do to prepare, and cope will determine how they impact you.
So, the next time your thoughts are worried, your sky dark and grey, you can imagine yourself laying in this grassy meadow, watching the sky change above you. You can choose to reach into your toolkit and pull out an umbrella, or head inside for a warm cup of tea. You can wait it out or do something proactive. Seek support from friends and family or, if you prefer, give yourself permission to rest in comfortable solitude for a while. Meditate or pray. Journal. Listen to music and dance your heart out. Scream or laugh. It’s up to you. Having a plan for stormy days will help you tolerate the discomfort.
What’s in your emergency toolkit?
*Download my free Visualization for Worried Thoughts using coupon code FreeDownload and add it to your toolkit.
Heidi Piotrowski , MA, RSW, C.Hyp
Heidi is the owner and
clinical director at hp counselling
and consultation. She uses
integrative psychotherapy to help
her clients with anxiety, sleep
disturbances and chronic pain live
the life they envision for themselves.