Calm Anxieties & Bring On Positive Outcomes With This Tried-And-True Visualization Exercise

March 12, 2019


A Sleepless Night

Last weekend, I spent the entirety of Saturday evening hit by a continuous wave of nightmares.

This was the day before I would teach a class of 40 or so students to support a local non-profit organization, Barton Creek Conservancy. It was this on top of the fact that I had just accepted a yoga teaching internship (having only received my 200-hour teaching certification a couple months prior) and would have many classes in the near future that compounded my anxiety. I believed I would only receive these opportunities if I were fully ready.

Of course, I wasn’t—it doesn’t work like that. In this case, you learn from exposure and dedication. But, in my half-dreaming state, I came to a calming resolution through visualization. If you also experience intense anxieties, try these visualization exercises to bring clarity and calm. 


Corralling a Cloud

You are in a simple wooden shed with a small bed and sizable trunk. The room is lit by a waning candle in the corner.

Your desperate, worrisome, chaotic thoughts are a cloud at eye level. Reach up with both hands to ball the air into a sphere that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand—the texture is similar to that of dampened cotton candy. Compress the sugary mass flat.

On top of the trunk, there is an envelope. You slowly grab for it, slipping the now thin thoughts in like a letter and sealing them shut. You open the trunk to find a lock and key inside. You exchange them for the sealed letter and lock the trunk tight. The key is just small enough to slip in between a crevice in the floorboards—you do exactly that and, with a gentle clink, the key is gone.

You turn around. A teal door waits but a few steps ahead. From the moment you open the door, bright light pours in. Aglow, you rush straight outside uninhibited by doubt. You have the strength to keep running—you would if not for a sudden cracking, sucking sound. You look back, just a glance, to see the wooden shed swallowed up completely by the earth.

You realize there will be many, many clouds carrying with them supersaturated anxieties—this was not the last.

But, you are comforted knowing there will be just as many four-walled vessels, papery seals, and a fiery light to be warmed by on the other side of a blue door.


Enter Daytime

I’m surprised I’ve returned to this peaceful vision not a few but several times during my nerve-wracking week. It’s not a technique I’d heavily gravitated toward in the past. Why now?

The practice of visualization may result in a number of outcomes, including activating one’s creative subconscious, programming the brain to seek helpful resources, triggering the law of attraction, and building internal motivation. It seems the possibilities are truly endless as the sheer power of our mental will could greatly impact our cognitive behaviors and physical performance in a positive manner. So, my brain may have naturally sought this out. In any case, it really helped.

By continual exposure to teaching, I hope to direct my awareness away from myself and toward my students. It’s going to take more time and energy. Still, I said yes to these opportunities in the first place because the smallest part of me was ready—the same part that will always move toward a heart-racing challenge packed with equal parts fear and reward. I’m relieved to know my mind directs the journey, providing support in unexpected ways.

Also by Holly: PSA: Madewell Introduces Eco-Friendly Swimwear From Recycled Water Bottles

These Anti-Anxiety Supplements Lower Fear (Hint: Not Anti-Depressants)

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Holly studied poetry at Texas State University and applied her passion for veganism and sustainability through her research in ecocriticism: “‘Too much water hast thou, poor Ophelia’: An Object-Oriented Reading of Hamlet.” Follow Holly on Twitter or Instagram @HollytheHare for plenty of pup, plant, and literary content.


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