The Coping Kete

No. 22: Planting An Imaginary Garden

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

I will practice using visualisation to change the moment. Once a day, I will visualise myself planting and then enjoying my own imaginary garden. My imaginary garden will be my idea of the most perfect garden. This is a private place of my own design.  I will plant my favourite flowers, shrubs, herbs, fruit trees, vegetables and any other plants that I have enjoyed at some time. I will start at the beginning by imagining the piece of land that the garden is on and laying out where I want each thing to be.

The good thing about an imaginary garden is that we can make things flower well or mature whenever we want them to, without having to worry about things like time or seasons! Each time I come back to the visualisation, I can add something else or I can simply take a walk through the garden, watching things grow or just enjoying what is there.  I will imagine the sounds in my garden, perhaps there are birds there or I can simply hear the wind through the trees.  I will furnish the garden with any kinds of extras that I may please, I might hang a hammock under one of the mature trees, I might have a river running through the bottom of the garden, whatever I find peaceful and beautiful in nature, I can put in my garden.

I will create this peaceful ‘space’ in my imagination and I will return to it when I need a bit of calm or some distraction from the intensity of the moment.

Throughout the visualisation I will practice diaphragmatic breathing – deep, soft, slow breaths into my belly. This will help to create a conditioned association between imagining the garden and relaxed breathing, so over time it will become very easy to experience a state of calm when I practice the visualisation.  Once the garden is established in my imagination, I can pop in really briefly and get the same kind of benefit.

I can do this exercise whether I have a garden or don’t have a garden, because in my imaginary garden I am not constrained by any of the rules or barriers that may be present in the real world.

Once I am comfortable using this visualisation to relax, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting moments of stress and distress.

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