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By Marcia Murphy, MA

We all seem to have very busy lives and we understand that slowing down can be beneficial, but many of us don’t know how to just be still. We may have heard about mindfulness meditation, and perhaps have even tried it, but were not sure how to go about it for this to be effective. Many people have told me that meditation does not work because they cannot keep the thoughts away. However, this is not necessarily the goal of meditation, and certainly does not mean they have failed at doing it correctly! The most important aspect of mindfulness is to be in the present moment in a non-judgmental way, therefore, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Using a guided meditation can help by focusing on visualizing a scenario that is meant to keep us in the present moment and reduce anxiety. Here, I offer a script that can be used in a daily mindfulness practice.

Guided Meditation

    • First, get yourself into a comfortable position. This can be either lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. Settle into this position and close your eyes.
    • Begin to focus on your breath, allowing a natural inhalation and exhalation. Be aware of the air coming into and leaving your lungs. Sit with this focus for about a minute before allowing your breathing to deepen. 
    • Take 3-4 deep breaths, counting in for 4 and out for 4, while feeling your body relax on each exhale. Feel the support of the chair, floor or bed under your body as you settle more deeply into the feeling of comfort and stillness. 
    • Now begin to visualize yourself in a grassy field, walking along a sunny path. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the gentle breeze on your skin. Listen to the song of the birds around you, and the gentle buzzing of bumblebees gathering pollen. Picture the colorful flowers in the field, swaying in the breeze. Smell the fragrant scent emanating from the blooms. Take your time to focus on what your senses are experiencing.
    • As you visualize yourself walking along this path, picture in the distance a line of trees that lead into a forest. Your steps bring you closer and closer to these trees and soon you leave the meadow behind as you step into the shade of the trees. 
    • Notice how the temperature has changed and is now refreshingly cooler. Listen to the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and smell the dampness of the earth. Picture the sunlight streaming through the canopy of the trees. As you listen, you can hear a creek up ahead along the path you are traversing. You walk slowly toward this sound.
    • Soon you come upon a bench at the edge of the riverbank. You decide to sit and enjoy listening to the gurgling of the water as it flows over the rocks of the creek bed. You see the sunlight sparkling on the water. You allow yourself to be present and still in this moment.
    • As you sit, be aware of any thoughts of worry or anxiety that may be present in your mind. Capture these thoughts one-by-one, taking hold of them in your hands. Picture yourself tossing these thoughts into the flowing creek and watch them float away as if they were a leaf on the water, being swept away by the current. Feel yourself releasing the anxiety around these thoughts as they are washed far away from you and embrace the peace that fills their place. 
    • Remain seated with this sense of calmness, maybe even allowing a smile to appear on your face. You know you no longer need to hold onto worries that do not serve you and disrupt your peace. You have let them all go, to be swept away from you. You feel greatly refreshed.
    • After a time of sitting in stillness, you stand up and walk back along the path, leaving the cool of the forest and stepping back into the sunlight. You feel stronger, relaxed, and are able to handle whatever situation comes your way, without the distraction of anxious thoughts. You hold onto this sense of peace as you prepare to return to the present moment.
    • Now refocus on your body and your breathing as you come back into the physical space around you. Take a deep breath and hold it, then release the breath with a long exhale, then return to your normal breath. Take a few moments to allow your experience to settle in, and when you are ready flick your eyes open. You feel refreshed and calm, perhaps even joyful, and are ready to continue on with your day.

The process of visualizing what the senses are experiencing and the letting go of anxious thoughts is a very effective way to develop a sense of calm. Allowing our bodies to be still brings us back into the resting state of our nervous system. Cultivating this as a recurring practice will help lower the anxiety threshold and help your mind be more equipped to handle distress or difficult situations. There are many guided meditations to be found online, and I encourage anyone struggling with anxiety to seek these out, as they can be a great tool to manage stress.


Get help

The counseling team at Lime Tree Counseling are ready to help you with using mindfulness to manage anxiety and stress. We provide individual therapy in Lower Gwynedd, PA, online counseling in Pennsylvania and online counseling in North Carolina. We specialize in anxiety therapy, trauma counseling, grief counseling and Christian counseling. Please contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our talented counselors today or schedule a 50-minute initial session. We look forward to hearing from you!