Picture The Scene

Do you ever visualize a scene, a place or an experience in your mind, maybe reliving it from memory, or creating it in your imagination? It might feel real or remote or even dream-like. And it might have a strong impact on wellbeing.

Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

Recently I heard someone describe the use of visualization within therapy for depression. This might be positive visualization, which I’ve known for a while people can find helpful. Maybe they visualize a scene which calms or uplifts them. This might be a garden, a seashore, any outdoor scene – for so many of us find being outdoors to be helpful and hopeful, positive and liberating. Or it might be any indoor scene, maybe a warm room on a winter’s day, or a sunlit windowseat. There might be other people, maybe a lively crowd or just one or two people you would like to see there. Or you might treasure an opportunity to be alone.

Visualization can also be negative, as some trials have explored. Negative visualization needs to be closely supported and limited, as it can be deeply disturbing – but within a therapy setting, it can enable some people to delve further into memory or trauma, which might help them understand the roots of their depression.

Another way of using visualization is to think through how you respond to particular events or situations. The other day someone made a critical comment to me. As I thought about this I visualized my reaction. I pictured the comment as a ball. I could let it hit me and wind me, by dwelling on the comment. I could dodge aside and try to forget it altogether. I could bat it away, maybe by remembering other, nicer things people say. Or I could let it fall to the ground and walk on. I’ll remember the comment, for now anyway. But when it comes back into my mind, I’m walking on.

Visualization helped. I’d like to try drawing these different responses too.

As someone who sees and experiences all the time how art can help mental health and wellbeing, visualization has set me thinking again about art. It can open up other ways of visualizing. Instead of imagining or describing a scene or experience, you could try recreating it on paper. You could draw out the scene itself, or motifs and symbols to record the ideas or experience. Your picture could be a detailed scene, or you might reduce it to a few main elements, like a path, a tree, a figure and a wall. There’s no need to create a masterpiece. It’s sad that many people feel art is not for them, that it is out of their reach, because they struggle with drawing. Your scene could focus on colour to represent mood, like a black mass to show the darkness of fear. You could use outline shapes or stick figures. Or you could try collage to create a scene – use colour papers or fabrics, or cut photos of flowers out of a plants catalogue to create a beautiful garden you could visualize as a refuge.

Do you feel visualization could help you? Maybe it already has. Could you visualize a positive scene to spur you on, or visualize different ways of reacting to something? I would really like to hear any experiences in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you.

Published by medleyisobel

My name is Isobel and I run Medley, an online initiative sharing art, nature and music for health and wellbeing.

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