Ineffective Guided Visualizations

By: Jeff Dutre


Sit comfortably in your chair. Close your eyes. Take two or three deep breaths. Relax your body. Start with your feet. Imagine they are floating in a warm pool of water. Feel the water rise to your knees. Nervous tension disappears as the warmth rises. Relaxation continues up your legs to your waist. Take more deep breaths. Let the soothing water rise to your chest. You might notice your body becoming heavier, as the warmth spreads up your arms to your shoulders. Your neck and jaw muscles loosen as the water covers your chin. Take deep, slow, cleansing breaths until you are completely submerged. Now thrash your arms wildly and scream for a lifeguard.


You’re deep in the forest. See the patterns of shadow and light on the forest floor as the sun shines through the treetops.

(Wait, what’s that noise? Is that Bobby? How did Bobby get in here? How did he get past the baby gate?? Honey, will you get Bobby out of here? How the hell am I supposed to do my guided visualizations with a toddler staggering around in here? Phew! What a stink! Will someone please put a fresh diaper on this kid? I’d like to know who had the bright idea to switch him from applesauce to Vienna sausage snacks, because it sure as hell wasn’t me.)

Okay, where were we? Oh yes, the forest. Take a deep breath. Smell the earth, the leaves, the fresh pine. All the worries and cares of civilization are far behind you. Gentle birdsong floats through the air, filling you with reverence for all God’s creatures. Except for that rabid fisher over there. It walks towards you, its gait unsteady, its red eyes unfocused, white foam dripping from its teeth. How far is it back to the car?


Close your eyes. Now picture yourself in a safe, beautiful place outdoors. Feel the heat of the sun as it warms your skin. It soothes every muscle, tendon and nerve…

(BANG! What the hell was that? Did Bobby knock something over? Will someone please put that kid in his playpen before he wrecks the house? Lisa, put your little brother in his playpen, will you please? And take that army man away from him before he chokes to death! Who the hell gave him army men to play with?)

Okay, deep breath. Sunlight. Profound relaxation replaces all the tension in your body. Soak up the sun like a sponge – a tan sponge that grows more tanned with each passing moment as cosmic radiation awakens your skin cells, allowing them to shed their inhibitions and multiply uncontrollably. Now visualize the phone number of a good dermatologist.


Relax and imagine you are seated comfortably behind the wheel of your car. Traffic has slowed to almost a standstill. You are late for work again. You tap the gas pedal with your right foot, then apply the brakes, then tap the gas pedal, then apply the brakes. Inhale deeply and smell the fumes of the car in front of you. Its driver apparently possesses neither the funds nor the inclination to perform necessary repairs to its exhaust system. Now notice the colors around you: the deep blue of the morning sky, the rich black of the highway, the bright orange of the traffic cones blocking your way, the soft yellow of a blinking sign: “Single Lane Ahead — Expect Delays.” Let your muscles relax. Now listen. Don’t turn around. Do you hear something from the back seat? The wet, sickening sound of a diseased animal licking its foaming chops? Check your rear view mirror. It’s the rabid fisher.


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