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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Chapter 2: Group Focus Session 4: Visualization


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Group Size: Seminar group-8-12 students

Time Needed: 45 to 60 minutes

Physical Set up: Large carpeted space where each student can lie down on the floor in his or her own space. This should be a quiet space where there will be no interruptions.

Materials: Student journals, CD or tape player, relaxation music from nature, or selection of relaxing music, & visualization script on next page. Have each student bring a beach towel and a pillow if possible.


Goal: Students will participate in a visualization relaxation experience and learn its effect on the mind's ability to control stress.

Procedure: Meet & Greet Activity: One sentence summary of stress buster experience assignment from previous session.

Explain to the students that the purpose of the session is to learn a strategy called visualization. Although it combines elements of breathing techniques and disassociation, this strategy is not meant to be a stress buster but rather a life long practice. People who use visualization on a daily basis do seem to remain calmer than those who don't. Visualization is a powerful strategy for relaxation. It can help us to fall asleep or to put our bodies in slow motion. In this almost dream-like state, blood pressure lowers, the mind lets go of thoughts, and tension seems to leave the body. After 10 minutes of this kind of relaxation, stress is diminished and people seem to have renewed energy.

Have the students find a spot on the floor to place their towels. They are to lie down with their eyes closed and stay silent. Lower the lights. Turn on the music and read the visualization script on the next page.

After the experience is completed have the students describe how they are feeling, their ease in visualizing what was described, and their comfort level with the experience.

Follow-up: Conclude with the reflection activity.

Reflection: Journal entry. - Write about the experience. Was it effective in terms of relaxation and stress reduction? Would it be possible to repeat this experience on your own? How would you do it?

Visualization

Teacher Instructions:
1. Have students find a comfortable spot on the floow to place their towels.  They are to lie down with their eyes closed and stay silent.  If some prefer they may sit, but comfort is very important.
2. Darken the room.
3. Teacher to slowly read the large type in the following script: (assumes nature sounds of running water or new age music as background sound) Script should be familiar to reader prior to the reading.

Relax and make yourself comfortable. You may lie on your back or your side, or stomach as you choose. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold the breath for a count of five and slowly exhale. Repeat this slow breathing, drawing the air deeply into your lungs, holding it for a few seconds and then releasing your breath slowly. Now continuing to breathe at your own rate, inhaling deeply, briefly holding your breath then slowly exhaling, keeping your eyes closed join me on an imaginary excursion to this place I know and want to share with you.

(Start music of nature sounds like running water or new age artist like Enya.)

We are going to imagine the most beautiful meadow you have ever seen. The grass is green and lush, there are wild flowers of many colors and species scattered about the meadow and the air is cool, and clean and crisp. As we walk slowly through the meadow looking at the flowers, we hear the soft rush of bubbling water. It is a small stream. We could not see it before, as it lay hidden next to the blanket of grass and flowers. We decide to rest. First we sit by the side of the stream, but now we lie down. The grass is thick and cool to the touch, but invitingly soft. As we lie down, we close our eyes with the image of flowers, the stream, and nature filling our memory. Our eyes are closed, but the sun shines brightly. We can feel the warmth on our hand as we shield our eyelids with the back of our hand. The warmth is comforting and calming.

The bright sun is cooled by passing clouds and even with our eyes closed we can feel the shadows pass over head, as a gentle breeze pushes the clouds through a big, silent, clear blue sky.

We lie in the grass quietly, listening to the sounds of the stream, remembering the beauty we have discovered and joined.

Stay and enjoy the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the grass and the picture of beauty that you hold so clearly in your memory for a few minutes.

(After three to five minutes have passed.  Turn the music down a little bit and continue reading.)

Keeping your eyes closed now, continuing your deep, relaxed, slow breathing, keep this feeling and imagine any place or event that you can think of that has made you or will make you happy.

(Briefly pause for 30-60 seconds.)

Keeping your eyes closed, mentally enjoy the feeling of being there in that special place or doing that special event. I will leave you alone again for a few minutes to enjoy your own private place.

(After three to five minutes have passed.  Turn the music down slowly while reading the last paragraph.)

Now, gently, slowly open your eyes, and quietly, silently return to your desks, and let us talk about our experiences.

(After the experience is completed have the students describe how they are feeling, their ease in visualizing what was described, and their comfort level with the experience.)



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