Mental maps

Have you ever heard about ‘places’ in your mind? I don’t mean the biological areas of your brain that perform certain functions. This is more like states of consciousness. A ‘place’ of relaxation is a very commonly known example.

This idea of having zones in your mind that enhance certain feelings can be a very useful tool. But they can be difficult to create from nothing. I highly recommend making a few though, it’s worth the effort and training. Your imagination can become extremely powerful if you practise using it. Just remember how great your imagination and creativity was as a child, making up stories and games with your mind. We often lose touch with this fanciful side as we get older, but it’s still there.

Personally, I have several zones that I resort to when I need to take control of my mental state. I have places to induce or heighten relaxation, comfort, anxiety, peace, sadness, wonder and appreciation. Yes, you read that correctly; I have places where I deliberately go to heighten ‘negative’ emotions like anxiety and sadness. I use my stress or anxiety place when I’m too unaroused for peak performance and not reaching the optimum degree of constructive tension (Yerke-Dodson Law – the relationship between arousal and performance).
Visualisation is an important tool in establishing these places. Serene, picturesque settings, based on real places you have been or complete constructs of your mind. If you can visualise this place and put yourself there, you can control the feelings you experience there. Some people with very vivid imaginations and great creativity can create sensations in their mind, feeling grass underfoot and warm breezes blowing on their clothing.

I won’t claim that mindfulness or meditation is a cure-all remedy, and going to places you create in your mind will not always have the desired result. But creating them is by no means a waste of time. I highly recommend it.

Stay safe,

Stephanie

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