By Brian Robinson.
Visualisation can take a thousand forms and can be used towards a variety of ends. When it is used to help with anxiety, it serves as a means of escape to a safe place; as a distraction from troublesome thoughts; and a means to relax the mind.
Visualisations work in essence because the brain is acutely tuned to processing and understanding data in picture form. This is the natural way for the mind to work and it really is true that a picture can paint a thousand words.
The shamanic cave visualisation or journey can be used variously, but it works well when we want to set out our priorities or establish the way we feel about something. It can also be used as grounding exercise. Grounding can be described as getting back to the basics or the fundamentals of life. And for this particular exercise, you’ll need pen and paper.
Make yourself as comfortable as you can; relax your neck and shoulders; slow your breathing down a little. Imagine you have a door in your body somewhere that you can open up to allow all your troubles and worries to flow away. Open that door now and feel your body relax.
Picture a beautiful scene near a mountain. In front of you, visualise a rocky canyon. The walls rise steeply on either side but there is no vegetation. The rocks themselves are amazing to look at. They have been rounded by the sands of time. And the the rock floor of the canyon has a smooth surface polished by footsteps over thousands of years. The only sound you can hear is that of flowing water somewhere in the distance. The sun is warm on your back; there is a vivid blue sky; and you feel completely safe.
Walk along the gorge now and as you round a bend you notice an entrance to a cave. Go into the entrance and follow the path which slopes gently downward.
The cave is not dark but lit with natural lighting coming in through cracks and holes from above. It’s cooler than outside but it’s pleasant enough and you feel relaxed there. At the end of the cave you see a small room with a shaft of bright sunlight coming in from above. Go into the room and around the corner you’ll find a large stone which makes a perfect seat.
As you look down from where you’re seated you’ll notice some flat rounded stones scattered in front of you. And there is some pieces of chalk that must have been left by previous visitors. Pick up one of these stones and write the name of something that is important to you. This can be a person, a thing, a place or an activity. It can be anything. Then repeat this with the other stones making sure you write on several. Take your time. There is no hurry with this.
When you’ve finished place the stones in some sort of order that signifies their importance. For example, the most important one can be placed closest to you and the least important the farthest away. Go on feelings not logic. And you can place the stones in whatever position or sequence that makes most sense to you.
Move them around as much as you wish. And you can even link some of the stones together by drawing a chalk line between them. Try and listen to the stones and instinctively follow what they are telling you. When you are completely happy with the way you have positioned them, slowly awaken and immediately draw your layout with pen and paper.
The idea is, that you then look at what you have written and the way the stones have been placed and you try to make sense of it. You should perhaps then have a deeper insight as to your priorities or the way you feel about something. It is a way of tapping into your inner-self or subconscious. The exercise can be repeated a number of times focusing on different issues.