Anxiety: Train Visualisation

By Brian Robinson.

There is such a thing as good graffiti and bad graffiti.

The central idea of the train visualisation is to help change what is happening in our mind. We gently push negative thoughts to the background: and encourage more positive thoughts to the foreground. If we try and do this using dialogue, it just doesn’t work. We can’t simply say, “I want to think about this: but I don’t want to think about that.”

However, visualisations do work because the brain is acutely tuned into processing and understanding data especially in picture form. So, if we take our self off to an imagined safe place, our brain will automatically think we are safe. If we smile, our brain will automatically think we are happy. This is a form of brain trickery and it is the natural way to communicate with our mind. It really is true that a picture can paint a thousand words.

To begin, as with all visualisations, find a nice quite place; 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.

Imagine yourself sitting in a train station. It is very quite and there is nobody else around. A train slowly pulls in and written on the front of the engine are the words ‘Anxiety Train’.

The anxiety train

You are not going to get on this train, but think about the things you would like to free yourself from. As something comes to mind, take a marker pen and write down your thought on the first window of the carriage. This could be something like your worst fear; or just the feeling of being anxious. Settle back down and think of the next thing.

This could be about a symptom. But remember you’re not trying to get rid of the symptom: you’re wanting to pay it less attention: to worry about it less. Take your marker pen again and write it on the next carriage window.

Take your time with this process. And remember that it is a process. Our brain precisely understands what a process is and it welcomes that type of behaviour. If you find it hard to think of everything off the top of your head, then make a list before you do the visualisation. Come well prepared.

Once you’re written everything down, imagine the train leaving the station and taking all your troubles with it. The station is now empty.

Now, another train comes into the station and this is the train you will take. On the front of the engine are written the words ‘recovery train’. Go through the same process, but this time, write about the way you want to feel; the way you want to see yourself; the things you want to happen. There is endless scope here in terms of the sort of things you can write.

Once finished, you board the train. It is empty, and it is about to carry you and your wishes off to a safe place. Take your seat on this train. Take comfort in what this train can do for you.

If you want to make the visualisation more profound, you can imagine the train taking you off to your imagined safe place. This will tie in with another ‘safe place’ visualisation. That could be a beach, a nice garden, a desert island. A desert island with a train station? I’m not sure about that? No! Couldn’t find a picture of a train on a desert island. How about a train on a mountain trail instead?

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