“Another form of mindfulness we can use is yoga. Have you ever done yoga before?”
“Yoga?” Nelson repeats as he makes a face. “No, not really. It looks a little silly to me.”
“Well, I encourage you to give it a shot,” you smile. “Yoga is a practice that combines physical movement, stress relief, and mindfulness. ”
“Okay,” Nelson shrugs. “What do you do?”
“Let’s learn the ‘Mountain Pose’ and combine it with some guided imagery.”
“Like when we were imagining a safe place?” Nelson asks.
“That’s exactly right—come on!” you exclaim as you rise from your seat and step into some space. Nelson gets up and does the same. You arch your back for a quick stretch. “So for this one, plant your feet together, or slightly apart, and stand strong and tall, like a mountain.”
Nelson quickly stretches his upper body and repositions his feet. You extend your palms open by your sides, and both of you lift your chins proudly, and gaze past each other. A long beat passes.
“Imagine being that mountain,” you resume. “Plant your feet. Look straight ahead, stand as tall as you can, relax your hands.” You pause and chuckle, “All of which we’re doing already.”
Nelson widens his stance a bit.
“Imagine that you are that mountain. What kind of mountain would you like to be?”
“I don’t know,” Nelson replies softly. “A big mountain. Mount Everest.”
“What does Mount Everest look like?”
Nelson blinks twice without moving a muscle. He closes his eyes. “Snowy.”
You let him guide himself through the imagery.
“I see snow everywhere,” he continues. “There are a few patches of rock that show through. There’s a bunch of thin clouds around the peak, but the sun is shining brightly. And the peak is really high. It looks like it can puncture the sky.”
“I can see it,” you say, in a hush. “Do we hear anything on your mountain?”
“Not really,” Nelson says. “I hear wind—lots of wind, actually. Sounds like the wind from old Western movies, whipping up the sand.”
“Good,” you say with a smile. “What do we feel on this mountain?”
Nelson pops open one eye to look at you. “Feel?”
With your eyes closed you answer, “If a climber were walking on your mountain, what would they feel?”
Nelson shuts the open eye and lifts his chin higher. He takes a deep breath.
“There’s snow everywhere, so that’s probably what he’d feel. He’d hear it crunch under his feet. The breeze is picking up the snow so you can feel it on your cheeks.”
“How about taste? Do you taste anything?”
“Not much, just snow.”
“Okay,” you say with a sigh. You open your eyes and close your palms. “Nelson, you have a great imagination! That was fantastic. How do you feel?”
Nelson also opens his eyes. He glances around the room and inhales. “Nice,” he says with a smile. “Calm and tranquil.”
“I do, too,” you agree, returning to your seat. “Imagining all those details of the mountain like that, and being still in our pose, took us away from any anxious thoughts because we were so focused on something. The more you described it, Nelson, the more you really pictured it, and the more we took ourselves away from these anxious thoughts and feelings.”