It’s test-taking time in our neck of the woods and students are working hard to complete the state standardized testing every day.
Here’s a quick guided imagery exercise to still the mind and ground the body before taking a test or any other academic task. Going within to balance emotions, calm the body and quiet the mind enhances a student’s executive functioning capacity, which is the ability to focus, sustain attention, shift tasks swiftly with ease, regulate emotions, activate working memory, plan and organize material, problem-solve, and get started (initiate) on the task itself!
I like to think of executive functioning ability, which largely takes place in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, (located directly behind the eyebrows), as the conductor of the brain’s orchestra of function and thought.
When this conductor is on board, then test taking is a snap!
There are multiple ways to enhance executive brain functioning, but for this particular mini-activity, it will be focused on quieting down the body, relaxing the mind, and stimulating attention through guided imagery (using the imagination to encounter a still, quiet, lake).
Try it out with your child or student and begin building the executive brain function/capacity today!
Calm Still Lake Guided Imagery Script
(Remember to read in a calm, soft, relaxed voice and to BE in the state of mind and presence you want to help your child/student create)
Begin by closing your eyes and letting your body relax…let go of your toes…your feet…your ankles…your calves…legs…relaxing your stomach…your chest…both arms…all the way relaxing down to your fingertips. Now relax your head and neck…let your whole body feel peaceful and floaty. As you listen to my voice, let your body feel safe, and secure, like all is okay for right now, everything in the world is peaceful, at safe and at peace. As you are feeling calm and more calm, breathing in and out, in and out, allow yourself to imagine a still calm lake. This could be a mountain lake, or a lake in the woods, it could be big or small. Notice if there are stones around your lake or maybe there are trees. This lake is filled with fresh, still water. As you are watching the still, quiet lake, you see that the surface of the lake is so calm it is like a mirror, a smooth sheet of glass, completely calm and completely still. (Pause)
You are like that lake. Allow the events of the day, the events of the classroom and the noise and busyness to fade from your thoughts as you gaze at this calm, still lake. Now as you are feeling that calmness in your mind and body, imagine that you drop a pebble into the water and feel the gentle ripples of peace spreading slowly and smoothly from the center of the water to fill all of you with calmness, with stillness, with peace, flowing throughout your body and mind. (Pause)
Know you can return to the edge of this lake in your imagination whenever you need to reconnect with that peace and that stillness inside of you. (Pause)
Now begin to wiggle your toes and fingers and gently return your attention to the room. You are relaxed, focused and ready to begin your test. You can open your eyes when you are ready.
Idea for practice: If you have students who might feel uncomfortable closing their eyes in the midst of the classroom or who are very giggly and wiggly, try putting on a youtube video of a calm, still lake for them to watch as you read the script out loud.
Try one of these or find your own: