Guided visualisations are based on the common assumption that the use of symbolic images in a relaxation state, operates on the psyche with the energy of the symbol and in line with the symbolic meaning (Widmann, 2004, p. 67).
Starting from this premise, we can consider an ideal psychosynthetic imaginative itinerary which, even if not rigidly standardised, tends to organise the exercises according to the following theoretical project (Widmann, 2004, p. 67 e Caldironi, 2006, pp. 17-24):
guided visualisations withcalming and soothing actionwhich strengthen the sense of identity and prepare the personality to confront the unconscious-mind (stage of the examination of the conscious personality);
guided visualisations with analytical action, useful for the examination of preconscious and unconscious aspects of the personality (stage of the exploration of the unconscious);
guided visualisationswith cathartic action, which are meant to liberate, clear, unload the personality, that is often inhabited by anxieties, memories, negative suggestions, and sorrows (stage of the exploration of the unconscious and of personal psychosynthesis);
guided visualisationswith restructuring action, which promote the guiding and synthesising functions of the self (stage of personal psychosynthesis);
visualisations with transformative action, which tend to evoke and facilitate changes in the psychic dynamic, used to shape and enhance new images of the self, chosen consciously and freely (stage of personal psychosynthesis);
visualisations with transpersonal action which place the personal self in a dynamic connection with the higher unconscious and with the transpersonal Self (stage of transpersonal psychosynthesis);
there are also a wide range of exercises which can be used for more specific topics, such as visualisations for eating disorders, erotic visualisations, those for sexual disorders and depression, anger, etc.
Visualisations of different groups can be combined with each other at any time and used at various stages of the journey. As always, the preparation and sensitivity of the Psychosynthesis practitioner is essential; he/she must overcome the narrative and structural system of the actual visualisations. In fact, as Claudio Widmann correctly points out, in practical terms visualisations with a calming action are offered to some individuals even during the final stages of therapy; others are offered transpersonal symbols even from the first stages; sometimes several visualisations are offered, which promote confrontation with the agonising ghosts of the unconscious (the dragon, the squid, the spider); in different circumstances the excessively direct interaction with these images is cautiously avoided.
Initially, the visualisation exercises are guided by the psychosynthesist during individual or group sessions. Afterwards, the individual must practice by themselves. Therefore, these exercises have to be repeated on a daily basis for a certain time.
Symbols with soothing purpose. For example, the practitioner can lead the individual to the centre of a circular clearing, surrounded by trees, and illuminated by the sun. He/she can also propose the image of a mountain’s meadow, or of a garden on a mountain top. A thematically similar version consists in suggesting reaching an oasis after wandering for a long time in the desert. Or, one can guide the person to the river shore, where they pause to listen to its voice. The river image intertwines with others which similarly constellate the theme of vital energies and vital dynamism of the psyche (Widmann, 2004, p. 70). The prototype of guided visualisations that are based on this symbology, is the “fountain of vital energy”, of which I refer the central core:
The fountain of vital energy (Widmann, Caldironi, 1980, p. 156)
There is a small creek that you trace upstream to the spring… you follow its course encountering no efforts or obstacles, reaching the spring shortly. Pure water gushes from the living rocks and descends, brushes the rocks, and gathers in a pond surrounded by smooth white stones… This water irradiates a sense of freshness, of vitality and energy. You observe its gentle ripples, the transparent foam; it evokes a feeling of dynamism, of renovation, of life, of energy, of rebirth…
You approach the spring and plunge your hands in it; you feel the water flowing between your fingers, you perceive the cool and regenerative contact, you draw a cleansing feeling… Again, you plunge your hands, you shake them a little: the contact with the fresh and living water is soothing and pleasant; feeling it between your fingers gives a sensation of well-being… You scoop the water with your hands, bringing them to your face and wetting it… You sense on your face the cleanliness of that contact and within yourself a feeling of strength, of solace and well-being… the skin of your face is now clean, purified by the water, and you clearly experience a sensation of life, of renovation, of rebirth… Once more, you scoop the water with your hands and bring it to your mouth; you drink in small sips, slowly. You feel the fresh water in your mouth, you sense it descending inside of you… from the stomach it feels like it is expanding throughout the body, in every fibre, in every cell… You drink again, and again you sense this water of life spreading over the system, bringing new vitality, new vital energies.