This is the second article in my series of relaxation exercises. The whiteboard exercise, which I will describe here, is useful to reset the mind to shift away from any particularly negative things and instead focus on things which are positive and supportive for you. No actual whiteboard is necessary! You just need to plan some time when you are unlikely to be disturbed and can be quiet for a while.
Just sit or lie down and start with some diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe through the nose, and be conscious of slowing down your breathing. Breathe in, right down to the bottom of your lungs so your abdomen pushes out a little. Breathe in a sense of calm, and then breathe out through the nose with a long out-breath, longer than the in-breath, breathing out a sense that you are expelling any tension, worry or concern. It can help to put one hand on the abdomen and one on the upper chest. As you breathe, notice how the hand on the abdomen moves as your abdomen moves, out with the in-breath and slowly in again with the longer out-breath; the hand on the upper chest should hardly move. Just do this for a few minutes, really concentrating on the slow and steady movement and the steady pace of your breathing.
Then, with your eyes closed, build a picture of a whiteboard in your mind. There is nothing on it to start with. It is white and clear, just a blank whiteboard. There are various pens to the side. There is a black one, and there are others of various colours. In your mind’s eye, take one or more pens to write on the whiteboard any feeling of tension, worry or concern. The writing might be small or large, straight or sloping, clear or wavy, or in whatever style those feelings are best expressed on that board. Once you have finished writing, imagine standing back from the board and looking in a cool and calm way at what is written – almost with a sense of curiosity.
To the other side of the whiteboard are cloths of various sizes and colours. Pick one, and start gently to erase what has been written on the board. You might start from the outside and move in, or start from one side or corner, or maybe even move from the centre outwards. Erase everything on the board until it is white and clear again.
Then, taking one or more pens (again using whatever colour feels right), you can write out words or statements which are positive and supportive for you. It might be something like ‘Although this is difficult right now, it will pass’ or ‘I have been through tough times before and come through them’ or ‘Even though I have so much to do, I know I can do what I need to do if I’ve a good plan and steadily work through it’. You could also write adjectives to describe you at your best – ‘calm’, ‘confident’, ‘determined’, ‘objective’ or whatever the description might be – using colours and styles of writing which best express those words or statements for you. Again, you can stand back from the board and admire your work, breathing slowly and steadily.
And when you are ready, you can gently open your eyes, look around, and gain a sense of feeling more refreshed, alert and focused.