Guided imagery is a simple, non-invasive form of healing that any person can learn to do on his or her own. You won’t need to get extensive training, nor will you need to dedicate a lot of your time to the therapy. By following a few basic instructions, you can condition your mind to heal any mental and physical ailments including stress and pain. All it takes a few minutes of your time each day and some amount of practice. Age, culture, religious beliefs, gender, or any other differences present no barrier. Here is some added information that you may find useful.
Principles That Form the Basis of Guided Imagery
Principle 1 – The Mind and Body are Closely Connected
The images that you create in your mind are as vivid as reality. Just like you remember some of your dreams like they were actual events. When you experience the dreams, they seem more real that the actual world. For instance, when you’re in a deep sleep and the alarm goes off, you probably experience a few minutes of disorientation while you come out of the dream and recognize your surroundings. The mind is a very powerful medium and since the mind controls the working of the body, you can train it to heal the body.
Try these examples to understand this connection better. Think back at an instance when you were embarrassed about something. You’ll sense your face beginning to become warm. Or, think about some specific object or situation that scares you completely. You’ll start to feel a chill and maybe, even shiver. So, you see, images can evoke a physical response. And, it is this response that you need to train your mind to induce.
Principle 2. Recognize the Potency of the Subconscious State
Every person has a conscious state and a subconscious state. When you’re having a conversation or executing a task with concentration, that’s your conscious state. But, the alternate or subconscious state is governed by other brainwave activity. While you go about your tasks, your brain is also working to process other information like trying to remember unfinished activities and making notes of the atmosphere around you.
For instance, when you’re loading the washing machine while talking on the phone, you do it perfectly because you’ve taught your mind to do it. Or, you’re picking up the weekly groceries without a list. Your brain knows what you’ll need thanks to the training it’s gone through. However, sometimes, the subconscious mind takes over and puts you in a state of reverie. You become unaware of the reality around you.
Like for instance, when you completely forget where you put down your keys. Or, you know you had a file in your hand, but you can’t remember in which desk drawer you placed it. Or, try this example. You become so focused on playing an online game that you lose track of time. This subconscious or alternate state can be stimulated to help you do tasks that normally you would be incapable of doing.
Principle 3 – You Need a Sense of Control
Having a sense of control over situations around you makes you feel much more confident about yourself. When you plan for how a presentation will progress, you develop self-esteem. In case, you’re faced with unexpected questions, the confidence carries you through. When you’re prepared for pain, you can deal with more pain than you thought possible. When you’re expecting setbacks, you can put together a plan of action. Even if they are bigger than expected, you’ll still be able to cope.
Guided Imagery – Culmination of these Principles
By bringing these principles together, you can truly understand and perform guided imagery. You need to learn to awaken the alternate state by conditioning the brain how to act or respond to a situation. And, this can be done by visualizing a series of images that lead up to a certain action. For example, proponents of guided imagery talk about how you can imagine your blood cells surrounding an injured section of your body and repairing it. If you practice positive thoughts long enough, you can stimulate your alternate state to bring about the healing process in reality.
History of Guided Imagery
Records from the 13th century talk about how Tibetan monks practiced guided imagery by imagining that the Buddha was treating their illnesses. Some historians also believe that ancient Romans and Greeks or perhaps, American Indians were the original users of this technique. Modern day practice of guided imagery can be linked to Helen Bonny who built a connection with music therapy and healing by using this modality. In the late 1980s, Leslie Davenport wrote a book, “Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery” that traced the method to ancient Indians and Buddhists.
In around 2008, researchers began using brain scans and blood tests to study how guided imagery can affect the functioning of immune cells similar to how they behave in response to meditation or hypnosis.
Although guided imagery as a healing technique was viewed with skepticism by medical science, many medical practitioners, health organizations, and medical facilities are now accepting that it can actually work. You can also find doctors that specifically train to provide this therapy to their patients to help them heal and overcome their illnesses.
Naparstek. Staying Well with Guided Imagery. 1994. Healthjourneys. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“Guided Imagery – Topic Overview.” WebMD. n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“History of Guided Imagery.” The Healing Waterfall. n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.