Guided Imagery is created to give you an experience that supports your ability to cope and transform a specific challenge in your life . In this practice, you are guided into a relaxed but alert and focused state from which you use your imagination to connect with your senses to deepen your ability to relax, reinforce healing , accomplish a goal, and open to healing insights and resources.
Worrying is something we all are familiar with. When we worry, thoughts, images, and feelings all come together to reinforce an experience in our imagination. Worrying involves imagery, unfortunately it is the kind of imagery that leaves us tense, unable to sleep, distracted, sad, fearful, and sometimes hopeless. Even though worry takes place in our imagination it has great powers—unfortunately these powers create great stress!
Have you ever fallen asleep watching a television show or movie that was upsetting and then found yourself dreaming about a scene from the movie or waking up feeling like you just participated in that disturbing drama? This is another example of how we experience “negative” imagery.
Guided imagery helps promote feelings of calm, peace and safety. When you are in a relaxed state your brain is most able to “soak In” calming reassuring words, music and images. One of my elderly clients once said years ago, “When I listen to my tape, I feel like I did as a child when my grandmother would read me a bedtime story. I feel safe and able to let go of worrying and fall asleep”.
Research has proven over the past 25 years, that guided imagery positively impacts health, creativity and performance.
According to the January 7, 2008 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, Guided imagery is helping patients use the full range of the body’s healing capacity, “Guided imagery is more than listening to relaxing sounds. It’s a learning process to listen to someone’s voice, relax the breathing and consciously direct the ability to imagine. The effect of guided vivid imagery sends a message to the emotional control center of the brain. From there, the message is passed along to the body’s endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems. These systems influence a wide range of bodily functions, including heart and breathing rates and blood pressure. Guided imagery has been shown to benefit patients by:
· Reducing side effects from cancer treatment
· Reducing fear and anxiety prior to surgery. Studies have shown that surgery patients who participated in two to four guided imagery sessions required less pain medication and left the hospital more quickly than those who hadn’t used imagery.
· Managing stress
Managing headaches. Studies have shown that guided imagery may aid in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches as effectively as taking preventive medications.”
Mayo Clinic (2008, January 7). Enhance Healing Through Guided Imagery. ScienceDaily
Blue Cross Blue Shield of California conducted a study on Guided Imagery from June 2000-2001.
(A Study of Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of Guided Imagery as a Portable, Self-administered, Presurgical Intervention Delivered by a Health Plan Deborah Schwab, MSN; Dana Davies, MPH; Tracy Bodtker, BSN; Lucy Anaya, BS; Keren Johnson, PhD; Maria Chaves, MBA).
This study showed that 57 percent of patients who listened to the audio recordings said they experienced less pain than expected from their surgery. They also reported a significant reduction in anxiety after listening to the tapes prior to surgery . The more anxious patients felt, the more frequently they listened to the recordings and the greater improvement they documented. Acceptance and usage of the program was high, with 85 percent of patients who used it would recommend it to a friend, and 84 percent would use it again when having surgery.
Some of the life challenges that imagery can help with include the following:
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Physical Illness and Pain
Preparing for Pregnancy and Childbirth
Preparing for Surgery
Grief, Loss Letting Go
Emotional Eating/Weight Loss
Menopause and Mid-Life
Your Third Act of Life
Opening to your Creativity
Coping with Death and Dying
We will be highlighting how Guided Imagery can impact each of these topics. The best way to really understand the benefit of the powerful practice is to simply let yourself experience it. To take a mini-retreat and listen to an excerpt of one of Glenda’s imagery journeys.