When we worry and stress we use imagery to imagine the worst. Our bodies respond with a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and anxiety is increased. Guided imagery is using our innate abilities to imagine, sense and feel for our benefit. It is a powerful way to consciously take the mind and the body to a healthier place.
The name “imagery” sounds like it is all about seeing pictures with the mind. This is misleading. Many of us don’t have the ability to see pictures in the mind. Thankfully, guided imagery includes all the senses and feeling of emotions which brings its deep effects. We can use guided imagery aide with physical problems such as illness, pain and stress reduction. It is also beneficial for emotional and psychological support and healing as well as overcoming obstacles and reaching goals.
Guided Imagery includes a wide range of techniques. A short, simple technique may be taking a quick moment of visualizing and affirmation before a job interview or meeting. A longer, detailed version may be healing imagery for a person dealing with a specific illness. This may include a journey through the body, bringing health and positive energy on a cellular level.
Here is more information from well respected Guided Imagery Expert, Bellaruth Napastek:
Over the past 25 years, the effectiveness of guided imagery has been increasingly established by research findings that demonstrate its positive impact on health, creativity and performance. We now know that in many instances even 10 minutes of imagery can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood, and heighten short- term immune cell activity. It can considerably reduce blood loss during surgery and morphine use after it. It lessens headaches and pain. It can increase skill at skiing, skating, tennis, writing, acting and singing; it accelerates weight loss and reduces anxiety; and it has been shown, again and again, to reduce the aversive effects of chemotherapy, especially nausea, depression and fatigue.
Because it is a right-brained activity, engaging in it will often be accompanied by other functions that reside in that vicinity: emotion, laughter, sensitivity to music, openness to spirituality, intuition, abstract thinking and empathy.
And because it mobilizes unconscious and pre-conscious processes to assist with conscious goals, it can bring to bear much more of a person’s strength and motivation to accomplish a desired end. So, subtle and gentle as this technique is, it can be very powerful, and more and more so over time.
One of the most appealing and forgiving features about imagery is that almost anyone can use it. Although children and women probably have a slight, natural advantage, imagery skips across the barriers of education, class, race, gender and age – a truly equal opportunity intervention.
Even though it can be considered a kind of meditation, it is easier for most westerners to use than traditional meditation, as it requires less time and discipline to develop a high level of skill. This is because it seduces the mind with appealing sensory images that have their own natural pull. And because it results in a kind of natural trance state, it can be considered a form of hypnosis as well.
People can invent their own imagery, or they can listen to imagery that’s been created for them. Either way, their own imaginations will sooner or later take over, because, even when listening to imagery that’s been created in advance, the mind will automatically edit, skip, change or substitute what’s being offered for what is needed. So even a tape, CD or written script will become a kind of internal launching pad for the genius of each person’s unique imagination.
© Naparstek 2000 © Staying Well with Guided Imagery, 1994
This is a nice link for guided mediations. If you look under the blog category, it leads you to more detailed information about guided imagery from expert, Belleruth Naparstek.