Guided Imagery



Advocates of guided imagery contend that the imagination is a potent healer that has long been overlooked by practitioners of Western medicine. Imagery can relieve pain, speed healing and help the body subdue hundreds of ailments, including depression, impotence, allergies and asthma. The power of the mind to influence the body is quite remarkable. Although it isn't always curative, imagery can be helpful in 90 percent of the problems that people bring to the attention of their primary care physicians.

Guided imagery is a way to use our powers of creative imagination, which can be much more immediate and effective than analytical thinking. The guided imagery exercises we've included are designed to offer you direct experience of some of the concepts in the theme section of Eupsychia's web site that you encounter, converting them into dynamic activators of your minds and hearts or as stand-alone inner work exercises.

Like everything newly created, a truth must begin in the mind. Hence, the purpose of guided imageries is to show your intellect a living truth, which can then eventually move into our hearts. A living truth is an idea that has become clothed in form by our imagination–an idea that can be felt in your heart and will create change in your life.

The belief that the power of imagination can help people heal has ancient roots. Traditional folk healers known as shamans used guided imagery to treat ailments. In Eastern medicine, envisioning well-being has always been an important part of the therapeutic process. In Tibetan medicine in particular, creating a mental image of the healing god would improve the patient's chances for recovery.

The ancient Greeks, including Aristotle and Hippocrates ("father of modern medicine") also had their patients use forms of imagery to help them heal. It was not until the 1960s, however, that psychologists exploring the emerging field of biofeedback first began to appreciate the powers of the mind on the physical body.

Through biofeedback, they could teach patients to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, or open lungs stricken with asthma. Then, in the 1970s, O. Carl Simonton, M.D., chief of Radiation Therapy at Travis Air Force base in Fairfield, California, and psychotherapist Stephanie Matthews-Simonson, devised a program--today known as the Simonton method--that utilized guided imagery to help his cancer patients.

The patients pictured their white blood cells attacking their cancer cells (sometimes in scenes that resembled the popular video game "Pac-Man"). Simonton found that the more vivid the images his patients used (for example, ravenous sharks attacking feeble little fish), the better the process worked.

Since then, a good deal of research into mind-body connections has appeared in mainstream medical literature. And while many conventional physicians remain skeptical that the mind has an actual physical effect on the reversal of an illness, guided imagery (often conducted by psychiatrists or psychologists) is now used in many medical inpatient and outpatient programs throughout the world.

Furthermore, many holistically oriented psychologists and other counselors routinely employ guided imagery for stress reduction, smoking cessation, weight reduction, immune stimulation, and the relief of both physical and emotional illness.




 









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