|Guided imagery is as old as psychotherapy itself. Called by many different names--visualization, directed daydreams, active imagination--this process is a state of relaxation whereby we can bypass that censor we call the brain and go directly into the buried emotions of the unconscious. This place of healing can bring to the surface painful or negative issues that need to be seen, understood, or resolved, whether emotional or physical. The body cannot heal in chaos. Through this process of relaxation we provide our bodies the environment to balance and regain health and well-being.
Major universities and hospital centers are combining imagery with traditional healing practices as a tool in the treatment of catastrophic illness, as well as in quicker recovery from surgical procedures.
An imagery experience is like a dream except we don't have to "wait" for the unconscious to provide the dream or the subject matter. We can create a dream at any time to cover any desired subject.
Whether using imagery for emotional trauma or physical situations, this process can be dynamic. A client, Ann, came to me concerned about a cyst discovered in her breast, which was filled with an unidentified substance. Her doctor recommended draining the growth in hopes that it would shrivel up. In an imagery experience, I asked Ann to "see" the cyst and she did. I suggested that she imagine a spray bottle filled with a "magic solution" made up of all the chemicals from her own body needed to heal and flush away the cyst. This image of the magic solution is not as unusual as you may think, for scientifically, there is not a chemical or pharmaceutical available today that the body cannot replicate within itself.
As Ann imagined spraying this solution liberally over the cyst, I asked her to watch and see what happened. Spontaneously, she saw a substance draining from the cyst and slowly the growth began to shrink and shrivel up. A week late, her doctor reported that the cyst had almost disappeared and the procedure was no longer necessary.
Whether you are just in maintenance of a strong body or facing a particular health issue, you can try an imagery right now. Close your eyes and visualize your own "magic solution" flushing away poisons, toxins, pain, or disease, relaxing and bathing your body with peace and calm. Take a deep breath and literally feel yourself relax. In this place of relaxation or imagery, the body does change, and physiological shifts do happen, and healing begins.
In the area of severe illness such as asthma or cancer, imagery can also uncover the emotional components that underlie the illness and then give the body permission to heal. This love and support can often provide physical miracles.
On your own you can use recorded cassette tapes to experience a journey of relaxation and healing. Tapes are available dealing with topics from cancer to releasing weight, from alleviating pain to increasing energy.
Guided imagery with a caring therapist provides a safe and non-judgmental place for facing your fears or negative aspects of self. Feeling protected, supported, listened to, and understood is one of life's most healing experiences.
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Editor's Note: This article is part of a series presenting information on various approaches to healthcare.