‘Using imagery can allow illness to become a teacher of wellness’ (Dr. Martin Rossman)
The connection between the body and mind has been known and practiced in different cultures for many years. (Chinese medicine, the ancient Greeks and many more)
In our Western, science oriented culture there has been an exciting and emerging field of science called Psychoneuroimmunolgy – the study of the relationship of the mind, the nervous system and the immune system.
This field is examining the link between what we think (our mind), our health, immune system and our ability to heal.
Guided imagery is one of the tools used in the Mind/Body field and for me, a very powerful one in my healing journey.
Many years ago, I went to a yoga place which offered guided imagery classes. I enjoyed the classes and found them very relaxing; however I felt that I wanted something more than ‘just’ relaxation.
Many people, me included, when they think about guided imagery; visualisation is what comes to mind first.
Visualisation certainly has its place and benefits and is used often to enhance performance, for example many athletes use it before a competition or musicians before a show.
However, what I’ve learned and practiced in the last year, is that guided imagery is much broader that just visualisation.
Imagery can be defined as ‘a way of thinking that involves your senses’. When you practice guided imagery, you don’t necessarily have to see images. You can hear, smell, feel, taste and sometimes you just get a sense of something but you can’t exactly pinpoint it.
Guided imagery can be used to carry messages from the conscious mind, through the healing centre and directly to the body’s healing mechanisms.
It can be used for anything that is perceived as a problem or an issue in a person’s life- a symptom, dis-ease, conflict, doubts and fear.
Guided imagery usually involves a process of first bringing the mind to a non-cognitive state (by meditation, relaxation or inviting images that create a peaceful and safe environment).
Then inviting an image to form that represents a specific issue and creating an encounter, a dialogue and an inquiry with that image.
It’s like a meeting you have with some part of yourself that is not that easily accessible when you are operating on your busy ‘monkey mind’ mode.
One of the turning points in my healing journey was when I started using guided imagery in this way.
It provided me with real insight into my dis-ease, my coping mechanisms and what I needed to do in order to allow my body to heal.
Last night I had a look at my journal and I found a letter I wrote in August last year, following a 2 day guided imagery workshop with Dr. Nimrod Sheinman.
In that workshop, we went through quite a few guided imagery processes led by Nimrod and something that came up for me over and over again was my Inner Critic, my self- criticism, that part in me that is ‘never good enough’, never ‘doing enough’, never quite satisfied.
Through guided imagery, I have confronted that part in me. I have had meetings with it, conversations with it and I have made some negotiations with it so that we can try and live in peace.
What an interesting journey it was (is) for me!
I thought I’d share the letter I wrote to my Inner Critic, because I have a feeling It’s not just me out there dealing with this ‘never good enough’ issue....
My dear Inner Critic,
I am writing to you as a friend. We have lived together for many years and I feel it is time I communicate with you in a different way.
I want to tell you that I now see you with different eyes.
I understand that you just want to protect me and ensure I achieve the goals I have set up for myself.Sometimes you also want to protect me from ‘digging too deep’ and perhaps dis-covering some truths that I am too scared to dis-cover.
Please know that at times, you are very useful for me and for that I am thankful.
However, Inner Critic, I want to ask you something. I want you to trust my inner wisdom, that innate part in me that knows how to breathe and how to heal.
I am asking you to allow that part to be.
There’s nothing you need to be afraid of.You are still a part in me but I want to be able to explore my potential, this ancient potential that always exists.
This will not harm you, nor will it see you being ignored or denied, that I can promise you.
It will allow me to heal, to sing my song, dance my dance and walk my path.
From now on, Inner Critic, I will try and talk to you whenever you are in the way.
I will try not to to push you aside with force and with might.
I’ve learned that this is not useful.
Instead, I will ask you again and again to converse with me, to trust me and to gently step aside for a while.
The Healing Path: A Soul Approach to Healing , Marc Ian Barasch, Tarcher (1994)
You can conquer Cancer, Ian Gawler, Michelle Anderson Publishing (2001)
Staying Well with Guided Imagery, Belleruth Naparstek, Warner Books (1994)
A good website where you can buy and download interviews, books and CD’s related to healing and spirituality, including specific guided imagery exercises:
The Academy for Guided Imagery: