Boston Women’s Journal - February/March 2006
Guided Imagery, a Voyage of Self-Discovery
Today we want and expect more from our lives. We wish to be in harmony with our body, mind, and spirit, and to have rich and evolved lives in touch with all aspects of our being. We want to find our place in the physical and spiritual worlds. The world is so fast-paced and demanding that we need to learn how to put aside the time to process and absorb all of the millions of stimulating things, both good and bad, that bounce off us each day and to release old patterns that may be holding us back. We need to take a quiet look at ourselves and put it all in perspective.
I have used traditional methods in my therapy work for many years, but over time I found that it often communicated at an intellectual level only, often ignoring the link between mind, body, and spirit. This troubled me, so I sought to learn an alternative path to help people feel balanced, happy and physically well. The one I eventually chose is called Guided Imagery.
Guided Imagery deals with the body and spiritual issues that confront us, as well as the psychological ones, and integrates the physical manifestations of illness and wellness in the body. This technique speaks to a deeper place within all of us. The focus is to teach skills that people can use when facing new challenges or old injuries. Rather than creating a dependency, it gives people effective tools for lifelong growth and learning.
What is Guided Imagery Therapy?
The technique of guided imagery is as old as human interaction. Shamanic healers sat around the fire and told traditional tales before the written word existed. They took people on “journeys” of self discovery from the start of humanity. They used universal symbols and images to release and renew the spirit. We can do well by following in their footsteps. We can learn from both the old and the new, creating a strong path to health.
Relaxation and journeying are the fundamental building blocks of Guided Imagery. They take a person deeper into their own self-knowledge, and teach the process of trusting our own wisdom. It is “inner focused” rather than “advice focused.” The expert on you is you. Guided imagery allows us to break old patterns, remove past traumas, understand ourselves better, grow as a person, remove stress, and is often effective in controlling pain. I find that it works in almost all ages and life transitions. Most importantly it provides the specific skills to go forward in your life with freedom and strength.
What Would a Session be Like?
A session begins with sitting in a comfortable chair, or lying on a massage table fully clothed. Then we practice a series of relaxation and breathing exercises, similar to yoga breathing work. Often I use Reiki to help you relax even more deeply. As you go into a state of deeper relaxation, you are asked to envision an idyllic scene. This scene becomes the place where the journey begins. This journey uses animals and universal symbols to reach deep body spirit and mind knowing in a safe and secure environment, and to learn to listen to and to rely on your inner knowledge and life learning. As with any journey, guides and important images occur, and I work to gently lead the traveler to unexplored areas that will move your life forward. Often emotional and physical sensations occur. These sensations can be negative or positive, but almost always result in a release of old, troubling patterns, and creation of new, more helpful ones. No one is ever pushed past their comfort level, but gently led through a series of images and experiences that serve as metaphorical representations of your life. Imagination flowers and concepts have the freedom to grow and re-form into new and healthier patterns.
It is often a great relief to shut out the outside world of logic and see and experience the intuitive center of the brain, learning from our feeling and unconscious nature. Old traumas can be released and replaced with strong models for behavior. There is often “homework” that allows you to continue the process on your own. It is often a pleasant and restful experience, leaving a person feeling relaxed and calm at the end of each session.
I love working with this technique. As a traditionally trained therapist I find it a very powerful tool and an effective one. If you are interested in learning more I would be pleased to speak with you and discuss whether this type of work is suited to you. It is so empowering and healing that I become quite energized using it with my clients. Please call to schedule a free time to chat if you are interested. Research is available through my web link to the APA. Be well, and enjoy the promise of Spring.