Imagery For Healing
by Gail Raborn
Are you aware of the incredible power of your imagination? If not, it’s time to learn. For while positive images can help you stay well or speed healing, negative images can program you to stress and poor health.
My interactive imagery teacher Dr. Marty Rossman, cofounder of the Academy of Guided Imagery in Mill Valley, Calif., describes imagery this way: “Imagery is a flow of thoughts you can see, hear, feel, smell or taste. An image is an inner representation of your experience or your fantasies, a way your mind codes, stores and expresses information. Imagery is a window to your inner world.” He adds, “Imagery can help you tap inner strengths and find hope, courage, patience, perseverance, love and other qualities that can help you cope with, transcend or recover from almost any illness.” And his excellent book, “Healing Yourself,” is a great way to begin developing imagery skills.
How does imagery work? Picture a lemon: tart, juicy and golden. Imagine cutting it open, the juice dripping onto the knife. Now, imagine lifting the lemon half to your lips and sucking on it. Can you taste the sour fresh taste of the lemon, feel your lips pucker, the saliva increasing in your mouth? If so, your imagination just prompted a physiologic response.
Olympic athletes, not to mention many professional athletes, use this knowledge to improve their performances. They know that using imagery to picture themselves performing beautifully not only programs them psychologically to feel confidant, fearless and calm, they know that their muscle fibers are stimulated exactly as if they’ve just worked out! The opposite is also true: picturing yourself falling while skiing increases that possibility, for you’ve programmed your mind into making that a likelihood.
The scientific basis for why imagery works is still unclear, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that images, which arise in different areas of the cerebral cortex, influence the limbic system (our emotional center) and then by cellular or hormonal means, stimulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Allergies, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, acute and chronic pain states, digestive or skin disorders, fibromyalgia, muscle tension syndromes and conditions triggered by stress are the kinds of problems often effectively improved or resolved through imagery, since they’re connected with the ANS.
A few years ago, imagery helped me dissolve a possibly malignant ovarian cyst in my own body. Through this powerful healing tool, I’ve also healed myself from hypothyroidism, flu and food poisoning, and I've even dissolved a wart on my wrist. Years ago while living in Holland, I stopped my pattern of getting sick with laryngitis just before I’d lead a workshop. Using imagery, I found the trigger: a hidden fear of failing as a teacher. Once I faced that fear, and used imagery to develop the confidence I needed, the laryngitis was gone forever.
Imagery is also a powerful tool to prepare for safer surgery. I use imagery to help my surgical clients to resolve fears, reduce pain, prevent complications during or after surgery, and speed the healing process. Chemotherapy and radiation patients find that imagery can prevent or lessen the painful side effects and hair loss that is common.
When working with clients, one of my favorite imagery methods is to have them invite an image to form representing the life challenge they’re facing. Once they’ve created an inner dialogue with this image, they’re able to gain insight into what their problem is trying to teach them. Thus, they learn what they need to change in their life in order to heal. The results are frequently very powerful, and often surprising.
One client who’d had no luck resolving her back pain with the help of traditional medicine became pain free when she realized, through the help of Interactive Imagery, that her boss was a “pain in the ass!” Once she learned to confront him and demand kinder treatment – which she got – her pain disappeared. Another client dramatically improved his severe eczema when he faced and resolved the repressed rage that was causing him to be so “thin-skinned.”
A Dutch client with AIDS saved his own life through Interactive Imagery. It turned out that over the years, he’d abused and exploited many people in his work as a professional dancer. His conscience, always ignored, was furious with him and felt that he deserved to die. Fortunately, through imagery, he was able to convince his angry conscience, that he deserved a second chance. Once he began helping, rather than exploiting his dance colleagues, his AIDS symptoms vanished. When last I heard from him, he’d been symptom free for years, healthy, happy and a much more loving man.
If you are facing health or emotional
challenges in your life, don’t despair. Your mind has tremendous power
to help you heal. Learn to use imagery: it can help you change your life.
Gail Raborn CHT is a Transformational Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Interactive Imagery Therapist who offers sessions by telephone and in her office in Taos, NM. She works with adults and couples.
For a free introductory session, call +1-505-751-7310.
Copyright Gail Raborn - August 2004