Guided imagery can best be described as the flow of thoughts you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Some describe it as an expression of dreams, or even daydreams. This can be plans, guided projections and more. The aborigines in Australia call their art form “Dreaming”, or at least this is the best description of their fascinating drawings and etchings found in the English language. Guided imagery is a language of arts, the emotions and the link to the deeper or inner self.
Those who are constantly worrying or are stressed are typically unconsciously using guided imagery. This can manifest into our worst fears. For example, an individual who imagines a natural disaster or who has an unnatural fear of a specific type of disaster may eventually fall prey to it. This type of constant worry can cause psychological distress and our bodies will eventually show this distress on the physical outside.
To practice guided imagery, find a quiet area to sit and be alone in. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position and keeping the eyes closed. Breathe deeply and visualize an incredibly calming environment. This environment will be different for different individuals and may vary for the same individual each time this process is completed. Some people choose to listen to calming and relaxing music to help them get into the mood while doing guided imagery.
There are many benefits to guided imagery. According to About.com, a 2005 study of 41 participants with chronic pain who listened to a 7-minute guided imagery tape at least three times a day for four consecutive days began describing their overall pain as being more tolerable, as well as being easier to control. The tape that the participants listened to focused on helping patients relax and changing the images these patients associated with their pain.
In addition to stress relief, guided imagery has been used in many studies to help people quit smoking, in cancer pain relief and more. For women who have undergone breast cancer treatments, some experts believe that practicing guided imagery may help to strengthen the overall immune system. In a 2009 study, 80 women received chemotherapy following surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Women who practiced guided imagery were able to heal faster than those who did not.
Like meditation, guided imagery may take some time to get used to it. Meditation and guided imagery are very similar and for many people, must be practiced, before the art is completely learned. Try practicing guided imagery a few times a day. Guided imagery participants may have to practice in several different places before deciding on a place that not only works for them, but is convenient for them and readily accessible. This can be a place in your home or near where you live or a park that you can walk to each day. Regardless of the place, make sure that you can practice guided imagery alone without interruption. Choose positive images to focus on, whether it be sitting in your front yard looking in the sky or using tea leaves and staring at the images developing in the water.