The father of western medicine, Hippocrates, and Greek philosopher Aristotle believed in the power of guided imagery for wellness and healing. Guided imagery is a type of focused relaxation that works to create harmony between the mind and body.
This is a form of visualization in which a person listens to someone’s voice, relaxes their breathing and consciously directs their imagination. Visualization can also be done on your own.
In either form, visualization allows you to focus your imagination to create calm, peaceful images in your mind that are known to enhance coping skills and even stimulate changes in bodily functions, including the heart rate, breathing patterns and even blood pressure.
Why visualization works
Many people dismiss visualization as a “hokey” New Age practice, but this is something that has been working for centuries, and a number of studies have shown that it can be very effective. For example, one 2012 study found that using guided imagery was effective in relieving symptoms of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) in returning active duty military personnel, when combined with traditional PTSD treatment.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, there have been over 200 research studies over the past three decades that have explored mind-body techniques in helping patients prepare for medical and surgical procedures.
Researchers have found that using guided imagery was able to significantly counteract the loss of control, fear, anxiety and other feelings associated with the experience, enabling the patients to recover quicker.
Have you ever developed a headache or an upset stomach when you were worried or stressed about something, or experienced the rush of energy and rapid heartbeat that comes from getting good news? It’s easy to see how our minds and bodies are inescapably intertwined.
Visualization is a powerful tool for reaching any goal
If you want to make a real change in your life, whether it’s a new career, a better financial situation, improved athletic performance, or better health, it all begins in the mind. Nearly all top level athletes have used, and continue to use, visualization to achieve their goals. Visualization is a powerful tool for reaching any goal, including losing weight, gaining muscle and healing from an illness.
By visualizing in your mind how you’d like your body to be, you can actually program your subconscious mind to reshape it. However, that doesn’t mean it can be magically done through visualization alone, it simply means that we have the ability to create a new outward reality by creating the inner blueprint first.
Brain studies have found that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions, with mental imagery impacting numerous cognitive processes such as perception, memory, planning and motor control. During visualization, the brain is actually getting trained for future performance, which helps to prime you for success – and better health.
How to use it
To begin, sit comfortably with your spine as straight as possible, or lay on the floor with a pillow under your head. Relax and quiet your mind, without getting so relaxed that you fall asleep. Take a few deep inhales and exhales to become as calm as possible. You might even imagine a flow of healing life force energy coming into your body through the head, while visualizing every organ surrounded by this life force.
Imagine the future as if you have already achieved your goal of good health right now. Hold onto that thought and experience it in as great detail as possible, engaging all of your senses. Forget about your current condition. You are creating a new reality. Picture yourself with perfect health – imagine just how wonderful that feels!
Visualization should be an important part of everyone’s journey to optimal health. Setting aside just a few minutes each day for this process can create amazing changes in your health and well-being.
The Alternative Daily