Guided Imagery is a traditional mind-body technique that guides your imagination toward a relaxed, focused state through directed thoughts and suggestions, typically using an instructor, tapes or script but can also be self-directed. It is based on the concept that your body and mind are connected, and by using all of your senses, your body responds as though what you are imagining is real. It is sometimes mistakenly called visualization, mental rehearsal and mental imagery, but because it is more than a visual and mental experience, it is more comparable to guided meditation.
It is also often interchangeable with hypnosis, although there are clear differences between the two techniques. While hypnosis concentrates on the power of suggestion and uses the relaxed state to help a person become more receptive to new ideas and beliefs, Guided Imagery focuses on the power of the senses. It centers on a person's senses to better direct and focus attention on a certain concern, and imagining a desired outcome for that concern.
The Guided Imagery technique ultimately focuses on the imagination, something our culture does not cherish nearly enough. But delving into our imaginations can promote such change and positivity in our lives, including promoting mental and physical health. The thoughts that cross our minds create internal images in our body and these inner images affect all of our behaviors – our thoughts, our emotions, right down to the behavior of the cells in our body. The process of carefully controlling and guiding our thoughts is the basis behind Guided Imagery.
The world moves at such a fast pace and the hustle and bustle of a person’s daily routine can bring with it high levels of stress and anxiety. A remedy for this is relaxation – the problem is that us humans have forgotten how to relax. Phones and computers keep our heads down and our minds empty, and this, in the long run, is unhealthy. Guided Imagery can help with the relaxation process because it serves as a distraction which helps redirect our attention away from what is stressing us out and instead direct us to something more pleasing.
To better understand how Guided Imagery works, let’s look at an example: imagine a color that represents stress to you. What about red. Next, picture something red, like an image of a red rope of knots. When you have the image formed in your mind, say to yourself, “I release tension”, and think of that red rope of knots slowly unravelling and turning to a nice soft pink color. When you are done with the transformation, say to yourself, “I am relaxed”, and come back to the present moment. Reaching this relaxed state can help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes, which can lead to an improvement in attitude, creativity and performance.
Although the technique of Guided Imagery has been used since the Ancient Greek times and is an integral part of Chinese medicine and American Indian practices, it was never considered more than an alternative or complimentary approach. However, over the years, it has been supported by research and clinically proven to improve many emotional and behavioral concerns including: stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief and addiction, as well as medical issues such as pain management, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.
1.) Guided Imagery is:
A. Based on the thought that your mind and body are not connected
B. A technique used to control your thoughts
C. A technique that guides your imagination towards a focused state through directed thoughts and suggestions
D. Very similar to guided meditation
E. Both C and D
2.) Guided Imagery differs with Hypnosis in that:
A. It concentrates on the power of the senses
B. It focuses on the imagination
C. It doesn’t work as well
D. It needs a hypnotist
E. A and C
3.) The process of carefully controlling and guiding our thoughts is the basis behind Guided Imagery.
- A. True
- B. False
4.) A remedy for stress and anxiety is:
- A. Drinking alcohol
- B. Relaxation
- C. Staying late at work
- D. Watching TV all night
- E. Screaming at our significant other
5.) Guided Imagery has been linked to:
- A. Improving many emotional and behavioral concerns
- B. Curing all illnesses
- C. Replacing medication
- D. Helping with creativity and performance
- E. Both A and D
Guided imagery is a way of focusing your imagination that leads to the creation of harmony between your mind and body. It is a sort of a mental escape wherein the mind begins to imagine calm and peaceful images.
Guided imagery relies on the concept that the body and the mind are connected. For this reason, it has been used as a therapeutic mind-body technique which uses the power of visualization in order to gain desired outcomes such as performance enhancement, health benefits and relaxation.
Who can use guided imagery?
One of the best features of guided imagery is the fact that almost anyone can use it. It is safe and there are no known risks involved in using it. Women and children are said to have a slight advantage in using guided imagery. It is also deemed as an equal opportunity intervention because of its ability to defy certain barriers such as age, gender, race, class and education.
To obtain the most effective results, patients would normally participate in a guided imagery activity with a trained and qualified guided imagery clinician. The clinician can conduct the process in person to either an individual or a group.
Patients can also use prerecorded guided visualizations such as calm, soothing music regardless of whether it has nature sounds or not. Some of the world’s most successful people such as athletes use guided imagery as a way to develop competitiveness, self-esteem and more.
Essential Tips In Guided Imagery
While it is true that almost anyone can use guided imagery, there are certain things that one must consider in order to achieve the desired results.
First, you need to pick a time and place where you can focus and do the activity uninterrupted.
If you’re living with a friend or a family member, inform them that you will be busy for about 15 minutes.
Choose a location where you feel comfortable and where the room temperature is good.
Put your phones and other distracting gadgets in silent mode or you can turn them off.
Driving while listening to guided imagery is highly discouraged.
Some people may experience minor muscle twitching, a runny nose, a yawn or a tear up while practicing relaxation which is nothing but normal.
If you usually feel like you’re sleepy while doing guided imagery, it may be best to choose a different schedule in doing the activity.
Whatever thoughts or emotions that you encounter while performing guided imagery, simply allow them to pass through you. There’s no need to analyze them or give them your attention.
Avoid any form of self-evaluation and never worry about “getting it right.”