Where will your imagination take you today?
In the sequence of my guided relaxation training sessions and recordings, guided imagery comes after breathing and muscle relaxation exercises designed to calm the mind and body, so when people begin to listen to the guided imagery portion, they are already quite relaxed. The soothing, poetic imagery is paired with relaxing music to help the listener enter into the narrative.
“Guided imagery is a window to your inner world, a way of viewing your ideas, feelings, and interpretations. But it is more than just a window; it is a means of transformation..."
— Martin Rossman, M.D.
Open your mind to possibilities...
Guided imagery is based on the concept that your body and mind are connected. These techniques involve using all of your senses to encourage your body to respond as though what you are imagining is real. Guided imagery is more than visualization, it engages all of your senses:
and focuses the mind on positive images, feelings and sensations.
During guided imagery, you can allow your mind to play...
When practicing guided imagery, it’s important to remain open to the imaginative and relaxing possibilities presented by the narrative. There’s no pressure to actually “see” the images in your mind’s eye or follow the “story” in a concrete way. Some listeners don’t actually picture the images being described at all. Instead, they experience other sensations that lead toward the goal of opening the mind to positive, relaxing thoughts and feelings.
In my classes and recordings, I use a variety of guided imagery themes, including healing imagery, pure relaxation, confidence building, following your intuition and self-discovery. Here is an example of a "pure relaxation" guided imagery, from the album "A Time for Sleep":
"Imagine that it is early evening. You are in an open field covered with soft, lush, green grass. A large, safe wooded area lies just to the left of the field. You see a mass of trees with their sturdy trunks. They are there to protect you as you take time to relax in the field. You can hear the rustling of their leaves in the light breeze... A small stream is trickling over stones on the other side of the field. You hear the sound of the water as it flows gently over rocks and twigs—gurgling, bubbling, and gently splashing. Let the water wash away any worries from the day, and let the water carry away any nagging thoughts. A gentle, warm breeze brushes over your skin, relaxing you as it glides past. Breathe in the clean, evening air; allow it to fill your lungs and abdomen completely... Breathe out, releasing any tension you may be feeling from the burdens of the day. Continue breathing slowly and deeply as you enjoy this peaceful place in nature..."
— "Aurora Borealis" from the album "A Time for Sleep"
And here is an example of a "confidence building" guided imagery called "The Orange Grove" from the album "Uplifting Guided Relaxation":
"As you enter the grove, you are filled with a feeling of contentment. You are safe and supported. A gentle, refreshing breeze passes over your body. As the next breeze comes, you gather up the doubts and worries you hold within your mind and body and release them into the wind. They float up, up and out over the orchard, never to be seen again... If there are any doubts or concerns that are lingering, gather all of them and, when the next breeze comes, allow them to leave your body and mind. You watch as they move with the breeze up and over the foothills and mountains beyond the grove... You feel lighter and more energized. You have released everything that could hold you back from the pursuit of your dreams. As you continue to wander through this luscious, fragrant orange grove, you gain more confidence. In this moment, you become completely at ease within yourself..."
— "The Orange Grove" from the album "Uplifting Guided Relaxation"
Research has shown that guided imagery is an effective way to reduce daily stress—those who practice guided imagery regularly tend to feel less stress overall. Because guided imagery allows listeners to use their imagination to enter into a relaxed state, it can actually trigger creativity in other areas of your life and help you become a more effective creator and problem solver. Guided imagery is also a wonderful way to enter into a deep, restorative sleep, which supports overall health and wellness.
Guided imagery is a great tool to help you drift off to sleep...
Here are some resources to help you learn more about guided imagery:
Guided Imagery Links:
Guided Imagery Leaders
My work in guided imagery is influenced by leaders in the field such as Andrew E. Schwartz, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Martin Rossman and Belleruth Naparsteck. Using their work as a foundation, I have developed my own highly approachable brand of guided imagery using scripts that are customized to meet the needs of my clients and listeners around the globe.
Andrew E. Schwartz
Andrew E. Schwartz has been designing, developing and delivering management and leadership programs since 1982. He is founder and CEO of A.E. Schwartz & Associates; a comprehensive management training and leadership development organization offering over 40 skill-based programs and assorted consulting services. (http://www.aeschwartz.com/) He is the author of numerous books and articles on workplace productivity and training issues, as well as the classic guided imagery books Guided Imagery for Groups and Inquire Within. His guided imagery scripts “Sanctuary”, “Tornado” and “Beach Tides” have been popular with my clients for many years.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
According to his website, Dr. Weil believes in the power of the mind-body connection to facilitate healing, and frequently recommends guided imagery to augment the recovery process for surgical patients. His recommendations include consulting practitioners and playing imagery tapes/CDs both before and after surgery. Additionally, he cites over 200 studies offering compelling evidence that guided imagery can effectively help decrease pain and the need for pain medication, reduce side effects and complications of surgery, lessen stress and anxiety before and after procedures, reduce recovery time, improve sleep, strengthen the immune system, and boost self-confidence and self-control. (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00468/Guided-Imagery-Therapy-Dr-Weil.html) Dr. Weil’s book Spontaneous Healing inspired me to begin using guided imagery myself, and to incorporate it in my work with others.
Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek has authored three books on the topic of guided imagery: Staying Well with Guided Imagery (Warner), Your Sixth Sense (Harper Collins) and Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell). She has been highly influential in persuading major institutions such as the U.S. Veteran's Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, United Health Care, Oxford Health Plan and nearly 2000 hospitals and recovery centers to try guided imagery as a complement to other therapies.
Martin Rossman, M.D.
Dr. Martin Rossman founded The Healing Mind in order to raise public and professional awareness about the power and effectiveness of high quality Mind/Body self-healing techniques. An expert in Mind/Body imagery, Dr. Rossman has been teaching clinical guided imagery to health professionals since 1982. His work in guided imagery has centered on various issues such as sleep, anxiety, and illness. He advocates for guided imagery as a way to find solutions to difficult problems, evoke healing responses in your body, and learn to listen to your body so you can better help it heal itself. (http://www.thehealingmind.org/about)