Guided imagery is a focused practice that involves each of the five senses to ignite positive healing messages throughout the mind and body. The practice is often interchanged with visualization, self-hypnosis and guided meditation, but it has its own set of techniques. The benefits of guided imagery are vast — there is research that shows the practice can reduce fear and anxiety, lessen the frequency of headaches and has been proven to decrease psychological distress in cancer patients. What’s more, it’s a practice that can be introduced to your daily routine at any time.
What is guided imagery?
With guided imagery, you utilize all of your senses — vision, taste, sound, smell, and touch — to build images in the mind that your body feels are as real as external events. This doesn’t mean that during the practice in your “real time” physical body you will be smelling, hearing and tasting objects, but your mind will be visualizing the makings of each sense, versus more traditional guided meditation that is focused purely on the mental state without the addition of whole-body senses. Guided imagery can actually stimulate changes in heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory patterns, because of the deep, physical mind-body connection.
Think of it as a much more amplified version of having a food craving constructed from memory, then noticing your salivary glands become active. Your mind and body are connecting over an image composed in your head that has touched each of your senses. Now, what if you could replicate that for stress management and pain relief?
How is guided imagery different from visualization? Visualization is when an individual focuses purely on visuals. Guided imagery constructs an immersed state of mind throughout the entire body by visualizing all five senses altering. How does this differ from hypnosis? More often than not, hypnosis requires a participant and a hypnotist. The hypnotist introduces suggestions to the participant to help enter the subconscious mind. With guided imagery, you are using the sole power of your own imagination.
I Release, I Let Go.