Wouldn’t it be something if you could walk into your doctor’s office complaining about a chronic pain — like arthritis or migraine headaches, and walk out totally pain free? Now you may be skeptical, but holistic practitioners have been using an ancient natural healing process called “guided imagery” for centuries, and it seems to work. Now mainstream medicine is starting to see the value in guided imagery for their patients to heal themselves faster from surgery.
Some people may refer to guided imagery as meditation. It is a way for a person to visualize and focus on an image that puts them into a relaxed state. Studies have found that through the use of this imagery prior to surgery patients experience less anxiety and stress, and it has shown to reduce the need for pain medication after surgery, which reduces the side effects and speeds up the recovery time.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic worked on two studies on the subject and both found that people who used guided imagery before and after their surgeries for 15-30 minutes a day experienced less pain and therefore needed half the pain medication; were more relaxed and less stressed; and were able to be released two days earlier than most patients who had undergone the same procedures.
Guided imagery has been practiced on a limited bases in U.S. hospitals for about 30 years. Most mainstream medical facilities have not held much confidence in this technique, and had mostly thought of it as simply holistic or witch doctor medicine. That is until the two recent studies completed by the Cleveland Clinic. Now they have scientific evidence to support the theory.
What is guided imagery? Guided imagery is based on the concept that your mind and your body are connected. You use all of your senses as you focus on a tape, instructions from a coach, or scripts that guide you through the process. For example: if you are told to visualize an orange, you not only see the color of the fruit, you smell it, feel it, and picture yourself squeezing the juice into your mouth, and taking a bite. Your body responds by salivating.
Through your mind taking you to a safe place and putting you into a relaxed state, such as a peaceful garden full of butterflies, this relaxed state will release the stress that aggravates the illness and at the same time increases your blood flow, which sends a wave of healing antibodies and white blood cells throughout your body. It enhances your immune system, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, and decreases the amount of pain you experience which will cut down on the need for pain medication and its side effects.
In addition, the patient who undergoes guided imagery has a better attitude — more upbeat and confident, which are always beneficial to healing.
Guided imagery is safe, there are no side effects. Athletes use it all the time — they imagine their goals and keep that image in their minds. Anyone can learn it by simply focusing on the images they are trying to build, or something that will help them to relax. Most people use assistance from a video (like the one above), or tape, or go to a coach who can guide them through the process, but once they learn how it is quite simple.
Your mind is an amazing thing, and it is capable of doing so much more than most of us realize. It certainly has the ability to produce the antibodies that can heal your body, so why not give it a try?
From the desk of Ron White
WedMd — Guided Imagery, Topic Overview: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/guided-imagery-topic-overview
Bottom Line Secrets — Use Your Mind To Heal Your Body, by Michael Samuels, MD.