What you imagine, or image, can and does affect your very heartbeat, your hormonal secretions and the functioning of all your systems. Imagining the perfect functioning of the immune system can, to a surprising extent, counteract a life-threatening disease or condition. Much research over the last two decades has produced irrefutable scientific evidence that using the mind through techniques like guided imagery or visualizations can increase the health and effectiveness of the natural processes of the body.
Mind Affects the Body
I had just finished my first class in guided imagery. At home, I was met at the door by my husband in pain. He was standing there like a human “C” because one side of his back muscles was in spasm. I told him what I had just learned about guided imagery in school. With nothing to lose, we thought it might help his pain.
He carefully and painfully lay down and I talked him through a progressive relaxation. Then I told him to take his consciousness down to the site of his painful muscle, and to describe what he visualized. In his mind’s eye, he saw a large rock. He thought that this rock needed to be pulverized to powder with a sledge hammer that happened to be nearby. This done, and the powder cleared away, I asked him what this area needed next to be healed. “It needs heat in the color of fire,” he said. I guided him to breathe in, see and feel the fire-colored heat in the injured area of his back. On the out-breath he was to breathe out any tension or pain. At the end of this 20 minute session, he sat up pain free without a trace of the spasm. We stared at each other in amazement. I knew I had a powerful tool on my hands.
a Teacher or Therapist
Seeking out a guide to help you further your knowledge of your inner landscape and mindbodyspirit healing is a good step in beginning your inner work. It is very important, when dealing with your inner images, to listen to what your feelings are telling you. You can start the practice of tuning into your intuitive self upon your first meeting with a possible teacher or therapist. Notice how your body feels in the presence of this person. Do you feel good, relaxed and safe? During this subtle sensing, does the person seem honest and trustworthy? What do your finer senses tell you?
logical side of this coin, education is not always a good indicator
that the teacher or therapist will have the talent and wisdom to be
able to assist you. But a total lack of training, especially in the
use of images, is not likely to be the best choice either. I have a
small quote on my refrigerator:
“A great teacher never strives to explain her vision; she simply invites you to stand beside her and see for yourself”—The Rev. R. Inman
The human mind has a way of exaggerating the simplicity of the divine to make it more complex; to make it sound less attainable than it is. The more complex the divine is made, the more religious and dogmatic it becomes. I am wary of anyone seeking authority over anyone else’s inner journey. If a person claims to know all the answers for you, get away quick.
So . . .
The imagery process that I have described is a tool to help the soul become more conscious. As we explore the unconscious forces within, we often become concerned about making mistakes. As you begin this important journey, know there will be what we call “mistakes” made, but mistakes are a part of the journey. One needs heart-felt sincerity, a surrender to the process, patience, and looking to God/spirit/the divine, and the world-at-large for information. Most important, tune into your own images and feelings. Each of us carries within us an inner world that is a very fine God-given guidance system.
In our ancestral history, the human soul was understood to be a part of, not apart from, all the workings of the universe. We have that same capacity today. We need only reach in and claim it. We need to heed and value our imagination, feeling states, the inner realms of dreams, meditation and intuition, as well as our physical symptoms of distress when they manifest as disease, allergies and injury.
Toni Gilbert, RN, MA, is creator of the Centre of Main Street (“Living Arts for Health and Well-Being,”) in Jefferson, Oregon. You can reach her at 541-327-7749.