Have you ever given yourself a pep talk, like maybe before a difficult test or a job interview? Then you’re already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of guided imagery. This is a technique that anyone can learn, and once you have it down, it can really help with reducing stress and anxiety as well as possibly improving our overall health and well-being.
According to the Academy for Guided Imagery’s website, the term “guided imagery” refers to a “wide variety of techniques, including simple visualization and direct suggestion using imagery, metaphor and story-telling, fantasy exploration and game playing, dream interpretation, drawing, and active imagination where elements of the unconscious are invited to appear as images that can communicate with the conscious mind.”
Did you get all of that? I know that that was a pretty hefty explanation. Basically, guided imagery means using our minds to imagine things as we would like them to be. You’ve heard the expression “you are what you eat” right? Guided imagery is essentially taking this expression and changing it to “you are what you think.”
This concept was once thought of as being alternative or kind of “out there” as far as medicine is concerned, but as time goes on it is becoming more and more accepted by mainstream medicine as well as the people who practice it.
Guided imagery has been found to help reduce anxiety and depression, make physical symptoms feel better, help give up bad habits, allow patients to ready themselves for medical procedures and surgeries, and help mediate conflicts with others.
The basic premise with guided imagery is that the various mental images that we have in everyday life, influence how we feel about the world and the people in it. Guided imagery, when used in a healing way, involves taking some of these mental images and manipulating them to more positive ones. In essence, it is the mind communicating with and influencing the body.
Here’s an example that might help illustrate this concept. Have you ever dreaded having to do something, like maybe go to a party where you don’t know hardly anyone and you’d really rather not go?