This is a gentle but powerful technique used in meditation to focus and direct the imagination. It is also known as visualization. Guided imagery involves focusing attention on a relaxing image, such as a sunset or a flowing waterfall, or another image that the subject chooses.
Elite athletes have been known to use guided imagery to enhance their performance and so have artists, scholars and inventors. For physical health, studies have shown that by using guided imagery, people can lower anxiety levels during stressful times, reduce their heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels – and even reduce the need for morphine use for pain after surgery.
• It mobilizes unconscious processes to assist with conscious goals, and this increases a person’s strength and motivation for an accomplishment.
• Almost anyone can use it – not just adults, but children, too.
• It is easier for many people to use than traditional meditation, as it requires less time and discipline to develop this skill.
• People can invent their own imagery or listen to imagery that has been created for them.
The mind-body connection is a crucial element – because to the body, images created in the mind can be almost as real as actual external events. An example? Think of a particularly delicious food and notice how it causes you to salivate.
During the “mind-state” of relaxed focus that people enter during a guided imagery session, brainwave activity and biochemistry shift. This can make us more capable of rapid and intense healing, growth, learning and performance – as many performance artists and Olympic athletes know from experience.
You don’t even have to be a believer in guided imagery for it to work. Even a skeptical willingness to try is enough to achieve results.