Dr. McFarland, Abundant Health LLC, Grand Junction shares her finds on Self Guided Imagery
Mindfulness techniques can assist a person substantially in achieving improved levels of health and well-being. These methods, including meditation and guided imagery, are gaining prominence as more traditional medicine group practices, hospitals, and teaching institutions 1,2 are embracing an integrated approach.
Learning the basics of mindfulness methods is easy and straightforward. Success in applying these techniques requires attention and discipline, and one’s capabilities in these areas increase with time and practice.
Guided imagery involves picturing a peaceful, relaxing setting and may incorporate persons, animals, and other living beings in the imagined environment. The purpose of the exercise is to focus and immerse yourself in the quiet and soothing surround. The benefit derives from profoundly shifting one’s habitual focus on stress and stressful circumstances onto positive images that help support health and healing.3
To begin, you seat yourself comfortably in a location where you won’t be disturbed or distracted by others. You close your eyes, take a few relaxing breaths, and affirm to yourself that you’re going to have a positive experience. You start the self-guided imagery session by picturing a favorite place, one that is enriching and uplifting, such as a beach, nature trail, or mountain habitat. The environment does not have to be one with which you have actual experience. The power of self-guided imagery is that your imagination is, in fact, your open-ended guide.
For example, if you’re on a beach, you could first focus on the sensation of the warmth of the sun on your skin. Feel how it feels. Really focus on the aliveness that the sun’s rays generate throughout your entire being. Picture yourself in your comfortable beach chair and experience the textures and tactile sensations of your casual, colorful beach attire.
After a while, you may choose to walk down to the shoreline. Feel the warmth of the sand on the soles of your feet. Experience the contours of the sand and how your balance has to adjust with each step to match the miniature hills and valleys of the sandy shore. Hear the deep rumble of the ocean and the gentle susurration of the waves. Focus on a sequence of waves. See them rise, crest, and crash on the shore. Experience the ebb and flow of your own heartbeat and your own breath, your personal internal rhythms that align with the rhythms of the ocean shore.
Your self-guided imagery sessions may last for five or ten minutes. You could do these sessions daily or one or two times a week. Essentially, you’re telling yourself a wonderful story that you experience in your mind’s eye. Your self-guided imagery sessions are filled with beautiful images, sounds, and even music that provide an experience of peace, fulfillment, and happiness. Over time, the results include reduced stress, greater awareness, a heightened sense of presence and being-in-the-world, and improved health.
Regular Chiropractic Care and Mindfulness Techniques
Whether you’re engaged in meditation, guided imagery, awareness practice, or breathing exercises, musculoskeletal aches, pains, soreness, and tension can interfere with what you’re attempting to accomplish. Unless you’re an advanced mindfulness student, these physical ailments can easily become the focus of attention and drain energy from your healing process.
Regular chiropractic care can provide effective solutions to these daily musculoskeletal stresses and strains. By detecting and correcting sources of nerve interference and spinal biomechanical dysfunction, regular chiropractic care restores optimal functioning and structural integrity to your body’s skeletal and muscular framework. As a result, you’re able to breathe more easily and fully, get more oxygen into your system, and deliver more healing nutrients to the regions of your body that need them the most. In this way, by helping to resolve and heal stumbling blocks to your concentration, focus, and attention, regular chiropractic care provides great benefit to every mindfulness practice.
- Zech N, et al: Efficacy, acceptability and safety of guided imagery/hypnosis in fibromyalgia – A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Pain 21(2):217-227, 2017
- Nooner AK, et al: Using Relaxation and Guided Imagery to Address Pain, Fatigue, and Sleep Disturbances: A Pilot Study. Clin J Oncol Nurs 20(5):547-552, 2016
- Charalambous A, et al: Guided Imagery And Progressive Muscle Relaxation as a Cluster of Symptoms Management Intervention in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Randomized Control Trial. PLoS One 2016 Jun 24;11(6):e0156911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156911. eCollection 2016