Helps Reduce Anxiety, Pain and Fatigue.Guided imagery is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination. It can be just as simple as an athlete's 10-second reverie, just before leaping off the diving board, imagining how a perfect dive feels when slicing through the water. Or it can be as complex as imagining the busy, focused buzz of thousands of loyal immune cells, scooting out of the thymus gland on a search and destroy mission to wipe out unsuspecting cancer cells.
Guided imagery is available to University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center patients! To schedule an appointment, please contact 877-907-0859.
What is guided imagery?An Overview of Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek
Guided imagery is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination. It can be just as simple as an athlete's 10-second reverie, just before leaping off the diving board, imagining how a perfect dive feels when slicing through the water. Or it can be as complex as imagining the busy, focused buzz of thousands of loyal immune cells, scooting out of the thymus gland on a search and destroy mission to wipe out unsuspecting cancer cells.
All Senses are EngagedAlthough it has been called "visualization" and "mental imagery", these terms are misleading. Guided imagery involves far more than just the visual sense. Instead, imagery involves all of the senses, and almost anyone can do this. Neither is it strictly a "mental" activity - it involves the whole body, the emotions and all the senses, and it is precisely this body-based focus that makes for its powerful impact.
How does it help?Over the past 25 years, the effectiveness of guided imagery has been increasingly established by research findings that demonstrate its positive impact on health, creativity and performance. We now know that in many instances even 10 minutes of imagery can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood, and heighten short- term immune cell activity. It can considerably reduce blood loss during surgery and morphine use after it. It lessens headaches and pain. It can increase skill at skiing, skating, tennis, writing, acting and singing; it accelerates weight loss and reduces anxiety; and it has been shown, again and again, to reduce the aversive effects of chemotherapy, especially nausea, depression and fatigue.
Because it is a right-brained activity, engaging in it will often be accompanied by other functions that reside in that vicinity: emotion, laughter, sensitivity to music, openness to spirituality, intuition, abstract thinking and empathy.
Anyone Can Use ItBecause it mobilizes unconscious and pre-conscious processes to assist with conscious goals, it can bring to bear much more of a person's strength and motivation to accomplish a desired end. So, subtle and gentle as this technique is, it can be very powerful, and more and more so over time.
One of the most appealing and forgiving features about imagery is that almost anyone can use it...imagery skips across the barriers of education, class, race, gender and age - a truly equal opportunity intervention.
People can invent their own imagery, or they can listen to imagery that's been created for them. Either way, their own imaginations will sooner or later take over, because, even when listening to imagery that's been created in advance, the mind will automatically edit, skip, change or substitute what's being offered for what is needed. So even a tape, CD or written script will become a kind of internal launching pad for the genius of each person's unique imagination.
SourcesAn Overview of Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek -- from www.healthjourneys.com.
Guided Imagery TipsChoose a time and place where you are least likely to be interrupted.
Before beginning, tell any others near you that you're busy for at least 15 minutes.
Do not drive while listening to guided imagery.
Select a comfortable location and room temperature.
Turn off phones and other distractions.
It is normal for people practicing relaxation to tear up, get a runny nose, yawn or experience minor muscle twitching.
If you may fall frequently while practicing guided imagery, you may want to choose another time of day.
Let any thoughts or emotions that may arise during imagery pass through you without engaging or analyzing them.
Try to avoid self-evaluation and any worry about "getting it right."
If you feel better afterwards than when you began, you've been successful.
Questions?If you need more information or would like to schedue a session, please contact 877-907-0859.
The Guided Imagery Program is made possible by gifts to the Patient and Family Support Services Program. Learn how you can help by visiting our Make a Gift web pages.
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