Guided Imagery and Stress Management
What is all the buzz about guided imagery and stress management? You may have heard about this new technique many people are using to easily gain the benefits of meditation.
Guided imagery can be used to reduce stress and anxiety, increase the ability to focus, promote healing, reduce pain, calm the mind, and even boost your immune system.
Guided imagery has many enthusiastic supporters who saying it has helped them to feel better both physically and mentally.
People use it to help achieve goals and to improve their ability to effectively manage stress.
But what exactly is guided imagery, and does it really work to help manage stress?
What is Guided Imagery?
Guided imagery mediation is an easy to learn method many people are now using to attain a meditative state. Where traditional meditation techniques often use a mantra to help focus and clear the mind, guided imagery uses a set of images, and guided thoughts.
Guided imagery channels the power of vividly imagined scenes to move you into a state of physical and mental relaxation.
What most people like best about this meditation technique is that it is easy to learn.
Guided Imagery is the Easy Way to Meditate
We all know the benefits of meditation, but many people feel intimidated by the process of learning meditation.
Some meditation techniques, such a transidental meditation, require that you attend courses and practice with licensed experts for several weeks and cost thousands of dollars.
Guided imagery meditation is easy to learn and inexpensive too. While you may not be able to attain the extremely deep levels of meditation of a maharashi that enable you to lower your body temperature several degrees and enter an almost an almost comotose state for several hours, with guided imagery meditation you can definitely experience meditation states that:
- relax you,
- relieves stress,
- and calms your mind
Many people prefer to go this route to gain the relaxation benefits of meditation. Guided imagery and stress management are perfect partners.
How do you relieve stress using guided imagery?
Meditating using guided imagery is easy compared to other mediation techniques. Not only that, there are several ways you can do it.
Guided Imagery Classes
Some cities or towns hold group or individual classes on meditation techniques and guided imagery. You may also find that some yoga studios may offer group or individual sessions in it as well.
Typically, you would sit or lie on a yoga or exercise mat in a quiet area of a darkened room. The instructor will ask to you to gently close your eyes. There may be soft music playing in the background.
Your instructor will then use visualization to help you relax your body and lead you through a series of peaceful imagined scenes. These scenes will be tailored to help induce a sense of calm focus.
The scenes your instructor will ask you to visualize are positive in nature. When your mind is so involved in "living" in these relaxing scenes you will find there is no room for the usual mind chatter, stress and worry. These thoughts are replaced with calming, happy comforting feelings.
These classes use guided imagery and stress management to induce calm centered thoughts and feelings during the session, which benefits you all day long.
Check for classes like these in your own home town, or in the yelow pages of your city.
Guided Imagery and Stress Management CDs
The only trouble with group or individual sessions is that you need to be in the class of them to work. What if your class is only once a week?
Using a pre-recorded guided imagery meditation session allows you to experience the benefits in the comfort of your own home, at the time you choose. This flexibility is ideal for busy parents, high level professionals, and students.
You obtain the same benefits but in a more flexible, more personal setting. Having a guided imagery and stress management CD allows you to meditate and relax on your own terms in a way that fits your schedule.
There is the extra bonus of saving money as well. Because the CD is sold to many people, the charge for each one does not have to be as much as an indivdual in-person session.
Plus, you get access to the highest quality guided imagery sessions worldwide rather than having to rely on what is available locally.
You can find guided imagery and stress management CDs in your local book or music store or order them online.
Benefits of Guided Imagery and Stress Management
There are so many ways guided imagery and stress management help you! Here are just a few:
- Guided imagery induces a state of deep relaxation
- Focus on blissful, positive images floods your body with feel-good hormones and creates a healthy healing response in your body
- Reduces the level of harmful cortisols (caused by long term stress) in your body
- Calms your mind, enhances your ability to focus
- Soothes anxiety by helping to eliminate anxious and worried thoughts
- Slows your heart rate and breathing to an optimal level
- Comforts you with a sense of peace & inner calm
- Assists with achievement of life goals by helping you to focus and feel confident
- Fortifies your immune system
- Gives you a place of rest and mental peace and calms your mind.
- Aids in sleep, and promotes healing
- Helps you to realize that you have more control over your thoughts, feelings and physical self than you realize.
- Increases you ability to manage stressful situations more effectively
- Help you to reduce the feelings of stress in your life.
- Enhances your ability to appreciate and live in the moment.
- Guided imagery and stress management helps you to let go and go with the flow!
These are just a few of the ways that guided imagery and stress management can benefit you. It seems like just about everyone should be doing this.
But you might wonder - does it really work? What does science say?
Guided Imagery and Stress Management - Does It Really Work?
So many people report growing success with lowering stress using this technique that it is becoming a rapidly growing trend.
Part of the appeal of this process is that while you relax your mind experiences the sensation of a series of beautiful scenes, which flow through your mind like a river of calming energy.
One "postcard" gently follows another, allowing you to imagine and experience yourself feeling comfortable and calm, and easily managing challenging situations.
Guided imagery works in part by helping us to relax our bodies fully. Relaxation causes a positive chemical change in our bodies, releasing hormones that replenish, soothe and calm us. This in itself counteracts some of the physical damage that stress places on our bodies. These physical changes persist for some time after the session is over.
Mnay studies have also shown that pain and troubling symptoms can be reduced or even eliminated and that there is a strengthening to the immune system.
Another way it works is by allowing us to "rehearse" comfortable, successful, calm and blissful living. You have probably heard how Olympic athletes mentally practice every move they will make prior to competition. Mental rehearsal has been proven to increase actual real life success and performance levels.
This mental rehearsal can work for ordinary people with personal, self help or professional performance and goals as well.
Resources - Guided Imagery and Stress Management
Guided imagery and stress management is relatively new on the scene and has been the object of various recent scientific studies. Here are just a few of them.
Antall GF, Kresevic D. "The use of guided imagery to manage pain.." Orthop.Nurs. 2004;23(5):335-340.
Kshettry VR, Carole LF, Henly SJ, et al. "Complementary alternative medical therapies for heart surgery patients: feasibility, safety, and impact." Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Jan;81(1):201-5.
Kwekkeboom KL, Kneip J, Pearson L. "A pilot study to predict success with guided imagery for cancer pain." Pain Manag.Nurs. 2003;4(3):112-123.
Mannix LK, Chandurkar RS, Rybicki LA, et al. "Effect of guided imagery on quality of life for patients with chronic tension-type headache." Headache 1999;39(5):326-334.
Troesch LM, Rodehaver CB, Delaney EA, et al. "The influence of guided imagery on chemotherapy..." Oncol Nurs.Forum 1993;20(8):1179-1185
Mockel M, Stork T, Vollert J, et al. Stress reduction through listening to music.
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