Healing Imagery for Wholeness
The Health-giving Power of Imagination
Derek J. Healey
Holistic Arts Institute
This paper reviews recent attempts by the author to utilize meditation via the imagination as a means for increasing physical health, mental clarity, emotional harmony, and spiritual awareness. The author found that with consistent daily use for seven days, health aspects of the test subject improved. The findings signify that when guided imagery is used consistently; depression is managed, self-esteem increases, muscular rigidity lessens, and a sense of oneness is created.
Keywords: child abuse, depression, imagination, meditation, self-esteem
The Health-giving Power of Imagination
There exists a profound connection between our minds and our bodies. This connection is powered by the power of the mind and its effect on our human immune systems. For eons, we have used the mind to overcome incredible adversity. Through the purposeful manipulation of our thoughts, we are able to tap into an incredible tool for healing that has been documented to combat cancer and other dis-ease of the human race since ancient time. (Achterberg, 2002) Through the consistent use of the imagination, spirituality is awakened; mental trauma is released; the immune system is boosted; and life-debilitating disease can be beat. The mind therefore can extend human life-expectancy; improving all aspects of our lives.
Materials and Procedure.
This was a self-conducted study using childhood memories for healing, and an ascendant vision of a healing mandala; Exercises Fifteen and Twenty from Healing With the Mind’s Eye by Dr. Michael Samuels. (Samuels, 2002) Both exercises were conducted daily over a period of seven days.
Each trial began with closing the eyes, and breathing slowly and deeply through the nostrils allowing the mind to relax, and the abdomen to rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. In Exercise 15, guided imagery was visualized to re-experience childhood trauma with a guide as an observer, and then as a co-creator to re-write the pains of the past with a more positive outcome. In Exercise 20, guided imagery was visualized to pull apart your body and then reassemble it with the help of a guide and the accompaniment of others. (Samuels, 2003).
With the extent of my experience with these exercises, I can be certain of their positive effects. These exercises offered me a safe and secure place to confront an abusive childhood, empower myself, and regain a sense of connection. By the end of the week, based on the Wong-Baker Facial Grimace Scale and the Activity Tolerance Scale, muscular tension in my neck and shoulders significantly decreased, from a pain level of 7: severe pain interfering with concentration, to a pain level of 2: mild pain which can be ignored. (National Initiative, 2014). My outlook on life became much more positive, as the tendency to be angry and morose decreased about 60%. I became more likely to accept an invitation out into the community, in family settings, and my faith in humanity as well as the universe was fortified.
Guided imagery has allowed me to take control back in my life. I now realize that I am not a victim of circumstance. The cycle is broken. I am a survivor, and I am a healer. These powerful psychological exercises were chosen because they are both tests of my will to find closure, as well as a test of my abilities to confront the shadows of my own psyche.
The long journey of inner exploration offers us a chance to re-write the wrongs of the past, and look to the future with hope of a life that is healthy, and whole. In order to help others, as a Holistic Health and Reiki Practitioner, I realize that this is a life-long process. Grief and illness will continue to come and go, but with further practice of these techniques, these instances will become for manageable, less frequent, and last for shorter periods of time. Implementing these exercises in my practice, I believe that I will be able to facilitate if not the same, but similar results with my clients, allowing them to touch and discover this dimension of their own psyche. Using these techniques I will be able to guide as well as assist them along their journey towards wholeness, which necessitates healing the wounds of the past. In order to heal from trauma, people need a safe place where they will feel neither constrained nor judged. When sacred space is created, the security of the mind and imagination offers people a place to dissolve barriers in their psyche, and let in the light. It allows the body to relax, in order for the biochemical and natural energy of people to flow in such a way as to impact health.
None of us humans are exempt from the suffering of the world, but meditating and using imagery is a beautiful remedy to a world full of dis-ease. By opening up to the potential to have better health, on all levels, we can begin to look at our lives and environments with different eyes, and see that there are many non-invasive ways to battle illness. Guided imagery is certainly a wonderful addition tool to my healing basket of services for my community and the larger world. However, as Achterberg states, “the imagination should not be regarded as a panacea for all that ails the human species- unless, of course, we choose to believe there are no limits to consciousness and its inherent ability to alter the state of things.” In conjunction with modern medicine, we are equipped with the knowledge of the ancients, healers, and shamans of the world. The human brain, and therefore the imagination, has such incredible potential for universal harmony. From the mind, all else is created. If it can be imagined, life and health can be improved. With this belief, we can take an active role in preventative medicine, and our own healthcare with a holistic and broader view of how ingenious the human being truly is.
Achterberg, J. (1985). Imagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
National Initiative on Pain Control. (2014). Pain Assessment Scales. Retrieved from www.painedu.org/Downloads/NIPC/Pain Assessment Scales.pdf
Pain Control & Blood Clots. (2013). Retrieved from http://mysurgery.nshealth.ca/Pages/PainControl.aspx
Samuels, M. (2003). Healing With the Mind’s Eye: How To Use Guided Imagery and Visions to Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.