Medically Reviewed by Jacque Parker, RN
Our bodies do not discriminate between sensory images in our minds and what we know as reality. What does this mean? Imagine for a moment that you were in a car accident (perhaps you have been), and you injured your neck. Months later, as you are driving down the road, you hear someone's tires squeal. This immediately causes you to tense up....your neck hasn't bothered you in a couple of months, but all of the sudden, it begins to hurt... you feel very nervous. Your mind learned to associate that sound with being hurt.
Can the same association be used to create a positive effect? Yes, and because we respond more strongly to positive stimuli than to negative, the benefits can be extremely powerful. A college professor decided to do a small study with his class on the effects of guided imagery: He divided his class up into three sections... the first section was to do hand exercises, the second was to imagine themselves doing hand exercises, and the third group did no exercises. The results? There was little difference in gained hand strength between the group who did the hand exercises and the group that imagined themselves doing the exercises.
Creative visualization can heighten immune functions, lower blood pressure, speed healing, alleviate depression, reduce perception of pain, lower fatigue, increase relaxation, just to name a few. How does it work? Creative visualization is much like self-hypnosis, except you want to practice until you can actually SEE what you want to happen. Once again, you can use the progressive relaxation script to take you into hypnosis and simply add to it. The script we have used up to this point will have you in your favorite place at this point:
Healing Script: Now, imagine yourself floating up from wherever you are... you float up above the trees... you feel very safe... as you look below, you see a beautiful mansion... you can sense the healing vibrance of this place... you want to go there, and you do... as you walk up the beautiful front stairs, your body begins to feel differently... you feel a subtle shift deep inside yourself...
You find yourself standing at the front of a great hall... on each side of the hall stands mirrors... hundreds of mirrors... lining both sides of this enchanting place... as you stand before the first mirror, you reach to touch the wood... you can actually feel it beneath your fingertips... you see a figure in the mirror... this person is part of you... it is the part of you that is completely healed of any disease or discomfort... imagine yourself now, reaching into the mirror...
You take this person's hand... as you lead them from the mirror, the person steps across and becomes a part of you... you can feel the strength of healing that this being has... your body feels stronger... you step to the next mirror... (end)
In the hall of mirrors, you can imagine that the person in the mirror has any characteristic that you want! Imagine one mirror at a time... confidence... love... healing... warmth... relaxation... the simply reach out your hand, and bring that person into your life. These techniques are as effective as they are simple. One more thing I'd like you to know at this point is "You do not have to believe that this will work" for it to work.
Another form of Creative Visualization is Guided Imagery. One thing about the Guided Imagery techniques is that you do not have to go all the way through the progressive relaxation and into hypnosis (I do believe it is more effective that way, just not necessary). You can take a few minutes out and visualize your body healing. To do it this way, you do need to know something about how your disease effects your body internally. Let's use Lupus for an example.
With Lupus, the body's immune system goes out of control (this is definitely a layman's description) and works too well. The doctor prescribes medicine that shuts your immune system down, leaving you susceptible to every germ that crosses your path! Lupus patients are another group that knows a great deal about their disease. When you know that much about how your disease effects your body, you can visualize the body working the way it is supposed to work, i.e., visualize the cold cells all being a special color (say pink), then visualize yourself drinking a glass of water (your preference inserted here), and imagine that "water" washing away all the "pink" germs. You can simply close your eyes and imagine this anytime at all, without going into self-hypnosis, and it works. Also, with a little conversation with your doctor, the two of you can probably work out a visualization exercise tailored to heal your specific illness.
AIDS and Cancer patients have had the most success with this that I have ever witnessed! There is a wonderful book called Staying Well With Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek. There is a script in the book for Immune Cell Imagery, and many, many others, including a good deal of energy work. Remember, though, that Guided Imagery should be used if you understand quite a bit about your disease, and how exactly it effects your body, organs, cells, blood, etc.
Since this article is on healing, I'd like to briefly introduce you to Reiki. Reiki (RAY KEE) is a Japanese form of hands-on energy healing that uses the practitioner as a channel for the energy to flow into the client's body and heal. The Reiki energy has the ability to heal all the way to the DNA, and intuitively knows where the body needs to be healed. Reiki not only heals the physical body, but also the mind and spirit. I believe that is so important when dealing with a disease that the way you feel mentally and spiritually is also addressed.
How do you find a Reiki practitioner or teacher? To practice Reiki, one must first be attuned by a Reiki Master.One great thing is that anyone at all, of any faith or background, can be attuned to Reiki. You can find someone to either treat you, or teach you to treat yourself. Be careful, however, that you are dealing with someone reputable. The best resources to find a Reiki Practitioner or Reiki Master would be your local Chiropractor, Health Food Store, Massage Therapist or through a friend.
Reiki can be used for AIDS patients, Cancer patients, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Arthritis, all the way down to the common cold, or simply for preventive therapy. At Reiki Level I, you can treat your own physical symptoms and the physical symptoms of other people, animals, plants, etc.
You can also combine these two therapies, Hypnosis and Reiki, and have a powerful healing tool. I often tape a relaxation or pain management session and play it in the background of the Reiki session. These are also both techniques that you can learn to use yourself in the privacy of your own home. You are the most powerful tool in your healing. During this research, I found that Fibromyalgia patients often know more about their disease than their physicians do. You are often experimenting with your own modes of therapy with great success. I hope these two tools can assist you on your path to health and healing.
Darlene Cheek is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master with years of experience in Holistic Therapy methods, including Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Crystal Healing and more.