When I was 11, I fell in love with competitive swimming. I had always felt at home in the water, but it was on the swim team that my determination and competitive nature could really thrive.
My sophomore year in high school I got a hold of a book on guided imagery for athletes, and used my boom box cassette player to record a tape with my own voice.
In addition to hours of training each day, I pre-lived the big race – 100 yard backstroke – for months before it happened every night at bedtime. The smell of the chlorine, the sound of the echoing voices and splashing water. I visualized and felt myself gripping onto the starting block, executing the perfect start, my body smoothly slicing through the water, swiftly making turns and gliding in for a perfect winning finish.
The day of the district championship, I was shockingly calm. Though I wasn't favored to win by a long shot, when I touched the wall and looked up, I discovered I had won the race, just as I had been visualizing night after night as I went to sleep.
What is guided imagery?
Guided imagery is essentially a meditation technique that can be used to strengthen the connection between the mind and body.
In a session you are typically first led through a progressive relaxation meditation to calm your mind and body and bring you into the present moment. You are then led through a series of experiences. It works on the premise that what the brain can experience in imagination will positively affect the body and mind.
By using your mind to experience your goals – be it healing, happiness, or success – you essentially make your goals into a more attainable reality.
Guided imagery involves far more than just the visual sense and this is a good thing, given the fact that only about 55% of the population is strongly wired visually. 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.
When properly constructed, imagery has the built-in capacity to deliver multiple layers of complex, encoded messages by way of simple symbols and metaphors. You could say it acts like a depth charge dropped beneath the surface of the ‘body-mind', where it can reverberate again and again.” (source)
There are many studies that show that the relaxed state induced by guided imagery can help manage depression, lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels, promote healthy hormone function, and more.
Having personally experienced the profound impacts that guided imagery can have, I recommend you try it for yourself. At the very least, you will be making time for yourself to relax and unwind.
How guided imagery can help you live the life you want
Improve your fertility
Guided imagery meditations can help bring your stress and anxiety down for a landing while encouraging your body to the optimal state to welcome and support a pregnancy. Whether you're just starting to plan for a family or you have specific, known fertility issues, this tool is a wonderful way to support you along the way, facilitating both relaxation and healing where needed.
Retrain poor sleep patterns
It is well-known that stress contributes to sleep problems, and guided meditation has proven effective in improving sleep. A study performed on the relationship between use of meditation techniques and sleep problems among cancer patients reported that not only quantity but also quality of sleep improved when patients consistently used meditation techniques before bed. (source)
Experience better overall health
When stress negatively affects the body, it lowers immune function, inhibits digestion, upsets hormone balance and increases pain and inflammation. Issues such as anxiety, depression, pain, and even morning sickness can be greatly improved by using meditations and imagery.(source)
These simple, yet powerful exercises can help you eliminate the stressors that exacerbate these conditions, providing long term benefits when used as part of a daily anti-stress routine.
Enjoy more success
What you think about becomes your reality more readily than you realize. If your mind is full of fearful thoughts you will be less able to create the success you desire. Repetitive thoughts like “I can't afford to eat good quality food” or (my personal favorite) “I suck at public speaking” only focus your energy on making those statements more true, rather than helping you make the necessary moves to create success.
Applying positive imagery to your work or financial life can help you achieve your goals more quickly and easily by keeping you focused on the positive outcome.
How to get started with guided imagery
Guided imagery is simple to do yourself – you can record your own sessions with a smart phone voice recorder (or an old fashioned cassette recorder) using a script you write yourself or find online.
Listen to your recording whenever you have some down time (not while driving!). Before bed is always a good time, but it may also be beneficial to use it as a break midway through your day.
Alternatively, I love the guided imagery recordings from Circle + Bloom, an online company that offers both CD and MP3 downloads so you can get started right away. While they specialize in fertility and women's health, they also have some great guided imagery meditations for overall health, success, sleep, and even for the men in your life that could use a little less stress.
Need to address a specific issue? Click any link below to go to the recording you need:
- Energy and empowerment
- Less stress better health
- Blissful Sleep (scroll down on left)
- Optimize Fertility (with a free starter meditation)
- Self Love and Sexuality
- Relaxation for Men
- Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery
- Support through IUI or IVF
For less than 20 bucks, you can have a powerful, yet gentle set of tools to help you get your life back on track – whatever your goals.