It’s always a treat when we get away to the spa, but when time, illness or finances interfere, we don’t have to travel further than our most comfy chair for a deeply restorative experience that soothes and refreshes the body, mind and emotions.
Guided imagery is powerful because we have learned that the brain uses the very same neural pathways to register an actual experience as an imagined one. So when you deeply recall the clean fresh scent of the sea surrounding you on warm tropical breezes or the lush, green forest glen dappled in sunlight with the sound of the waterfall, your body releases the same feel-good elixir including dopamine and endorphins, as when you vacation there.
The benefits of guided imagery for cancer treatment and recovery can go far beyond a relaxing getaway. Research demonstrates again and again how specific imagery approaches can also boost healthy immune function, and reduce adverse effects from treatment including fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression. Imagery is commonly incorporated into pain management protocols and is known to improve surgery outcomes.
But for now, kick off your shoes and get comfy. Carve out 20 minutes of undisturbed time. And give yourself the health-enhancing experience of a calming journey to a place where you can be yourself without pressure or expectations. Soak in the rejuvenating qualities. Every breath in can nourish your wellbeing; each breath out is a change to relax more fully. Here’s how:
-Sit or lie comfortably. As you close your eyes, set aside any tasks or concerns, really giving yourself 20 minutes to rejuvenate your body, heart and soul.
-Using a full but natural breath, imagine the vitality from your breath flowing upward, bringing clarity to your mind and ease to your emotions. Exhale, directing your breath down through your body from head to toe, releasing tension along the way. Continue for about three minutes, relaxing your body as you clear your mind, entering the balance of being both relaxed and alert.
– Allow an image to form of a peaceful place, indoors or out. It might be an open field of flowers, a quiet room, a mountain or even a cloud. The important thing is that the image be a place that you personally find relaxing and enjoyable.
– Fully engage all of your senses as you imagine this restful spot. Notice the sounds, or particular quality of silence, of this environment. Take time to feel the temperature. Breathe in the aromas. Observe the quality of the light, and the variety of colors and textures. What time of day and season does it seem to be? Feel free to adjust any features so that it feels just right. Not only does engaging the senses make the image more real and vivid, but it also activates the more intuitive right hemisphere of the brain, which increases relaxation.
– Once you have fully imagined your environment and settled in, notice how you’re feeling and soak in the qualities of this special place. Bask in the goodness. Enjoy this soothing place for at least 15 minutes, more if you can.
-As you are ready to return, gently sense the room you are in, knowing you can return to your special place at another time. Let the relaxing qualities linger, taking them into your day.
The Power of Guided Imagery during Cancer Treatment It’s always a treat when we get away to Read More