Aristotle and Hippocrates believed in the power of images in the brain to enliven the heart and body. Today, research shows they were right. Guided imagery is helping patients use the full range of the body’s healing capacity, according to the January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Guided imagery is more than listening to relaxing sounds. It’s a learning process to listen to someone’s voice, relax the breathing and consciously direct the ability to imagine. The effect of guided vivid imagery sends a message to the emotional control center of the brain.
From there, the message is passed along to the body’s endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems. These systems influence a wide range of bodily functions, including heart and breathing rates and blood pressure.
Guided imagery has been shown to benefit patients by:
- Reducing side effects from cancer treatment
- Reducing fear and anxiety prior to surgery. Studies have shown that surgery patients who participated in two to four guided imagery sessions required less pain medication and left the hospital more quickly than those who hadn’t used imagery.
- Managing stress
- Managing headaches. Studies have shown that guided imagery may aid in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches as effectively as taking preventive medications.
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