Like many of my clients, I have had trouble in the past with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. I tried many things to combat these problems, some with more success than others. And I have to say that one of my favorite methods by far for reducing stress and promoting peace in my life is guided imagery.
I first encountered guided imagery several years ago in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I was working with a psychiatrist who practiced hypnotherapy. One of her techniques for relaxing clients was to have them close their eyes and breathe quietly and regularly while she painted a soothing picture with her voice. The goal was to have the client mentally insert herself into that peaceful picture and relax, as relaxation can make hypnotic regression processes, etc., much more effective. Often, she would record that part of the session so that the client could go back and listen again for further relaxation purposes.
I was so impressed with how much guided imagery calmed me, that I began to look for more variation in my diet. For the last several years, my two favorites have been Tuning Your Chakras (from the Edgar Cayce Pre-Sleep series) and Hara Breathing Meditation (by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden).
I suggest such CDs for client use (particularly at bedtime or naptime), and I also use very simple guided imagery in massage sessions. For example, when I have a client who is extremely stressed or whose purpose in massage is deep relaxation, I will sometimes end with a general Polarity Energy routine to rebalance the chakras. In beginning this, I will simply ask the client to breathe and relax as much as possible while we “go away somewhere.” Occasionally I ask the client where she wants to go, but generally, I pick the place according to whatever occurs to me at the time, and tend to go with my gut instincts for guided imagery travel. For example, as the weather has improved in Seattle, I have been doing a lot of walking around Green Lake. A few weeks ago, the cherry trees were in bloom, and as I walked, I watched the breeze shake them down like pink snow. And so in my session, I painted the scene of the lake that day: pink snow, dandelion seed parachutes, bright kites, and a tiny Chihuahua in a pink coat. “Can there really be anything too bad or scary about a world where Chihuahuas wear pink coats?” I asked. My client smiled, and the body under my hands instantly relaxed.
Sometimes we need to get out of our daily lives or at least change the scenery in our heads to achieve peace: guided imagery is a great, easy way to do this.