Mental and physical health can be enhanced with guided imagery relaxation primarily because of how it helps to train the conscious mind to consistently send relaxed and positive thought energy to the subconscious, which in turn creates a relaxed and positive reality in your body, mind and life. Whatever the cause of stress may be, by harnessing the power of your subconscious through guided imagery relaxation you will begin to experience the positive benefits that come from having a calm and clear mind.
You'll probably be familiar with the old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words." The truth behind that statement is more interesting than it superficially appears to be.
Imagery comes from the imagination, and your imagination is potentially the most effective of relaxation aids that you have available. Through your imagination your life can be happy or unhappy, easy or difficult, relaxed or stressful. It all depends on how you use it. While some health professionals may still scoff at the idea, it's perfectly true that you could "imagine" your way into ill health and disease. It's also equally true that you could imagine your way out of it, or at least use your imagination to help you on your way out of it.
Despite some remaining scepticism, the trend is now changing, and an increasing number of medical and mental health professionals are now incorporating some form of guided imagery relaxation into their patient recovery programs.
Imagery is the basic currency of the mind. When you recall a passionate love affair, or the taste of your favourite fruit, or the pain of the loss of a dear friend, the sensations that you experience are not derived through words but through imagery in your mind.
Certain sounds or aromas can also work in the same way, invoking feelings of joy or sadness or whatever through the imagery produced in your mind relating to whatever memories are attached to the particular sound or aroma.
Imagery has a strong bearing on your well being or otherwise. A person whose mind is habitually filled with positive imagery is more likely to be in much better health than someone whose imagination is preoccupied with negative imagery such as stress, fear, anger and so on.
If you feel that you're in a negative place in your life, then the good news is that with guided relaxation techniques you can switch your mental emphasis from the negative to the positive.
First of all, guided imagery relaxation is neither, strictly speaking, self hypnosis or meditation, but falls somewhere between. You are still, as with self hypnosis and creative visualization, using the power of your thoughts and imagination to "reprogram" negative thought patterns, but without the specific directional input applied through the power of autosuggestion. Relaxation through guided imagery has a broader aim.
Set aside, in advance, a period of time on a daily basis of about 15-20 minutes, when you can have privacy and be undisturbed. Make sure that you select a comfortable room where you can lie down, preferably on a bed. At the least, you need to have a comfortable armchair to relax in.
Creating a relaxing ambience, with soft or dim lighting, will be very helpful. Certain scents and sounds can also help to calm the mind. Aromatherapists can supply various scents which are known to have calming effects, and certain types of music and soundtracks, without lyrics, will also definitely help.
Now think, in advance, of the most peaceful and tranquil scene that you can imagine. When you have a fair idea of what this is, light your scented candle, (if using one and taking care to place it in such a way that if it falls it presents no danger of fire) and - if using one - switch on your instrumental soundtrack and lie down.
Now slowly let your eyes close, begin to breathe a bit more steadily and deeply than usual and as you inhale think "I'm breathing in tranquillity" and as you exhale think "I'm breathing out tension". Keep this up, then let your muscles, starting with the left foot and ankle, go limp and relaxed.
Allow the limpness to spread along your left leg, all the while inhaling and exhaling as suggested, then let the right foot and ankle loosen and relax. Allow the feeling of looseness to travel along your right leg, then to your middle area and abdomen and chest. Now think of your left hand and arm, then the right, as also becoming very limp and relaxed. Finally, allow your neck and face muscles to relax.
Now that you're fully relaxed - if necessary, with practice you'll get better at it - fill your mind with the relaxing scene you thought of before. Feel it. See it. Hear it. Smell it. For example, if you're imagining that you're on a beach, feel the warmth of the sun, smell the slightly tangy sea air, hear the sound of the waves gently ebbing and flowing on the shore.
Maintain this relaxation and visualization for around 10 or 15 minutes or so, after which you'll already be beginning to feel the benefits, then bring yourself back to the wakeful state.
With practice and consistency you'll find that guided imagery relaxation is undoubtedly one of the best natural remedies for stress that you can use. Even if you're carrying a heavy burden of stress or anxiety, and don't feel that by just "relaxing" you could do anything about it, make a point of trying guided imagery relaxation for a couple of weeks and you will then notice a significant improvement in your condition and outlook.
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