About Guided Imagery Meditation
This page contains articles and blog posts I have written about guided imagery and meditation, as well as a place to ask me questions at the bottom of the page. If you have questions about this process or any of my MP3 products, please ask them here – I will answer all questions of general interest. If you have a personal issue or health problem please contact me for a consultation.
Imagery, Meditation and the Inner Dog
What do imagery and meditation have to do with dogs? I share my home and my office with 2 wonderful large dogs, who as I write this are lying in front of the wood stove, basking in the warmth and feeling safe and content. But I also have an inner dog, who lives deep in my brain in that ancient mysterious part of the nervous system that we humans share with all mammals.
My inner dog has a lot in common with my two relaxed friends; it is protective of me and it wants me to be safe and happy. It can go from tail-wagging pleasure to a growl in a nanosecond. And it can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined – whether a dangerous intruder is ringing my doorbell, or the ring is happening in the movie playing on my TV.
Our inner dog responds to our stress and our fear by creating a physical stress response in the body– tense muscles, a rush of adrenaline, pulling blood out of our digestive systems and our thinking brains and sending it to our muscles so we can run away from the tiger. Just as it responds to pleasure by sending relaxing chemicals coursing through our blood.
But like my dogs and the doorbell, it can’t tell if it’s real or imagined. Is a hungry tiger running toward you, or are you just focusing on something scary or traumatic that happened in the past? Is a tree about to fall on you or are you worrying about losing your job? Is someone about to attack you, or did an inconsiderate driver just cut you off? Either way, the stress response is real, the biochemical reactions in the body are real, and the toll it takes on our health and well-being is all too real.
The mind-body connection is a remarkable thing, and imagery is the language that our brains and our bodies use to communicate. When you realize how much unconscious communication is going on every minute, you can begin to glimpse the powerful tool available to you when you make that communication conscious and use it creatively.
Many clients have said to me, “I just can’t visualize, I’m no good at imagery.” But the truth is, we are all absolutely expert at what I call ‘negative imagery.’ Sending our bodies messages that they obediently respond to; “I’m clumsy, I’m fat (and I’ll always be fat!), I have a bad back, a sensitive stomach, that medicine will make me nauseous, I’ll never heal…” the litany of negative thoughts and imagery goes on all day.
So what if we could harness this energy and creatively use it for health and healing? What if the messages were positive and health-promoting? What if you could use this innate ability that we all have, to tell your inner dog that all is well, you are safe. Your inner dog could stop growling at imaginary tigers and tell your body to relax, stop pumping out stress hormones and inflammatory compounds and get on with the business of healing. Which is what it really prefers to do!
And that’s what guided imagery is – guiding your thoughts, your imagination, your images toward the outcome you desire. I have found that by incorporating guided meditation with imagery work, it is easier and far more effective. In meditation, your mind, body and spirit are in a relaxed, centered state where you are more connected to your deeper, inner self and your mind-body communication is enhanced.
So if you haven’t yet gotten your free download of my guided imagery meditation MP3 Six Minutes to Peace and Relaxation please sign up in the box on the right and give yourself a taste of what this work can do for you. And take some time every day to send your inner dog soothing thoughts of lying on a soft bed in front of a fire with a full belly… it sure works for my dogs!
What is Guided Imagery Meditation?
You’ve heard of imagery, you’ve heard of meditation. So what is this combination thing? Well, guided imagery is nothing exotic, it just means that someone is directing the imagery. It could be me, like in these guided imagery meditation CDs and mp3s, or it could be you, guiding yourself with your own thoughts and intentions.
Guided imagery meditation is my name for the process of working with imagery when you are in a meditative state, and is the process that I use in my work. I find that the combination makes the work so much deeper, more powerful, and more effective.
Many people think meditation is this difficult, mysterious process – you have to sit in the lotus position for hours and empty your mind. But really, it is just the process of re-connecting our mind, emotions, and body with our spirit, bringing us back to our center, that place of inner peace. A simple, natural process that everyone is born knowing how to do. Even dogs are thought to meditate ( I know mine do!) and certainly cats do it for hours every day, and what do you suppose cows do while they’re hanging out chewing their cud…
But have you noticed that our culture doesn’t really encourage inner peace and hanging out in your center? We are supposed to be working, talking, thinking, texting, planning and worrying 24/7. So guided meditation techniques can be a very simple way to re-train yourself, to quickly and easily bring yourself out of that constant busy mental chatter and into an internal oasis of peacefulness that you carry within you all the time but are usually too busy to notice.
I developed the Four Steps to Center™ technique that I use in many of my MP3’s to help my clients who wanted to learn to meditate. The four steps – body, heart, mind and spirit – are just a simple pathway to a peaceful meditative state. Once you have experienced what it feels like to be in a meditative state and learned the path to it, it is easy for you to take yourself there whenever you desire. It’s a great meditation technique for beginners, and many experienced mediators enjoy this four step approach.
The mind-body connection is an amazing resource for those of us living in a body! We all carry innate healing abilities within us. It is my intent that the guided journeys on my MP3’s empower and entice you to explore your own.
Who’s Guiding the Guided Imagery?
We use the term guided imagery all the time, but who’s really guiding it? Obviously, if you are listening to one of my guided imagery meditation MP3’s you’d assume it’s me, but in reality, I’m only offering suggestions. It’s your mind that is doing the real work and creating the images. And where do these mysterious images come from? What do they mean?
Imagery or visualization is really just a kind of language or messaging system that your inner being uses to communicate. Whether they are visual pictures, or other sensory perceptions like kinesthetic feelings, sounds, smells, tastes or just a sense of knowing, is just a matter of how your personal system works. Some of us are visual, some auditory, some kinesthetic, etc. – one is not better than another, just a part of who you are.
And the actual images don’t really objectively mean anything, they only have meaning to your psyche. They come from our life, our experiences and the mysteries of how we interpret them. I have difficulty with books that tell you that this image means this, that image means that. Really, how could we possibly know?
I once worked with a woman who was preparing to have cancer surgery (a mastectomy) for breast cancer and we were working with imagery to be sure that any cancer cells, anywhere else in her body would move into her breast, so they could be removed by the surgery. She came up with the image of a golden mesh bag, that she swept through her whole body, scooping up any stray cancer cells. What does a golden mesh bag mean? I have no idea! Well, it turns out her beloved grandmother had a purse made of gold mesh and she had loved to play with it as a child. For her, it symbolized the loving, protective energy of her grandmother.
So back to my question, who’s guiding it? Is it your mind, your heart, or some deeper place of wisdom within you? I’d love to hear what you think…