Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Healing PTSD: The Power of Imagination

So, I have a new friend, A.D. He’s a runner and lives in the town next to me. He’s also a Vet and the sibling of a suicide. Suffice it to say, he has some experience with intrusive memories, disturbing emotions and anxiety. But from what I can tell, he’s a pretty together guy. He’s self-aware, holds a job and every day strives to better his internal perspective. I asked him how he does it. His answer: positive guided imagery. To which I replied, Tell me more!

How did you discover positive guided imagery?

I have been using positive imagery for many years. I was first introduced to it by Ed Lee and author, Agnes Sanford. Her books are about healing, and seeing the light in ourselves and others.
What is positive imagery?

Positive imagery is seeing yourself healthy and whole. I believe what we see ourselves as is what we become. We define our own reality, or we accept the reality handed to us. With positive imagery one sees himself moving through the negativity to a more positive perspective. it is like the scene in dune where he passes through the clouds picturing the outcome. From that I learned to imagine positivity ei healing, getting that job, winning that love. Now it does not always happen, but I can accept who I am and feel better by positive thoughts.

What is the process you use for your positive imagery practice?

The process is to quiet yourself first. I use some meditation books, like Days of Healing Days of Joy; Believing In Myself; My Daily Bread; The Prophet. All these set the tone to picture myself positively. From there I imagine myself in a positive light. I see myself happy and wholly healed. I imagine myself taking the steps it takes to get to that point for we cannot be idle; we must plan to reach that goal. You need to set time aside to regroup and plan ahead.

What meditation books would you suggest?

Believing in Myself and Days of healing Day of Joy, by Ernie Larsen and Carol Larsen Hagarly. Plus, My Daily Bread. But any meditation book can set the tone. It is important to find one that inspires you. There are many to choose from. They can most likely be found in the self-help section of bookstore.

What helpful tips would you give anyone who wants to try the practice?

I would tell anyone who wanted to try this to just “Do it!”. Long before Nike had that phrase a wise monk gave me that advice when I was whining about my life. "You want to know if it is right, then just do it." If you want to picture yourself positively or in another light: DO IT. Make your own reality. I am no guru or mystic (although I would like to be); just someone who loves life and wants to make it better. The joy is in the journey NOT the destination.

A.D.’s practice and thoughts are a great approach to changing the way we think and feel. According to Medicine.net, guided imagery has become so respected that it is now an alternative medicine technique “in which patients use their imagination to visualize improved health, or to "attack" a disease, such as a tumor. Some studies indicate that positive thinking can have an effect on disease outcome, so this technique is now utilized as 'complimentary medicine' in some oncology centers and other medical facilities.”

So, I’m thinking….. If positive imagery can help cure cancer, imagine what it can do for PTSD which is, in a certain aspect, repetitive negative imagery. If we replace bad images with good this will help support the subtle shifts we need to make away from trauma and towards a better, more joyful life.

For more info on healing guided imagery, check out:

This is an article from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic supporting the positive effects of guided imagery.

This site even has a free stress buster download.

Here you can find articles, plus a few exercises.

Here’s documentation that guided imagery can also be very helpful for healing and easing health issues.

YouTube, of course, has several links in the results of a guided imagery search.

For general relaxation for stress relief:



I really love these Grant Barrett guides:

End of Day

Dream Journey

Healing Circle of White Light

In the Morning

Health Body & Mind

Finally, if you're feeling a bit undereducated in the 'how' of imagining, here's a three-tiered approach to refining your skills:

Develop Ability to Visualize, Part 1

Develop Ability to Visualize, Part 2

Develop Ability to Visualize, Part 3

(photo: 3abbas)

1 comment:

Marj aka Thriver said...

Great article. You are a fine interviewer! I, myself, have found both visualization and meditation quite restorative.

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog with your comment and ideas. You have a treasure-trove of helpful information to offer!