Explorations on Guided Imagery: The art of the start!

Getting the boxes right

So how do we know or can we know where the forking path of body mind or mind body is taking us as we are experiencing degrees of distress, lack of energy, fear, depression, anxiety, pain, in other words that something isn’t right with us. Our ordered universe is in dis-order!
The following works are a good place to start in that they amplify the great ongoing dialogue regarding:

Illness as mind

Illness as mind body

Illness as body mind

How do we know how to tell the difference?

If you don't want to read the entire blog then let me simplify. The body mind will signal us on what's going on. The stronger the signal the more you will react. The gift of the signaling is that it calls on you to pay attention and begin to know that the self is the voice and the inner physician that often is reaching out to the outer practitioner. Our capacity to enter into a healing modality is relational and directional. Imagery is one of the triggers that help the system to engage in its recovery into wholeness. How and who directs the trigger and how it gets pulled is the healing art part of Guided Imagery.

On the inner person - Mitchell Gaynor MD: The treatment of mental and emotional disorders is compartmentalized, neatly labeled "psychiatry and psychology," and put on a shelf.  Physicians tend not to reach for anything on that shelf until they had tried just about everything else on other shelves.

Doctors trained to diagnose physical symptoms naturally look for physical signs of illness.  When they do not find what they are looking for, they look harder and consider the possibility of a rare disease.  Only when they have exhausted the possibility of every physical cause of illness do they consider an emotional cause, and even then, they are likely to hesitate before calling and a psychiatrist or psychologist.

There are several good reasons for this approach.  First, doctors see it as an admission of failure.  Second, they know that many patients would react negatively to a referral.  That would take this to mean that they seen as crazy.  But this referral gap between regular position and psychiatrists and psychologists is unfortunate, because the latter can amplify the diagnosis of the former in ways that help the patient.  Although psychiatrists are trained in the same tradition as other positions, they often have a much less conventional view of illness, and they have no trouble in seeing the mental or emotional component in many physical sicknesses.  Psychologists, of course, having training are highly focused on the mental and emotional aspects.  Within the limits of their discipline, psychiatrists and psychologists claim that healing the inner person can also heal the physical disorder.

On the components of healing- Ken Wilber Integral Philosopher: The new school of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has found convincing evidence that our thoughts and emotions can have a direct influence on the immune system.  The effect is not large, it is detectable.  This, of course, is what we would expect from the axioms at all levels affect all other levels to some degree, however minor.  But since medicine started out as purely physical -- level science, and disregarded the influence of the higher levels of physical -- level illness (The ghost in the machine), PNI has provided a necessary correction, offering a more balanced view.  The mind can affect the body to a small but not insignificant degree.

In particular, the imagery in visualization has been found to be perhaps the most important ingredients in the small but not insignificant influence of the mind on the body and the immune system.  Why images?  If we look at the great chain (ed. our link by link evolutionary chain as humans), notice, where images occur: matter, sensation, perception, impulse, image, symbol, concept, and so on.  Image is the lowest and most primitive part of the mind, putting it directly in touch with the highest part of the body.  In each, in other words, is the mind’s direct connection with the body -- its moods, its impulses, it's by bioenergy.  Our higher thoughts and concepts, then, can translate downward into simple images, and these apparently have a modest but direct influence on bodily systems.

All things considered, then, psychological mood plays some part in every illness.  And that component should be exercised to the maximum… In a close election, that component may be enough to tip the scales in favor of health or illness, but it does not single- handedly stuff the ballot boxes.

Thus, as Stephen Locke and Douglas Colligan write in "the Healer Within", every illness in effect as a psychological component, and every healing process is affected by psychology.  But, the authors continue, the problem is that people have confused the term psychosomatic, which means that a physical disease process can be affected by psychological factors, and psychogenic, which means that the illness is caused solely by psychological factors.  The authors state: "in the correct sense of the word, every illness can be said to be psychosomatic; it may be time to retire the term's psychosomatic altogether".  Both the public and some physicians have used the terms psychosomatic, meaning that the mind can influence the health of the body and psychogenic meaning that the mind can cause disease in the body interchangeably.  They have lost sight of the true meaning of psychosomatic disease.  As Robert Ader suggests," we're not talking about the causation of disease", but the interaction between psychosocial events, coping in the pre-existing biological conditions.

Wilber concludes - let me end this discussion by reaffirming my original point: in treating any disease, make every effort to determine just which level (ed which of ones states of being) the various components of the disease are coming from, and use same level treatments to do with them.  If you get the levels more or less right.  You will generate action that has the highest chance of being cured to; if you get them wrong you will generate only guilt or despair (ed, there are no quick fixes).

The Boxes have no boundaries!  

This conversation is multifaceted as is our language and culture, as is our worldview and inner orientation. So the art of the start is seeing the gift of imagery as a healing art, a creative imagination that lightens our journey. “Our interpretations of our experiences create our reality, our interpretation of our disease creates the reality of what we call illness and its hold or release on every person facing disease.  Is that as a result of modern medicines, complementary techniques, alternative approaches, or a miracle, - their illness is overcome and life returns to some degree of normality.  Modern medicine holds powerful weapons in the fight against illness, and mind body approaches designed to amplify intrinsic healing energy help expand our therapeutic arsenal.” David Simon MD

“As our separateness dissolves into unity, we recover our essential nature as nonmaterial beings composed of conscious energy.  In the ultimate stage of our healing we move beyond fear, beyond pain, and beyond suffering. In our understanding and experience of our essential nature as spiritual beings created of love,,, we return to wholeness.” Simon

Simon concludes- it is my fervent desire that as a society, we will increasingly except and embrace the role of mind-body approaches in improving the quality of life of people facing serious illness.

It is the intention of the guided imagery collective (www.guidedimagerycollective.org) to be a player in the opening of the door to a more expanded view of health and illness, healing and self-healing, life and death that embraces body, mind, and spirit.  Maybe in the offerings of these tools contained in this site we can help relieve suffering, while expanding love and wisdom.  Thank you David Simon for the writings from your book Return to Wholeness, for allowing me to gently massage a few of your words.

Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber: Ken Wilber

Healing Essence: A Cancer Doctor's Practical Program for Hope and Recovery: Mitchell L. Gaynor

Return to Wholeness: Embracing Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Face of Cancer: David Simon MD


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