"Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."—Bill Clinton
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness and end the stigma and secrecy surrounding mental illness.
Since 1990, Mental Illness Awareness Week has become a NAMI tradition. It presents an opportunity for state organizations and affiliates across the country to work together in communities to achieve the NAMI mission through outreach, education and advocacy.
I am an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist. I am thinking that using alternating bilateral stimulation during the guided imagery would intensify the positive effect. Do you have any anecdotal clinical experience or research to support this idea?
For those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, everyone at HJ wishes you a happy, healthy 5775!
I love the ritual of wiping the slate clean and starting over – forgiving others for their offenses and asking for forgiveness for our own. If you've ever tried it, you know it's not so easy to do – either side of the equation. And it creates its own state of mindfulness as we try to stay in that enlightened "fresh and new" space.
And speaking of shaping up and beginning anew, you really must check out Traci Stein's free wellness report – Kicking the Habit: Ten Keys to Positive Change, on how to dump dysfunctional old habits and acquire some healthy new ones – in other words, create positive change in your life, even if it feels like it's impossibly difficult or even hopeless.
Dear Health Journeys,
I am manager of technical operations at a dialysis center, and we recently introduced guided imagery to support our patients. They typically sit for hours in reclining chairs several times a week while undergoing treatment. Most turn on the TV and drift off to sleep during their treatment. Some of them close their eyes and appear to sleep. Most become “out of it” during this process.
This was not the case with the patients who listened to the guided imagery. They really fell asleep, soundly! They knew it was O.K. to fall asleep and still benefit from the CD as instructed. After their treatment, they were still relaxed, yet seemed refreshed from a "deep" sleep. We were excited to see this, as this is not the usual.
One patient who has a fear of needles listened to the imagery prior to her treatment. I asked how she felt, after starting her treatment, and she stated the CD relaxed her enough make it easier to hook up to treatment. This was another encouraging outcome.
Researchers from the Technion in Haifa, Israel conducted a pilot study to assess the efficacy of relaxation and guided imagery in reducing motor fluctuation in patients with Parkinsons Disease.
PD patients underwent (i) a relaxation session with relaxation guided imagery, and (ii) a control session of relaxing music. Twenty one PD patients participated and 19 completed this study.
Three-day diaries were completed at baseline and after each intervention. Subsequently, patients received CDs for home listening - a relaxation guided imagery disc and a relaxing music disc. After three months the patients were interviewed by phone.
Hello all, and happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year for many reasons: the air is becoming crisp, leaves are turning, and children are gearing up for the new school year. I always feel more energized and ready to get back in the swing of things once the lazy days of summer have begun to fade. Both literally and metaphorically, fall is a time for shedding whatever has run its course to make way for new growth.
If you're like me, you probably have a running list of things you'd like to tweak a little, or change completely. On my to do list right now: get more exercise, eat fewer refined foods, bring my lunch more often, reduce my salt intake, increase the duration of my meditation sessions, be more patient, and so forth. As always, there are things I want to do less of and things I want to do more of.
What helps me, and I hope is helpful to you, is remembering that it's not about perfection (there really is no such thing, anyway), or about accomplishing everything at once. Our lives really are about the journey, rather than immediately reaching any specific destination.
We got this great question from K. after she read about all the state National Guards using guided imagery for returning service members. She asks about using guided imagery preventively. Here is her question:
Just read your article re various state National Guards ordering your CD's for their national guardsmen and women returning from service. I have a National Guard friend who is preparing to ship out in December.
Would listening to the CD's you mentioned help to prevent build up of stress while serving? Or would you suggest other CD titles to help processing of stressful events as they occur?
Hello again, everyone, and happy fall.
I’ve reduced my public speaking by quite a bit, but I’ve made an exception for this extraordinary local event on October 10th in Solon, Ohio - the upcoming Heal the Healers Symposium offered by University Hospitals. This will be a first-class, all-day cornucopia of holistic, mind-body offerings, presented and demo’d by experts in the field, at Signature of Solon.
It’s a jam packed day, starting with a welcome from the always inspiring journalist, Regina Brett, and interspersed with a delicious, healthy breakfast and lunch. There will be therapeutic yoga, music therapy, acupuncture, chair massage, Reiki, tips on maintaining healthy muscle tone from Robert Truax DO; some important info about substance abuse among health care professionals from Ray Isackila, LPCC; and Peter Geller LAc, LOMP, will be talking about integrating Chinese Herbal Medicine into a traditional practice.
I’ve been taking great delight in rediscovering the beautiful writings of Frederic Brussat over at the Spirituality and Practice website, an abundant resource of wisdom and guidance which he built with his sweetheart of a wife, Mary Ann.
Check out this wonderful piece he wrote in 2007, about the gratitude he felt for his own body after getting through major surgery. It’s quite a wonderful piece of writing. (And I would feel that way even if he hadn’t become a guided imagery fan.)
Into the Far Country of Surgery
(Good Flesh - Part 2)
By Frederic Brussat
In Good Flesh, I wrote about how I came to a new understanding of my body as a fine companion, a capable mediator of my experience of the world, a vehicle for transformation, and a temple of God. It all started when an Antiguan maid noticed that a cut on my scalp had healed remarkably quickly; she said I had "Good Flesh."
I've just had another one of those experiences that make me want to practice gratitude, wonder, and nurturing for my body. This 60+ flesh is still very, very good.
Researchers from India’s Samanvaya Trust and MS University in Baroda investigated the efficacy of hypnotherapy for couples seeking fertility solutions.
Over a period of 28 years, 554 couples with what is referred to there as “unexplained reproductive failure” were studied.
Hypnotherapy was added to the standard protocol for fertility. Initially the hypnosis was targeted at general stress relief, but it evolved into including more specific, identified stressors such as the stress associated with infertility (100%) and other stressors of marital life.
The success rate of pregnancy with hypnosis was 71.67%.
Although this was not a double blind study, 349 of the 554 couples had been unsuccessfully treated elsewhere before entering the study. These couples had the same success rate of 70%.
The researchers interpret this unprecedented, high success rate as evidence that “unexplained reproductive failure” is psycho-dynamically triggered and reversible with psychotherapeutic hypnosis. They conclude that when psychosomatic stress is alleviated with hypnotherapy, there are remarkable results.
[Ed. Note: this appears to be a hasty logical leap. It is not clear from this study exactly what the mechanism of success from hypnosis is operating here.]
Citation: Vyas R1, Adwanikar G1, Hathi L1, Vyas B2. Psychotherapeutic intervention with hypnosis in 554 couples with reproductive failure. Journal of the Indian Medical Association. 2013 Mar;111 (3):pages 167-9, 173.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, created to make us aware that for every child who is diagnosed with the disease, there is a story that will break your heart and at the same time give you hope.
One such story of heartbreak and hope involves a stretch of interstate highway, here in Northeast Ohio, where as if on cue, a sea of sunflowers burst forth to welcome September and honor Maria McNamara, who died of a rare brain cancer at the age of seven.
Maria’s parents and friends planted the sunflower seeds in an empty field, near a billboard with her picture and a message that said, “Planting Hope.” They were hoping a few would bloom in time for September. As August came to a close, thousands of sunflowers sprang up in a farmer’s field, spanning a mile-long stretch of I-90, greeting an estimated 90,000 travelers each day, in memory of a little girl who, in the midst of her illness and challenges, prayed for other children. Read Maria’s story here.
A while ago we got this question from a concerned husband, whose wife has a condition that makes it hard to breathe. She can’t do the usual relaxation preliminaries:
Many of your guided imagery meditations have to do with breathing. What if people suffer from a disease where they have trouble breathing, or are even using oxygen? What do they do then? This is the case with my wife.
Thanks for asking. You’re absolutely right that for someone who is having difficulty breathing, directions to “take a nice, deep, full, cleansing breath” are not merely pointless, but downright annoying, not to mention distressing and anxiety-producing.
That’s why on our Asthma imagery, we have the listener place his or her hands on the chest and focus on the sensation of the warmth from the hands permeating the lungs and soothing them. A device like touch can substitute for the healing, relaxing, grounding effects of conscious breathing. In general, that would be my first choice.
It could be her own hands or perhaps even better, yours, gently sending warmth into her shoulders or back. So you’d be making that substitution – the sensation of nourishing warmth from the hands permeating her body, instead of the warmth of the breath.
Another approach is to take the focus off the breathing altogether, as for some people the very idea of breathing is too closely associated with discomfort, and instead to just go directly to a favorite place or to imagine healing occurring on the cellular or energetic level, or in some other abstract way.
Some of these generic, nonspecific images are incorporated into some of the affirmations we use. For instance: “I can see and feel a powerful blue-green wave of healing, washing through me from head to toe, clearing away any unwanted debris and taking it out with the tide.”
Or another: “I can see and feel a warm, pulsing, glowing blanket of magical comfort surrounding me, enveloping me with peace and safety, soaking its energy into me.”
I hope this helps. My best to you and your wife.