Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys

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01 Jun

Well, we've reached another milestone: the VA is now officially including guided imagery as a laudable practice for vets, after decades of VA patients and line practitioners using it anyway. (Over 90 VA hospitals and Vet Centers have been ordering guided imagery from Health Journeys since the early 90s. They always knew it worked, it was inexpensive, and it was easy to use - especially for vets who had trouble coming in for appointments.)

31 May

Question:

Dear Belleruth, 

I’ve been diagnosed with Stage Two Breast Cancer.  I am undergoing chemotherapy, which seems to be working, but I get discouraged and scared just the same.  I have been cautioned by my kids to stop worrying or I will make the cancer worse.  Even my nurse tells me how important it is to maintain a positive attitude.  How much damage am I doing to my body by worrying, and how can I stop?  

Melissa M.

30 May

The tragic death of 52-year-old grunge rock icon, Chris Cornell, highlights our mounting national concern over the overuse of prescription drugs and the opioid epidemic assailing us.

Evidently Cornell told his wife he had taken too much Ativan after his Detroit concert. We know Ativan is highly addictive and can produce some unpleasant – even dangerous and suicidal - side effects. Its generic name, Lorazepam, is part of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos.

Valium is another well-known benzo. Back in the 80’s, before docs knew about its addictive nature, Valium was dispensed like candy to anyone complaining of feeling nervous, unsettled, agitated or panicky.

Other meds are now recommended for anxiety first – SSRI’s and anti-depressants.

23 May

Question:

My therapist told me that it might be better to restrict myself to guided meditation that doesn’t involve trying to visualize. I used to really enjoy doing visualizations, but now I am plagued by negative images, the opposite of what I’m after, and cannot see the positive any more. This frustrates and upsets me. What should I do? 

Sarah

22 May

For National Meditation Month, we’re saluting three of my favorite teachers – pioneers who’ve made meditative practices more accessible, widely used and accepted by thousands of people.

The first tip of the hat is for Jon Kabat-Zinn, because he’s done so much to bring mindfulness to Westerners.  He created a simplified protocol, related it to the practical goal of relieving stress, called it MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and persuaded hundreds of academic researchers to test its efficacy. (I just searched “MBSR” on PubMed, and today, it delivered 404 studies, 64 of which were published in 2017 – and it’s only May.)

16 May

We got this question from a woman who says she cannot part with her things. So, in honor of Pack Rat Day, we’re posting her question and BR’s answer.

Question:

Hi, Belleruth,

I’m a 56-year-old woman who cannot part with my things – old papers, my kids’ baby clothes, their old school projects, yellowed, ratty music programs, and even letters from people I barely remember.  I listen to your tapes nightly in the tub and love them. Got any advice for me? Thank you, Ellie.

15 May

Compulsive hoarding, holding on to possessions to the extent that it negatively affects every aspect of your life, is called Hoarding Disorder, and if this applies to you or someone you love, it’s time to get professional help.

In her blog post, A 61-Year-Old Woman Suffers from Compulsive Hoarding, Cluttering her House, Belleruth explained it this way: “If left untended, it can get quite extreme, with more and more of your life constricted and disabled by it. There is a biochemical and neurological aspect to this condition.

“Some people have so much accumulation, they will only have a narrow path from room to room, because canyons have been created by floor-to-ceiling stacks of newspapers and magazines. Stovetops, sofas and tables are buried. Fire and health hazards are created. And of course, your social life is constricted too - you’re too ashamed to have people over to the house. So are your kids.”

09 May

Question:

Hi BR - LOVE (!) your CDs; thank you for your beautiful work. I have all your programs that your website’s search engine says relate to PTSD. 

My question: a decade ago, I developed a phobia of spiders. (I’m getting chills and shudders, even as I write this.) Our beautiful new home in a new city was overrun with 'predator spiders' (huge, Amazonian creatures!) and about 20 different other species - hard to believe, but anyway - we moved.  

I went to therapy for quite some time; no help. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety (no kidding :-) and am on meds. I am doing extremely well, but every time I see a 'beast' in the house (just the 'typical' critters of Spring) I go into full panic mode. This is only for spiders - no other bug produces the long-lasting panic in me.

08 May

The guy’s a rather unusual combination of active ingredients: a skillful, efficient, detail-oriented, operations guy; a talented marketer & social media maven; a wondrously speedy and masterful graphic designer; and one dazzle of a people manager.

He comes to us from the magical world of “Scale Up”, which is biz-speak for increasing the size, reach and scope of a company. His past positions have pretty much been in health, one way or another - mostly nutrition, wellness, and physical activity.

[Sidebar: He also sings professionally, rides a unicycle and juggles, too. I have not made this up.)

02 May

We got this question from a caring daughter-in-law to a Holocaust survivor heading into the end of her life with exacerbated symptoms of posttraumatic stress. She needs a simple, soothing narrative, delivered in a simple way she can operate herself. Does such a thing exist, her daughter-in-law asks.  It does, we answer.

01 May

You could say it’s a revolution in the delivery of adjuvant mental health services - a shift that sneaked up on all of us in plain sight.

Mind-body therapies such as guided imagery, breath work, mindfulness meditation and various relaxation therapies are now available to everyone, providing anonymous, respectful, timely, self-administered self-help, at low or no cost.

People who can’t find or afford a therapist; or who don’t like the idea of going to one; or who need more than a 50-minute session, once a week; or who crave the autonomy of self-administered therapies; or who have panic attacks at 2 am and need something right then to keep them company until the sun comes up - all these folks can now get help by pressing PLAY, on their smart phones, iPods and MP3’s. 

25 Apr

We got this question from a weary California therapist, who is struggling with her own discouragement, distress and disorientation following the November election, and whose clients are presenting her with the same issue. 

Belleruth gives her some bullet points on preventing burnout and compassion fatigue under these circumstances.  They have wide applicability – this is an issue for parents, educators, journalists, friends and managers, too.

Question:

I have a question about self-care and coping with stress as a therapist. Now and then we might meet with a client whose issue mirrors something we’re dealing with ourselves. We offer our support while maintaining our professional distance… but it doesn’t usually happen two or three times a week. It has been lately, especially here in California where so many of us are still struggling with the outcome of the November election.