A man asks what his wife can do instead of the preliminary breathing instruction
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 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 potentially likely to generate even more distress and anxiety.
That’s why on our Asthma imagery, we have the listener place his hands on his chest and focus on the sensation of 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.
Another approach is to take the focus off the breathing altogether, as for some people the very idea of breathing is too tightly 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 abstract, 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.
Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award