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How to Keep from Dissociating while Listening to Guided Imagery

04 Nov

Question:

Belleruth,
How can I keep myself from dissociating during guided imagery? I seem to float out of my body and don't know where I've been when the music stops. Is this a commonly occurring problem? Any advice?

Answer:

Yes, it's pretty commonplace. Don't forget, guided imagery is a dissociative technique –strategic and deliberate, certainly, but dissociative nonetheless. So it's natural for people to float in and out of awareness, and a lot of people float so far out that they don't know where they've been. It happens to me a lot, too.

If you want to stay present and embodied during an imagery experience, you can listen while standing up, leaning against a wall; or sitting with eyes half-open; or while walking, even.

Or even seated with your eyes closed, if you notice yourself starting to float, you can also focus your attention on the feel of the support of the floor beneath your feet; the chair beneath your bottom or against your back; or the feel of your breath in your belly. By putting your awareness on these body sensations, you automatically drive consciousness back into your body.

Either way, it's no cause for alarm (unless you're driving, which, as you know, you're not supposed to do while listening to guided imagery. And this is why!)

Belleruth Naparstek

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.