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How Can Guided Imagery Help Someone with No Ability to Visualize?

31 May

Question:

Well...an email from Dr. Shealy's outfit today linked me to an excerpt (chapter 10) from Invisible Heroes [ed.note: this refers to a free report that NICABM has been distributing online]...which provoked me into looking the book up over at Amazon...which, despite the glowing reviews, intensified my already burgeoning dismay. The basis of that dismay is my inability to visualize; my minds eye wears a patch. I wasn't always this way; I know the power of "seeing", visualization. I wonder (hope), do you have any recommendations, suggestions for me? Anything that might make your process fruitful for me? (ooops! I submitted this to the wrong place initially; sorry!)

Mike

Hey, Mike,
Put away that burgeoning dismay and be of stout heart, good fellow.  You don’t have to visualize to get results from guided imagery.  (And that’s why we call it guided imagery and not visualization.) Only 50-55% of the population is strongly wired for visual memory/fantasy. The rest are like you.

This is why effective guided imagery is multi-sensory, evoking a shotgun blast of sounds, smells, touch, feel, taste, motor sensation and emotional memory – one or two will reach you and that’s all you really need.  For some people, only kinesthetic sensation (with or without sound) pings strongly on their internal perceptual apparatus; for others, it’s the smell-taste axis.  Motor memory works strongly for quite a few, and for others evoking emotional stimuli will do it.  Something on that imagery narrative is bound to speak to you, and it doesn’t have to be in visual and in Technicolor.  Why this once worked for you and now doesn’t is a little puzzling to me.  But I have to say, anybody who can report that his “mind’s eye wears a patch” is somebody who can visualize too!)

I would recommend you just work repeatedly with one of these simple CDs for starters – maybe the Healthful Sleep or the Relaxation & Wellness – without worrying about what’s registering and what isn’t.  It might be a comfort to know that people who fall asleep while they’re listening still absorb the imagery and realize very concrete, measurable effects, such as lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and so forth.  So it’s pretty much a slam dunk for most, regardless of how they’re wired visually.

We do have some video for those who really feel the need to see healing images – Barbara Biziou’s Momentary Meditations DVD is a beautiful and very effective resource: and Jim Porter’s Rest & Relax DVD will knock your socks off.

I hope this helps.
All best,
Belleruth

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