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What’s Up with All the Options & Suggestions on the Guided Imagery?

25 Nov

Question:

Actually not a question but a personal observation: I have several of your guided imagery/affirmation cds which I use often. They've been very helpful but for me, but there's too much suggestion. I guess it's the way my brain works.

When you suggest going to a place where I feel safe, etc., I can usually do that, but then I'm distracted by your various suggested alternatives and find myself mentally flitting from place to place.

Similarly when I'm in that place, your suggestions about seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling it, while helpful, get undermined by the varied scenarios you present.

I have encountered similar "obstacles" when involved in other guided imagery situations and figure it's my personal idiosyncrasy. I suppose I could be in the place and tune out the alternatives, but then I lose my guide.

Is it really necessary to talk about specifics when guiding someone or could it be as effective to talk in more general terms as you do when you introduce each step of the journey.

I realize your tapes/cds are designed to be used by many different people who react/respond to various methods, so maybe what I'm suggesting wouldn't work, but I thought I'd share my thoughts.

Marla

Answer:

Dear Marla,

Thanks for the feedback. We get this comment a lot, so believe me, it's not just you. In fact, we posted an explanation of why the imagery is written that way, and that seems to have helped people with your complaint, so I guess it's time to post it again.

Here's what I answered then:

Every time someone imagines something super-sensory - like the feel of waves lapping at ankles and sand squishing between toes - they go deeper and deeper into the kind of altered, super-relaxed, immersive, right brain state that you want to be in to get maximum healing impact for the subsequent imagery.

So that string of different images you hear: the smell of peat moss in the woods; the feel of slippery pine needles under your feet on the forest floor; heavy sweetness of meadow grass; ozoney, crisp, ocean air; sitting on a nice, warm rock in the sun... etc etc... that's not to help your left brain decide on a place – most people already have that choice made.

Rather it's to let each sensory image gently nudge your right brain into sinking deeper and deeper into an immersive, healing, altered state. So all you have to do is let your attention rest lightly on each suggestion and then move on. It's a matter of exercising your sensory and imaginal muscle, to ready you for the more targeted imagery to come.

If this is impossible for you to do, then you could either give yourself permission to just ignore that part; or you could start the CD where that section ends, using a counter so you know the exact spot; or you could just use the music alone, as you propose.

But, really, I think the problem could simply be coming from your notion that you're supposed to be using those suggestions to help you decide on a place, rather than its true purpose, to help you very lightly "visit" each one of those places to get into the most effective mind state.

I hope this explains it for you and makes it easier for you to use the imagery. It's fine for you to slip in and out of focus. Doing imagery doesn't require continuous, linear focus, the way, say, studying for an exam does.

I hope this helps. And thanks again for taking the time to write and share this.

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.