Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys

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Maggie DeMellier

Maggie DeMellier

Maggie DeMellier has been Health Journeys go-to customer service representative and marketing associate since March 2012. She worked as a surgical technician and pharmacy technician before she earned a BA in Mass Media Communication at The University of Akron. She operates a freelance writing business, specializing in medical ads, news articles, police blotters, features and business writing.  She was a teacher at a career college for six years, and earned a MA in Forensic Psychology in 2010. Maggie is the co-author of Parenting by Law or Grace, published by Synchronisity Press, in 2004.

The excitement at Health Journeys lately is all about the newest guided imagery program, titled A Guided Meditation to Help with Concentration, Focus & Learning (Including ADD, ADHD & LD) by Belleruth Naparstek. As each of us finished listening to the program for the first time, we used one word to describe it. Awesome!

That, in itself, is amazing, because we are blessed to be involved with so many truly wonderful guided imagery programs at all times, we are a hard bunch to impress. We were blown away by this program from the first strains of Steven Kohn’s ethereal music, to the gentle imagery, progressive relaxation and the affirmations, which seemed to be speaking specifically to each of us, though we are a vastly diverse group, in terms of our goals, aspirations and foibles. This was an amazing experience for us and we are excited about providing it to the many who have requested this program, those who are on our pre-order list and everyone who could benefit from it.

Recent studies have shown that guided imagery can be an effective treatment, particularly when combined with other treatment modalities. For that reason, many guided imagery programs are used by people who have been referred by physicians and mental health providers. Health Journeys’ titles on depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress are often used in conjunction with other modalities, including psychotherapy and medication.

Guided imagery users are cautioned not to attempt to replace existing therapy with guided imagery, but when their physicians are in agreement with the use of guided imagery, we are happy to provide titles, dedicated to the treatment of specific conditions.

Numerous hospitals, clinics, physicians and therapists are recommending guided imagery for their patients or using it in their programs, and an increasing number of studies are being conducted to test the efficacy of guided imagery.

“Natural forces within us are the true healers,” Hippocrates

Even Hippocrates, the world’s first medical scientist, believed the human body could only be restored to optimum health, what he called homeostasis, through the natural healing forces inside the body. Before his time, physical ails were treated mostly by casting out demons and removing evil spells. Hippocrates related the workings of the human body to the ailments of the patient by placing his head on the patient’s chest to listen to the heartbeat and studying the bodily fluids, including bile, urine, blood and sputum, to prescribe corresponding herbal remedies. His innovative way of treating illness by taking the practice of medicine from the mystical to the physical earned him a title as the Father of Medicine, but even Hippocrates believed true healing is a result of the body’s natural healing forces.

For example, most antibiotics don’t actually kill harmful bacteria. They simply keep the pathogens from reproducing, allowing the immune system to provide fighter cells that surround and kill the invading forces. In Health Journeys’ Healthy Immune System Belleruth explains this process, as well as the body’s ability to prevent pathogens from setting up shop and eradicate unhealthy cells before they can cause trouble. The rich imagery helps listeners make the most of those healing forces. The Healthy Immune System program is a favorite of people who want to preserve their good health, others who are facing physical challenges and those who are recovering after illness or surgery.

Whether you are a grad student engaged in your own athletic program, a senior citizen maintaining an active lifestyle, a team or individual coach or a soccer mom hoping your children’s athletic pursuits will not interfere with their academic performance (while trying to keep up with your children and maintain your own fitness regimen) there is good news for you.

Numerous recent studies on the benefits of physical activity  and school athletics have been performed by heavy-hitters like The CDC, U. S. Department of Education, American Public Health Association, New York City Health Department, Columbia University and universities of California, Illinois, Central Florida and West Virginia, to name a few. Study results vary widely, but the consensus is that physical activity and athletic pursuits have a positive impact on classroom behavior, cognitive skills and academic performance.

 One after another study concluded that increasing students’ physical activity boosts their academic performance. Some studies involved only athletic or physical education programs, while others tested all extracurricular programs, including school bands and drama clubs, but the results were similar.  This news also shed light on the many aspects of athletic coaching.

As our fleeting summer vacations come to a close, we are deluged with back-to-school ads, commercials, flyers, coupons and news items. Back-to-school is a major retail sales event, second only to the winter holiday shopping season.  As we rush to prepare ourselves and our children for the upcoming academic year, the frenzy over bargains, what to buy and what to pack often eclipses the psychological side of this preparation.

Whether you are preparing for grad school or helping your child get ready for their first educational experience, the transition can create an emotional upheaval for prospective students and parents. Those heading off to college or entering kindergarten experience a kind of excitement, mixed with a little anxiety and an empty feeling most of us would call home-sickness.

For the little ones, waiting until the afternoon to see their loved ones can seem like an eternity. For college students, it might take months before they can go back home for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays. Not only are they facing new academic challenges, they miss their families, friends, pets and familiar surroundings. Their self-esteem can take a major hit, just when they need it the most.

Parents experience their own emotional roller coasters. When I dropped my daughter off at her college dorm in downtown Chicago, I was amazed at the emotional turmoil I experienced. In addition to worry, fear, second-guessing my decision to let her go there, excitement for the experiences she would have, pride that she made the choice to take this major step into an unfamiliar world and curiosity about the next stage of my own life, the overwhelming feeling was just plain missing her.

Many people who experience panic attacks don’t call them by that name. Often, people think they are dying, losing their minds or experiencing heart attacks. It has been estimated that more than six million people in this country have experienced panic attacks, but most sources say that statistic is actually higher.  From the number of people who contact Health Journeys with questions or comments on the subject of panic and anxiety, we can assume that a large number of people of varied backgrounds are troubled by symptoms of panic and anxiety that interfere with their daily activities.

We have received letters from people whose panic and anxiety prevented them from passing exams, flying, driving, engaging in relationships, working and numerous other routine activities. We even had a letter from a woman who obtained her PhD, but experienced paralyzing panic that prevented her from moving forward in her career.

On the up side, we have also received letters of thanks and comments from survivors of panic and anxiety disorders, who point out that guided imagery played an important part in their recovery.  One law student, who had failed the bar exam on past occasions, due to anxiety, wrote Belleruth to thank her when he passed the exam with the help of guided imagery. Some of the titles people have used include: Health Journeys’ Panic Attacks, Erin Olivo’s Free Yourself From Anxiety, and Dr. Emmett Miller’s Freeing Yourself From Fear. Health Journeys’ Healthful Sleep is also a staple for those experiencing panic or anxiety.

 In her blog post, How I Overcame a Panic Disorder, author Priscilla Warner writes, “While I was flying across the country on an extended book tour, trying not to panic, I’d listen to Belleruth’s CD’s. I was one of the people Belleruth describes as not having the ‘oomph’ to do mindfulness meditation, but I trusted her to transport me to a safe, calm place. In fact, I called her my gateway drug, and I became hooked on the feeling that I could calm myself down.” 

On several recent occasions, Belleruth has mentioned Warner, who co-authored The Faith Club, which made the New York Times Bestseller List. Warner contacted Belleruth after overcoming her own panic disorder, exacerbated by her two-year book tour for The Faith Club. Read about it in Belleruth’s article, Learning to Breathe: The Book that Takes You from Panic to Peace

Warner’s recent book, Learning to Breathe—My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life, was written about her journey to overcome her 40-year panic disorder. “My goal was to change by brain from that of a neurotic Jewess to a serene Tibetan Monk,” 

Warner wrote in her e-mail to Belleruth about that journey and writing the book, which explains some of the many modalities she used to overcome her panic disorder. 

From Warner’s book and the many letters we receive from survivors of panic and anxiety disorders, we know there is hope and healing for those who feel they are in the grip of terror that can strike out of the blue at any moment. “The six million people in America who suffer from panic disorders and the millions more who suffer from a variety of anxiety disorders should know that they are survivors,” Warner writes in her blog post. “Perhaps over-survivors.”   

Like you, I love to see the benefits of guided imagery extolled in mainstream publications. It gets the word out to so many who can benefit from it, and who are often too busy, harried or overwhelmed to go looking for answers.

In an online Better Homes and Gardens article by Kathleen Heins, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Chaplin Phillis Bennett mentioned guided imagery and its effect on positive thinking. “I remind women that they can still control what they think and feel and how they’re going to live the rest of their lives,” she said. She went on to recommend meditation and guided imagery. To see her comments, read the section titled, Think Positively—It Does Help.

Also check out Belleruth’s comment about guided imagery in a recent article in Reader’s Digest, 7 Steps to Center Yourself, and do let us know if you come across any mention of guided imagery in other publications or website articles. 

Around this time each year, we receive frantic calls and e-mails from people who are stressed, anxious, even terrified at the thought of preparing to take exams which will enable them to work in their chosen professions. Whether it’s the state bar exam, medical, pharmaceutical or nursing boards, IT, baker or real estate certification, a growing number of career specialties require state or national certification or licensure.

Test anxiety is not limited to recent grads. Often, workers who have excelled for years in professions which never required certification find themselves facing the challenges of passing tough, largely academic exams, in order to keep their jobs. Certification might not be a state requirement in some professions, but a growing number of employers are making it mandatory, which severely limits the job market for those who are not certified.

Certification and licensure exams are at the top of the list for generating anxiety, and the anxiety they create can sabotage self-confidence and even the best efforts to study and prepare, creating more anxiety and leading to a vicious cycle. If you find yourself or a friend in this predicament, do we have a solution for you! 

A little excitement for a Monday morning, here at HJ. We got our first look at the new Summer 2013 Health Journeys catalog. Wow, so many new things and tried and true things. So much to look at, beginning with Dr. Traci Stein’s new Guided Self Hypnosis to Help Free Yourself from Procrastination. Also new at HJ: Dr. Stuart McCalley’s Overcoming Stress-Related Insomnia, Dr. Emmett Miller’s Inner Child Healing, Dr. Rubin Naiman’s The Yoga of Sleep and a beautiful music Cd by Chris Theriault, aptly named Relaxation and Recovery-just to name a few.

When you get your new catalog, which you will and quite soon, take a look at all the new items for kids and teens.  For example, Mellisa Dormoy has three new titles for kids, guided imagery to help them deal with grief, anger and concentration. When I looked through the new catalog, I wanted to order one of everything, for myself, my friends, my so-deserving kids, even the person who cuts my hair. If you are not on our list, click here to order a catalog.

I have been working at Health Journeys for a year, and during that time, I have had many discussions with customers regarding Belleruth’s very popular Successful Surgery program. I have heard positive feedback from people who were ordering other items, those who had recently used the program, people who used it years ago and wanted to pass along their positive experiences with it, and others who had questions about it and wanted to order it.

I listened to the CD and I was familiar with it and knew what to tell people who called, but I recently had my own experience with it, and nothing can compare with that first-hand experience. Last month, I visited an orthopedic specialist regarding what I thought was a stubborn muscle injury from running. At that visit, I was scheduled to have a total hip replacement ASAP, in around ten days.
The only good word for what I felt at that time is ‘flabbergasted.’ I couldn’t believe it. I went through the same gamut of emotions as the people I spoke to on the phone, those who were facing surgery and said they were freaked-out. I wasn’t just feeling fear, there were a lot of emotions, as Belleruth says in her program, “rocking around in there.”