A critical review in the International Journal of Neuroscience by Ephraim C. Trakhtenberg from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, looked at the research on the effect that guided imagery has on immune system functioning and proposed direction for future research.
Trakhtenberg found that the studies suggest that guided imagery can reduce stress and up-regulate the immune system; that cell-specific imagery affects corresponding white blood cells (WBC’s)- neutrophils, or lymphocytes; that decreases in WBC count occur in the initial stages of GI and relaxation, due to fluctuations in WBC production or margination; and that changes in WBC count or adherence occur earlier in medical patients. The investigator suggests that future articles define the ideal WBC count; investigate the effects of long-term practice of GI; and clarify the influence of cell-specific imagery on WBCs.
Researchers from the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain in Davis, California, investigated the effects of a 3-month intensive meditation retreat on telomerase activity and 2 measures of perceived stress - . (Telomerase activity reverses cell aging and is a predictor of long-term cellular viability. Aging is accelerated by chronic stress)
The two measures of perceived stress were Perceived Control (associated with decreased stress) and Subjective Distress. In addition, the authors investigated whether two qualities developed by meditative practice - increased Mindfulness and Purpose in Life - accounted for retreat-related changes in the two stress-related variables and in telomerase activity.
What a nice surprise to find this enthusiastic note in our HJ email box:
I was diagnosed with MDS [Ed. Note: this is myelodysplastic syndrome. It used to be called "preleukemia" and usually leads to severe anemia and progressive bone marrow failure] last year June 2010. I started treatment in September. Belleruth Naparstek’s cd's are made available to patients. This is where/when I heard the first cds. I loved it. I was a regular at the cancer center each week and each week I would listen to the guided imagery cds.
A stem cell transplant was highly recommended for my case. I realized I needed to prepare myself. I purchased most of the cds on chemo treatment from this website. I also included a relaxation cd and the anger/forgiveness cd. My husband bought me some quality ear phones. They are very comfortable. I used my laptop as my cd player. So all of the cds, ear phones and laptop went with me to Mayo (Phoenix) in January of 2011.
We found this terrific biographical essay by Sharon Bray in the monthly enews from Healing Journeys, a non-profit organization that works to support healing, activate hope and promote thriving in people touched by cancer. If you want to subscribe, click here: It’s free and always worth reading.
Writing It Out
by Sharon Bray
Nearly twelve years ago, I sat in a surgeon’s office, feet twitching with impatience. I checked my watch. I’d waited twenty minutes. If he didn’t appear soon, I was going to be late for the meeting I’d scheduled nearby. I reached for a magazine. National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, an old issue of People. Nothing of interest. I sighed and check my watch again.
“Hello, Sharon.” The doctor came into the room, a file in his hand. I smiled.
“Hi, Dr. C.” My eyes darted to the file and back to his face. I felt a flicker of
unease. “So? What’s the verdict?”
Hi Belleruth. A friend of mine is married with a 14-year-old son. His wife is ill with advanced breast cancer. My friend's son is having a terrible time with the potential loss of his Mom, acting out with his family… at times, being very cruel to his Mother. Do you have any suggestions for guided imagery for this young man? He's been completely opposed to seeing a counselor, or being in a group, or any help of any sort. Any ideas would be welcome.
Listening to guided imagery helped me so much 4 years ago when I was dealing with breast cancer. I am a cancer thriver today, even though the chemicals were debilitating, I never missed a night of sleep using that chemo tape and restful sleep tape.
I found in the process that I was more auditory, and use affirmations now. Guided imagery helped but was a little more difficult for me to do.
These tapes and the experience of cancer profoundly affected my Life, so that each day I wake up with gratitude. I also continue to find the daily, mundane tasks in life so profound. This has not changed in four years and I do not believe it will for the rest of my life (and I plan to live a long time).
One of the loneliest times on this earth I have felt is in pre-surgery. I had 5 surgeries in 2 years. Each time a nurse would come in and try to stick me for intravenous hook ups. After 4-5 times it would get so old. Finally I became assertive and asked for the most professional, experienced person to do the job.
First of all, as a hypnotherapist, I know for a fact that guided imagery is very helpful, and I greatly appreciate everything that your company is all about.
My question pertains particularly to guided imagery for children. It seems to me that they could benefit more from guided imagery tailored to how children see things, with wording that is more simplified for their mind level.
I was wondering your opinion on the subject, as well as seeking advice on creating my own custom tape for my son. Andraez was just recently diagnosed with metastasized osteosarcoma. The doctors are talking Chemo, of course, as well as amputation of his arm and lung surgery. I immediately took him with me to Beijing to get an Eastern opinion, as I've heard some very good things, where I found that they would never consider losing the arm or doing the surgery.
But perhaps more importantly, I created a custom imagery tape for him, based primarily on his inputs; his pictures of what the cancer looks like, attack cell armies and fighters, the healing and rebuilding process, and finally a detailed slide show of all the things he wants to accomplish in his future. Self love, happiness, strength, etc, are used heavily throughout. Anyway, I sure would like to hear from you.
I'd like to know the best CDs to address: minimizing or eliminating the side effects of chemo and putting a positive spin on it shrinking and eliminating any cancer cells, boosting the immune system, increasing one's will to heal and access inner strength and positivity, Thank you for your help.
Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, Houston, assessed whether stress management (SM) improved immune outcomes in men undergoing surgery for prostate cancer.
A total of 159 men were assigned randomly to a two-session pre-surgical stress management intervention, a two-session supportive attention (SA) group, or a standard care (SC) group.
Men in the SM group discussed their concerns about the upcoming surgery and were taught diaphragmatic breathing, guided imagery, imaginal exposure to the day of surgery and additionally learned adaptive coping skills.
Men in the SA group discussed their concerns about the upcoming surgery and had a semistructured medical interview.
In April of 1997 my hemoglobin was 4.3 and I was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia). My battle plan was western medicine in conjunction with alternative/homeopathic/integrative...
Anyway, the breathing, the walks with loved family and friends down the beach, the swirl of white over the ocean....all of it is why I am still here and happy. Thank you for your guided imagery.
Ernesto from Southern California