Guided Imagery Success Stories (13)
I come from a family of Olympic-grade, Gold Medalist Blamers. My parents woke up angry and went to bed angry. They expressed anger the way normal people say hello, how are you??!! My mother had a constant slow burn, and my father lost his temper over issues large and small (mostly small!!!) dozens of times a day. All of us kids grew up assuming that this was what life looked like!
When I started acting like my mother in my marriage, my husband was dumbfounded. He is a decent, reasonable man who couldn't fathom where all this bubbling anger was coming from.
When he pointed it out to me, I couldn't either. I took a long, hard look at the culture I grew up in, went into therapy and did an overhaul on my psyche. NO WAY was I going to screw up my marriage to this man if I could help it.
We got this inspiring note from a creative massage therapist who put together a potent combo of healing ingredients. Read on!
Dear Health Journeys,
I want to thank you for all the fantastic material you offer. I am an LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist), working at a large rehab facility.
Recently, I launched a program called "Meditative Massage", in which clients receive a gentle, slow flowing aromatherapy massage while listening to the guided imagery topic of their choice.
In honor of World Cancer Day and to help accomplish its mission, Health Journeys is offering a special discount code 15WCD. Use the code when ordering on line or over the phone to receive 15% off the purchase price of CD's and MP3's until 2/15/15. The discount does not apply to Playaways, gift cards or sale items (packs).
Follow Belleruth's journey from that first individualized tape to today's array of audio programs, including the current version of Chemotherapy, which offers the central image of a lovely fountain of healing liquid, cleansing and clearing, and helping the body's own natural defense system do its work.
Here's the story, from the Health Journeys' archives:
Our Very First Tape!
The first hand-made tapes were created in 1988. At the time Belleruth was very happily employed as a full-time psychotherapist and part-time teacher at Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, in Cleveland, Ohio.
One day, a new client showed up insisting that Belleruth make her a tape to help her through chemotherapy. She had advanced, metastasized breast cancer that had spread into her bones, brain and lungs. Bonnie was quite a character - very lovable but very bossy. When Belleruth protested that she didn't know enough to make such a tape, she was told, "Don't worry; I'll tell you what to do."
Belleruth checked with Bonnie's oncologist and was told to go ahead and give her whatever she wanted, being as how things couldn't get much worse and she wasn't expected to live beyond 6 months. So Belleruth and Bonnie collaborated on a guided imagery tape. They used Bonnie's memories of her walking as a little girl on the beach with her beloved father; of the waves washing through her body, taking all the cancer out with the tide; of her mother, a formidable cleaner of things, vacuuming the cancer cells out of her body with characteristic zealotry and gusto.
The tape was a hit. On the chemotherapy unit, the redoubtable Bonnie marched from cubicle to cubicle, extolling the virtues of guided imagery, and insisting that others try her tape. She took no prisoners. Soon the nurses were requesting tapes for the waiting room. Bonnie lasted 2 years longer than expected, with very little discomfort, and she enjoyed great quality of life for most of that time.
Meanwhile, Belleruth had become intrigued by what this simple technique could apparently do. Other people started asking her for tapes for multiple sclerosis and heart disease, depression and HIV. Pretty soon she was buttonholing doctors, nurses and patients, digging into the guided imagery research, and making lots more tapes.
George Klein came along as a financial backer for the enterprise, Belleruth continued to work toward creating programs to address current medical and psychological needs, and today Health Journeys produces and distributes Belleruth's 57 audio titles in CD and MP3 formats. Some programs are available in Playaways, and some are still available in cassette tapes.
In addition, her audio programs have been involved in more than two dozen clinical trials, with nearly a dozen studies completed. Efficacy has been established for several psychological and medical challenges, most recently for PTSD at Duke University Medical Center/Durham Veterans Administration Hospital.
I was given your audio for surgery and also for cancer. Following 9 hours of surgery for Stage IV ovarian cancer, I also had 10 months of chemotherapy.
I listened to the cancer imagery twice a day, every day – once to the guided imagery track and once to the affirmations. I believe this was a critical piece of my healing.
I am now cancer-free and am watching the Bernie Siegel video, Affirmations for Living Beyond Cancer. I plan to continue my devotional regime, using these titles, as I am confident that this ongoing work on my part will be critical in keeping me cancer-free. I intend to live a very long, long time.
Thank you for creating these resources. I'm delighted that they are being used in more and more hospitals and other settings.
"I had just been diagnosed with third stage uterine cancer. A diagnostic D&C was behind me; a total abdominal hysterectomy with 6 rounds of chemotherapy loomed.
I was vaguely familiar with guided imagery. My need was for support. It was the summer of 2002 and I had just been diagnosed with third stage uterine cancer. A diagnostic D&C was behind me; a total abdominal hysterectomy with 6 rounds of chemotherapy loomed. I went to a support group for women with 'female cancers.' It was populated with humorless, negative, terrified women and I couldn't get out fast enough. As I exited I passed a shelf of free tools one of them being your cassette for Chemotherapy. I had nothing to lose and grabbed the last copy. I had no idea how important that cassette would become in my journey to health. I played it daily. It was with me in the hospital as the chemotherapy drugs slowly dripped into my veins. When I came to the end of the journey and began the 'wait and see game', I tucked it away. Several years later I gave it to a friend who was battling breast cancer. When people ask how I 'beat' cancer, I list a number of things like acupuncture, herbs, chiropractic, the love of friends and organic food. But I always end with the words: get the chemotherapy CD at Health Journeys because you'll have the voice of an angel with you. Thank you, Belleruth.—Regina Leeds, Zen Organizer, Los Angeles, CA. . . read more:
I cannot express how much a part of my healing your guided imagery, music and voice has been to me over the last ten years. I'm forever grateful to you for your amazingly loving and powerful work.
I was first introduced to your healing journeys thru a friend of mine that came to visit when my sweet lab/shepherd, Daisy was recovering from leg surgery. I made the guest room into a futon basically for her to be comfortable and slept with her there as she healed. My friend and my dog and I listened to the guided imagery for Wellness and Relaxation and the three of us fell asleep peacefully. Daisy really responded to it as well!
The next time I put the same cd on was the day I was diagnosed with cancer. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. My mom, brother and I were catatonic, terrified and exhausted after coming back to my house with the diagnosis and what loomed ahead of me. I asked my mom and my brother to lay down with me and listen to the meditation. They were resistant and not into "that kind of stuff" but they did. The three of us with me in the middle, laid down on my bed and I put on the cd.
It was kind of funny and ironic because within minutes they were both snoring! I snuck off to make some tea.
During my treatments and at night as I tried to rest and process what I was up against, I clung to your voice as a beacon in the dark. I listened to the Healthful Sleep guided imagery because the imagery was so powerful and helped my mind to anchor in some form of comfort and safety in the midst of anguish and fear. It made my mind a refuge for my body and thoughts to run to as I received treatment for long drip by drip hours at the City Of Hope. The best part of the imagery is in visualizing everyone you've ever known, or have loved, anyone who's shown you a gesture of kindness or good will, every stranger that's smiled and animal companion surrounding you in a circle of love so you can rest. Such a powerful image of comfort, love and safety.
I also used the Chemotherapy imagery as well and loved the idea that the Dr and the nurses were actually angels in disguise, that the medicine was a golden elixir absorbing and converting any errant cells. I pictured it like Pacman, gobbling up the bad cells and replacing them with golden healing light.
Whenever I felt afraid or alone, or in times of thunder and lightening or loud fireworks, I put your guided imagery on and my dog would start to relax which gave me comfort in times of stress.
I cannot express how much a part of my healing your guided imagery, music and voice has been to me over the last ten years. I'm forever grateful to you for your amazingly loving and powerful work.—Lainey Hashorva, California, cancer survivor
My doctor gave me the Preparing for Successful Surgery CD. It helped me hugely to stay calm and positive before surgery. Now it helps me rest deeply, to envision and manifest my healing in mind, body and spirit, and to be open to receive the wisdom cancer has come to bring me.
I thought at the outset that this challenge would call out my strength and courage, and indeed it has. But I had no idea how many other gifts it would bring on every level. I am stronger but also more whole, more connected, more trusting, more grateful. I see no end to this growing!
I am looking forward to the next challenge, and to affirmations and visualizations to support my growth through it! —Marie , Antioch, CA
My kind of breast cancer was Paget's Disease. Only 4% of breast cancer is that. It took my going to three doctors 'til the third one recognized that it was a problem and not just a sore nipple. Dr. Malgieri of Hillcrest Clinic knew what it was. This was February of 2003, when I was still living in Cleveland.
After months of being upset because no one believed me, I was at a fairly anxious state.
The surgery went easily. They removed the nipple and whole area around it, then checked the lymph nodes and all was well there.
Radiation was indicated. I always needed my husband Jay with me for a scary procedure. I was fearful and anxious of being alone in the room. He wasn't allowed in the room with me. So I had a brilliant idea – I knew about Belleruth's Radiation tape!
I emailed or called Belleruth, don't remember which. She asked if I wanted the tape or if I wanted her to come with me (for which I will always be grateful). I told her the tape was fine. Read More here
I tend to be claustrophobic in a situation like that, and from the first treatment to the 28th, I listened to her calm, soothing, wonderful voice relaxing me, and envisioned the sun healing me in that room where the lights were darkened and then very bright. I was able to have the radiation in a calm way.
Every morning for 28 days, I went for radiation at 7:30 am and then directly to work, just took a little nappie in the afternoon.
I am often embarrassed to tell another survivor that I also had breast cancer, because it was so easy for me - Tamoxifen for 5 years, a check-up semi-annually, and that was it.
I had amazing support from Jay. He was incredible. All three of my daughters were with us at the hospital the entire day of the surgery.
Here's a side story: two of my daughters went with Jay and me to the consultation with the doc before surgery. He asked if I wanted him to do reconstructive surgery and create a nipple, taking skin from my stomach or somewhere.
Both girls simultaneously put up their hands and said. "I'll donate my stomach skin". J
I did not do it. It's my badge of honor and my husband loves both breasts equally.
Guided imagery and meditation were among my closest allies and friends through 16 months of breast cancer treatment and side effects in 2009-2010. As a marriage and family therapist, I was well acquainted with mindfulness meditation, and incorporated it into my life and my work.
In February 2009, I attended a week-long training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Full of good energy and excitement, I returned home and scheduled a class for clients.
Then, just about when the class was scheduled to start in April, I had a one of those mammograms where a long, cold wait in a little paper gown leads to all kinds of fears and worries taking root. I was sent immediately to an ultrasound tech, then biopsied, and before I knew it, meeting with my surgeon. My head was spinning, and the first thing I asked my surgeon was, "Can I still hold my class for clients?" Wordlessly, he gazed at me and shook his head, "no."
My first mastectomy was followed by intense pain and swelling due to lymphedema and a compromised pectoral muscle. A long journey had just begun. A dear group of friends, all fellow therapists, gave me Health Journey's set of CDs for cancer recovery, and I established a routine of going to sleep with Jon Kabat-Zinn's body scan meditation, and waking up with Belleruth's "Fight Cancer" or imagery for stress or anxiety. My husband joined me in meditating a time or two, and was a constant, calm presence throughout.
I had six very potent chemotherapy treatments, then a bit more than a month off, then 30 radiation treatments. Because of the pectoral involvement, the radiation seared my scar area with pain and burning on a daily basis. I had to wrap my arm and graduate to a variety of compression garments.
For me, meditation and guided imagery (and later, yoga and Qi Gong) kept me in touch with the rest of my body. I felt as if my whole body's resources were gently recruited to counter the injury and agony in my chest and side. By the spring of 2010, I could exercise again, and my body and spirit rejoiced in going swimming and beginning light aerobics and weights. At the end of 2010, I had a second mastectomy (prophylactic, at the recommendation of my oncology team).
Guided imagery didn't "take away" the pain or the loss, but it changed the experience profoundly, putting me on a sort of glide path through many months of ups and downs and uncertainty. Looking back now, my memory of breast cancer is infused with the memory of regular meditation practice and the difference it made in both my physical and mental state.
And the class for clients? All of them who had signed up attended, during a six week break between chemo and radiation.