We got this excellent question from a woman who suffered nightmares from being in an abusive relationship for 12 years. As her question indicates, it's often a very good idea to use guided imagery to boost and deepen the healing from a protocol like the one she's about to embark on with her therapist: called Nightmare Reprocessing or Imagery Rehearsal Therapy.
Hi Belleruth I am about to start nightmare reprocessing with my therapist for nightmares I have suffered from for 12 years relating to a severely abusive relationship. Which guided imagery CD would you recommend I use for this process?
We got this wonderful note from someone who had suffered a lifetime of hyper-vigilant sleeplessness, due to a traumatic childhood, replete with surprise, nighttime attacks by a deranged, liquor-fueled parent. Not everyone experiences a "miracle cure" for their insomnia with guided imagery like this, but you'd be surprised how many times we hear from people who actually do! Here it is:
I wanted to thank you from my heart for your sleep CD. I wrote you a few years ago, mentioning that I was deeply traumatized and under great stress. I was using drugs to make me sleep, and had bizarre sleepwalking issues as a result, and my mood problems seemed to be worsening. There were some psychotic breaks. At that extreme point I began to use your sleep CD.
I stopped ingesting the chemicals as well during this period, using the CD nightly.
A woman with a long history of anxiety, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress, depression and insomnia wonders where to begin with listening to guided imagery as the holidays approach and her emotional resilience takes a hit.
Hi, Belleruth, For many years I have suffered from panic disorder and PTSD, as well as sleepless nights, anxiety and depression. All these conditions get worse with the approaching holiday season.
What CD's would be best for all? I would be most comfortable taking a natural approach to wellness and appreciate any advice. Thank you,
Guided imagery, it turns out, is an ideal intervention for insomnia. The voice tone and music soothe the primitive, over-alert, survival-based parts of the brain; and the content and images distract the neocortex that's busy worrying over the to-do lists of the coming day or reviewing the slights and shoulda-saids of the day before.
Here's what the wife of one sleep-deprived guy had to tell us (We know it sounds over the top, but this is verbatim):
The guided imagery for Healthful Sleep has changed my husband's life. Not an exaggeration. He used to take medicine to help him relax at night. He could sleep, but it wasn't restful sleep. He thrashed, had nightmares, and always felt tired the next day - even after 12+ hours of sleep. After using the imagery a few nights, he was able to quit taking medicine because he began sleeping so restfully. One big, unexpected side-benefit: he's much better company!
I also sleep much more soundly and feel more rested. The mornings after I listen to this particular imagery, I feel what I can only describe as 10 years younger. It occurs to me that truly healthful sleep would improve general health, energy, mood and prepare you to deal effectively with stress. Good sleep is invaluable! I tell my patients, if they can only afford one guided imagery audio, they should get the sleep one.
Doubly Delighted Doc
p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up here!
My father has suffered from dementia for years. He no longer has clarity in his mind and does not recognize me or my brother. He lives in a special care facility where he gets good care.
The staff recently told me that he was becoming more agitated and sleepless during the night. As a result, he is extremely tired and confused during the day.
Any suggestions as to what kind of tools might help him, or will nothing reach him at this point?
When we put out our call for personal stories to feature on the new landing page we're building, we got this amazing story from quintessential performing artist, gonzo patriot and all-round gutsy dude, Michael Peterson.
We've been asking for people to tell us how imagery was useful in dealing with a challenge. Michael's story is pretty amazing. It's all true, but it reads like page turner fiction. Eesh, talk about The Show Must Go On!! What a pro this guy is! I hope you have time to check it out. Here are Michael's words:
We are in Baghdad Iraq to entertain deployed US Military and DOD Civilians.
As we wake up around 6:30 am, it is already approaching 110 degrees in the shade. Before the sun sets it will be in the mid 130's.
Preparing for departure, we are informed that several US Soldiers died recently going in and out of the gate we are scheduled to travel through today as we drive to our shows.
This was supposed to have been their last week before heading home.
Well...wait a moment..this is our last day on what is likely our last trip to Iraq.
I have no current conscious memory of PTSD but I have the symptoms of it. (I wake up in the middle of the night screaming and I have panic attacks during the day.) I read Invisible Heroes, your book about PTSD, but every survivor had some sort of memory or recollection of their trauma. How should I go about healing if I cannot remember anything?
Not every trauma survivor in the book had a clear memory of what caused his or her posttraumatic stress symptoms, and it is not at all uncommon for memory to be clouded or missing, due to the burst of pain-killing biochemicals that flood the bloodstream during a terrifying event.
We got this funny, appreciative and very enthusiastic email last week from a nurse who was able to benefit from guided imagery for surgery, pain and sleep, and then weight loss, to the tune of dropping 40 pounds.
Guided imagery may not be for everyone, but clearly this particular woman has found her go-to intervention!
I was introduced to your guided imagery by my therapist. She is the only one with whom I have ever made significant changes, and she taught me so many valuable things to navigate life.
I used your surgery and pain management recordings while undergoing life altering medical stuff. It was a great help in calming the freak-out factor.
Then the sleep work was fabulous, because the insomnia was taking me over!
But the reason I am writing today is that yesterday I hit my weight loss goal of 40 pounds. This is tremendous for me. Not only is the weight off, I am calm and "better for this".
By the way you address that place in my mind (I could point to it!) I am just losing weight and not having to take on the task as a part-time job. The re-programming is working! And with the added bonus of sleep.
So a big thank you for your commitment to mental health and expansion. I am a nurse and talk to those who are interested like a converted whore!
So know that if I were a puppy I would have my whole body wagging.
Nancy M., aka Madge
A woman who survived early childhood trauma writes about being able to sleep again. Here is what she emailed us:
“Belleruth - You are an important part of my life. I go to sleep to your voice each night! Really, I do. Your guided imagery has helped me move through troubled waters often as I have worked intensely with a therapist to heal from years of trauma beginning in early childhood. I began listening to Healthful Sleep several years ago as I struggled with persistent insomnia. It was wonderful! I was able to sleep. I was able to go to sleep and I was able to sleep without intrusive memories and flashbacks most nights.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to assess the initial efficacy of a patient-controlled cognitive-behavioral (CB) intervention for the pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance symptom cluster that often accompanies advanced cancer treatment.
Eighty-six patients with advanced lung, prostate, colorectal, or gynecologic cancers, receiving treatment at a comprehensive cancer center, were stratified by recruitment clinics (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) and randomized to the intervention or control groups.
Forty-three patients were assigned to receive training in and use of up to 12 relaxation, guided imagery or distraction exercises, delivered via an MP3 player for two weeks during cancer treatment.
Forty-three patients were assigned to a waitlist control condition for the same two week period. Outcomes included symptom cluster severity and overall symptom interference with daily life, measured at baseline (Time 1) and two weeks later (Time 2).