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A Retired Green Beret’s Experience with Guided Imagery

04 Nov

When I first met Kevin several years ago, he was in a cervical collar and his ability to get around was severely compromised. When I saw him last week at a workshop, he was in dramatically better shape.  Here’s his story, in his own words:

In 2013, a friend introduced me to the Guided Imagery offered through Health Journeys and I've been using it since. She said "listening to the voices in your head will only get you so far. Make the effort and take the time to listen and learn from someone else."

I’d served 27 and a half years in the Army - 15 of those in Special Forces - The Green Berets. In 2010, 8 years after I retired - after using my body more than five people would in a life time in ways it's not meant to be used - my body caught up to me and I started experiencing severe degenerative cervical spine challenges. 

I went through three years of intense treatment that included physical therapy, steroid injections, epidurals, fusion surgery, RF Ablation - burning the nerves in my neck - acupuncture, PRP – (platelet rich plasma) injections, and prolotherapy - more injections. 

For almost two and a half years, my Spine Doctors’ "pain management protocol" was two 10mg Morphine; two Vicodin; and six Robaxin per day. I was physically challenged – no longer able to stop a speeding bullet or leap over a tall building in a single bound - heck, I needed my Dad and Sister to take me to and from Doctor's appointments. I let it get to me and was very depressed. 

During this time, I also was not able to work and went through my second divorce. Taking an online 'are you stressed?' test, I scored high enough to be in the "how are you even still alive?" scale.

Being a “manly man,”  it took me a while to get used to the “touchy feely” aspects of relaxing and letting go... but the more I played and listened to it - even if it was just playing in the background as I shaved and started my day - the more it worked. I liked what I saw, heard, and read about Belleruth's and Health Journey's focus on Military Trauma. 

I ripped CDs to my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, so I could have them with me whenever I needed them.  I have HJ Guided Imagery selected as the 'music' for my Sleep Machine app on my iPhone and iPad.

I can pick and choose which topics I need to listen to:  Healing Trauma; Ease Pain; General Wellness; Anger and Forgiveness; Depression; Self Confidence; Successful Relationships; Traumatic Brain Injury; and Posttraumatic Stress. Some days are better than others, and my mind and body relax and let go when I plug into my Guided Imagery.

I recommend guided imagery to others, every chance I get. Having it on my devices helps. I can pull my phone out and let others listen right there. 

I also share HJ's Facebook posts. I share them through contacts with the Green Beret Foundation and UDT-SEAL Foundation

I'm retired and still limited in my ability to work full time, so I volunteer as a Veteran's Service Officer with the O.A.S.I.S. Group - Special Operators helping other Special Operators navigate the Veterans Benefits Administration Disability Claim process. I share a Health Journey's flyer and promote Guided Imagery with every client I meet.

Three years into my challenges, I found the right doctors and guided imagery. Now, three years later, I'm out of the cervical collar, off the opiates, and able to do more than I was the three previous years. 

While I'm still not able to stop a speeding bullet or leap over tall buildings in a single bound; and while I still ride life's roller coaster, Health Journey's guided imagery helps get me through the not so good times, and helps me to better enjoy the good times.

-Kevin Knapp

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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