Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys

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26 Jan

Hello again.

2220b2As I was digging into my weekly cache of the 214 new mind-body research abstracts that had dropped into my NIH cubby, I saw two, new European studies on eating disorders that grabbed my attention, especially because I've been spending a good part of the last two weeks on editing, mixing, reviewing and packaging Traci Stein's new guided imagery and hypnosis audio for Healthy Weight & Body Image.

Now, just to be clear, Traci's new audio is not just for people with eating disorders, although it certainly is going to be wonderful for that – it's also designed for anyone who wants to make mild to moderate tweaks to their weight (up or down) or to their attitudes toward their bodies (up), so there's a lot of range and scale to who this will help.

19 Jan

Okay, folks - World Cancer Day is coming up on February 4th, and Cindy and the team thought it would be very cool to invite people to post their stories on how they used guided imagery and other holistic, mind-body approaches to help deal with their cancer.

...Because there's nothing like a personal story to inspire, teach and model a useful approach to a daunting, scary or difficult situation.

So, did you have a natural cancer treatment approach to accompany more standard therapy? Tell us about what you did for your cancer fatigue! (Yep, that's the biggest complaint, folks – cancer-related fatigue far outweighs pain or nausea as the peskiest side effect of treatment.) 

We've actually seen quite a few holistic cancer treatment stories already, because several of you sent in some great ones (with pictures, even!) for our new landing page (being designed even as we speak). Please consider emailing your personal story to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Some of you used integrative, natural cancer treatments to reduce side effects, such as post-op pain, nausea and cancer related fatigue. Others used guided imagery, hypnosis, yoga, breathwork, affirmations or meditation to keep their spirits up, to reduce anxiety, or to encourage their immune cells to do their natural best.

So, just to get the ball rolling, we're going to post two very different breast cancer stories, both on hold for the new landing page.

One woman had a pretty breezy time of it; another had complications that had to be surmounted. Very different experiences, but both of these awesome cancer survivors used guided imagery and other mind-body methods to very good effect. Check it out!

And help us celebrate World Cancer Day with your story!

Here they are: Beth Spring, a marriage and family counselor from Northern Virginia, and Ester Leutenberg, a publisher from Tucson, each with her own story to tell:

BETH SPRING, LMFT Herndon, VA
BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR

beth-smGuided 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." Read More

ESTER LEUTENBERG, Tucson AZ
RADIATION THERAPY FOR BREAST CANCER

ester-smMy 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

So there they are – two very different experiences. Would you share yours?
All best,

12 Jan

shirley-mcnealHello and happy new year, everyone!

In honor of 2015, I want to tell you about some new downloads that clinical psychologist and ace hypnotherapist Dr. Shirley McNeal has produced for us, to help people prepare for, find and sustain a satisfying love relationship.

These three separate, sequential hypnotic programs are especially geared for people who've had disappointing relationships in the past, who want to establish a better, stronger, more loving and lasting relationship in the future.

Shirley is a psychotherapist who specializes in self-esteem and anxiety related issues, and is an award-winning (2003 Milton H. Erickson Award for Scientific Excellence) expert at helping people examine their patterns and change their behavior, thanks to the removed, safe perspective of a light, hypnotic trance state.

05 Jan

Hello everyone, and happy new year!

I've been looking back at this past year at Health Journeys, and struck by how much hard work, change, newness, excitement and re-configuring has gone into it.

The staff has worked really hard to meet the challenges of the new initiatives, and they've really delivered the goods and then some – this in spite of a year's worth of unusual family health challenges, losses, accidents, electrical outages, server issues and a robust variety of an especially long-lived flu.

Here are some highlights:

In 2014 we increased our professional and clinical distributors by quite a lot.

We continue to expand our distribution of guided imagery and other mind-body techniques to our military and veterans.

We've redesigned our website and adapted it for smart phones.

28 Dec

new-year-2015-3

15 Dec

Hello again. It's that time of year when we aspire to stay calm, sane and steady - and maybe even have a little fun - in the face of demands piling on as the holidays draw nigh. You've probably seen most of these tips before, but just as a timely reminder, here's my updated take on how to minimize the inevitable stress, short of getting under the covers and sucking your thumb....

Take Care of Your Body
Try to do all the things you know are good for your physical well being: get some exercise; take it easy on the caffeine, sugar and alcohol; get enough sleep; eat healthy food - you know this stuff. This is the baseline of stress reduction.

Track Your Physical Comfort
Take time to check in and see how your body is feeling. Once you notice, you can make small corrections to relieve discomfort before it takes over. Breathe into tight places; stretch and move when your back or neck feels stiff; look out the window when your eyes are straining at the computer screen; massage your neck and press the acupoints when a headache is lurking. But you have to notice what's amiss first.

08 Dec

9485bHoly cow, is it that time again? This year has just whizzed by, I swear! But here we are, in December, and Team HJ is expecting me to tell you about the terrific gift sets they've put together for the holidays.

I love giving this stuff to friends and family myself, because it's such an inherently caring and useful thing to give somebody you're nuts about - or worried about - or both.

Let's start with the brilliantly named Spoil Me Spa Bath. If this set doesn't send stress and tension out the door, we don't know what does. It combines the purest of sea salts for the tub, loaded with restorative, detoxing minerals and yummily luxurious essential oils.

Okay, so then, we added some tried and true audio favorites to relax the body, clear the mind and restore the spirit (my Relaxation & Wellness imagery and Steve Kohn's exquisitely soothing Meditative Reflections).

01 Dec

Hello again.

Hey, so we're initiating a whole, new phase of putting guided imagery out there to persuade people who've never heard of this stuff - nor used it - nor have the first clue about it – to give it a try and learn what it can do for them.

Yep, time to take it to a new level!

We like to think we've done our part in moving the ball forward over the years, starting in 1990 with our first audiotape for chemotherapy patients. Back then, we were considered pretty weird and got a lot of resistance – even, shall we say, derision? - from all sorts of people.

24 Nov

2153bIt's Thanksgiving week, and I'm thinking about a colleague I met at a conference a while ago, who told me about the challenges she was facing from dealing with her traumatized husband while he was in the first stages of posttraumatic stress and probably TBI (traumatic brain injury) after a terrible accident that left him with broken bones, chronic pain and a state of constant fury.

They'd been married for 45 years and were totally devoted to each other, but his constant rages were hard for her to endure. She told me, "You know, I never for a minute considered divorce, but MURDER?? Definitely!"

We have many military families dealing with similar scenarios, taxed to the limit physically, emotionally and financially. It can be a heavy, exasperating, nonstop burden, infused with grief for all that's been lost.

Depression in family caregivers is rife. Some feel so trapped, they think about suicide.

17 Nov

Listen up, good people!

peter-levineOn Wednesday, November 19th, one of my all time favorite trauma experts – none other than the brilliant treatment innovator Peter Levine, creator of Somatic Experiencing - will be offering this week's free webinar for NICABM, as part of their new series, Rethinking Trauma: The Third Wave of Trauma Treatment.

Whenever I'm asked by a therapist which of the many new trauma therapies they should train in if they only have time for one, I answer that if they've got the time and money, Somatic Experiencing is the one. It's just such an elegantly effective protocol that makes the most sense, because it's body-based, just like trauma is, and because it's the least likely to create distress, activate symptoms or get clients stuck in ugly experiences of the past. (And by the way, it's superb for treating many conditions, not just PTS).

Again, it's free at the time of broadcast and you can sign up here.