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November 10, 2003

10 Nov
Well, a mere 6 months ago I went ballistic when, on the cover of Prevention Magazine, a screaming red teaser proclaimed me "The Psychic Healer Blue Shield Pays For"... Huh???…
Well, I guess you could say I’ve gotten jaded, weary or maybe just realistic, I’m not sure. A mere 6 months ago I went ballistic when, on the cover of Prevention Magazine, they proclaimed me "The Psychic Healer Blue Shield Pays For". (Huh? You mean, Blue Shield orders several titles of our custom packaged, guided imagery/patient education materials for its members?? And, because I wrote a book on intuition, this makes me the psychic healer they pay for??) The article inside was terrific, sensible and informative, and had nothing to do with the screaming come-on on the screaming red cover.

The editors (since departed), in a pitched battle to maintain their newstand sales, ran amok with provocative teasers on the cover, hoping more people would buy the magazine. The writer of the article was mortified.

But, truth be told, the article - whether because of or in spite of the ridiculous "psychic healer" come on, I haven’t a clue - got a lot of people to try guided imagery and benefit from it. Our phones were ringing off the hook for months. And these were people we wouldn’t normally have reached. So when all was said and done, I was left scratching my head and wondering if I shouldn’t just stop complaining and writing outraged letters to the editor, and just let the random lunacy of the media work its magic for the greater good. (Although I know that this can be a slippery slope... I really do.)

Now, this week, I barely blinked when I saw on the cover of Woman’s World "The New Stress-Reduction CD that will Train Your Fat Cells to RELEASE 6 LBS A WEEK!" (Huh? This certainly does happen with some of our imagery users. But it’s hardly a claim we make or an outcome we guarantee...) And I cringed when I saw that they took half of my answer to the question, What is the most weight someone has ever lost using your imagery?". My answer, "Well, probably 100 pounds, but that wasn’t just from the imagery - that was from a comprehensive behavioral program, where the imagery was one, key element"... Yep, guess which half of the sentence made the cut...

Nor was I thrilled with the article’s emphasis on just weight loss, when the emphasis of the imagery includes burning fat as one element, for sure, but its tremendous success is also due to the way it communicates messages around self-love, awareness and confidence, love and appreciation for the body, releasing and focusing stored energy, and empowering the listener to connect with inner strengths and spiritual resources. So the emphasis on only lost poundage (and, to be fair, a nod to its anxiety reducing aspects) is hardly the whole story.

Nonetheless, in spite of the oversimplifications and the screaming teasers, the article is pretty skillfully written and informative. The writer did a good job. She interviewed Jeff Rossman PhD, Dave Spiegel MD, Pamela Peeke MD, Jerol Kimmel RN, and other first-rate experts; she pulled together a lot of information and made it simple, accessible and clear; she included some great quotes and photo shots of three of our bodacious guided imagery users: Maureen Slevin, Linda Laurello and Caroline Bolger. And she quoted some very interesting research (one finding on imagery and fibroids was news to me, and I immediately looked it up on pub med - it’s posted as this week’s Hot Research, in fact.)

No doubt this article, which goes to 3 million readers (yes, you heard me right), will bring a lot of people to guided imagery who would never have found it otherwise, and for some of those people, it will change their lives. And, as I’ve said all along, even when people get our audios for all the wrong reasons, it tends to help them for all the right ones. So there you go: I’m either getting old, feeble, lazy and deluded, or maybe wise, balanced and philosophical. Only time will tell.

Take care and be well!

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