Access your inner wisdom with visualization exercises. Visualization, also called guided imagery, helps you tap into valuable information outside of your everyday awareness.
Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Using your imagination through visualization opens up greater possibilities and provides more information than usual linear, logical thinking does.
No doubt, this is why many religions, healers, and shamans, as well as great scientists used visualization throughout the ages for new insights, healing, spiritual development, and inspiration.
Here are a few example of the use of visualization in natural healing.
Visualization Exercises Examples
Martin L. Rossman, MD, a noted expert in using visualization exercises for mind body healing, shares the story of one of his patients, Jason, who suffered from debilitating asthma attacks.
He taught him a simple relaxation technique. Then he had Jason imagine himself in a favorite place where he felt safe, relaxed and at peace. Once Jason relaxed, he had him visualize his airways opening wide with air moving freely and easily through the passageways to his lungs.
Dr. Rossman says, “By practicing this imagery exercise for about 20 minutes twice a day, Jason was able to lower his drug dosage and even went for long periods without an asthma attack.”
Another physician, O. Carl Simonton, MD with Stephanie Simonton, a psychologist, use visualization exercises to help cancer patients.
They teach them to relax and use their imagination to develop an image of their cancer. Then through a similar process, they teach them to identify an image of their immune system destroying the cancer.
They report these patients benefit through increased tolerance of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, less anxiety, less pain, and greater ability to cope.
Personally, I benefited from using visualization during a time when my son, who lives distant form me, was struggling with an illness.
I was making myself sick with worry. I felt guilty for not being present for him and kept thinking of all the times in the past I wasn’t there for him.
Through visualization exercises, I realized that my worry and guilt contributed nothing to my son and only harmed me. I realized that my son would benefit much more by my belief in him and by my visualizing him whole and healthy. I let go of worry and guilt replacing it with sending love and visualizing him whole and healthy.
I now feel a whole lot better. I have no idea whether my love and visualization had an effect on my son, but he is now healthier too!
Now, its time for you to experience guided imagery. Just follow the steps in this visualization exercise—Imagine Your Special Place.
Imagine Your Special Place
Step 1: Get Ready
Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Loosen any restrictive clothing and remove your shoes.
Lie on your back or sit in a chair that supports your back, head, and neck. Make yourself comfortable.
Take a deep breath in. Notice how the breath feels as it flows through your nose and into your lungs. As you breathe out imagine that you are releasing all tension.
Now breathe at your normal rate and pattern while noticing the miracle of your breath. Feel the breath as it goes in, noticing how it energizes you. As you breathe out imagine releasing all tension.
Allow yourself a few minutes of experiencing your breath.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Special Place
Now, reflect on a place that is nurturing or healing for you. It can be either real or imagined.
It could be a place from your childhood or a place you vacation. A place that feels comfortable, peaceful, and safe.
Notice what comes to your mind.
Step 3: Notice What You See in Your Special Place
Is it a beach with the light dancing off ocean waves…
Or a forest with sunlight flowing through trees…
Or a beautiful meadow with wildflowers and lush green grass…
Or are you by a stream with water flowing gently by…
Or is it a favorite room you enjoy.
What do you see in your special place?
What ever it is, it’s your special place… uniquely special for you.
Step 4: Notice Feeling Sensations in Your Special Place
Do you feel warmth? Like the warm light of a soft summer day…
Or is there a cool breeze that refreshes and renews?
What do you feel in your special place?
Step 5: Notice Smells in Your Special Place
Are there smells associated with your favorite place?
Can you smell the salt air in the ocean breeze?
Does it smell spicy like the willow leaves of fall…
Or is it fresh and sweet like the flowers of spring…
Or perhaps there’s the smell of food like a fresh apple pie?
Are there smells associated with your special place?
Step 6: Notice Sounds in Your Special Place
What are the sounds of your special place?
Do you hear the breeze as it flows through the trees…
Or the sound of the waves as they roll on the beach?
What are the sounds of your special place?
Sep 7: Rest and Be In Your Special Place
Soak up its sights, sounds, smells, feelings.
Soak up its nurturing, its peace.
Relax, knowing you are safe and nurtured by this place.
Now allow this place to nourish and replenish you as you take several minutes just being in your favorite place.
Step 8: Return from Your Special Place
Now, take a deep breath and come back to this time and this place, remembering that this feeling, this nurturing, healing state is available to you at any time, by remembering to take a deep breath and recalling your special place.
What did you Notice?
You may have noticed that you preferred imagining your favorite place through only one or two of the senses used. Most people have a preferred way to use their imagination. Some prefer visual (seeing), others hearing (auditory), and others feeling or touching (kinesthetic).
Its perfectly OK to focus on the sense that most enriches your visualization the most.
There are many ways you can use step 7 of this exercise:
- Simply relax and soak in the nourishment.
- Visualize images to improve a symptom or condition as Jason did.
- Problem solve by asking for inner guidance as I did in wanting to help my son.
- Ask for inner guidance to plan for your future or gain clarity for your true purpose in life.
You can adapt this exercise to meet your needs. It’s important to practice visualization exercises. The more you practice them the easier and more effective they become.
For chronic symptoms such as pain, practice 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. You should see improvement within three weeks. If working on a serious health concern it’s best to work with an experienced therapist for 2 or 3 sessions.
It’s also helpful to keep a journal of your experience with visualization and dreams so you can identify themes and see your progress over time.
The most important step is to begin. Use visualization exercises to access your inner wisdom and help healing!
Martin L. Rossman, “Imagery: Learning To Use The Mind’s Eye,” in Daniel Goleman and Joel Gurin eds., Mind Body Medicine: How to Use Your Mind for Better Health (New York: Consumer Reports Books, 1993).