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I Think, Therefore I Need a Vacation

I Think, Therefore I Need a Vacation

by Rebecca Countess, Contributor to Arts & Art Therapy on AllThingsHealing.com

Come with me.  I want to take you to the top of a mountain where the evergreen trees are tall and narrow and there is still a crunchy layer of thin, but loosely packed snow.  The sun is shining overhead and you breathe deeply.  The air is crisp and cool and you smell damp wood and pine needles. You can see little buds beginning to grow with their tight, snug layers and mysterious contents.  Your shadow stretches out as a dark form in front of you and you can feel the muscles in your legs alive but resting after the climb up rocks and over logs.  Below you is the water, which has just come into sight after cresting the slope and it is a deep royal blue.  You feel the muscles in your face relax. They are melting like snow on an old trunk.  The tension dissolves out of your neck and your shoulders as you breathe out and let the tightness disappear with the wind that just blew your hair forward.  You breathe in the fresh air that is full of oxygen and nutrients and with each breath you are filled with the earth’s restorative strength.

This dialogue is what therapists call guided imagery and it is founded on the belief that the mind is an essential component of healing.  Guided imagery has been used since the time of the ancient Greeks.  Both Aristotle and Hippocrates healed their patients with different forms of imagery.  However, it was not until the emerging field of biofeedback in the 1960s that psychologists were able to document the effects of imagery on the body.  Through biofeedback, scientists could observe a patient’s ability to slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, or open lungs riddled with asthma.  Since that time, there has been a great deal of research into mind-body connections.  Apparently, stimulating the brain with an image can have a direct effect on the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.  If you picture yourself at the top of a mountain breathing in fresh, crisp air, your muscles will relax and you will feel the cool air and the sunshine on your skin.  Similarly, if you imagine yourself recovering effortlessly and speedily from an appendix surgery, you are more likely to heal quickly and suffer less pain.  Gentle, uplifting images can lower your blood pressure and slow down your pulse.  They can trigger the release of endorphins that stimulate your body’s restorative systems and make you feel good.

A growing area of guided imagery is related to stress management.  Guided imagery is one of the major types of relaxation techniques according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.  You can ease your body systems from the stressful state of fight-or-flight to one of serenity and peacefulness.

There are recordings of guided imagery available online or in the form of CDs.  As you play a recording, a therapist will lead you to an imaginary place where you will be given prompts and asked to focus on certain images.  It is essentially a guided form of meditation, so you will want to listen to the recording in a place and at a time when you will not be disturbed.

Guided imagery is an effective way to use the power of your mind to step away from your life situation; to see problems from a fresh and renewed perspective; and to develop skills to control unwanted thoughts or thinking.

Read more: Alternative Therapies, Exercises, Guidance, Health, Inspiration, Life, Mental Wellness, Natural Remedies, Peace, Self-Help, Spirit, Stress, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Dr. Neala Peake, selected from AllThingsHealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large. We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a forum for each category, and an extensive "Find Practitioners" listing. Our Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join us!

24 comments

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5:05AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

thanks for sharing

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Delightful, guided imagery is splendid especially when standing in a long line up or other times spent doing boring things.

7:37AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

thanks for sharing

4:08PM PDT on Apr 14, 2012

great article, thanks for sharing this

2:50PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

5:00PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Thank you. My husband and I haven't been on a vacation (away from home) for at least 5 years. But we have a comfortable home on 3 lovely acres, surrounded by woods and wildlife, very near a river and lake...so we can vacation in our own surroundings any time.

8:19AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

I make use of guided meditation on a fairly regular basis as a spiritual practice. Perhaps I ought to use it to take more vacations, as well...

5:33PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

I'm retired, therefore I have a vacation every day and it is good.

2:06PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

What a fantastic idea. It sounds very similar to spiritual pathworking, but it never occured to me to use it for therapeutic reasons. Tension is a big problem for me so I'll definitiely give that a go.
Thank you. :)

11:49AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

Sounds great, I'll have to try it!

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