What do core beliefs have to do with healing?

| September 25, 2015

bcw_corebeliefsMy hope is that some day “guided imagery” is a household term, that the power of thought is so well understood that you take it for granted,  and that our medical use of imagery will be assumed rather than how hard it currently is to find answers that you know you really need right now.

“Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”
— Albert Einstein

Science and medicine are advancing every day, but in the meantime, it is up to you to empower yourself with all the things you can do to help your body tap into its own innate wisdom that allows you to heal. If you have not heard of “guided imagery” before, perhaps you have heard of “visualization,” or “meditation,” and of course “prayer.” Although they all technically differ from one another, they do overlap in one very important respect: they all hold the ability to change “core beliefs” in ways that support the body and encourage healing to occur. Even the word “healing” takes on different definitions from one interpretation to the next, but our ability to heal has more to do with being able to live each moment with gratefulness, no matter how many moments on the clock that happens to be.

So what do guided imagery and core beliefs have to do with healing? Well, your body is constantly “listening” to your core beliefs. And although you may believe that this means you should think only “positive” thoughts, in actuality nothing can be farther from the truth! Being optimistic and happy on the surface does nothing to help you deal with those inevitable fears that are being told to bury themselves even deeper within you, where they continue to do their damage through the subconscious mind. Since 95% of all thought is SUB-conscious, it is best to take seriously your ability to communicate with the body and mind at this deeper level, but do it with a purpose! This is where guided imagery, meditation, or deep prayer can enter in. When a person first learns of a breast cancer diagnosis, this is no time to spend lots of energy developing a new skill. It is also a time when you might even find with shock and almost horror that you really feel rather angry with God — and certainly “out of touch” if nothing else!

Guided imagery is a way to bridge this gap, and communicate with your body in a way that goes deeper than your “conscious” thoughts (which usually can’t help but focus on all those stressors in your life anyway). I had a patient once tell me: “At the time when I felt my worst…when I was tired beyond words and so sick from chemo that I didn’t want to do a thing…I could STILL listen to my imagery tapes…I actually craved listening to that imagery… for this was what enabled me to go deep inside, to the place where I still knew that I was healthy!” If you always have thoughts and worries running through your mind, and you want to do something for your health but don’t know quite what to do, then guided imagery is for you. With practice, you can reach the place where your body and mind are communicating with the immune system about what is “wrong” with the world, while using the language that also says: “Even though it feels like the biggest crisis in the world, there’s also a way to stay connected to all that is ‘right.’”

Guided imagery is as easy as listening to a soothing voice while curling up in a comfortable chair with a set of headphones. The words express deep stories for the body, using relaxing metaphors or symbols that help the bodymind to uncover creative solutions. Some people “hear” their experience of imagery more than “see” anything. Some people don’t see or hear much at all, yet “perceive” their imagery through all the other more subtle senses. But if you can close your eyes and somehow count just how many windows you have in your home, then you too can experience imagery in whatever way feels just right for you. When the stories and metaphors of the your home, then you too can experience imagery in whatever way feels just right for you.

When the stories and metaphors of the imagery transition through treatment, this can sometimes better help a person use imagery to manage the various fears and unpleasant side-effects that come with diagnosis, surgery, chemo, radiation, that long stage of recovery when one swears they will never be the same again, and even the anxiety of checkups which seems to occur no matter how many months or years have gone by since that pronouncement of health. Thus, nine different recorded imagery sessions that make up the complete Cancer Involvement Program were created so that more patients could have access to such imagery sessions, to help them cope with these multiple stages of treatment.

Your choice of imagery and metaphors can be anything you wish — from playful to serious — as long as they coincide with your values, and empower (and therefore strengthen) those healthier core beliefs! So don’t worry about how your immune system works. Your body knows exactly what to do with imagery — especially when you choose images associated with positive emotions! Simply daydream about something you love to do, and imagine your immune cells “helping you” do it!

If you like to play piano, envision more and more “white notes” filling up the room. If you like to swim, picture more and more bubbles lifting you higher and higher with their buoyancy. Look around to see what metaphors seem to resonate with your life. One breast cancer patient found that she was noticing an unusual number of pictures of beautiful cats like lions, leopards and panthers. She even found a simple note card, which she then bought, that became a perfect reminder of the metaphor she wished to use.  The note card held the picture of a confident woman riding on the back of a wild leopard! She embellished this metaphor in her mind. She imagined a whole jungle of wild cats (her white blood cells). But as mistress of all that power (riding on the back of one of them), it was she who always led the way! They roamed their jungle home together (her body), looking for and overcoming any unwanted visitors (the cancer cells) that were stupid enough to even think of coming near them.

Whether you envision your immune cells as wild animals, sharks, doves, or cute white bunny rabbits; just make sure that in comparison, the cancer cells of your imagery are easy to overcome, comparably “stupid,” and very “disorganized.” And no matter what, be sure that it is YOU who personally jumps into the midst of your imagery. For it is you who needs to fearlessly “lead the way!” Draw your imagery in a notebook. It doesn’t need to be complicated! It needs only to be emotionally soothing and supportive of the vision for what your body can do. Make the colors of your cancer cells dull, while the colors of your immune cells vivid and bright. Find ways (such as the note card) to bring your imagery to life. Your work need not be worthy of framing, yet you should know without a doubt that imagery IS worthy of whatever time and energy you put into it!

You are already communicating with your body through imagery every moment, and you already have an internal image of your cancer cells and your immune cells, whether you have given it much conscious thought or not! So rather than let your fears do the communicating…take charge of your imagery! Tell your body what you want it to know: that you support it whole-heartedly, and you believe that it’s wisdom is very worthwhile. In fact, not only is the wisdom of your bodymind worthwhile … but no matter what conventional medical treatment you choose, it is really only your bodymind’s wisdom that knows how you can truly heal!

 

Too easy to be true?

NO…  it’s actually very powerful for you!

1. Think of one “healing image” that resonates personally with you in an emotionally intense and positive way: perhaps an activity you LOVE to do, a place you LOVE to go to, or an event you’d LOVE to experience! This image can evolve over time. But for now, just pick one for which you can enjoy the thought of immersing your mind.

2.Locate a spot in your home or somewhere outdoors that you find to be peaceful and comfortable (although not so comfortable that you easily fall asleep), and go there at a time when you can completely relax and not be disturbed.

3. Spend 5 minutes purging your mind of any disruptive thoughts by writing down on paper all your anxieties, angers, worries, or fears without censoring a thing. Then rip it up completely when you’re done!

4. Next, spend time turning your focus inward on your chosen “healing image.” Make it an “active” image by preparing to immerse yourself into the feelings and emotions of it. If your mind is too frazzled to focus, then listen to a professionally produced guided imagery recording that gives your mind something more concrete on which to focus. Just be sure that any image you use is emotionally soothing to you.

5. As you tune in completely to this “healing image,” let your heart and mind seek details that will amplify the emotions, taste, sounds, sights, and feel of it. Imagine exactly what it would be like in reality because your body will interpret this image as your reality!

6. After your internal focus comes to its natural ending point (hopefully after 10 to 20 minutes of imagery), take 5 to 10 minutes more to write down or draw (or sculpt or dance or whatever method you prefer) to express the imagery you just experienced. This process will take your “healing image” even deeper into your bodymind and further “cement” it into every cell of your body.

7. Repeat this process as often as you can, but at the very least, once each day. Don’t make it a chore. Make it a gift to yourself. For it is as precious a gift as anything can be… that gift of a “healing image.”

 

By Sandy Jost, Ph.D.
Dr. Sandy Jost holds a doctorate in psychology and a master’s degree in nutritional biochemistry, which may even sound intimidating. Yet she’s known most for her down-to-earth, playful style of teaching on the topics that help to clarify our ever-evolving understanding of the body-mind connection. Her passion is to advance the use of techniques that support holistic and functional medicine… an empowering approach for patients and medical professionals. Dr. Jost is the author of multiple books and CDs (see www.healingimages.com) designed to apply the power of mind to various health issues. From cancer treatment to sleep, she does all that she can as researcher, teacher, and writer, to further what she calls simply: “whole body listening.”  Helping people to better understand their own minds!  www.HealingImages.com, 972-322-7782. Dr. Jost would love to hear from you about any images and metaphors that help you through treatment. There are no images too simple or complex, common or rare! Please send an email with your story to SandyJostPhD@gmail.com.

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Category: Grow

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