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Easing into Sleep: Guided Imagery Exercise

September 20, 2017

By Linda Smith, PA, MS

Description of Mindfulness

Guided imagery, or visualization, encompasses a number of techniques meant to explore our beliefs and attitudes about ourselves and the world around us by tapping into our subconscious mind. This exploration is intended to impact our physical and mental well-being, bringing about positive changes such as relaxation, better focus and improved performance. Guided imagery has many uses that include: stress reduction, sleep improvement, pain management, promotion of healing with surgery or illness, behavior change (e.g. losing weight, smoking cessation), and enhancing performance (e.g. athletics, public speaking).

Guided imagery works by utilizing our imagination and the mind-body connection. It involves the eliciting of mental images that allow us to re-create memories or to visualize future and hypothetical experiences. Using all of our senses – sight, sound, taste, smell, movement and feeling – we invite our minds to imagine every detail related to our visions. In doing so, we can influence our behaviors and responses to help achieve a desired outcome.

Impact and Support

The body tends to respond to visualization in the same way as if it were an actual experience. For example, if we imagine slowly sucking on a lemon slice with great detail – the sour, tart taste and the soft, juicy texture – we will soon begin to salivate. When it comes to athletics or other types of performance, research reveals that mental rehearsing can be as effective as physical practice.

Guided imagery has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, nausea, depression, fatigue, insomnia and fear of medical procedures in patients with cancer and other chronic conditions. Research has also shown guided imagery to reduce recovery time and shorten hospital stays, strengthen the immune system, enhance healing and increase self-confidence and self-control.

Practice Considerations

Guided imagery can be led either in-person by a trained practitioner or by using audio recordings to facilitate the technique with participants. No special equipment is needed, though cushions or mats may be desired by participants sitting or lying on hard surfaces.

Click on the following link to download a transcript of this recording: Easing Into Sleep Transcript.

Interested in learning more mind-body strategies?

Click here to learn about our upcoming Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. Last day to register for the September courses is September 14, 2017. The January MBSR courses will be opening for registration in October 2017.

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