Guided Imagery is 'deliberate daydreaming' that can treat many diseases.
Fibromyalgia seems to be one of those conditions that 10 years ago we heard little about, yet now, more and more are being diagnosed with the condition. Sandy Ewing, Certified Hypnotherapist, explains why: "It used to be one of those diseases that doctors told patients 'was in their head' because there is really no way to diagnose it. We are now acknowledging that it exists."
Ewing, who has been influenced by the works and teachings of renowned Cleveland psychic and healer Belleruth Naparstek, explains how fibromyalgia may originate: "When we are children, we have different situations, and some may be traumatic. Often our 'fight or flight' response kicks in, but there is another response called the 'freezing effect.' In this case, the person does not respond at all. They do nothing. The body then begins to shoot bio-chemicals and hormones into our muscles. If the person continues to relive the trauma, either in the sub-conscious or in reality, the body continues to react in the same way. Over a period of time, this causes damage at all levels."
Some symptoms of fibromyalgia can be chronic pain, flu-like symptoms, hormonal imbalances. Often the person will not be able to sleep well, and gets no REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the level at which we dream, and necessary for restful sleep. They may also experience irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes depression sets in, not directly as a symptom, but as the result of being in pain and not sleeping, and being told by others that the problem is in their head. Often the person does not exercise, and may not eat right.
And this is where guided imagery comes in. "Guided Imagery is focused imagination, or, as Belleruth Naparstek says, 'deliberate daydreaming.'" said Ewing. "It is a speaking to the subconscious. We have different messages playing over and over within us from childhood, good and junk. I use good, healthy, positive imagery to crowd out the junk. Repetition is the key. That's how junk gets in, and that's how to get it out."
Throwing out the bad
For instance, one of Ewing's favorite images when helping those with fibromyalgia is a suitcase.
"We carry junk from the past, so I tell people to imagine an empty suitcase," said Ewing. "Then pack it with resentment, shame, promises not kept, even a person who treated them badly, or, in some cases, a doctor who did not listen or treat them respectfully, anything you need to let go of. Next I tell them to close it and seal it up. Use chains, duct tape, whatever, then send it to where lost luggage goes; move it away. I always reassure them that wherever it goes, it cannot harm another person. When we begin to heal, others around us heal, too."
Ewing says Naparstek teaches that there are three components of effective guided imagery: 1) Sacred Space: For instance, if someone suffered from allergies, she might tell them that there are no allergens within the sound of her voice. Sacred space is safe harbor, where no one judges or is judged. 2) Magician Energy: Imagine a magic wand, self-confidence and assurance, angels, or anything else to make the bumps in the road smaller and smoother. 3) Ritual: Do something with purpose, such as lighting a candle in a special place. Ewing also believes in making things as simple as possible, so there can be ways to find joy. She often tells her clients to imagine themselves as a child, then hugging the child.
"We should celebrate everything. If we need to lose 200 pounds, and we lose 20, then we should celebrate that. This is about setting up patterns of success, setting healthy, clear-minded goals," she said.
Ewing has done two 6-week group sessions for fibromyalgia, meeting once a week. And many other health issues can benefit from these meetings.
"People come if they are having panic attacks. Anyone with auto-immune problems can also benefit. This group would be helpful for anyone with MS, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, allergies, stress and pain management, or even for those preparing for surgery or dental work," said Ewing.
She plans to give another 6-week session soon.
And just what happens in a guided imagery session? Ewing will gently talk you into a deep relaxation, then create images or make positive suggestions to your sub-conscious mind. Everyone always has free will to accept or reject any suggestion. She also has CDs available for purchase. Many people listen to them as they are falling asleep. (A guided imagery recording should never be used while operating a vehicle.)
Fibromyalgia sufferer Nancy Chambers has found relief through Ewing's sessions.
"Guided imagery has given me something to call on whenever I begin to feel stressed, no matter where I am," she said. "The visualizations used in class remain with me and help me to call upon what I need. I bought the CDs and usually fall asleep listening to them at night. I would recommend guided imagery to those suffering with fibro."
XEwing may be reached at (330) 219-9017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.