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Guided Imagery for Healing: Tips for Success

To encourage your body’s innate healing capacities, set aside some time to work with healing imagery at least once a day in a quiet place. Taking even more time is almost undoubtedly better; most studies on the physiologic effects of imagery have studied people who use it at least twice a day, for about 20-30 minutes at a time. Most people find it very helpful to begin with pre-recorded audios to help them call up and focus their healing imagery. Once you’ve become familiar and comfortable with relaxing and focusing on healing imagery, you can adapt it and work with it yourself, without  always needing to listen to an audio.

Taking the time to relax with deep focus will intensify the effects of imagery. Focusing only on what you imagine seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling makes the scenario more subjectively real to the lower brain centers that signal the deep autonomic responses of the body. In other words, as you get more immersed in your imagery, your awareness of the outer world slips away and your body begins to respond more and more as if what you are imagining is really taking place.     

Should your healing imagery focus on the physiologic process of healing or on the ultimate outcome? Is it better if your imagery is anatomically and physiologically accurate, or is it more powerful it it’s symbolic? The research doesn’t yet tell us. A case can be made for either side of these issues, but it costs nothing more to utilize them all and cover all your bases. Consider including these areas in you healing imagery:     

1 | Imagery that represents or symbolizes the physical healing you desire. Include here images that represent your immune or illness-defense responses, and the actions of any therapies you are employing, whether conventionally medical or alternative. Imagine your treatments working perfectly—just as they would work if it were totally up to you. Classic examples for cancer patients include imagining any cancer cells or tumor tissue being walled off, destroyed, and eliminated from the body—whether by aggressive swarming immune cells, the effects of medication or radiation, or by imagining shutting off the blood supply to tumors, like a valve shuts off water supply to a sink. How you imagine healing does not have to be realistic or logical– you can imagine being healed by the hand of God, the love of your family, by warrior princesses, by golden or white light, or by any other means that you imagine. The important thing is to imagine the healing being complete and thorough.

2 | Imagine the outcome you desire in a “ bigger picture” format—see yourself in the future, feeling well, thriving, and doing what you love to do with whomever you love to do it. Imagine yourself at future events that are important to you—weddings, graduations, births—and let yourself get into them as completely as you can, seeing what you see, hearing what you hear, feeling what you feel. Imagine a calendar with the dates on it as you do this.

3 | A variation of the last focus is useful if you have felt discouraged or scared by any of your doctor’s predictions or reactions. Include as one of your desired outcomes being with your doctor in his or her office; a calendar on the wall has the date circled; you, the doctor, and anyone else who accompanies you are celebrating the good news that there is no progression or no disease at all, for instance. Imagine your doctor’s response, from puzzlement to excitement, and notice any good feelings you have about overcoming initial predictions. 


Your body always tries to do what your mind asks it to do. Give it a clear powerful multi-sensory image of the outcome you desire, do it on a regular basis, and see what your body’s healing abilities can do for you.