We would like to share a few examples from individuals who have greatly benefited from working with Dr. Rossman and using our Guided Imagery techniques. If you would like to share your experience with Guided Imagery and our products, please email your story to: Healingstory@thehealingmind.org .
Anxiety & Stress
Lita, a pleasant but anxious woman, was in her thirties and had been seeing a urologist for several years for dilatation (stretching) of her urethra. The procedure was uncomfortable and she dreaded it, but it would relieve the difficulty she experienced in urinating for about six weeks each time she had the procedure done. She had been examined by two specialists and was told that a stricture in her urethra was causing her symptoms and that she would probably always need periodic dilatation. Learning to relax as a way to reduce her anxiety about the dilatation procedure appealed to Lita.
She hoped that if she were less tense, the procedure would be less painful. Although at the time neither of us thought of relaxation as a treatment for her primary problem, since she began a regular relaxation practice more than ten years ago, she has not had any difficulties urinating and has not needed a single dilatation. She might never have needed it if she or her doctors had been educated about stress and relaxation.
Alice was in her forties and had recently undergone surgery and radiation to treat a breast cancer that had been discovered several months earlier. She was an intelligent, composed woman who felt that imagery and visualization had already been enormously beneficial to her in tolerating her treatment and recovering from her cancer. She continued, however, to be bothered by a persistent pain between her shoulder blades. Repeated examinations and X-rays taken by her cancer specialists had failed to identify any physical cause of her pain. She wanted to understand why it was there and what she needed to do for it to go away.
We decided to use an imagery technique that you will learn in Guided Imagery for Self Healing: a talk with an imaginary wisdom figure called an Inner Advisor. Alice relaxed and imagined herself on a beautiful beach at the base of a high cliff. She asked for an image of her Inner Advisor and saw a man who looked like Merlin the magician, tending a fire. After greeting him, she asked him about her back pain.
After a few seconds of silence, she broke into tears. She told me her advisor said she needed to ask for help, and that’s what had brought on the tears. She had been strong and courageous throughout her illness, calming and reassuring to her husband and family. She always went for checkups and treatments alone, though it frightened her, because she felt her husband and kids would be uncomfortable if she asked them for help or company. She had tried to protect her loved ones by not expressing her own doubts, fears and concerns about her illness and its treatment.
Alice told her Inner Advisor her concerns about scaring her family if she asked them for help. Her advisor answered, “They are already scared. They will feel better if they are included in your trials and have an opportunity to be supportive and show their love for you.” She realized immediately that this was true. She imagined asking her husband, John, for help. She laughed, as in her mind’s eye she saw him taking out his appointment book and thumbing through it. She asked him (still in imagery), “Do you have time?” and he looked at her over his half-glasses and said, “We’ll make time.” When she came out of the imagery her pain was substantially relieved, with “just enough left to remind me that I actually need to talk with John about this in real life.”
An orthopedic surgeon friend of mine had a severely herniated lumbar disk. He was a very progressive surgeon who had used hypnosis to help his patients recover quickly from surgery, and he believed in the power of the mind to assist healing. He doubted, however, that imagery could help repair a ruptured intervertebral disk, but he wanted to do anything he could to avoid surgery. He was able to visualize the disk quite well, since he had seen so many of them in his work. He described it as a fibrous sac whose contents had “blown out” and were now pressing on a nerve in his back. He couldn’t imagine a satisfactory way for it to be repaired without surgery and became increasingly frustrated. Finally, he decided to relax very deeply and see if the image could change by itself. Suddenly he saw a vivid image of the center of the disk being sucked back into the sac, and the tear sealing itself up like the diaphragm of a camera. The image was so clear it startled him. He was even more startled to find that after this session he was greatly relieved of pain and was able to walk without pain coursing down his leg for the first time in several weeks. He went on to recover completely without surgery, a fact that has pleased and amazed him since.
Charles, a patient with a recurrent back problem, became quite good at relieving his back muscle spasms with relaxation techniques. Once he severely sprained his back while traveling and found himself with intense pain and muscle spasms and no easy access to medical care. He tried to relax but with little success, due to the severity of his pain. After several attempts, he decided to imagine a staircase with one hundred stairs, vowing to go as far down as he needed to go to relax. He remembers reaching the high seventies, falling asleep, and waking up a few hours later feeling considerably better.
The young woman executive, Justine, had allergies to many foods and chemicals. She, too, was reluctant to work with imagery, but she finally became desperate enough to try. When she asked Laura, her advisor, about her allergies, she held out her hand and revealed a prism in her open palm. A single beam of white light entered the top of the prism and was refracted into a rainbow spectrum of light that radiated toward Justine. When Justine asked Laura to explain what this meant, she answered, “You have light compression.” She would say no more. Puzzled, I encouraged Justine to keep the image in mind throughout the week and meet with Laura again to see if she would clarify the message.
Three days later, while looking through some old books, Justine came across a book a friend had given her months before: Health and Light by John Ott. Ott, the inventor of time-lapse photography, was also a pioneer in the field of photobiology, the effects of light on living organisms. In his book, he marshals evidence to support the view that full-spectrum sunlight is a nutrient needed for healthy human function. He believes that spending long days and nights in artificial lighting is a significant cause of illness in some people.
In a flash, Justine understood what Laura had been telling her. She went into her relaxed state and summoned Laura, who confirmed her discovery. With Laura’s guidance, she devised a plan to correct the situation. She replaced all the light bulbs at home and in her office with full-spectrum bulbs, agreed to go outside and be in the sun for at least thirty minutes a day, and asked her boss for a desk near a window. Within two weeks, she reported herself almost completely free of allergies, and she remained that way for eighteen months without further treatment.
Respiratory and Internal Infections
Anne, a thirty-five-year-old writer, had experienced eight months of recurrent respiratory and intestinal infections and was frustrated with the repeated rounds of doctor’s visits and antibiotics that brought her short-term relief but no improvements in her general health. As we discussed her life, she revealed that she was unhappy about certain aspects of her marriage, though she didn’t want it to end. She was terrified that her illness signaled a need to break away from her husband.
We began to work with imagery, and after several sessions I asked her to allow an image to form that represented something she could do to help herself regain her good health. An image of a large beautiful oak tree appeared. It was strong, old, stable and charming. As he sat beneath this tree, she felt calm and protected. Then she experienced an urge to climb the tree. As she reached the top, she found she could comfortably sit in its branches and enjoy a “vast overview” of her world. She felt this image indicated that she needed to use her inner strength and wisdom to get a better perspective on what was important to her.
During the next few weeks, as she examined various aspects of her life from this high perch, she realized that her love for her mate was still strong, but that it needed to be nourished. She saw how she had become buried in worries about money and her writing, which had been sporadic and unproductive. She took steps to renew the warmth in her relationship and found her husband quite happy to have her attention again.
Anne was also surprised and pleased to find herself inspired with creative ideas for writing as she relaxed in her “crow’s nest.” Two months after beginning to work with imagery she told me that she not only was fully recovered, but also was writing productively and felt better than she had in years. She was amazed and pleased to see that out of her attention to her illness had come not only physical healing but also the restoration of both her relationship and her creativity.