Guided imagery and creative visualization are based on the concept that body and mind are intimately interconnected. The power of the mind to influence the body is very strong and imagery is one way the mind speaks to the body. Unfortunately, many of the mental images we encounter in the mind do more harm than good. The most common type of imagery is worry. More than half of many thousands of thoughts that flash through the mind in one day are negative. Subsequently, the negative images harmfully affect our physiology and psychology. However, when we learn to direct and control the positive images in our minds, we can help our bodies and minds heal themselves.

This powerful technique of directed suggestion focuses the imagination toward creating the positive mental images held in the mind’s eye. The practice of guided imagery is very convenient, as it relies on nothing more than one’s imagination and concentration abilities. Almost anyone can use imagery, although children and women have a natural advantage. Because imagery is a right-brained activity, engaging in this practice will help to develop other functions of the right brain, particularly empathy, intuition, and openness to spirituality.

More than 200 research studies in the past 30 years have explored the effectiveness of guided imagery. These studies show that guided imagery can help people overcome stress, pain, anxiety and depression; enhance sleep, quality of life, and the ability to heal; and increase relaxation, confidence and self-control. Research findings have also demonstrated that guided imagery has a positive impact on overall health, creativity and performance.

Creative visualization is a form of imagery, specifically self-directed, that utilizes our innate capacity for the imagination. It refers to the practice of seeking to affect the inner world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations. Everything that exists today was once visualized in someone’s mind before it became a reality. Every invention was once a thought in the inventor’s mind and every creation was first a vision in the mind of a creator.

This is the basic technique underlying positive thinking, which is using one’s imagination to visualize specific changes occurring in one’s life. The practice of visualization is a potent healer and proven to be a very powerful tool to help combat stress, tension and anxiety. Creative visualization has been used as a healing tool in most of the world’s cultures and is an integral part of many religions. This technique is commonly used by athletes seeking to improve performance and focus, and by business people seeking to influence an outcome or change behavior.

Creative visualization is also a common form of spiritual exercise and is practiced to realize one’s goals and self-identity. For example, in Deity Yoga one practices oneself in the identification with the meditational deity by visualizations, until one can meditate single-pointedly on ‘being’ the deity. In fact, recent studies indicate that Deity Yoga generates an identifiable improvement in the practitioner’s ability to process visuo-spatial information and improve working visuo-spatial memory.

In the WELL Program , we will be using both guided imagery and creative visualization techniques to heal our bodies and to calm our minds. Most importantly, we will use imagery to visualize our Self/Soul as the point of light that is the life force for our body and the conscience for our mind.