Guided visualization is one mind-body intervention that helps people overcome challenges. This form of guided meditation is subtle yet powerful. It calls for imaginative prowess in facing difficulties like post-traumatic stress disorder. Some athletes, scholars, and employees use it to improve their sense of well-being. Even patients recovering from surgery and undergoing therapy benefit from it. Learn more about guided visualization, including pros and cons of this practice, and see if this technique is helpful for you.
What Everyone Should Know About Guided Visualization
In this article:
- What Is Guided Visualization?
- Who Can Practice Guided Imagery Meditation?
- Pros of Guided Visualization
- Cons of Guided Visualization
What Is Guided Visualization?
Guided visualization is also referred to as guided imagery, deep relaxation, mental rehearsal, and self-hypnosis. Regardless of its name, this guided meditation practice requires exercising all of your senses. Through imagery techniques, the meditator exercises the mind to relax and create mental pictures. The process also includes focusing the mind to simulate how a specific event feels, smells, and sounds. Your creative visualization techniques can range from a simple visualization of how lifting 300lbs would feel to imagining what thousands of immune cells fighting cancer cells would look like.
Who Can Practice Guided Imagery Meditation?
Many tutors promote guided imagery and visualization exercises as a convenient meditation practice for anyone. However, there are cases where people find themselves unable to stop the visualization of negative mental images. If you feel you may be susceptible to this kind of negative spiral, guided visualization may not be for you. Additionally, other types of meditation may be better for people who cannot sit still and focus their mind.
Pros of Guided Visualization
Guided visualization has been medically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, regulate blood pressure, and heighten immune cell activity. Other conditions that guided imagery help manage include post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and eating disorders. Doctors also regularly suggest guided imagery exercises for patients undergoing major surgical operations and therapy sessions. In fact, the visualization of a successful process helps increase the chances of your body surviving major operations.
Trivia: Do you know that many people believe in the healing power of one’s subconscious mind? People in the past practiced this so-called mind-body medicine. It is one of the most ancient healing practices people used before pharmaceutical medicines were invented. The famous Greek physician Hippocrates believed in the power of mind and emotions in influencing physical healing. He wrote this famous quote, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Today, there are still many people who practice mind-body interventions to fight against the effect of stress in the body.
Mental and Psychological Benefits
Guided visualization allows the meditator to connect with themselves on a deeper emotional and spiritual level. Some of the benefits include access to emotional depth, heightened spirituality, and a greater ability to empathize. In fact, some psychologists use guided imagery and meditation as one of the techniques in cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Trying to work on visualization. It is a kind of meditation where you make a mental vision of your goal. Cause we believe in what we see. That is the way the brain works. It may sound crazy but a lot of professional athletes use this method to reach their goals. But the vision has to be realistic, with sounds, smells, sensations. So first, I observe then I close my eyes and try to recreate mentally what I saw with all the details. 🙈 Not easy!
A regular meditator can perform guided visualization almost anywhere, at any time. For example, a basketball player that’s about to take a crucial free throw can take a few seconds to pause and imagine the sensation of the ball passing through the net. Similarly, a pre-hypertensive patient can add guided mental imagery to their routine for lower blood pressure.
Cons of Guided Visualization
While guided imagery has positive effects on both the body and mind, it may also produce negative effects. For example, someone who is not in tune with their imagination may feel frustrated when they fail to visualize even simple sensations. This often occurs to meditators in large groups when there is the possibility of more distractions. Remember that detaching oneself from foreign and inner distractions is a must during meditation. Unfortunately, the feeling of frustration often leads to more failures and a repeating cycle.
Physiological and Mental Downsides
The effects of guided visualization manifest physiologically and psychologically. While it may decrease anxiety, it can also trigger other anxious individuals who fail to connect with their imagination. The sensations we visualize include both intended and unintended images. For example, if the meditator cannot help but visualize the feeling of death, they may notice their blood pressure and heart rate rise.
Do you want to try out guided visualization exercises or other relaxation techniques? Check out this video by Amparo Titmus where Bob Proctor helps you visualize a successful future:
Guided visualization is a great practice allowing people to become more in tune with their senses and imagination. However, remember that the effects of meditation manifest physiologically and emotionally, so it’s important to determine the type that suits your needs. To get started, try out relaxation and guided imagery. Only then can you decide if it’s the right tool for you to achieve a better spiritual and emotional connection.
Did reading this article gives you a better overview of what guided visualization meditation is? Feel free to share your thoughts or additional questions with us in the comments below.
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on December 7, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.