Guided imagery is a technique to help the imagination create vivid sensory images which the body perceives as real and then responds to them as if they are actual events. This technique is most effective when the listener is in a relaxed, but focused, altered state of consciousness. This altered state has been described as directed daydreaming, trance state, being "in the zone"; in other words, having a relaxed body and attentive mind focused on one or very few specific things. Imagery uses all of the senses and usually is presented to the mind using audio recordings.
Many connections exist between our minds and our bodies. Some occur as "hard-wired" nerve electrical links, and some through chemicals that move through cells and tissues. Experts in the field of psychoneurobiology believe that what we perceive, imagine, or think about generates an image in our brain. The image may occur so quickly that we are not even aware of it, but causes brain activity and creates emotional responses and moods. These trigger chemical responses in a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system generates responses in the body "control center" of the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary, which in turn, stimulate the body. As the body responds, it generates other chemicals that the brain perceives in a so-called feedback loop, and a whole new set of events is set in motion in this vast communication network that researchers are still working to understand.
Exploiting this relationship between image and body response is the basis of Guided Imagery. Imagery allows us to create new pathways and memory for these complex connections that can create a whole new behavior.
For more information, please refer to the works of Jeanne Achterberg, Deirdre Davis Brigham, Norman Cousins, Belleruth Naparsteck, Candace Pert, Earnest Rossi and Annes Sheikh.
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