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What is imagery?

The mind is a powerful healing tool. Imagery (visualization) has harnessed the power of the mind through various therapies for centuries.

By creating images in your mind, you can reduce pain and other symptoms tied to your condition. The more specific the visualization, the more helpful it will likely be. People are taught to imagine sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or other sensations to create a kind of daydream that "removes" them from or gives them control over their present circumstances. 

Imagery usually involves a program with certain aims and goals. You are guided to visualize your goals and work toward them.

Two imagery techniques are widely used today:

  • Palming. This involves visualizing color. You place your palms over your eyes and picture the color you think of with stress. This is usually the color red. Then you change the color to a more relaxing color, such as blue. It is thought that changing colors in the mind helps you relax.

  • Guided imagery. This involves thinking of a certain goal to help cope with health problems. Guided imagery is most often used as a relaxation technique. It involves sitting or lying quietly and imagining yourself in a favorite peaceful setting such as a beach, meadow, or forest. Imagery may be guided by direct suggestion from a qualified imagery practitioner. Another example where a person with cancer imagines Pac Men (from the old Pac Man video game) gobbling up bad cancer cells.

Studies have shown that imagery can help the mind and body relax. It can also help:

  • Manage anxiety, stress, and depression

  • Help reduce pain

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Lessen nausea

  • Give you a better sense of control and well-being

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