What is guided imagery?

Guided imagery is a way of using your imagination to access the knowing available from your unconscious. Guided imagery is also referred to as creative visualization aimed at magnifying the positive aspects of the body-mind connection. It can help uncover inner truth and direction stimulating intuition. It evokes real relaxation, which awakens and activates the natural ability for self-healing. Guided imagery helps with changing behaviors and habits.

guided imageryGuided imagery is a gentle technique that focuses and directs the imagination though suggestions toward a relaxed focused state. Using all of your senses, your body seems to respond as though what you are imagining is real. You can achieve a relaxed state when you imagine all the details of a safe, comfortable place, such as a beach or a garden. It is as easy as indulging in a vivid daydream. With a little practice, this technique can help you to better access your inner wisdom.

Guided imagery involves more that just visualization. Imagery involves all of the senses. It involves the whole body, the emotions, and all the senses making the body-mind connection. Using all your senses, your body seems to respond as though what you are imagining is real. Depending on how imagery is constructed, it can have the capacity to deliver multiple layers of complex, encoded messages by way of simple symbols and metaphors.

Guided imagery is supported and accompanied by other right brained functions such as emotion, laughter, music, spirituality, intuition, abstract thinking, and empathy. It acts to mobilize the unconscious and pre-conscious processes to assist with conscious goals, which enhance a person’s ability and motivation to accomplish a desired result.

guided imageryGuided imagery is often considered a form of meditation. It requires less time and discipline therefore has a strong appeal and forgiving features so that almost anyone can use it. Imagery entices the mind by appealing to sensory images that naturally occur. You can create your own imagery or use a pre-scripted one as a place to begin. The mind will automatically edit or change what is being offered for what is needed because the imagination will take over.

Three fundamental keystones why guided imagery works

According to Belleruth Naparstek author of Staying Well With Guided Imagery, there are three operating principles. To start with, the body experiences the images created in the mind as real and as actual external events. The mind does not know the difference. The mind cues the body when sensory memory of images, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions are involved. These sensory images are the “language” of the body. Accessing these memories through imagery provides a gateway for healing, creativity, intuition, and spiritual awareness.

guided imagerySecondly, we are more capable in this altered state to experience more rapid healing, growth, learning, and performance. Intuitive and creative abilities can be positivity affected. A shift in our biochemistry and brainwave activity occur. Mood and cognition change. We can do things we could not in a normal waking state with a heightened sensitivity to the object of our attention. This altered state provides a phenomenal source of internal strength and skill.

Thirdly, having a sense of control can help us feel better and do better. Optimism, self-esteem, tolerance for pain or stress is positively affected when we have a sense of mastery over our selves. Due to imagery being an internally driven activity, a person has a sense of control as to when to apply the techniques.

What is guided imagery used for?

The effectiveness of imagery has been established by research that has demonstrated the positive impact on health, creativity, and performance. Guided imagery has many uses. It can be used to promote relaxation, which can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. It can also be used to help reach goals such as losing weight or quitting smoking. It has also been used to manage pain and promote healing. Guided imagery is often used to prepare for athletic events or public speaking.

Types of guided imagery

There a many types of guided imagery that can be used as effective healing imagery. Belleruth Naparstek identified eight categories in her book. I have listed a few here.

Feeling State Imagery is a popular form of guided imagery. A person uses feeling state guided imagery to change a mood. Envision being in a peaceful setting during a time of stress or tension.

End State Imagery is imaging a positive outcome to a problem or goal. If you are preparing for a speech, you can picture yourself delivering it well. Or if you want to loose weight, imagine yourself at your ideal weight.

Energetic Imagery is imaging your body receiving energy. This would be especially helpful if you are feeling lethargic. You could imagine yourself pulling needed energy into your body from the sun's rays.

Psychological Imagery is imaging that provides for shifting emotional states. Shift from a sense of hopelessness imagining a positive outcome.

Metaphoric Imagery works with symbols instead of concrete reality such as visualizing a flower opening its petals as a metaphor for creativity blooming again or a waterfall cleansing away old hurts.

Spiritual Imagery is imaging anything that connects you with your idea of God or a sense of oneness with all things. It is sensing a transcendence and assistance from spiritual beings.

Using guided imagery

Keep in mind that skill will increase with practice. As you increase in skill, it will take less work to achieve efficiency. Imagery works best in a relaxed, accommodating, and natural atmosphere. It is important to create a space and allow enough time with out any interruptions. Start by getting into a comfortable position. Relax your body so that your muscles are not tense. Begin by taking several deep breaths. Remember to focus on belly breathing and letting your mind relax. With the first few breaths, allow yourself to forget the worries of the day.

Your choice of imagery needs to be congruent with your values. Allow your own images to come up for you. Imagery that elicits emotion is usually more effective. It is best to engage all the senses. Music will increase the effects of imagery. Make your selection intuitively.

guided imageryGuided imagery is safe. There are no known risks associated with it. Before engaging in any alternative therapy, always consult with your doctor about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy. Because of the state of extreme relaxation involved in guided imagery, individuals should never attempt to use guided imagery while driving or operating heavy machinery.


I have provided two scripts to begin or use one of your own choosing.

Download PDF Guided Imagery Script:
Relaxation Guided Imagery
Safe Place Guided Imagery