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Mind Over Matter: Guided Imagery Often Helps
As the blending of Eastern and Western medical practices continues in the U.S., the ancient natural therapy of guided imagery is gaining prominence, especially in American hospitals. This visualization technique teaches patients to create mental pictures that help them reduce stress and improve blood flow throughout the body.
Two recent major studies proved that people recovering from major surgery are much less stressed, need less pain medication and can be released from the hospital an average of two days earlier by using guided imagery tapes for a mere 15 minutes, twice a day.
How Does It Work?
Guided imagery puts people in a state of relaxation that releases the stress that inevitably accompanies any illness or medical procedure. It also improves a patient's blood flow, which allows the body to produce a surge of healing antibodies and disease-fighting white blood cells. Finally, guided imagery boosts the body's entire immune system, while lowering blood pressure and heart rate. All of this combines to help prevent heart disease, decrease pain and stress and alleviate the side effects of many medications, including chemotherapy. Guided imagery uses more specific visualizations than regular meditation, which translates to a better outcome in people with medical problems.
Who Can Do It?
Anyone who can daydream can be taught to do guided imagery. Athletes do this all the time by picturing a goal in their mind. It may be difficult at first, but virtually everyone is able to automatically use this technique after minimal training. Patients who use guided imagery experience a major, positive shift in their attitude. Usually the therapy increases their feelings of confidence, control and power, while decreasing feelings of fear, depression, stress and/or hopelessness.
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