Imagination is important in healing because it seems to have a much more direct link to bodily functions
than spoken words. For instance, if I asked you now to make saliva, some of you would be able to do that
at will, but most wouldn't. If, however, I asked you to close your eyes for a minute and image that you are
in your kitchen, standing in front of a cutting board, with a nice sharp knife at hand, and a plump, juicy,
yellow lemon on the board, you might start to salivate a little more. And if I asked you to feel the heft of
the knife in your hand as you cut the lemon in quarters, and looked at the pale yellow inside of the lemon,
noticing where you may have cut through a seed, and noticing a drop or two of fragrant lemon juice
oozing from the cut pulp, then lifting it to your mouth and biting into the lemon, sucking out the sour
juice and swallowing it, most of you will feel that peculiar sensation of salivation from the glands in the
back of your mouth, or at least grimace in response.
Imagery involves thinking in thoughts that have sensory qualities, in other words, with thoughts that you
see, hear, smell, or feel inside. Imagery is the language of the arts - of drama, poetry, music, and the
visual arts, and images have a close relationship to emotions. If I asked you to close your eyes and recall a
time when you felt very peaceful and quiet inside, and you really imagined being there now again, and
imagined seeing what you were seeing, and hearing any sounds that are there, and feeling that feeling of
deep peacefulness and quiet inside, and you just enjoyed that for a few minutes, most of you would
experience again a feeling of peacefulness. Conversely, if I asked you (which I won't) to go back and
recall a very distressing, upsetting time, and you imagined it in great detail as if it were happening again,
you would likely become upset and distressed again.
This body/mind connection, mediated largely through the emotions, is one of the powers of imagination
that closely links it to healing. When you shift your state of being from anxious, depressed, or
uncomfortable, to one that is quieter, happier, and more comfortable, there are physiologic changes that
accompany that shift. The calmer, more relaxed, and yet often more energized state that follows this shift
is one that is often associated with healing. It allows the body to focus its attention on healing rather than
spending its energy combating imagined worries and woes.
Many studies indicate that focusing the imagination in specific ways can be calming, encouraging, mood
modulating, pain relieving, and may even speed up, or allow physical as well as mental healing. It is
certainly a better use of your mental energy than imagining all the possible bad things that can happen.
Healing can happen on many levels. As someone with an illness, you may experience emotional healing,
or healing in your spirit even though physical healing does not occur. As a caregiver, you may use
imagery in many ways to help relieve the stress of caregiving. Already in this book, you have been given
ways to use your imagination to escape and gain respite for a few pleasant minutes, to deeply relax your
body, to acknowledge and express your feelings, or to connect with your inner child or an inner source of
wisdom and healing.
The following imagery scripts can be used by a patient or caregiver to focus on the physical, or emotional
symptoms that either may develop while dealing with an illness in the home. You may record them
yourself, or have someone else read them to you in a calming, gentle voice. You may also order them as
professionally recorded audio tapes by referring to the section on audio tapes in the bibliography.