Two weeks ago I wrote about how each of us needs to step back from our busy lives and find time to be still; to connect with our voice within. If you’ve never heard that little voice, then you’re not listening. I’m not talking about hearing voices. I’m referring to our internal compass that’s privy to things we’ve forgotten; things we don’t want to remember; the instinctual thing deep inside us that says, “Don’t walk down that street.”
Some of us are better than others at positioning ourselves to hear our little voice, but if we know how to access it, it’s there. One of my favorites ways is guided imagery.
“WE WILL HOLD YOU IN OUR HEARTS, WHILE YOUR HEART HEALS, FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES.”
Guided imagery is a powerful relaxation technique that helps us engage our breathing while we create images in our mind. Images that allow us to unplug and cope with the negative emotions and situations that bind us. Guided imagery has been clinically shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, effects of chemo, substance abuse, even PTSD in soldiers returning from war. Guided imagery helped me heal after breast cancer; it helped me regain my footing after my darling James died, and it continues to help me find stillness in other ways. The best guided imagery audios I’ve found are by Belleruth Naparstek.
Belleruth Naparstek is an acclaimed psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer. Her first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery, is widely considered to be the primer on imagery and healing. After James died, I was dealing with not just the grief of his sudden, unexpected death, but the dissolution of our family. It was almost more than I could bear.
Grasping at anything that would pull me from the abyss, I went to Naparstek’s site, HealthJourneys.com, and downloaded, Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal, onto my iPad. For months I listened to her soft, yet strong steady voice. She reminded me that I’d endured and recovered before. “I promise you, even this pain shall pass.”
She spoke as though I were talking to myself. She painted a picture of loved ones who’d gone before me, who’d formed a protective circle around me. I imagined James was there in the circle, as was his father, a man I called Dad; my grandmother, Mamie, and her brother, Clark; my friend, Norma; even my real father who died when I was 12. I can still hear Belleruth Naparstek’s words: “They are invested in my well-being, because parts of them reside in me.”
“We will stay with you as long as you want. You can come and go, but we will be here. We will hold you in our hearts, while your heart heals, for as long as it takes.” Naparstek then said, “Breath out, sighing to relieve the pain you’ve absorbed from taking this injury so deep into your heart and holding it there.”
By then, tears were flowing down my cheeks, onto my pillow. Other than crying out to God, guided imagery was the single most powerful thing I did to heal. Is there something in your life you need help with in order to heal?