Collies guarded the perimeter of the hut on a fisherman’s pier. Inside was a 4-year-old child surrounded by an interior of dark cozy wood, soft green-colored fluffy pillows, and candlelight. At last, she was sleeping safely. Inside the pier-hut with her were more collies – four of them. Periodically, she would awaken to find herself safely snuggled into those pillow-collies that doubled as warm-enough blankets. She would look around her self-created space to discover, once again, the safety and comfort of her loyal furry friends, both in and outside of that hut. She would gently drift back to sleep, over and over again.
As a child, she was not safe; child abuse is all too common and all too accepted. Lack of safety was the source of the child’s insomnia, sickness, and sadness, but their exact cause was uncovered only later in life.
Imagistic healing fantasies, as she affectionately called the collie stories, are known today as “guided imagery.” In Naperstek’s books Staying Well with Guided Imagery and Invisible Heroes, she defines guided imagery meditation as a powerful and gentle practice that guides the imagination in proactive and positive ways.
As an adult, the child used these self-created collie fantasies to soothe and heal herself from old emotional injuries. The more she allowed herself the freedom to create healing fantasies, the more she was able to craft a safe environment in her mind that aided recovery from childhood traumas. For several nights, the fantasy stayed the same, doing its magic. Over time, it evolved as she did.
The effectiveness of guided imagery has long been established; it has a positive impact on emotional and physical health, as well as on improved creativity and performance. An attractive feature of guided imagery is that almost everyone can do it. It skips across numerous barriers, such as gender, education, age, race, culture, and class. It is universal in its ability to create possibilities and opportunities to help a person overcome the obstacles they face.
I encourage you to try imagistic healing techniques yourself.
- You can look for healthy, already-created, guided imagery meditations.
- Or you can invent your own, as I did.
Imagination seems to take over, in either case, because your brain often has a way of changing, substituting, editing, or missing information that does not fit with your unique needs. Instead, your brain can become a springboard and source for the brilliance of your own imagination.
For thoughts on the use of imagistic writing to rewrite your story, see psychology writer JB Allyn’s post, Rewrite Your Story Through Imagistic Writing.
Sources: Naperstek, Belleruth, Staying Well with Guided Imagery (1995) and Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (2005)
Note: In this post, the author, Diane H. Engelman, is not directly or indirectly giving psychological or medical advice. Nor is she prescribing the use of any technique to treat medical, physical, or emotional problems. The author intends only to offer information of a general nature that may assist you in seeking personal growth. If you choose to use any of the information the author presents, she assumes no responsibility for your choices or actions.