Let's try a short imagery experience, just to get a taste. First, find a comfortable position that you can hold for a few minutes. When you're comfortable, allow your eyes to close. Take a few deep breaths with a gradual inhale and even longer exhale if that feels comfortable to you. Now imagine that you are standing in your kitchen. Take a moment to imagine the kitchen, the color of the countertops, the appliances and the cabinets. Notice that there are windows, kitchen smells or sounds, perhaps the dishwasher is running. You may hear the hum of the refrigerator or maybe the sound of a clock on the wall. Take some time to notice everything using all your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel being there in your kitchen? Now imagine that right in front of you is a cutting board, and next to the cutting board is a good sharp knife. Imagine that on the cutting board sits a plump juicy lemon. See yourself picking up the lemon and feeling the texture and weight of the fruit with your fingers. Lift the lemon to your face and breathe in the lemony smell. Imagine putting it back onto the cutting board, picking up the knife and slicing the lemon open. You see the fine spray of lemon juice released as you slice, and drops of juice form on the cutting board. A lovely citrus aroma fills the room. Now imagine picking up a half of the lemon and putting it into your mouth. When you're ready, you may open your eyes. The simple lemon exercise demonstrates the power of our imagination. Most people are salivating by the time they are asked to put the lemon in their mouth. We are not able to salivate on command with our conscious mind. However, when we imagine slicing the lemon, our body responds as if it's real. But as we might see from the poll, different people respond differently and we will explore the factors that influence this throughout the course. In this lesson, we are going to discuss how guided imagery works and explore the role of imagination and senses. Guided imagery is a therapeutic process that works with our imagination using phrases and words to evoke a sensory response that encourages the healing of mind, body and spirit. Belleruth Naparstek, a psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer, describes three foundational mind-body principles of guided imagery. First, our bodies do not discern that an image is real or imagined. The imagery exercise with the lemon that we just did is a good example. In fact, PET scans have demonstrated that during guided imagery, the same parts of the brain light up as if the actual event was happening. Our minds and bodies communicate in images. This can be in both healing and harmful ways. Think for a minute about the last time you had an argument or a difficult conversation with a loved one. Pay attention to what happens in your body. You may notice that you're breathing pace quickens and becomes shallower and that your muscles tighten. We can imagine the worst, and our body will experience the stress-related to it. Now remember a time when you felt close to a loved one or a visit to a peaceful place. You may notice that your breathing has become deeper and your muscles have relaxed. The second principle is that in a state of relaxed focus or in altered state, we're more sensitive to imagery which makes us capable of more intense healing, growth, learning and change. In this mind state, we become more creative, intuitive and are able to do things we don't do in a normal wakeful state. You might remember that when we did our short imagery exercise, I invited you to find a comfortable position, relax and take some deep breaths. This was very short. Some people need more time and other techniques to achieve a state of relaxed focus. Thirdly, we hold the power to deliberately harness our imagination. Using our imagination in this way gives us a sense of mastery and control over what's happening to us. We realize we have the power to change our experience. When we have a sense of helplessness, our ability to cope is reduced. When we have a sense of control, we are better able to manage and in general feel more optimistic about our future. Guided imagery is internally driven and that we decide if, when, where and how we use it. It's important, especially for those on health care, to pay attention to the patient's or client's imagery-laden language when listening to their story or taking a history. These are words that may include any emotional aspect of a condition or a symptom. For example, a patient may describe a headache as explosive or irritating. Pain may be described as stabbing or annoying. When we pay attention to the language used, it's surprising how much information can be revealed. Use what you learn to identify the desired change and augment the effectiveness of guiding. For example, when giving her history, Justine consistently referred to her chronic back pain as messed up. As a child, she had injured her back and was told that it would likely be painful and damaged for the rest of her life. Therapists pointed this out to Justine and asked if she would be open to another perspective. Justine realized that by calling that part of her body messed up, she had closed off any hope for change or healing. The therapist started using more positive images, thanking the back for its strong support, and Justine herself began to refer to her body more lovingly. Note that in this example, Justine also made changes herself in her language and imagery around her back. Over the next week or so, I encourage you to be mindful of and notice things that you find yourself thinking about and how you imagine them just like Justine. Are you noticing yourself focused on worst-case scenarios? Notice how you feel as you observe yourself. Is there anything you'd like to re-imagine? Take the time to imagine the way you want it to be. Then take the time to notice the imagery-laden language used by your patients or family members and yourself too. What do those words add to the stories? Use a worksheet in this lesson to record whatever you discover.