Hypnoimagery & Guided Meditation
How Effective Is Imagery? Clinical Studies on the Effectiveness of Imagery:
has found it very effective for the treatment of stress. Imagery is at the center of relaxation techniques designed to release brain chemicals that act as your body's natural brain tranquilizers, lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels. By and large, researchers find that these techniques work. Because imagery relaxes the body, doctors specializing in imagery often recommend it for stress-related conditions such as headaches, chronic pain in the neck and back, high blood pressure, spastic colon, and cramping from premenstrual syndrome.
Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio found that people with cancer who used imagery while receiving chemotherapy felt more relaxed, better prepared for their treatment and more positive about care than those who didn't use the technique.
Several studies suggest that imagery can also boost your immunity. Danish researchers found increased natural killer cell activity among ten college students who imagined that their immune systems were becoming very effective. Natural killer cells are an important part of the immune system because they can recognize and destroy virus-infected cells, tumor cells and other invaders.
In another small study, researchers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio found that seven people who suffered from recurrent canker sores in their mouths significantly reduced the frequency of their outbreaks after they began visualizing that the sores were bathed in a soothing coating of white blood cells.
Imagery can also help alter menstrual cycles and relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. In a preliminary study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that 12 of 15 women, ages 21 to 40, who used imagery for three months lengthened their monthly menstrual cycles by an average of nearly four days and slashed their perceived levels of premenstrual distress in half. They also reported fewer mood swings.
At the University of South Florida in Tampa, researchers asked 19 men and
women, ages 56 to 75, who had chronic bronchitis and emphysema to rate their levels of anxiety, depression, fatigue and discomfort before and after they began using imagery. The researchers concluded that imagery significantly improved the overall quality of these people's lives.
A study at Yale demonstrated that patients suffering from severe depression were helped by imagining scenes in which they were praised by people they admired- a clear boost to their self-esteem.
Visualization and other relaxation methods may produce significant benefits, often by helping to ease pain and lift depression. Research is continuing to determine whether even more spectacular results can be achieved.
A controlled study of fifty-five women examined the effects of imagery and relaxation on breast milk production in mothers of infants in a neonatal intensive care unit. They received a twenty-minute audiotape of progressive relaxation followed by guided imagery of pleasant surroundings, milk flowing in the breasts, and the baby's warm skin against theirs. They produced more than twice as much milk as compared to those receiving only routine care.
In another study, a group of metastatic cancer patients using daily imagery for a year achieved significant improvements in NK cell activity and several other measures of immune functioning.
At Michigan State University, researchers found that students could use guided imagery to improve the functioning of certain white cells called neutrophils, important immune cells in defense against bacterial and fungal infection. They could also decrease, but not increase, white cell counts. At one point in the study, a form of imagery intended to increase neutrophil count unexpectedly caused a drop instead. Subsequently, students were taught imagery explicitly intended to keep the neutrophil count steady, while increasing their effectiveness. Both of these goals were achieved.
Other studies have shown that imagery can lower blood pressure, slow heart rate and help treat insomnia, obesity and phobias.