When using imagery the pictures we form in our mind are one of our greatest inner resources. In the past two decades there has been a growing appreciation of the integration of body, mind and spirit and that if we use any therapeutic practice that addresses each of these aspects, we have access to the body’s healing resources. In this way we treat the whole person in a manner that is holistic in its truest sense. People who use imagery will have discovered just how useful and versatile it is and how it can integrate body, mind and spirit. The conscious and creative use of images gives us a method, through visualisation, guided imagery, or interactive image work, to influence our lives. Imagery can affect our lives positively or negatively so our thoughts and visualisations need to be positive in order to support healing.
Simple examples of using imagery
Our thought, memories, beliefs, moods, feelings and sensations are, subconsciously, translated into images, and together they form the basis of how we experience ourselves. Mostly we believe them to be unchangeable. However through any simple relaxation and visualisation exercise (for example imagining ourselves lying on a beach, hearing the gentle lapping water, feeling warm, relaxed, happy in the company of those we love) we can experience changes in thought or mood. We can experience psychological and physiological changes by simply imagining ourselves exposed to the thing that frightens us most and feeling that knot in our stomach and possibly a cold sweat too. Or by visualising a plate of our favourite food and notice how we salivate and that our stomach rumbles. These very simple examples show how the imagination influences us and is so integrated into our experience of life. It demonstrates the great untapped potential of the mind if we decided to utilise it.
Studies done on using imagery
The study of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has done much to validate the therapeutic use of imagery. Research shows how the use of imagery can increase immunity, change unhealthy psychological patterns and positively influence healing. (Pert 1997)
Imagery has a tremendous range, from simple visualisations described above, to very specific use – to stimulate bone or wound healing for example – right through to interactive imagery, where a dialogue between body and mind, or the conscious and the unconscious self, or the personal and the transpersonal, is possible. Imagework, the most developed form of interactive imagery, is a self-help tool which enables us to feel and be more fully ourselves and gain insight into the source or meaning of illness, or in another context they can underpin the emotional and psychological care of patients, and even more importantly, it can be a means for personal development for us all, restoring the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual balance – health promotion in its truest sense.
Using imagery within Qigong
You can use imagery within the art of Qigong in a couple of ways: –
- To assist the movement of Qi throughout the body and mind. However just using imagery is not as effective as using Listening Jing but by using both the input of imagery and feedback of listening you can enhance, or create, particular Qi flow efficiently.
- When practicing Qigong and with the the body/mind quiet your Shen (consciousness) can be accessed and let roam free……………. When doing Shen Qigong the imagery that manifests is no longer the input it is the feedback. The brain (Yi) is not manufacturing these images, it is interpreting the experiences of the Shen.
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