Imagine the Possibilities with Guided Imagery
Dr. Miriam Franco, Psy.D.
Relaxation & Guided Imagery (GI) are gentle, effective mind-body techniques that teach people how to become deeply relaxed and then guides them through sensory images. GI induces The Relaxation Response and also increases right brain processing. In this state, the emotions, mood and physical state we associate with an image appear very vivid, immediate and emotionally charged. As a result, it can evoke rapid changes in mood, perception and behavior and performance. Our bodies in this deeply relaxed state are open to receive sensory images and treat the imagined image as if it’s happening. Because our bodies do not discriminate between sensory images in the mind and what we call reality, with practice, the effects created reverberate deep within the body.
Typically, GI is used to lower anxiety, improve short-term immune function, promote rest and vigor, promote healing, coping and well-being. It is fast and powerful in its effects and you don’t even have to be a believer for it to work. It can, however, be an empowering technique that can help people prepare and rehearse new tasks, roles, challenging procedures or life events or improve athletic or artistic performance. This type of imagery is referred to as End Result Imagery.
Developing a new idea cannot take place without imagery. One first imagine then creates. With end result imagery exercises, one imagines with their senses what it is like to experience, in a highly relaxed state of mind and body, particular goals and outcomes. That is, spending time imagining how it will feel to have this outcome in one’s life, picturing it, hearing what others would be saying and feeling in one’s body what it would be like to experience this end result. With a bit of practice, the mind and body start to know how to evoke the experience of having this end result. This can be extremely effective in reducing jitters associated with a new skill, sustaining motivation for long-term goals or even learning how to be open to receive this end result in your life.
Numerous, successful athletes, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kayla Harrison (Olympic Judo title), Mariel Zogunis (US Fencing champion) and Missy Franklin (4 times Olympic Gold swimmer) Lindsay Vonn (Olympic Skier), Carli Lloyd (World Cup Soccer) and actors , like Jim Carrey, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith have utilized visual imagery to improve their skills, remain in the flow and imagine overcoming their fears. Though GI used to be referred to as visualization, it actually can involve any or all of the five senses and when practiced it is experienced as a whole felt body state. Approximately 60 % of Americans are primary visual processors, but one does not have to be highly visual to benefit from end result GI. Successful outcomes can be achieved by a multi-sensory approach.
In my work, I use end result imagery to prepare people for surgery, help students master test anxiety, improve performance at large, cope with painful or distressing medical procedures (MRIs , infusions /injections, dialysis), relieve caregiver stress or even reduce the stress of wedding planning and wedding day jitters for brides (my Stressfree Bride track).
For most Westerners, GI is easier to use than traditional meditation as it requires less time and discipline to acquire a high level of skill and it can be used by almost anyone, even folks with mild dementia. And it’s a relaxed, curious and playful approach to self-improvement.
To learn how to practice Imagine the Possibilities yourself and improve your performance, visit
my new Guided Imagery app