Interactive Guided Imagery
Engaging a Deeper Wisdom
Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Beneath the surface of the pond lies another world, unfamiliar to those who dwell above. The rules of the game are different here, another language spoken. So it is with our “non-conscious” minds. Here, the language is symbol and metaphor, and the rules are vague at best.
Our “non-conscious” minds are not bound by rationality or other defenses. Here lies a vast wealth of information and resources. It appears that our “non-conscious” often speaks the simple truth, a practice which is frequently avoided by our conscious minds.
Dreams are a good example, having a mind of their own, and an annoying but useful habit of pointing our true feelings. It is difficult to directly interact with our dream content or have any control over the process, unless we are experienced with Lucid Dreaming. But another tool, Interactive Guided Imagery, is accessible for almost everyone, and is finding broad application in health care today.
The Value of “Interactive”
Interactive Guided Imagery (IGI) is a non dogmatic approach that was created from the blending of a variety of effective techniques by David Breseler, PhD, and Martin Rossman, M.D., who direct the Academy for Guided Imagery in Mill Valley, CA. Their mission is to teach people to access and use the power of the mind/body connection for healing.
It is the “interactive” part that distinguishes this approach from passive guided imagery. In the passive variety, the guide has little or no idea what is really going on with the person doing the imagery.
With Interactive Guided Imagery, the guide gets frequent feedback from the participant as the imagery unfolds, and adapts their guidance accordingly. This allows them to track with the participant’s experience and guide more effectively, greatly enhancing the power of the interaction.
Tapping the Creativity of Our Inner Wisdom
Whether I am guide or participant, I am often surprised by the boundless creativity of our inner wisdom. Our non-conscious minds provide an astonishing variety of images in response to a guide’s suggestions.
A man with a compulsive eating pattern got an image of a cavernous mouth, surrounded by sharp teeth and a ring of waving tentacles. It became very active when he felt anxious.
A woman with recurring stomach pain saw a large fish taking bites out of her stomach. When asked why it was doing that, it replied, “Because you let me!” She had a pattern of putting her own needs aside and focusing instead on worrying about others’ problems.
As a chiropractor and healer, I frequently see people with chronic (long-standing) health problems. My clients often come up with an image that offers insight into an underlying issue that is partly responsible for the persistence of the physical condition. We can then work with their inner wisdom to gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved, and find some creative ways to heal the deeper wound.
Working with the inner wisdom in this way can make a big difference in their response to manual therapy. When a mental, emotional or spiritual component comes to conscious awareness and the person accepts and actively engages with it, real magic can happen.
Lives can change in a gentle but powerful way. Complaints that have resisted treatment for years can dramatically improve or disappear. Two examples will give you an idea of how the process works.
Hip Pain & Restriction
A very fit and flexible woman, whom I will call Sue, presented with pain and restriction in her left hip which had resisted a variety of different treatments over a period of several years. Our first session included a blend of CranioSacral Therapy, advanced soft tissue work and energetic clearing. This immediately restored the lost motion and gave her the first real improvement she had experienced.
But when she returned two weeks later, the restriction had begun to creep back, along with the usual muscle tension and weakness. The energetic blockage had returned, focused in her gluteal area, and the CranioSacral motion in her leg was again reduced.
I invited her to relax and allow an image to form that would represent the problem she was having with her hip. Sue soon replied that she was riding a horse in the “old west.” Further questioning revealed she was a man in this image, riding fast and feeling as if he were being chased. “He” felt pain in his left buttock. I suggested he reach back to see what was happening there. “There’s an arrow stuck in me!” was the reply.
Further imagery led to a resolution of the conflict between him and the pursuing Indians. Sue, in present time, was able to forgive both the Indians and her apparent “past self” for the incident. She felt the man had caused the conflict with inappropriate behavior of some kind.
With the forgiveness, the energy block released, and the physical changes were immediate. The findings improved significantly, and with a little manual therapy her hip had normalized by the end of the session. It took a couple more visits to clear out the more subtle levels remaining, and she had only minor symptoms occasionally over the subsequent six months.
Neck and Low Back Pain
Another example illustrates the power of imagery to create positive change in a person’s life. A young woman, whom I will call Barbara, came in for neck and low back pain. The pain had been triggered by a fall when she was “frantically rushing,” and was getting worse instead of better. She also had a pattern of recurring anxiety in her day to day life.
On the table, Barbara got an image of her boyfriend in her neck. He was very controlling and disrespectful of her, repeating her past pattern in relationships. She struggled with self-esteem and had difficulty making life choices to support her well-being.
Then she spontaneously recalled what she thought was a source point for anxiety and self-doubt. She was about three years old, and had been molested by an elderly man. When she said she was going to tell her grandmother, the man glared at her and uttered a threat. She felt she couldn’t express her truth, and has carried the anxiety ever since.
Retreating to present time, we used IGI to create a “safe place” for her, which turned out to be a beach. We than invited a strong, wise and loving figure to come to her who could help with this issue. When Barbara’s “Inner Advisor” appeared, the two of them journeyed back to support her little girl. She picked her up and, along with her Inner Advisor, went back to the beach, where the healing began.
At the end of the session, she exclaimed, “Nothing is more important than taking care of that little girl and letting her express her feelings!” Clarity and determination resonated in her voice, and I felt she had made a significant commitment to herself.
The next day she ended the relationship with her boyfriend. Then she quit smoking. She is much less interested in spending time with her old friends, who were rather negative and self-destructive. While there was still much to be done, it was the beginning of a new life for Barbara.
Adding a Holistic Dimension
These experiences and others like them from practitioners around the country point to a more holistic approach to chronic health challenges. Modern medicine is beginning to open up to “alternative” methods like Interactive Guided Imagery as it becomes apparent that trying to “fix” people only on the physical level leaves much to be desired.
While technology is helpful, the added dimension of the inner world offers mystery and magic in support of healing at a deeper, more effective level.
Published in “Twin Cities Wellness”
Mpls-St, Paul, MN April 1999
© 1999 Dane Roubos, D.C.