Guided Imagery and Trauma with Yoga

Guided imagery is a tool I have used successfully with clients such as autistic young adults, trauma clients, and adults with panic attacks. I have also used guided imagery to help people with grieving, relaxation and caregiver burnout. Clients will share that they have felt totally rejuvenated or have experienced the reserves of universal consciousness.

Guided imagery has given me pertinent mind body information about myself through colors and images. Once I did an exploration about my hip which was feeling uncomfortable. During a self-guided imagery I saw an image arise that looked like broken scattered rocks. When I contemplated this, I realized I was experiencing enormous stress, because I had taken on too many projects and felt very scattered about my life. Only in a state of deep relaxation was I able to have that image surface for me to examine. Upon making some life changes, I was able to alleviate the stress and ultimately the physical discomfort.

I was walking the dog in the woods in my yard, expressing gratitude for the grace in my life and a passage that my daughter and I had moved through. I was also thinking about my book and a section I was re-writing about trauma.

Nonchalantly, I threw my apple core into the woods. To my dismay my treasured bracelet of valuable stones flew off my hand at the same time. I witnessed and heard it land on the ground 10 feet away in the brush. It had been a beloved gift and I was shocked and disappointed and could barely process the loss. I attempted to find it but couldn’t see the brown stones amongst the brown leaves and ground. But as I looked, my awareness shifted to go get a rake and as I did, I was also flooded with feelings about my house and a consideration I had about selling it. All of this increased awareness was coming from this incident. As I raked the ground and leaves searching I was able to accept I might not find the bracelet. It also felt okay that it had been released from me, as if I had arrived at a new passage in life and no longer needed it. The image of the rake also resonated with raking through what was important to me as if to gain clarity in preparation for my future transition. Although I felt sad about losing the bracelet and the feelings were still there, I saw and experienced the incident in a more transcendent way.

In her book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal, psychologist Belleruth Naparstek, explains how guided imagery has an impact on the brain: Trauma produces changes in the brain that impede a person’s ability to think and talk about the event, but that actually accentuate their capacity for imaging and emotional-sensory experiencing around it. Imagery uses what’s most accessible in the traumatized brain to help with the healing (p. 13). When we do a guided somatization into the physical body systems we can help a traumatized client to connect the brain and body. We can then tune into what is accessible in the brain instead of disassociation. Just by merely exploring the physical body in this way and being fully present physically while tuning into feelings is a step towards healing.

Breathing with the Body Systems
The Body Mind Centering principle of layering through the body systems is utilized here.
•  Give cues to breathe into the abdomen and organs
•  Bring awareness to the three-part breath
•  Notice how the breath moves through all three areas of the lower abdomen, lower lungs and chest as you inhale and exhale
•  Notice the skin and the layers under the skin
•  Notice the muscle and fascia
•  Notice the bones and the fluids flowing within the body as you breathe gently
•  Notice all the cells that make up the body
•  While lying supine, notice your spine and the relationship of your head and tail or the sacrum down to the coccyx bone
•  Notice the pelvic halves on each side
•  Place your hands on your hips and feel the large bones
•  Feel the ribcage and notice it is the outer container for the lungs and organs