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At the intersection of hypnosis and meditation, you’ll find guided imagery and music as a tool for managing pain and stress.
Here’s how it works: a practitioner leads you through deep-breathing exercises while having you imagine a relaxing place, a loved one or an image you can experience with your senses. Sound new-agey? Don’t dismiss it. Staff at the University of Michigan use guided imagery to treat cancer patients and health professionals find it useful for headaches, insomnia and phobias. Researchers aren’t sure how imagery works, but they believe it’s related to the way sensory input affects the nervous system. “Once you’re relaxed, if you imagine a person, place or thing with relaxing and healing properties, your body will experience these effects as real,” says psychotherapist Dr Miriam Franco.
Want to try it?
Go to Healing Journeys and listen to pre-recorded sessions that treat specific conditions, or go to GIM SA to find a practitioner, says Dr Cynthia Margolies, a clinical psychologist. Unlike meditation, which requires daily practice, guided imagery can yield positive results after the first or second session.