Your mind is an amazing thing, and it is capable of doing so much more than most of us realize. It certainly has the ability to produce the antibodies that can heal your body, so why not give it a try? If your brain can help you heal, why aren’t doctors using it along with medications to speed up the healing process?

For centuries, doctors and healers have used guided imagery, some may call it guided meditation, to help people heal from illnesses and surgeries. Guided imagery has been practiced on a limited bases in U.S. hospitals for about 30 years. It wasn’t until the Cleveland Clinic conducted two separate studies that mainstream medicine has taken guided imagery seriously as a way to accelerate the healing process of people who have undergone open-heart surgery, cancer treatments and other chronic illnesses.

In preparation for the 2010 and 2011 USA Memory Championships, which are basically just battles of memory training, I used guided imagery or mental imagery to imagine the outcome I wanted for each event and the ultimate scenario.

Guided imagery is a way for a person to visualize and focus on an image or scene that puts them into a relaxed state. Studies have found that through the use of this imagery prior to surgery patients experience less anxiety and stress, and it has shown to reduce the need for pain medication after surgery, which reduces the side effects and speeds up the recovery time. The question for me, a memory expert is, could guided imagery help improve your memory?

Surgery is always a stressful time, if it is possible to make it less stressful – especially in the case of heart problems, where more stress could be fatal, any way possible to lower the stress level would be a plus, and there are no side effects!

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic worked on two studies on the subject and both found that people who used guided imagery before and after their surgeries for 15-30 minutes a day experienced less pain and therefore needed half the pain medication; were more relaxed and less stressed; and were able to be released two days earlier than most patients who had undergone the same procedures.

Guided imagery is based on the concept that your mind and your body are connected. You use all of your senses to focus on something and your body responds. For example: if you are told to visualize an orange, you not only see the color of the fruit, you smell it, feel it, and picture yourself taking a bite as the juice runs down your chin. Your body responds by salivating. Guided imagery is powerful so why not use it to sharpen your brain or even improve your memory.

Your mind will take you to a safe place, such as a calm beach and you are lying on the sand taking in the smell of the ocean and hearing the waves hit the rocks. You are calm and at peace, and all the stress you feel over your illness or surgery are leaving your body as you allow the feeling of peace to overcome you.  While in this relaxed state your body is increasing the flow of blood, sending wave of healing antibodies and white blood cells throughout your body. Your immune system is enhanced, your blood pressure and heart rate are lowered and you are experiencing less pain than you have before. After the surgery, and while you continue to take yourself to this peaceful place so your body can continue to heal itself, you won’t need as much medication so there will be less side effects, and your body will heal itself faster than it would with artificial stimulants. In addition, you have a much better attitude, are more upbeat and confident, and a positive outlook is also beneficial to healing.

Athletes and successful people use guided imagery all the time to focus on their goals and let their mind guide their bodies to perform at its best. It has been beneficial for cancer treatment, heart surgery, migraines, control of diabetes, losing weight and relief of pain from conditions such as arthritis.

Anyone can learn guided imagery by simply focusing on something that will make him or her feel relaxed. Most people use assistance from a video (like the one above), or tape, or go to a coach who can guide them through the process, but once they learn how it is quite simple.

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker, and I am happy to be able to teach you a little about the overall operation of your brain, and how guided imagery can improve your memory.





WedMd – Guided Imagery, Topic Overview:

Bottom Line Secrets – Use Your Mind To Heal Your Body, by Michael Samuels, MD.