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Guided Imagery

By combining music therapy with guided imagery, individuals can experience a variety of sensations and therapeutic benefits as they visualize peaceful scenes and images while listening to music. Music, imagery and relaxation therapy cannot be separated. Our moods and our states of consciousness can be altered by music therapy and guided imagery.

Traditionally in Eastern cultures, and now in Western cultures as well, music and guided imagery have been used to help clients focus on the seven main energy centers (chakras) believed to exist in the human body. The use of guided imagery is a key factor in evoking and supporting trans-personal experiences.

Guided imagery is a therapeutic modality that can be used as a tool for connecting with the unlimited capabilities of the body and mind. As a nursing intervention, it is a powerful, noninvasive, cost effective relaxation tool that can be performed alone  by a client or with guidance. It has been defined as the internal experiences of memories, dreams, fantasies, and vision, which may involve one, several, or all of the senses (visual, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, auditory, and kinesthetic), and it serves as the bridge for connecting body mind and spirit.

It is important to note that dreaming and day dreaming are not the same as guided imagery. Daydreaming involves fantasizing about an abstract or concrete visionary fantasy, usually spontaneously while awake, to induce inner information. In contrast, dreaming involves conscious awareness of images, visions, and thoughts during sleep. It is a spontaneous imagery that primarily involves the visual mode, may be concrete or abstract, and provides the person with inner phenomena that can be therapeutic.

Although guided imagery has been in existence since the beginning of shamanic cultures and civilization, one of the most innovative works on the subject was developed in the last century by Helen Bonny, a music-centered psychotherapist. In the 1970's, bonny and her colleague Louise Savary used guided imagery and music to develop the physiological and psychological aspect of guided imagery and music therapy uses in many health care situations today.

As far back as 1973, Bonny and Savary addressed the relationship between music therapy and guided imagery in their book Music and Your Mind. Bonny and Savary later founded the Institute for Music and Imagery, an educational and research institute dedicated to furthering the use of music and the art of imagery as agents of healing.

Bonny's innovative approach to listening to music combined with the use of imagery was called guided imagery and music. Guided Imagery and Music is the conscious use of imagery and music to evoke relaxation. It allows for self-healing through self-exploration, self-understanding, growth, and transformation. In guided imagery and music a person's imagination can come to conscious awareness while he or she listens to music in a relaxed state with or without a guide. With the presence of a guide, the experience can be integrated into real life.

Music therapy and guided imagery are both anxiety reducing techniques that can be used in various health care settings, including preoperative and postoperative care units and labor and delivery units. It can be combined with other complementary therapies and used daily by staff in acute and critical care hospital environments to help decrease anxiety. There is a wide variety of CD's and DVD's that use music and guided imagery to help teach the skills of relaxation, and how to apply those skills to stressful events such as surgery or preterm labor.

Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapies

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