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Monthly Archives: October 2011

  1. Guided Imagery for Alcohol & Drugs Helps Sugar Addiction, Too

    We’ve been getting an increase in queries about what to do for sugar addiction, which seems to be on the rise.  We wondered how effective our program for Alcohol and Other Drugs would be for a sugar problem…

    Feedback and common sense led us to assume that craving sugar would in effect be a form of chemical dependency, and that the suggestions on this guided imagery audio would work just fine for sugar addiction. But still, it was good to get this feedback, posted as a review this past week on our catalog page.  

    So we thank “Kelly” for posting this and wish her the best of luck:    

    I am not a user of drugs or alcohol, but of sugar. I own Health Journeys' Weight Loss meditation, but it doesn't touch on the deep shame and guilt that lifelong sugar cravings and obsession have caused, and this meditation bridges that gap nicely. I am getting a lot out of it.

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  2. How to Deal with the Stress & Claustrophobia of an MRI

    We got this question from a therapist who is looking for resources for a claustrophobic cancer patient who has to undergo many MRI’s and PET scans as part of his treatment.  

    I am wondering which imagery selection would help a cancer patient who experiences feelings of claustrophobia, deal with multiple PET and MRI procedures. I have already recommended the cancer pack.

    Thanks, Lauren

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  3. Iranian Study: Headaches Respond to Guided Imagery

    Iranian researchers from Isfahan University, Arak University and Shafa Hospital investigated the efficacy of guided imagery and meditating on a happy memory for relieving the intensity, frequency and duration of chronic tension-type headaches.

    Sixty people, all receiving individualized headache therapy, were randomly assigned to one of three groups of 20.  One arm listened to a guided imagery audiotape 3 times/week for 3 weeks; one arm imagined their happiest personal memory 3 times/week for 3 weeks; and one group received treatment as usual.  

    Subjects completed a demographic questionnaire and kept a headache diary.

    In three of the outcome measures; headache intensity, headache frequency and headache duration – both guided imagery groups (tape and perceived happy memory) had significantly more improvement than the controls.  There were no significant differences between the two kinds of guided imagery groups at any time point.

    The investigators conclude that guided imagery may be an effective, available and affordable nonpharmacological therapy, either using a tape or by evoking a perceived happy memory, for the management of chronic tension type headaches.

    Abdoli S, Rahzani K, Safaie M, Sattari A. A randomized controlled trial: the effect of guided imagery with tape and perceived happy memory on chronic tension type headache. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 2011 Oct 10. [Epub ahead of print]

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  4. Help Us Make New Guided Imagery for Traumatic Brain Injury

    Hello again.

    OK, we’re ready to create a new guided meditation to target Traumatic Brain Injury – this has been a long time in coming.  The Fort Sill study is winding down and this is the window we’ve been waiting for.

    So this is our usual APB asking for your input.  This is how we get it right, to the extent that we do – by listening to you telling us what needs to be addressed on the recording. 

    If you’re a health or mental health provider; if you’re someone who is dealing with this condition; or if you’re a family member or friend who’s been trying to help somebody with TBI, please send us your insights, observations and/or experiences. You don’t have to make sense out of them.  We’ll get enough info from enough people to be able to see common patterns and areas where everyone is affected.  

    You can post your thoughts on this page or email me at [email protected].  We’ll make good use of this, I promise, if you’ve got the time to share your wisdom. 

    As is always the case when we’re researching these topics, we’re interested in the neurophysiology, the symptoms, the internal, emotional impact, the social and behavioral fallout from having to deal with this, and the solutions, bright spots and assistance that made a dent. So any story, big or small, about any form of TBI, mild or severe, is most welcome and very gratefully accepted.  Thanks in advance.

    And if you have the time and the interest, check out this new piece at Huffington Post which describes how far we've come with using guided imagery for cancer patients, and how much we've learned from some pretty dazzling immune system research. 

    All best,

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  5. Guided Imagery Up-Regulates Immune Function

    A critical review in the International Journal of Neuroscience by Ephraim C. Trakhtenberg from the  Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, looked at the research on the effect that guided imagery has on immune system functioning and proposed direction for future research.

    Trakhtenberg found that the studies suggest that guided imagery can reduce stress and up-regulate the immune system; that cell-specific imagery affects corresponding white blood cells (WBC’s)- neutrophils, or lymphocytes; that decreases in WBC count occur in the initial stages of GI and relaxation, due to fluctuations in WBC production or margination; and that changes in WBC count or adherence occur earlier in medical patients.  The investigator suggests that future articles define the ideal WBC count; investigate the effects of long-term practice of GI; and clarify the influence of cell-specific imagery on WBCs.

    Citation:  Trakhtenberg EC. The effects of guided imagery on the immune system: a critical review. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2008 Jun;118 (6): pages 839-55. [email protected]

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  6. The Amazing, True Story of Anne Simpkinson’s Hat

    Last year, my colleague and dear friend, Anne Simpkinson, told a bunch of us this wonderful, magical story about her gift of a hat from a stranger in, of all places, a parking lot in Monroe, Louisiana.  I begged her to get a headshot taken of her wearing the hat, so we could post the story properly.  After many complicated twists and turns, she got the picture, and here it is, with permission from Anne and Guideposts, where it was originally published.  Enjoy! (You will.) 


    An Unexpected Gift Brought Strangers Together

    Some people are so generous that they would give you the shirt off their back.  I  met a woman who gave me the hat off her head.

    By Anne Simpkinson, New York, New York

    One spring a couple years back, some colleagues and I were in Monroe, Louisiana, on business. We had plenty of time before our flight home, so we stopped for brunch. Between the main course and coffee, I slipped away to the restroom. I was walking through the restaurant, past other tables, when I noticed an African-American woman. She looked to be in her sixties and there was something so striking about her it was all I could do not to stare.

    She was decked out in a lovely floral dress edged in lace. Atop her head was a hat with a profusion of lush and elegant white roses. A stunning Easter bonnet, even though it wasn’t quite Easter yet. But more than what she wore, I was struck by how she held herself—with a grace that only age, experience and wisdom can confer.

    The strangest impulse hit me. Stop and tell her how beautiful she looks in that hat. But I caught myself. There was a teenage girl sitting next to her at the table and a middle-aged man op­posite them—probably her granddaughter and son. I couldn’t intrude on people I didn’t know, and on a family meal, no less.

    The feeling persisted, but I talked myself out of it. She’ll think you’re crazy, I told myself. So I kept walking. On the way back to my table, I passed the woman again, and again I didn’t say a word.

    But when I saw her a third time, with her granddaughter in the parking lot after brunch, I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out, “I have to tell you. Your hat is beautiful. And you wear it so well!”

    “Why, thank you,” she replied.

    It felt good to say that, I thought, heading to my rental car. Just as I was backing out of my parking space, I heard someone shouting, “Ma’am! Ma’am!”

    I looked back. The woman and her granddaughter were waving frantically at me.

    Did I drop something when I stopped to talk to them? I thought. I turned off the engine, got out and walked back to them.

    “I’d like to give you my hat,” the woman said.

    “Oh, no, I couldn’t take your hat,” I protested.

    “My grandmother always taught me that if someone wanted what I had, I should give it to them,” she said firmly.

    Truth was, I didn’t really want her hat. I hardly ever wear hats. I just loved the way she looked in it.

    Then it occurred to me that this wasn’t about the hat. This was a gift being offered by a stranger, an act of generosity for which there was only one response.

    “I will accept your hat,” I said, “if you will be so kind as to place it on my head.” Just like the compliment, the words came effortlessly.

    The woman nodded. Then, with her granddaughter standing beside us, beaming, she lifted the hat off her head and slowly set it on mine. Her movements were so regal I felt as if she were crowning me with roses.

    We threw our arms around each other and hugged, strangers no more.

    “Thank you,” I told her. “You have such a big heart.”

    “You have a big heart too,” she said.

    I walked back to my car and waved to the woman and her granddaughter as I drove off to the airport.

    I wore the hat through security, all the way to my gate and onto the plane. I didn’t take it off until I was settled in my seat. That’s when I noticed the tag inside the band. It read, “Glory Crown.”

    Back home, I googled the words. They were from chapter four of Proverbs: “[Wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver thee.” How fitting! Once I had the wisdom to cast aside my inhibitions and trust the urging to compliment a stranger, I was graced with a crown of glory.


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  7. What’s Good Guided Imagery for Domestic Violence Survivors?

    Dear Belleruth and Health Journeys,

    I have been an ER Nurse for over 20 years.  We are currently seeing a dramatic rise in patients coming through the door with injuries due to domestic violence.  A colleague suggested it might be connected to increased unemployment or maybe other factors in the larger, societal picture, but whatever the reason, it’s increasing a lot. 

    Emerson P., ER RN

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  8. Announcing Our New Domestic Violence Recovery Pack

    Hello again.  

    Well, at the request of several health professionals (one such query is posted on this week’s Q and A page), we’ve finally put together a Domestic Violence Recovery Pack.  It’s been a long time in coming and I’m very happy to be doing this.  

    This handpicked combo of 5 CDs covers a lot of ground and we think and hope this new pack will do a world of good for battered women and men everywhere, who have suffered longstanding abuse at the hands of a spouse or partner.  

    We also strongly recommend it for the libraries of any domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, prison or counseling clinic.

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  9. Dancing with the Stars of Providence St. Vincent’s

    Well, it’s that time of year again – Breast Cancer Awareness Month.… time to feature that fabulous Pink Gloves Dance by the caring, enthusiastic, twinkle-toed staff of the Providence St Vincent’s Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Enjoy!


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  10. Does the Mind Have to Work Harder to Not Think ?


    Belleruth, I have a hard time with meditation. Does the mind have to work harder to NOT think?



    Dear Emilio.  For some, the prospect of clearing the mind is so daunting that they don’t even try, and just use guided imagery instead – considered by some to be the “Lazy Man’s Meditation”. That’s fine – guided imagery will yield the same or very similar benefits as mindfulness meditation.

    But this would be a good time to point out that we are incapable of NOT thinking, and meditation doesn’t ask this of us.   We’re not supposed to empty our minds so much as be aware of everything that’s going on in them. 

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