Mental imagery is a form of gentle meditation and powerful mind-body technique that focuses and directs the imagination in proactive, positive ways to transform one's experience. During the Renaissance era, mental imagery was the major technique of medical practice for treating people with physical illness. Even though it is a form of meditation, guided mental imagery is easier for most to use than mindfulness meditation because it requires less time and discipline. When given by an experienced therapist, visualization exercises guide the mind towards a more present, focused and relaxed
state of being.
Over the past forty years, the effectiveness of guided mental imagery has been increasingly established by clinical research that demonstrates its positive impact on health, creativity and mental performance. Mental imagery researcher and author Dr. Gerald Epstein writes, "Imagery acts as the bridge between mind and body – and between our everyday world and inner subjective reality. Imagery frees us from habitual thoughts and feelings so we can heed our inner source of wisdom.
As we re-imagine ourselves, we are empowered to change our lives, transform our consciousness, and act creatively."
After just ten minutes of practicing mental imagery, individuals have experienced reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol and glucose levels, and heightened short-term immune cell activity. Exercises typically begin with the eyes closed without visuals to distract from inner awareness. Once learned, this practice can be done independently, without the direction of a therapist. Individuals suffering from physical, emotional, mental or social challenges may benefit from this therapeutic mind-body technique. The initial guidance of a therapist is encouraged and recommended. Mental imagery is generally considered to be safe for use by most people.