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What the Folk?! Guided Visualization Explained

What the Folk?! Guided Visualization Explained

Fun fact: our bodies don’t really know the difference between what we visualize and what is actually happening. For this reason, visualization is like a secret passageway towards all that we desire. Mind blown? Welcome to our insightful exploration of guided visualizations explained.

What the Folk is Guided Visualization?

Guided visualization is a meditation technique that uses the power of imagination and mental imagery to induce a vivid mental experience. It is meant to take you on a narrated journey that guides you through a series of visualizations, inviting you to imagine various scenes, scenarios, or outcomes that are generally pleasant to you.

During guided visualization, you are encouraged to engage all your senses and create a multisensory experience in your mind. You will be guided to notice what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. Depending on the visualization, you may be guided to visualize relaxing environments, positive outcomes, or desired goals.

The intention is to harness the mind’s capacity to create mental images and immerse yourself in positive and uplifting experiences. Guided visualizations can be helpful when working through emotional blockages, rehearsing difficult scenarios or conversations going positively, and when manifesting something you desire. It can also be helpful to simply encourage yourself to relax more deeply, fall asleep, connect with your intuition and even enhance creativity.

The Science

The science behind guided visualization is rooted in the connection between the mind and body, and it draws from principles of psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Guided visualization leverages the brain’s remarkable ability to create and experience vivid mental imagery, which in turn can influence emotions, behaviors, and even physiological responses.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, studies have shown that guided visualization can help with:

  • Managing anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Pain reduction
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing nausea
  • Giving you a better sense of control and well-being 1

Guided visualization can also have a big effect on your emotional state. The Mayo Clinic states that “The effect of guided vivid imagery sends a message to the emotional control center of the brain. The message is then passed along to the body’s endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems. These systems influence a wide range of bodily functions, including heart and breathing rates and blood pressure.” 2 Guided visualization can also impact the limbic system, which is involved in regulating emotions. By visualizing calming or positive scenarios, you can trigger the release of neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin, promoting relaxation and a positive mood. Additionally, positive imagery can help to lower cortisol, in turn lowering stress levels. This can mean that guided imagery can be helpful in performance enhancement, pain management, goal setting, as well as routine self-care.

Guided visualizations are often used in a variety of psychological approaches as well, demonstrating their efficacy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Further, neuroplasticity, also known as the brain’s ability to change and adapt, plays a role in the beneficial nature of guided imagery. Specific neural pathways are activated and strengthened when focusing on positive visualizations, creating new connections in the brain that change the way you think overtime.

Mirror neurons also play a role in guided visualizations efficacy. Mirror neurons are specialized cells in the brain that activate when you perform an action, or if you are observing someone else performing the same action. As you are in a visualization, your brain may treat those experiences as if they were real because of this.

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More of the Benefits

Expanding on the above benefits, guided visualization offers a wide range of positive effects. The benefits of guided visualization can depend on what time of visualization experience you are having and your intentions for your session. In general, these are some more of the benefits you can hope to achieve:

  • Stress reduction: If you are focusing on peaceful imagery, stress will feel like it is melting away during a guided visualization as you disconnect from daily worries and enter a more peaceful and controlled mental state.
  • Improved focus and concentration: By directing your concentration and attention during the guided visualization, doing so can help train your mind to stay more present, engaged, and focused.
  • Emotional well-being: By incorporating uplifting, positive, and calming themes into your visualizations, your overall emotional well-being will show the effects. This can boost feelings of joy, contentment, gratitude, confidence, and ease.
  • Manifestation and goal setting: You are training your brain to expect, attract, and be prepared for the outcome you desire by visualizing what you hope to manifest. You reinforce what you hope to happen and motivate yourself to move towards that.

Lastly…

For some, guided visualization can be challenging. Some are more able than others to easefully drop into visualization, but the pursuit of utilizing guided visualization for it’s positive effects is worth a shot.

It’s important to note that while guided visualization can offer various psychological and physiological benefits, individual experiences may vary. The effectiveness of guided visualization can depend on factors such as personal engagement, the quality of the visualization script, and the consistency of practice. As with any practice involving mental well-being, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified professional if you have specific concerns or goals.

Interested in practicing guided visualization? Join us in our Maidenfolk Members’ Club for personalized recordings made just for our community of self-care mavens.

Have you tried guided visualization as a self-care tool? Share with us @Maidenfolk on Instagram and let us know, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below!


References:

  1. Imagery. Imagery | Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021a, June 7). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/imagery#:~:text=Guided%20imagery%20is%20most%20often,from%20a%20qualified%20imagery%20practitioner.
  2. Mayo Clinic. “Enhance Healing Through Guided Imagery.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080104123246.htm>.
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