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What Is Guided Imagery Meditation?

Guided imagery can be used to relieve stress.
An individual may focus upon a series of images during guided imagery meditation.
The ocean is a popular topic for guided imagery meditation.
In guided imagery meditation, a person will focus on a particular image or scene, such as a sunset.
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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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Guided imagery meditation is a form of meditation in which a person focuses on a particular series of images or ideas and uses that as the focal point for the meditative process. This can involve multiple people, often with one person leading the others to guide the imagery and concepts on which they are meditating. One of the most common uses of this type of meditation is for relaxation, often going beyond deep breathing and instead creating a mental place of relaxation. Guided imagery meditation can also be used for healing and health issues, often as a way for a person to feel a sense of control over his or her own body.

Also called guided meditation or visualization, guided imagery meditation is a process in which someone meditates while focused on a particular image or scene. This is usually a somewhat complex or ongoing scene, in which a person focuses on different sensual aspects of the environment and moves throughout the imagery. Someone could be guided to meditate upon the idea of walking on a beach. The guide might include details about the look of the sun reflecting on the waves, the feel of sand between the person’s toes, the smell of the ocean, the sound of waves scurrying up and down the shore, and the taste of salt on the air.

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Guided imagery meditation is often led by a particular person, who may speak to one person in meditation or a group of people. There are also a number of websites that provide scripts that can be read during meditation, or audio recordings that can be listened to for guidance. The effectiveness of such guided imagery meditation can vary quite a bit, depending on the images used and how well a listener can focus on the guidance and create a mental reality from the words.

A common use of guided imagery meditation is for relaxation. Meditation in general can be used to enhance relaxation, through deep breathing exercises and the ability to clear the mind of worries and thoughts that increase tension. Guided imagery meditation, however, can be particularly effective since it allows someone to focus on a particular concept. This can help the person more easily eliminate potentially stressful thoughts and enables that person to create a scene that he or she can revisit quickly and easily to release stress and obtain a sense of calm.

Guided imagery meditation is also commonly used for health care, often in addition to medication and medical treatment. Someone undergoing cancer treatment, for example, might use such meditation to visualize the process of healing and the elimination of cancerous cells. A person suffering an asthma attack might visualize constricting passages in the lungs opening, allowing air to pass. While the medical effects of such meditation may be debatable, they often help a person to relax and feel a sense of control over his or her own body during potentially painful or difficult treatment.

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