Thursday, September 05, 2013

Fundamentals of Relaxation - Part 8 Guided Imagery

In the 8th installment of the Fundamentals of Relaxation, guided imagery is featured.  Be cautious of using guided imagery in your classes or with clients, as some religions prohibit the use of guided imagery; as one empties the mind for the guided imagery, it allows evil or the devil to go into the mind.  Always ask if there are any religious or cultural beliefs about guided imagery before beginning!

Guided imagery has a solid role in relaxation.  It plays a key role in meditation and reduction of the stress that leads to anxiety.  With the amount of misinformation regarding labor and birth and the distorted view of birth in the media, is it any wonder that more and more childbirth educators are incorporating guided imagery into their curricula to not only relax expectant parents but also displace fears?

Guided imagery makes use of a peaceful setting. Calm lighting, aromatherapy, and music can enhance
the guided imagery experience.  Together, all of these complementary alternative methods (CAMs) help create a feeling of calm, relaxation and distraction which in turn slows the pulse, lowers blood pressure and reduces the secretion of stress hormones.

Whether the childbirth educator uses a script written by someone else, a script written by them or create the guide as they go along, word selection is important to obtain the proper response.  There is no benefit in “taking” someone to the beach if they are fearful of water!  Finding out stress triggers before the guided imagery session is recommended.  Choosing words that can be articulated well may be a reason for writing one’s own script.  Also, being able to set the script to certain piece of music may also be a reason.  However, not everyone feels confident in writing scripts or feels that another’s voice may be more soothing.

Guided imagery scripting begins and ends in the same place – a generically familiar place for everyone: a beach, the forest, mountains, near a lake, etc. Taking time to describe all aspects of the senses (what is seen, smelled, heard, tasted and felt) is important.  Below are two brief sample scripts about walking in a forest.  Which one is more appealing to you?

She walked through the forest at night, heading toward the stream that ran between the trees.  She heard miscellaneous woodland creatures settling in for the night.


She carefully stepped on the green mossy path, the evening dew dulling the sound of her footsteps
and adding a moisture to the otherwise piney-earthy scent.  A faint breeze with the temperature of a baby’s breath, danced across her skin.  With the full moon’s light peeking through the branches of the mature pines, she quickly made her way to the babbling brook, the sound of which was enhanced by the many rocks and branches that built mini-dams here and there.  In the distance, she heard the night song of an owl, a chorus of crickets and a lowly bullfrog adding some bass to the evening lullaby.

Imagine the second script with the scent of pine and gentle music with nature sounds?  How relaxing!

To learn more about Guided Imagery in Childbirth Education Classes, click here 

Here is a collection of 10 guided imagery scripts: click here.

I found several You Tube relaxation/guided imagery presentations.  The first has slides, the second has a video:

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