Color Imagery

Problem: Pain in one area

Practice: Think of a color that you associate with pain, such as red, and picture the painful area of your body as red. Imagine shrinking, fading or dispersing the red, or even sending it away in a balloon. If you choose, repeat an affirmation like, “I am shrinking the red until it disappears,” until you feel the pain subside.

Symbol Imagery

Problem: Severe pain in one joint

Practice: Think about how the pain feels. Does it feel like a knife sticking in your joint? If so, imagine you are pulling the knife out of your joint and throwing it away. You may repeat an affirmation like, “I am removing the knife,” to help you focus on the pain and control it.

Scenic Imagery

Problem: Stress

Practice: Imagine a place that is calming to you, such as a comfortable lounge chair on a quiet beach. Think of the sounds of the waves, the feel of the warm breeze on your skin and the sand between your toes. Repeat an affirmation like, “I have nothing to worry about on this beach,” until your mind and body relax.

More Resources for Relief

When you’re learning how to practice guided imagery, Dr. McClafferty recommends using established resources. Audio CDs or videos, like those by Belleruth Naparstek at Health Journeys can help. Items available on the site include free, 15-minute, downloadable audio files on guided imagery. For personalized guidance, seek trained professionals certified by the Academy for Guided Imagery.  The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis also trains physicians and other health care professionals in guided imagery. Member referrals may be found on its website.