Most of us know what it’s like to grieve the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or the loss of our healthy selves to a disease like breast cancer. Sometimes, however, our grief runs so deep that it’s difficult for us to heal and move on. An external force has made it nearly impossible for me to heal after James’ death and regain my footing. Guided Imagery, however, is helping me turn my darkness into light. For the first time since our family dissolved, I think I’m finally able to let go of my hurt and my anger.
Guided Imagery is a powerful relaxation technique that helps us engage our breathing while we create healing images in our mind. This technique has been clinically shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, the effects of chemotherapy, to promote healing and more. Thanks to a blog written by Britta Aragon, I remembered what Guided Imagery did for me this time last year when I was the target of a sinister, high speed chase down 10 miles of a dark, deserted, dead end country road. After 10 days of drowning, reliving the terror, I sought the help of a certified Guided Imagery therapist who helped me create a mental shield to stop my recurring thoughts and to reassure myself I was safe. From that moment on, whenever I began replaying that terrifying night, the mental shield came to mind, and within days, that night no longer held any fear for me. Once again I am using Guided Imagery to help me stop reliving every sentence of my hurt, the same hurt and disappointment James felt and cried over in the days leading up to his death.
Thank you, Britta, for introducing me to Belleruth Naparstek, psychotherapist, author and Guided Imagery pioneer. Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular 55-title Time Warner Health Journeys Guided Imagery audio series, and her first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery is widely considered to be the primer on imagery and healing. Her materials are used by the Veteran’s Administration and the Department of Defense as well as mainstream health companies like Aetna and GlaxoSmithKline and nearly 2,000 hospitals, mental health centers and recovery clinics that distribute her Guided Imagery recordings.
I’ve been using one of Belleruth Naparstek’s Guided Imagery audios, Heartbreak, Abandonment & Betrayal, that I downloaded from her website as an MP3 file onto my computer. Her voice is soft, yet strong and steady, as she evokes images of generations of my family that have gone before me; ancestors and loved ones who form a deep circle of protection around me. James is there as is his father and my grandmother, Mamie, her brother and even my father who I don’t think much about. They are my tribe, invested in my well-being because parts of them reside in me.
“We will stay with you as long as you want. You can come and go, but we will be here. We will hold you in our hearts while your heart heals, for as long as it takes.” Belleruth Naparstek guides my breath, instructing me to “breath out, bit by bit, slowly letting the pain go, breath by breath, sighing to acknowledge the longing and the yearning, the hollow emptiness, the fear and the aloneness, searching for what’s been lost, the shame of feeling you’ve been thrown away, discarded, unlovable somehow, destabilized and wobbly, sighing to relieve all the pain you’ve absorbed from taking this injury so deep into your heart and holding it there.”
By this time, tears are flowing down my cheeks, onto my pillow. “The pain within your heart feels as if something has been ripped from there, leaving a gaping hole, heart tissue all tender and torn. I promise you, this pain shall pass. Even this pain shall pass.”