Visualization. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Maybe you think of the Law of Attraction, that it’s a bunch of hocus pocus?
It’s useful for more than just goal achievement strategies. In fact, it’s well known now, that our brains can’t tell the difference if an action is real or imagined. For example, when you visualize yourself doing squats and how the motion actually feels, the same regions of your brain are stimulated as if you were actually bending your knees under your weight.
Recently, visualization has even been effectively used to increase brain blood flow in recovering mobility for stroke patients. They would have normally been told by their doctors that their affected limbs would never be mobile again.
So what does that mean for cancer? Can we really visualize our cancer away?
Bernie Siegel, MD, a surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, believes miracles happen to exceptional patients every day. Many patients like the idea of the war on cancer and use terms like cancer warrior, survivor, and destroy the cancer cells. Siegel believes this empowers the “enemy” and encourages patients to change their image to something more loving.
“The body knows how to heal. All you need to do is give it the message that you believe in your inner strength both physically and emotionally.”
Last November, when a Melanoma patient who was having a hard time visualizing lymphatic drainage after having all the lymph nodes from his groin removed, Siegel offered some ideas.
“Try an image like replacing the nodes and lymphatics with a set of new ‘pipes.’ See the image as new streams that, when meeting any obstruction, flow around it easily. This image comes from an ancient Taoist saying—Water goes around obstacles, it ‘resists not.”
As effective as visualization is, it works better when you involve your emotions in the mix, since they are tied to our endocrine system. When you have certain emotions, whether they are anger or joy, corresponding chemicals are released into you blood stream, reinforcing the connection of the image with your body.
Repetition is key. By visiting our healing images over and over throughout the day, making sure to “feel” the image physically and emotionally, we are creating new neuro networks of brain cells.
My mom is brilliant. She has created several visualizations that are healing for her. Here’s what she does for anger-based stress:
“When I have negative energy, my gut literally tightens,” she says. “So whether I’m at a stoplight, or in my kitchen, I visualize myself pulling out thick black spaghetti-like stuff from my abdomen, but I actually physically move my arms and hands as if it were real. Then I ball it up and throw it as far away from me as I can, and I keep doing this until I feel better. When I’ve done it 6 or 7 times I feel like that anger or depression is gone.”
White light healing is a common visualization, as it creates a sense of divine love and purification. Here is my mom’s version:
“I stand with my legs and arms spread out, smiling up at the sky, saying, “I’m yours” (she tears up now as she talks), with white light pouring over me, and I have thousands of tiny holes all over my body where the white light shoots through me horizontally. Then the light changes, and engulfs me like a cocoon, warm and soothing. It makes me feel so good, like something greater than me is in control and is going to take care of me.”
My friend, Wendy Robinson, CPC , gave me two visualizations that I use daily. She’s a huge fan of rose quartz, for it’s beauty and properties of love. If you know you’ll be in the presence of difficult people or situations, she recommends you visualize your entire body in a tube of soft pink rose quartz, breathing in bright, warm love, and breathing out bright, warm love. Imagine that once you’re in this tube, it stays up around you and protects you. Any negative energy aimed at you will fail against your shield and will be returned to them with love.
Some people are more sensitive to other people’s energy, and may have difficulty shaking off their negativity. Robinson’s second visualization helps you shed the ties that keep you connected to them. When you leave their presence, imagine you have giant rope-like cords attached to your core, and you’re physically chopping them off, watching them wither on the ground. Then meditate for a moment on your own energy, visualizing it expanding from your center until it fills the room.
If you’re new to visualization, and you want to see how it makes you feel, you can start by searching ”white light healing” on YouTube.
What are your visualizations?