using guided imagery to heal in recovery

using guided imagery to heal in recovery

How to use guided imagery as a tool in your recovery from an eating disorder, addiction, or trauma

Many of the most powerful experiences I’ve witnessed in session with my clients have in some way involved guided imagery. If that sounds a little new-age woo-woo for you, stick with me for a minute.

As psychologists Judith Rabinor and Marion Bilich write in Effective Clinical Practice in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, “Focused imagery, in a relaxed state of mind, has been shown to positively affect medical conditions such as cancer, to improve self-regulatory capacities such as heart rate and blood pressure, and to enhance performance in a wide variety of fields (Naparstek, 1995).”

So what exactly is guided imagery? Basically, it’s an umbrella term for any type of focused imaginative exercise that incorporates one or more of the senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, and tactile). You can do some types of guided imagery on your own, and others are easier with a therapist or other trained practitioner directing the exercise in a group or one-on-one setting.

Rabinor and Bilich continue, “We have found that guided imagery is a powerful but underutilized tool that can transform one’s clinical work no matter what one’s theoretical orientation… Imagery is the language of the unconscious. It has long been known that imagery techniques tap into that deep level of consciousness that cannot be accessed by words alone, giving voice to the unconscious thoughts and feelings that may affect behavior.”

In my experience, guided imagery — especially when used in conjunction with evidence-based treatments like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Internal Family Systems (IFS) — can help people access deeper layers of awareness, insight, and healing than they’re able to reach with purely cognitive approaches.

EMDR with a Therapist

With EMDR, a widely-renowned trauma therapy modality, imagery is a key component of the protocol. While it’s important to allow space for the client’s experience to organically flow where it needs to, a well-trained therapist can deepen the healing work by skillfully guiding the client through the session, often involving rescuing or reparenting the younger wounded self.

Read More

why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

The funny thing about the title of this post is that a couple of my closest Nashville friends are not just gardeners, but professional gardeners. (And for a woman-owned, almost entirely female-staffed gardening biz with a badass Rosie-the-Riveter-inspired logo, no less). If I were them, I'd see this headline and be all "whaaaa why is Val throwing shade?" — to which my response is, "girl, I thought you'd want all the shade you can get, it's getting pretty damn hot out there." #horriblepunintended

I digress.

As my hard-working hubby Chris is outside at this very moment pulling weeds and planting herbs, I'm in here in the air-conditioned living room on the couch, typing away in my little computer world. Do I feel guilty? Well, a tiny bit, since I will totes enjoy those herbs — but he knows gardening is NOT my thing, and that when I do it, I get really pissy after about ten minutes, so it's really no fun to be around me anyway. Left to my own devices, I'd plant and kill herbs for a month or two (spare me the lecture on how to care for herbs kthx) until resigning myself to paying for the exorbitantly overpriced grocery store variety.  

A couple of years ago, inspired by my badass aforementioned gardener friends, I said I wanted to learn how to garden. Oh boy! I couldn't wait to get some tips and lessons from them, get my hands on some gardening books, and dig in. But it never happened.

For a long while, I felt guilty about it. "What's wrong with me? Why am I not taking action on this? I keep saying I want to do it, and doing nothing." Chris would convince me, literally maybe once/season, to get out in the yard with him. (For him, it's not even so much as having the help as it is the company — sweet, and misguided, as he eventually learned re: the quality of the company.) 

I don't remember at what point I swallowed my pride and admitted it to myself, but sometime in the last year or so, I finally said it: I really don't like gardening. In fact, I kind of actually HATE gardening. 

Read More

WholeYou Podcast #10: Fifth Chakra (Vissudha)

WholeYou Podcast #10: Fifth Chakra (Vissudha)

Feeling creatively drained or struggling with clear communication? Take a listen to our WholeYou throat chakra episode. 

Episode 10 of the WholeYou podcast is here!  See below for the show notes, listen to the show (stream or download) on the embedded SoundCloud box below (on the full post - click "read more" at bottom), or find it on iTunes of your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening! 

Fifth Chakra At-a-Glance:

  • Sanskrit Name: Vissudha
  • Location: Throat area
  • Element: Sound
  • Color: Blue
  • Issues: Communication, creativity, listening, resonance, finding one's own voice, purification, refinement
  • Basic Rights: To speak and be heard

What we Discuss in Episode #10:

  • How to know if your fifth chakra is out of balance
  • Signs of a deficient and excessive fourth fifth
  • Finding your voice and creativity
  • Blocks to creativity and how to bring more creativity into your life
  • Yoga poses, meditations, and pranayama to balance your fifth chakra
  • What resonance means and why it's important with the throat chakra
  • Fifth chakra affirmations

Lauren and I are really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your comments. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and please take 1 minute to leave us a review on iTunes  — it helps us to reach more people, and we'd be so grateful! 

 

Read More

WholeYou Podcast #9: Fourth Chakra (Anahata)

WholeYou Podcast #9: Fourth Chakra (Anahata)

Want to deepen your relationships with others and with yourself? Check out Episode 9 of the WholeYou podcast!

You can listen to the show (stream or download) on the embedded SoundCloud box on this post, or find it on iTunes of your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening! 

Fourth Chakra At a Glance:

  • Sanskrit Name: Anahata
  • Location: Heart area
  • Element: Air
  • Color: Green (also sometimes pink)
  • Issues: Love and self-love, relationships, intimacy
  • Goals: Balance, compassion, self-acceptance, connection
  • Basic Rights: To love and be loved

What we Discuss in Episode #9:

  • How to know if your fourth chakra is out of balance
  • Signs of a deficient and excessive fourth chakra
  • Love, self-love, relationships, and boundaries
  • Yoga poses, meditations, and pranayama to balance your heart chakra
  • Fourth chakra affirmations

Lauren and I are really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your comments. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and please take 1 minute to leave us a review on iTunes  — it helps us to reach more people, and we'd be so grateful! 

Read More

Self-Care for Activists: Stand Up for What Matters — Including Yourself

Self-Care for Activists: Stand Up for What Matters — Including Yourself

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Let me begin with this: I want you to know that, whatever your political stances, whoever you may cast your ballot or show support for, I respect you.

I respect you simply because I respect anyone who is trying to follow their heart and do what they think is right. With that said, our present reality is indisputably one of the most divisive moments in recent decades, both within and outside the United States. And it has become a time when more people than any other moment in my lifetime are getting off their couches and becoming activists in their own right. 

Even if you don’t identify as an activist regarding the political climate in the U.S., you may be an activist in other ways — whether it’s being a champion for the environment, animals, or kids, taking a stand against fat shaming, or any number of important causes. 

Standing Up for What Matters

It is my belief that part of living a fully engaged life includes standing up for what matters to you, whatever that might be. When you’re in an active eating disorder or other addiction, you could be the most compassionate person on the planet, but 50-90% of your headspace and energy may go toward supporting your ED/addiction — leaving little time and energy left to split between living your life and standing up for what matters most to you. 

This does not make you a bad person at all — it makes you a person with a mental illness who needs appropriate treatment. You simply cannot give if you are depleted. 

The words at the beginning of this post are by Audre Lorde (1934-1992), self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and a well-known feminist and civil rights activist. As she so wisely described, taking care of ourselves is not self-indulgent, but rather, a necessary component of our activism. And they go hand-in-hand: self-care is an important part of your activism, and activism is an important part of your self-care. 

Read More