Using the Power of the Mind to Heal
The walk is forty minutes, precisely timed and my daily routine for the past decade. I expect to see a lot of the same sites, hear cars rev their engines up a nearby hill, and feel the sun warming my face. My favorite part of the trek is rounding the first street corner where I walk toward Longs Peak, Mount Evans, and other fourteeners of the magnificent Rocky Mountains.
This segment of the walk is never the same. The mountainous beauty sometimes looks like cupcakes topped with white icing. At other times, the clouds float below the peaks accentuating their enormity. My favorite walks include live action brushed paintings of sunsets by the hand of God.
As I walk and watch, a canvas beginning with only variances blue between the mountains and the sky, subtly begin to change with the addition of pastel yellows. Before long, the blue sky with wispy or bulging cruciferous clouds transform into tart oranges and untamed reds. Throughout the walk, the sunset fades back into candlelight yellows and in time, silent night greys. By this time, my back faces the mountains for my final twenty-minute stretch home. With the sunset colors erased for the night, I have just enough time to get home before it gets too dark. This is the most difficult part of the walk— all uphill, but I can do whatever I want with my imagination.
My forty-minute MRI had just finished, and so did my walk.
“You didn’t move a muscle the whole time you were in there! Great job!”
Little did she know, that even though I can’t walk, I just did in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine! You can do anything with your imagination—even walk when you can’t. Imagery has helped me through a lot of tough spots. I used to dread getting an MRI, now I wonder how my walk will look to the radiologist when he’s writing up his report!
Imagery has been a constant companion during my healing journey. There are various forms of imagery including prerecorded guided imagery templates you can follow along in your mind, or you can imagine your own scene to help you get from point A to point B.
One example of visualization I have used is when I’ve had a tight knotted muscle in my shoulder is to lay down, close my eyes, and follow my breath with my mind to help it slow and relax. I may do a progressive relaxation where I begin with my toes, feel them melting into relaxation, then gradually move up my whole body until I realize how much anatomy I don’t know. Then, I focus my mind on my problem spot, my knotted muscle. I imagine a knot in a rope or ball of yarn and think through the exact steps of unknotting it. As each piece becomes loosened, I sometimes feel a “letting go” or relaxing of the muscle. The mind can produce these kinds of physiological responses from the body by simply thinking them. I have used this method time and time again to help heal an injured area of my body. God designed the body and brain to function holistically together.
During each of the twelve MRI’s I’ve had over the past three years, the imagery of my walks help settle me in a small space that can be anxiety inducing. I just close my eyes, focus on my breath a few minutes, then begin my journey. I experience the sights, sounds, smells and feelings associated with my walk. I walk every step, see sidewalk cracks and pebbles, smell the grasses in the open field, feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, hear the birds chirp at dusk, and feel the textures of the leaves I touch with curiosity. Even though I can’t currently walk much, I can in an MRI machine!