Healing with the Mind's Eye: How to Use Guided Imagery and Visions to Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit

Healing with the Mind's Eye: How to Use Guided Imagery and Visions to Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit

by Michael Samuels, Mike Samuels

Paperback(First Edition)

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Dr. Michael Samuels provides us with new tools and ways of thinking about our capacity to heal. He has been a wonderful teacher for me and can be for you. . . . His work is inspiring.
-Bernie Siegel, M.D.

"Dr. Michael Samuels is one of the leading pioneers in exploring creativity as an important part of every person's healing journey."
-Dean Ornish, M.D.

"I was very moved by this powerful book."
-Christiane Northrup, M.D., on Spirit Body Healing

This remarkable book, now in paperback for the first time, can help you tap your own inner strength to enhance healing. For nearly three decades, Dr. Michael Samuels has pioneered the use of guided imagery as a way to help people boost their immune systems-and feel stronger and more in control of their lives.

In Healing with the Mind's Eye, now revised and updated, Dr. Samuels offers you the same program of guided imagery exercises that he's used successfully in patient workshops across the country. You'll discover how to harness a variety of creative visionary techniques-reverie states, personal myths, helping figures, inner light, healing visions, healing imagery, and spiritual transformations-drawn from traditions around the world. As you progress through the exercises in the book, you'll open yourself to healing and change-and embark on your own journey toward wellness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780471459088
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/17/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Michael Samuels, M.D., has used guided imagery with cancer patients for more than twenty-five years. His previous books include Spirit Body Healing, The Path of the Feather, Creative Healing, and Shaman Wisdom, Shaman Healing.

Read an Excerpt

Healing with the Mind's Eye

How to Use Guided Imagery and Visions to Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit

By Michael Samuels

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2003

Michael Samuels M.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-471-45908-9

Chapter One


I believe that images and visions have enormous power and that
images freed from our inner center can change us profoundly. I
believe that when an image emerges, we glimpse the energy of the
universe, and our souls are fed. In my own life and in my work
with patients and people in workshops, I have seen the healing
spirit emerge from deep inside people, and I have watched them
as they grew and flourished.

Each of us can draw on our profound abilities to enhance our
own healing. In many instances we can even heal serious or
chronic illnesses, including those that may not usually be curable.
Much of our ability to heal results from empowerment and control.
By changing our attitudes and worldview we can take control
of our lives and free our body's healing abilities to work at their
best. This is a book about letting images connect us with something
greater and realign mind, body, and spirit. When body,
mind, and spirit act as one, optimum healing can occur.

When I teach in workshops or work with people who havean
illness, my goal is to create a space of healing, which I believe is
sacred space. People who come to me wish to solve the problems
in their lives, or they have an illness that they are struggling to
deal with. Many of the illnesses are life-threatening, and the people
are frightened and depressed. I hope when you finish this
book you will begin to heal: you will look and feel younger and
stronger; you will let worry leave your face and bring energy back
into your step; you will solve problems, get answers, relieve
symptoms; and you will feel better. I hope you will heal and live a
long, full rich life. I have written this book to resemble a series of
workshop sessions or one-to-one patient visits in which I will
speak to each of you personally. But since I am not there physically,
my voice and presence can be with you. The energy of healing
will come to you through my words and intent.

The ultimate goal of this book is to help us heal ourselves and
grow by rediscovering a part of our consciousness that in many of
us lies dormant. Human consciousness is as multifaceted as a precious
gem. It contains aspects that participate in outer reality,
make decisions, and meet everyday needs. It also contains parts
that reach for creative ideas, seek deep connections with other
people, and strive to understand spiritual realities. I believe that
the part of our consciousness that is creative and knows spiritual
union helps to heal our mind, body, and spirit. It has been called
the Self, the soul, the spirit, or the inner center. All of us have this
spiritual core within us. However, many of us have not been
taught to look upon illness and healing from this point of view.
When we become ill and go to a doctor, most often the doctor
approaches the problem in a mechanistic way, and so do we. We
see our body-a physical entity-responding to drugs or surgery
-also physical entities. I believe that the situation is far more
complex. The mind and spirit play an important part in protecting
and healing the body. It is now known that the mind actually
sends out messages and substances that control the remarkable
ability of the immune system to surround and destroy viruses and
cancer cells. This is an important part of our body's subtle and
complex means of producing healing.

If you have an illness, I see this book as an important part of
your medical treatment. It will supplement whatever drugs, radiation,
and surgical treatments you are receiving and strengthen
these treatments by changing your attitudes, by giving you the
skills, imagery, and visions to free your body's own healing mechanisms.
Although age-old, guided imagery is new to modern
medicine. Guided imagery simply involves picturing scenes in
your mind's eye. The mental images affect the nervous system, the
immune system, and the physiology of the whole body, and
ultimately enhance healing. Specific guided imagery techniques
are now widely used in many fields of medicine and are an
accepted therapy for many serious conditions, including cancer
and AIDS. Guided imagery is used to prepare patients for surgery
and to prepare them for procedures. If you do not have an illness,
you will find the experience of this book to be equally powerful.
We all face problems in our lives; this is the human condition.
Guided imagery skills can apply to any type of life change or
problem; they are not limited to illness. In this book, the word
"healing" is synonymous with growth and transformation.

At a certain level, healing comes from our hearts. All of us can
enhance our own healing-we can make ourselves feel better, and
we can increase our control over symptoms and illnesses. That is
not to say that we can live forever or completely cure all illnesses.
But we know that people can improve their lives immeasurably by
actively participating in their healing. And many people who have
used imagery have cured themselves of illnesses that were life-threatening
or said to be incurable. All of us working in the field
of imagery have different beliefs and experiences in relation to
guided imagery's ability to extend life. Although everyone agrees
that people can improve their lives immeasurably with guided
imagery, the question of longevity is still unproven. Many physicians
and psychologists who work with guided imagery and life-threatening
illnesses estimate that imagery helps cure between 10
and 40 percent of people who would not be expected to live on
the basis of medical therapy alone. But these figures are currently
based on the personal experience of individual healers and have
not been documented in controlled studies.

One research study has shown that a psychological approach
can affect the survival of cancer patients. Dr. David Spiegel, from
the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford,
randomly assigned eighty-six women with metastatic breast
cancer to one of two groups. Both groups received standard medical
treatment, but the experimental group also had a year of
weekly group support sessions, one part of which was learning
self-hypnotic techniques. The group also discussed their illness,
their treatment, and their personal concerns. Much of their
discussion centered on facing death and dying. Over time, the
group came to love and support each other outside of the therapy
sessions, as well as within. On average, the women who went to
the support sessions lived nearly twice as long after the study
began as the women who did not participate in the support
groups. They experienced half the pain, and had less mood disturbance.
This study strongly suggests that psychological
approaches affect longevity, but larger and more conclusive studies
are needed. Whether or not guided imagery is conclusively
proven to affect longevity (as I believe it will be), guided imagery
improves the quality of life and reduces pain and the side effects
of treatment, and thus is valuable in and of itself.

I believe that the spirit frees the mind to heal the body, that by
journeying inward we can reach that place of healing. By experiencing
states of consciousness similar to creative and religious
experiences, we can align body, mind, and spirit and cause a transformation
that heals our body. Thus I see healing as an inner journey,
and its beginning as an awakening. In a workshop,
transformation takes place during the imagery journeys that people
undertake. The work is personal and takes place within their
minds and spirits. Patients and workshop participants may find
that they initially feel strange when they are doing the exercises
for the first time. But almost everyone is enriched by the experience.
Everyone can listen to stories and picture faraway places; we
can all remember being on beaches or in the mountains, and can
almost feel the sun or wind on our skin. Doing guided imagery
exercises simply involves letting our imagination travel; it is like
directed daydreaming. We all daydream about pleasurable experiences,
even during work. In this book, we will use the power of
the image to help us heal.

I like to begin any healing journey with a brief exercise that helps
to alter our focus and to make us aware of our concerns in a
broader perspective. I have found that starting with a daydream-like
rest relaxes us, changes our state of mind, and is a good introduction
to the work ahead. For this experience, you can either
image as you read or read the exercise first, then lie down, close
your eyes, and go over it in your mind. Simply let the experience
happen. The exercise is a giving thanks, and a request like a prayer.

Take several deep breaths and let yourself relax. Imagine that
you are in a clearing in the country at dusk on a warm, clear
evening. You have journeyed here from a distance to join in a
healing experience. You may be either a healer or a person
with an illness, or both. Feel the ground beneath you, smell
the air, and look at the stars above. Imagine you are seated on
the ground in a circle of familiar people. In your mind, look
around at the people in the circle and feel the goodness and
love in each person. You may recognize friends, relatives, or
healers that you know. Or you may feel connections to people
in the circle for reasons that you are unaware of.

Now, give thanks for your life. Give thanks for the support
of your loved ones and healers. Imagine that a feeling of love
and healing energy fills the clearing. As you welcome the
healing energy, let it flow through your body. Feel the force
from which the energy comes. It may be from the earth, from
the sky, or from a supreme power. Allow a specific request for
help to come into your mind; it can be a request for healing,
for knowledge, for help with a problem in your life. The
important thing is to ask for something. Acknowledge the
help you will receive with a sense of thankfulness or, if you
wish, a brief prayer. The prayer may be one that you make up
or one that you have learned in the past that has special meaning
for you. Rest in the space that you have created. Enjoy the
feelings of healing energy that you share with the group.

How did this exercise make you feel? Did you have unexpected
thoughts or images? Did you simply feel somewhat different from
usual? This brief exercise was a guided imagery experience. I realize
that it may be new to you and may even have felt strange.
Some people have a daydream when they read the exercise, others
simply relax, and still others may feel frustrated by their lack
of images. Don't worry about how you felt doing this first exercise.
It was only a brief introduction to guided imagery. This book
will teach you to picture and experience images deeply. Step by
step, it will make this powerful skill useful to you for healing and
personal growth.

In any group situation or workshop, it's valuable to begin by having
the participants in the circle introduce themselves. This sharing
is inspiring and helps people focus on their own reasons for
being there, both known and unrealized. Although a book is very
different from a workshop, a reader can experience some of the
same effects that are produced by a group's energy. In this book,
however, the group must be imaginary, which may make the task
somewhat more difficult. It is often useful for readers to create an
imaginary group that surrounds and supports them while they're
using the book. To do this, mentally list those family members,
friends, acquaintances, and healers that you want to be in your
group. You can simply imagine such a group, or you might even
wish to talk to those people about your healing work. In workshops,
we refer to this as "calling in your ancestors." You allow
images of people-real or imaginary-who have helped you in
your life to come to mind. You may have glimpsed your group
during the brief exercise, or you may have previously worked with
a group in a workshop that you can use now.

I believe that all the people reading this book are remarkable
because they are more open than many people, more likely to take
active charge of their lives and health, and more likely to look for
novel solutions to problems. Finally, whether they would say so or
not, they are more likely to have an interest in inner or spiritual
concerns. From the outset, all of these characteristics are healing
ones. Among the people who read this book, many will already
have progressed far on their healing journey. It's worthwhile to
reflect on the progress that has already been made; personal
introductions allow people to see where they have been. Since we
will be in close contact for some time, it is valuable for you to
have some idea of who I am. Look at this introduction as a
personal meeting. Try to imagine that I am with you and talking
to you. Here is my introduction:

I see myself as a person who's always been interested in healing
and in images. From the youngest age, I was interested in
doctors, doctors' offices, and the magic that I believed took place
there. At the same time, as a child in my pediatrician's office, I felt
that the healing that went on there resulted from an interaction
between the doctor and the patient and had something to do with
an energy that passed between them. I did not know what was
happening, but I felt that the doctor's office was different from
other places. It was more serious and real; there was an excitement
about it that felt alive. As a child, I felt as if faith, belief, mystery,
and the unknown had much to do with the healing situation.
Even when I was young I felt that I would be a doctor, but I
knew I would be different from the kind of doctors I had met. For
one thing, the atmosphere of doctors' offices was not warm and
supportive; it was scary, even though the doctor might not have
been frightening. Mostly I found that doctors did not deal with
the real concerns and problems I had. I had a feeling that the doctor
was the figure in society who should deal with the problems
that I intuited were the cause of my illness.

My other great interest as a child was photography. Making
images on paper became my passion. The quiet space and energy
around the making of each picture was exhilarating and took me
to a different place in my mind. After school I would wander in
the country and spend hours taking photographs of dry grass in
the snow or reflections on water. Immediately before taking each
picture, I would feel as if I were in a timeless space where all
thought ceased. In my darkroom at night I would enter the same
space when I saw the picture slowly emerge on the paper. I knew
that my pictures were healing to me. In my photography I could
somehow create an energy and feeling similar to the healing situation
I yeaned for in the doctor's office. Looking back on my
photography, I now feel that the energy of creating art is the same
as the energy of healing.


Excerpted from Healing with the Mind's Eye
by Michael Samuels
Copyright © 2003 by Michael Samuels M.D..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents




Introduction—Happiness, Health, and the Healing Spirit.

1. The Awakening.

2. The Vehicle: Reverie States.

3. The Journey: Attitudes and Personal Myths.

4. Inner Guides: Helping Figures.


5. The Light.

6. The Vision.

7. The Image.

8. The Power: Spiritual Transformation.




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