Have you ever heard of visualization or guided imagery to calm your chronic pain?
Visualization or guided imagery places the pain into a state of relaxation, shifting the attention away from the pain. It helps to create new pathways in the brain that will in turn recondition the nervous system to feel less pain. It is a mind-body technique that helps improve your physical health and overall wellness through the power of guided thoughts and images.
When pain begins your brain will build what is called pain memory, your brain creates new pathways that are associated with that pain.
By incorporating visualization practices your brain can heal by creating new pathways that are associated with non-pain symptoms. The more you begin to re-direct your focus away from the pain, the weaker the pathways that are associated with the pain become. You begin to envision your pain leaving your body. The process of visualization/guided imagery is meant to calm your nervous system and can slow your body's tendency to go into "fight-or-flight" mode, which ultimately reduces your stress.
An example of a visualization/guided exercise to reduce pain is called, "Red Ball Imagery"
Instruction for Red Ball Imagery:
Begin in a quiet place, engage in deep breathing, then scan your body for any pain.
Imagine gathering that pain within your body and making it into a "Red ball". What's the size of this ball? You can make it larger or smaller in your mind.
See how small you can make the red ball. Now begin to move the red ball further away from your body each time you exhale.
Continue to repeat and notice the experience of your breath as you move the red ball and change its shape, pushing the mental image of pain further away from your body.
imagine different shapes of the red ball, or imagine different methods of the red ball disappearing or popping or whatever comes to your mind.
Visualization and guided imagery offers many other benefits as well-including:
Reduces need for some medications