Guided imagery is the conscious use of the imagination to create positive images ("healing visualizations") to create positive healthful changes in the mind/body system or one's life. The power of the mind to influence the body is pretty amazing and has extensive benefits in bulimia and anorexia eating disorder treatment. While everyone is aware of having daydreams, guided imagery takes this natural process a step further. A Guided Imagery therapist, or special audiotapes, can assist you in learning to communicate more effectively with your unconscious mind, requesting that your body function in an optimal and healthy way. Participants visualize a goal they want to achieve and then imagine that they are going through the process of achieving it. By manifesting their own direction and life story, victims of addiction, chronic pain, or anorexia eating disorders can transcend their present realities.
In terms of brain activity, the brain does not know the difference between picturing something and actually experiencing it are equivalent and this has been verified on brain scans and advanced technological equipment. The brain's visual cortex, which processes images, has a powerful connection with the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary activities such as pulse, breathing, and physical responses to stress. In comprehensive treatment programs that target addiction, depression, or bulimia/anorexia eating disorders, this visualization can be particularly powerful. Soothing, uplifting images can actually slow your pulse and breathing and lower your blood pressure, as well as help trigger the release of hormones such as endorphins, which make you feel good and nurture your body's restorative powers. Stimulating the brain with Guided Imagery can have a direct effect on the nervous and endocrine systems and can ultimately affect the immune system as well.