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Posts: 63
Joined: Sep 2013

Have any of you had success using guided imagery to reduce fear, stress and/or pain?  Although very greatful to soon mark my two year anniversary as a cancer survivor, still working at creating a new 'normal'.  I have a fantastic resource at my cancer center, their social worker recently suggested using this technique.  Any thoughts, suggestions?

coco2008's picture
Posts: 420
Joined: May 2013

Never heard of it.  Any details?


Posts: 63
Joined: Sep 2013

Basic concept:  putting yourself in a peaceful calm place of mind, then using your mind, perhaps with the help of a CD guiding you, to focus on breathing, thinking of nice places, etc.  Sort of reminds me of lamaze, when we were suppose to be able to breath through the pain of labor and delievery.  Just started trying to use this process, thought, I have tried just about everything else...why not.  And, am using a program trough my cancer center.

Alexandra's picture
Posts: 1311
Joined: Jul 2012

You can buy Guided imagery CD off http://cancerwarsmaarsjourney.com/ 

They are popular with kidney cancer survivors.

I would not post what I personally think of them out of respect for people who believe in this technique.

Posts: 11
Joined: Sep 2013

When my migraines were bad, my neurologist suggested guided imagery and deep breathing techniques. The thing with it is I had to practice when I wasn't in pain, so that when I was in pain the calming effect would kick in; almost like a reflex.  I find I have been using it lately when I get stressed or about to break down, a few slow deep breaths help "ground" me. 

TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009

There's actually quite a bit of scientific research on the benefits of guided imagery, some of it conducted with cancer patients and showing that it can help reduce stress, anxiety, and pain.  I thought this article from the Cleveland Clinic was a nice summary:


The Science of Guided Imagery

“Guided imagery reduces pain, anxiety, time in the hospital and health care costs for our cardiac surgical patients. The data from the Stress Free Now program implies that guided imagery impacts many more people, including those who are most in need of stress relief or pain relief.”
—Toby Cosgrove, MD, Cleveland Clinic CEO and President

In the Science of Stress, you learned how your body responds to stress. But did you know that the stressor doesn’t have to be real? Your nervous system responds to a stressor regardless of whether that stress actually exists (a near accident on the way home from work) or is imagined (dreading an event that hasn’t occurred yet). Although this may seem like a bad deal, it also works in the opposite way: Your body triggers the relaxation response whether the relaxing event is actual (a massage) or imaginary (picturing yourself lying on a secluded beach).

Guided imagery harnesses the power of your thoughts and your ability to imagine to help you achieve a profoundly relaxed state. During a guided imagery session, a trained therapist cues you to focus your awareness on calming thoughts—this can happen in person or via an audio recording. Sessions typically begin with general relaxation techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing. Then, the therapist guides you through visualizing various relaxing scenarios. Think of it as a directed, deliberate daydream.

As you practice guided imagery, a message is sent to the emotional control center of your brain. Then, the message is passed along to your body’s endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems, which influence your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. The relaxation response is in full swing.

The Healing Benefits

Beyond mere relaxation, guided imagery is a powerful healing tool for the body and mind. In fact, guided imagery is a well-studied integrative therapy and increasingly is used to improve patients’ experiences and health outcomes.

One study, conducted at the Cleveland Clinic, found that colorectal surgery patients who received guided imagery sessions before and after their operations had less pain, anxiety and need for pain medication than patients who did not receive them. They also left the hospital more quickly than those who didn’t use guided imagery. In another randomized controlled trial (the gold standard for research), the Cleveland Clinic Heart Surgery Study, patients who practiced guided imagery before surgery reduced their anxiety and stress by 65 percent (compared to controls). After surgery, guided imagery helped these patients reduce pain by close to 70 percent. Those who practiced guided imagery also had fewer side effects and complications, were able to eat sooner and sleep better, and went home to their families two days earlier.

Guided imagery also helps patients reduce side effects from cancer treatment. A 2008 British study found that women undergoing treatment for breast cancer who practiced guided imagery and relaxation techniques had higher levels of natural killer cells (anticancer cells) than women who didn’t practice these techniques. Guided imagery also helps patients manage headaches and reduces the frequency of migraine headaches as effectively as taking preventive medications.

These studies further prove the incredible power of thought and the importance of understanding and strengthening the mind-body connection.

With regular practice, you can begin to conjure up the deeply relaxed state a guided imagery session elicits on your own and in less time. For example, after you have been practicing guided imagery, you can take a few minutes during a busy day to close your eyes and imagine a relaxing scene that you have visited before in your guided imagery sessions. Although these mini-trips aren’t as utterly relaxing as a full guided imagery session, they can help you manage stress as it’s happening.


Posts: 1191
Joined: Dec 2010

I use it when they are drawing blood from my feet or starting IVS (if they don't use a small shot of lidocaine to numbe me up first).

I make sure I breathe, and then envision myself with my dog in the garden, backyard, or walking, but my favorites are in the backyard or in the garden.

I find it really helps me relax.

I wish I could learn to use it when I get mad or upset about other things in life, but haven't gotten there with it.

If you have someone to help you learn the techniques and can afford, I say try it!!! It isn't going to hurt anything.

Posts: 63
Joined: Sep 2013

Thank you for share your thoughts, and reserch regarding guided imagery.  I have nothing to lose, and any gain will be a positive.  It is available through my Cancer Center, as part of their total care approach.

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