Imagery (or thinking in internal sensations) can definitely help you relax and decrease anxiety during the Coronavirus Pandemic. To the left is a healthy T Cell which can attack and destroy the Covid19 virus. Imagery talks to the body and may increase immune response. I made two videos, one for adults and kids, both about 12 minutes long each. Enjoy! I want to thank my wise daughter, McCoy Dodsworth, for encouraging me to share my expertise to help others during this stressful time. Imagery is best if it is playful and you don’t try too hard so. Just take 12 minutes to listen and settle into your mind-body. We can generate health from the inside out. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me watching these videos for yourself or with your children. The first one is for adults, the second for kids.
Much of my work as a psychologist is about imagery, the mental process of thinking in internal sensations: vision, smell, sounds, movement and touch. I’ve written two books about it, Living the Wheel: Working with Emotions, Terror and Bliss through Imagery (1993) and Archetypal Imagery and the Spiritual Self: Techniques for Coaches and Therapists (2014). So I have lots to say.
But the point I want to get across here is that imagery can accelerate relaxation and can talk to the autonomic nervous system which may actually change blood work on a molecular level. Thinking in pictures (the simplest way to express the process of imagery), communicates directly to the part of the brain that activates restoration and relaxation, the parasympathetic nervous system. Its opposite and inverse structure, the sympathetic nervous system, has an arousal function that sometimes gets out of control with anxiety. Using imagery to talk to the part of the brain that is restorative can quiet the sympathetic system and decrease anxiety in these trying times.
From biofeedback research we know that imagery is more effective than thinking in words in changing autonomic body functions such as in lowering blood pressure. For example, telling oneself to relax doesn’t work, but visualizing oneself in a relaxing scene, such as floating in a calm body of water with the water gentling rocking, does work. Imagery talks directly to the body.
Another example is mental rehearsal for elite athletes. When athletes image their performance in vivid detail with all senses, their performance improves. There is some controversy if the imagery actually activates the same neural pathways as the movement or serves an arousal function, but the outcome is increased performance.
With the boon in brain physiology research in the 1990s, researchers like Candace Pert documented that neurotransmitters, like endorphins, could lock into immune cells and change their speed and direction. This opens up the possibility that imagery that evokes positive emotions can change blood chemistry and possibly increase white blood cells.
A study March 16, 2020 in Nature Medicine (url below) documented bloodwork from an Australian women who had covid19 and recovered. Her white bloods spiked during her body’s valiant fight, particularly T cells and NK (natural killer) cells. Use the YouTube videos above to encourage your body to relax and think positive in your body’s ability to protect and defend you by increasing the production T and NK cells by the bone marrow.
Pert. C.B (1999) Molecules of emotion: why you feel the way you feel. Pocket Books
16 March 2020 Naturemedicine article