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Blogging for Mental Health – Juliet Rohde-Brown

Dear Community,

We are blogging for mental health today at Imagery International. Our integrative and multidisciplinary framework incorporates an appreciation of how powerful our imagination is in healing.

As educators and practitioners we advocate for less stigma around seeking assistance for mental health issues and more accessibility to services that can facilitate a reduction of stress and suffering. When people are having a difficult time dealing with the stresses of life, we feel strongly about being able to foster both acceptance and change by acknowledging the unique imagery that arises in presenting problems.

When appropriate, we can sometimes encourage an active engagement with these images and serve to facilitate in our clients a mindful attentiveness to what is newly emerging. Sometimes this can involve stepping into an imagined quality and role playing with speech and behavior. Other times, one can create a safe and peaceful place from which to then explore more challenging emotional issues. The safe space can be purely imaginary or it can blend an actual place with embellishments of the imagination. One can have an imaginary guide, such as a spiritual mentor, who assists along the way.

Dream material and literature can be fodder for interacting with images and symbols that emerge as significant in some way in the present moment. Using the imagination through engaging in art, music, dance, and writing can assist in moving through difficult life concerns.  Taking an actual object in one’s hand and exploring the texture, shape, scent, and so forth can also be beneficial, particularly when the object is gathered from the natural environment. Indeed, images in nature are profoundly moving and awakening when we surrender to noticing their expression. Staying present to what one is experiencing in one’s body in the present moment and perhaps bringing voice to an image around a medical issue can be helpful.

Contemplative practices that involve imagery, such as tonglen and loving-kindness meditation can foster the occasion of forgiveness of self and others.

Working with images can help foster emotional regulation and integration of the many parts of the self, such that we become more mindful in both our intra- and interpersonal interactions. There is both anecdotal and empirical evidence to back this up, from the cave images of our deep past to current scientific studies around perception and neuroplasticity. Even if we don’t explicitly engage in “imagery work,” we are calling images into our mental health practice at every moment, as each person shares their diversity and their unique narratives. Through a blending of mindfulness practices and respecting what is present through images, we both include and move beyond past maladaptive patterns and narratives and into a new autobiographical memory.

Metta,

Juliet Rohde-Brown, PhD
President
Imagery International

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