when images heal
by Demetra Monocrusso
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An ability inherent in all, which is not often mentioned in Greece , and by which we can change the way we think, behave and live is imagery. We tend to think that imagery is something that is only used by children and that adults think more logically. In reality, however, we all apply the imagery all the time.
This is an inherent ability that can produce positive and negative effects. How is this explained? When, for example, we think about what will happen in the future, the image we hold of something going wrong or failing, causes us stress. Our muscles tighten, our heart rate increases and we break into sweat. This habit is a defensive and preventive mechanism, but it can have damaging consequences, as the “threats” we perceive in modern society are not really “life and death” issues that we would have if, for example, a tiger was hunting us down. Therefore, the increased adrenaline that accompanies anxiety does not benefit our mental and physical health at all.
The same happens when we recall pleasant or unpleasant experiences that we have experienced in the past. This generates emotions and reproduces a positive or negative sensoratory response, resulting in us experiencing this event over and over again as if it were happening in the present.
What do we know about the origin of imagery?
While there is no particular reference in modern Greece, a brief historical research leads to the fact that imagery is deeply rooted in the times of Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and the ancient traditions of the Mediterranean area. In various forms and under different names, menal imagery has played a leading role in medicine. More specifically, according to Jeanne Achterberg, diagnosis and treatment based on imagery was the typical approach of a disease in the Ancient Greek era. Asclepius, for example, and the Asclepeia (temples built not only as a tribute to Asclepius, but mainly as healing centers) are considered to be the “forefathers” of the first holistic therapeutic centers. In the Asclipeia, the most widespread diagnostic and therapeutic tool was dream incubation and therapy. In addition, prominent personalities of antiquity, such as Hippocrates, Galen and Aristotle, argued that imagination plays a key role in our health.
In later scripture, it is reported that the application of imagery was continued by Saints Cosmas and Damian. while it was a therapeutic and prophetic method in France applied by Abba Isaac the Syrian, in Germany by Hildegard of Bijen and in Spain by Ignatius Loyola and Saint Teresa of Avila.
In the 20th century, the popularity of imagery as a healing modality resurfaced in Europe and in the USA thanks to prominent psychiatrists and psychotherapists, such as Dr. Robert Desoille with the Guided Waking Dream, Dr. Hanscarl Leuner with Guided Affective Imagery, Dr. Carl Jung with Active Imagination and Madame Colette Aboulker-Muscat (Imagery & Waking Dream), a psychotherapist and profound healer who treated and taught the tradition of Imagery in its purest form.
An addition to the above, is the significant contribution of Dr. Gerald Epstein, MD, who is an internationally renowned physician and psychiatrist, a close and direct student of Madame Aboulker-Muscat and founder of the American Institute for Mental Imagery in New York.
The practice of Imagery is now multidisciplinary, since it is now practiced abroad by doctors, nurses, psychotherapists and coaches, acupuncturists and Chinese medicine therapists, masseuotherapists, homeopaths, energy therapists and many others.
Demetra Christophorides, Certified Imagery Coach, trained by Dr. Gerald Epstein, founded the Apollonean Gateway of Imagery in 2017, with the intention of continuing the pure form of this practice in Greece and abroad.
Imagery is defined as:
“The experiential process that utilizes the senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and even the sense of movement, posture and touch through which we develop clarity, insight and increased performance. Through Imagery, perception, emotion and body communicate with our superior wisdom, and the image becomes the most important healing tool since it directly affects our physiology. “
The nature of Imagery is both diagnostic in the sense that images reflect the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our existence that call for exploration and healing, as well as therapeutic in that it reveals a live treasure of therapeutic symbols which comprise the key to our transformation. All that is needed is to be trained in understanding the language of Imagery and the messages it conveys. In a nutshell, we can alter, reverse or re-shape the inner images we are unknowingly forming and beneficially influence our external reality. At least, this is what the Apollo Gateway of Imagery claims, which, however, is supported by interesting scientific findings.
For example, in 2012, Associate Professor Ulas Kaplan of James Madison University and Dr. Gerald Epstein, MD, monitored heart rate variability under the application of imagery. (Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol. 31(4) 297-312, 2011-2012). Results showed that the application of imagery significantly increase heart coherence.
It may be worth remembering this healing practice of self-knowledge that is part of our ancient Greek history and culture: learn to become aware of the images we create and hold, because, through our inner images, we have the power to determine our life’s direction, whether consciously or unconsciously, positively or negatively.
First published in Greek, in Enallakti Drasi in January 2019
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All services provided by Demetra Monocrusso are in alignment and in accordance with the wholistic model of health taught by the American Institute for Mental Imagery of New York which is chartered by the New York State Regents to train clinicians in the GEMS integrative healing system.
They have been personally endorsed and approved by the founder and director of the institute Dr. Gerald N. Epstein, MD, an internationally renowned psychiatrist and one of the foremost practitioners of integrative healthcare for healing and transformation.
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