The Natural Laws of Self-Healing -- Review by Julie Klotter

A woman with a grapefruit-size ovarian cyst imagines that it's shrinking, and two weeks later the cyst cannot be found with ultrasound. Another patient with unresponsive, long-term liver inflammation mentally "washes" the liver and achieves nearly normal lab values within 3-4 months. These are just two of the cases recounted by participants in the audio series, The Natural Laws of Self-Healing: Harnessing Your Inner Imaging Power to Restore Health and Reach Spirit. In this powerful series, Gerald Epstein, MD, teaches simple, mental imagery techniques that stimulate innate self-healing abilities. Dr. Epstein practices in New York City and teaches psychiatry at New York's Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He is also director of the American Institute for Mental Imagery, a post-graduate training center for licensed mental health professionals.

Dr. Epstein explains that mental imagery is "the natural language of the inner life." The words we hear, the thoughts we think, the dreams we dream, even the emotions we feel translate into image. As Dr. Epstein and participants in a recorded discussion explain, images are highly individual. For one person, anger appears as a snarling dog. For another, anger is shattered glass. Dr. Epstein explains how these images can then be transformed. By holding the intention for change, the snarling dog transforms into an erudite hound, smoking a pipe while sitting in a library chair. Pieces of the shattered glass are used to create a beautiful sculpture. As the inner life changes, external experience, including the physical body, changes. The transformative power that lies within such images stuns even the former skeptics among the discussion participants.

Focusing on a fixed goal or endpoint, however, is counterproductive. Dr. Epstein says that mental imagery, like intuition, resides in the present; and fixed goals force the mind to the future. He urges listeners to watch the dialog that flows through their minds. Thoughts that contain "could, should, must" pull to the past or future: "They have nothing to do with the now." He explains the difference between a true emergency and a false emergency. A true emergency is an actual life threat in the moment--i.e., a gun to the head. A false emergency is the projection into the future of a threatening situation that doesn't actually exist and may never exist. The body, however, doesn't realize that the scenario being played out in the mind is not happening. The body is tied to the present, and it reacts as if the emergency is real. Living in the future, pressing toward goals instead of focusing on the journey itself, produces anxiety. Instead of goals, Epstein encourages listeners to work with intention: "letting the universe know what you need [in present time] without placing conditions or strategies on the outcome."

Mental imagery, as taught by Dr. Epstein, does not involve long visualization exercises or following scripts from a book. The technique he uses takes only a few minutes each day. The Natural Laws of Self-Healing includes imagery exercises for centering, getting rid of pain and anxiety, transforming anger, letting go of negative habits, and healing physical conditions. Dr. Epstein also describes basic principles that support health and healing, such as becoming aware of one's thoughts, choosing to become present instead of turning the mind to the past or future, and changing habitual behaviors and false beliefs. The Natural Laws of Self-Healing includes 8 audiocassettes or compact discs and a 36-page 'progress guide' that includes examples of applied imagery in a variety of situations and provides guidelines for developing and using one's own exercises.

The Natural Laws of Self-Healing is the most complete resource on using mental imagery for healing that I have come upon. If you like the audio format, this series provides much insight into the therapeutic use of mental imagery and is well worth the cost.

Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
October 1, 2004 | Klotter, Jule
Publication Info: 
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
Pub. Date Description: 
October 1, 2004