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Blue air in, Brown air out
November 5, 2009 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Do you ever use visualization techniques such as imaginary trepanation?

I use a number of visualizations (such as imagining your pelvis has an elevator when you do kegal exercises: 1st floor, second floor, 3rd floor and up to the penthouse and back down again to the sub-basement) and my family find it...eccentric. Actually my 16-year-old finds it weird. I ask for two reasons: to find out how odd it is and to find out if I am missing any good tricks.

I started as a child by performing imaginary trepanation when I had a headache. I would lie with my head on one side, imagine a hole on the side touching the pillow, and allow the poison to drip out. Sometimes I would also imagine a corresponding hole on the top side and pour cold water through the top hole so that it would wash away the poison on its way out through the bottom hole.

I still do that. I also visualize the air in color when I am doing deep breathing exercises: clear, blue, invigorating air, with a hint of mint going in, dusty, greenish-brown air going out.

When I am stretching, I imagine Spiderman-type silk webs shooting out from my fingers, toes, and top of my head which fasten to the ceilings and walls and pull slightly.

When I am tired/achy during exercise, I imagine myself a robot which can perform more smoothly and for longer periods of time than a mere mortal.

I'm sure there are others but these are the ones I use daily (except that I use the headache one only when I have a headache.)

Do you do any of these? Something different?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like your headache visualization! When I get a headache I visualize waves of blue slowly sloshing around my brain.
posted by candyland at 7:27 AM on November 5, 2009


Put me down for the air color while doing deep breathing, not so much now, but a lot in high school. Blue or gold in, brown out. That's wild to find out someone else does/did that.
posted by syntheticfaith at 7:28 AM on November 5, 2009


"...on the side touching the pillow, and allow the poison to drip out."

What poison?
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:32 AM on November 5, 2009


I imagine my head as a large pearl (no connection to my name) with a soothing white light orbiting it when I have a headache. It usually works so I don't know why I've never done this with anything else. I'll be interested to see the answers.
posted by pearlybob at 7:33 AM on November 5, 2009


I sometimes do use visualization techniques, sure.

However -- I think you may have misinterpreted why those around you felt it "odd" when you discussed them. Some may find the whole idea of visualization a little "woo-woo" or "new-agey" or what have you, and so if you try to discuss it with them they may get uncomfortable -- but not because they think the visualization ITSELF is weird, it's more like they may be wondering "huh....so what's next, crop circles and voodoo?" Not everyone gets visualization.

Others may feel it too personal to discuss. I do have a couple of visualizations I use at different times, but...it would feel all KINDS of wrong to tell you what they are. That's just becuase they are so intensely personal to me, though.

But I think that for me, the intensely-personal nature is what makes them work. They're not anything I picked up -- they sort of bobbed up out of my subconscious organically. So, okay, that's the language my subconscious speaks in -- I'll go eith that. Trying something external would feel forced and silly.

Maybe trying that - you came up with the headache one all yourself. In my opinion, that's the best way to find visualizations.

Anyway. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on November 5, 2009


Yoga is full of this. I add my own interpretations as needed: during savasana, I imagine myself as Snorlax.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:41 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


What poison?

Something is making your head ache-- so you imagine that it is poison because you can get rid of the poison.

I do have a couple of visualizations I use at different times, but...it would feel all KINDS of wrong to tell you what they are. That's just becuase they are so intensely personal to me, though.


Oh, how disappointing. I guess I am so interested because you rarely see this topic come up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:44 AM on November 5, 2009


I use a very similar visualization for headaches, except instead of poison dripping out the bottom it's pressure being release from a hole on the top. I sometimes also imagine a large control panel with dials that slowly are turned down. It helps a little.
posted by vilthuril at 7:49 AM on November 5, 2009


Yes, I do the same thing, sort of... I visualize the pain as a ball, and then move that ball outside of my body. As long as I concentrate on holding the ball outside my body, there's no pain. I do variations on the other things you described as well.

I think what you're describing is quite normal and most self-aware people do it in one way or another.
posted by glider at 7:56 AM on November 5, 2009


Actually my 16-year-old finds it weird.

My experience has been that 16 year olds find many things weird; it's a strange age to be alive through.

When I was a twitchy kid, my Mom used to do these sorts of things with me when I was having trouble falling asleep, like guided meditation stuff "Okay now relax your toes, imagine there is a waterfall running through your body and all the stress is pouring out your toes...." sort of thing. I don't do anything exactly like that but I often imagine a headache [I get them more or less in the same place all the time when I'm stressed out] is like a big ring through my head [sort of in one eye and out the top of my skull] and I try to, if not remove it, at least agitate it and turn it so it's not stuck.

I do the robot thing too. When I'm really overtired or cranky I sort of withdraw myself into my self and feel like I'm a tony homonculous who is operating a giant jessamyn-robot through whatever paces I have to go through to get whatever I have to get done, done.

I also live in a really wintertime-cold climate so sometimes when I go to bed and I'm a little too cold, I'll imagine that there's a thermostat inside of me with a very stuck dial and I'm sort of fidgeting with it trying to get it to go up one degree... then another, etc.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 AM on November 5, 2009


when I go to bed and I'm a little too cold, I'll imagine that there's a thermostat inside of me with a very stuck dial and I'm sort of fidgeting with it trying to get it to go up one degree... then another, etc.

Oh I find that very interesting. I'll try that the next time my feet are cold.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:19 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I do have a couple of visualizations I use at different times, but...it would feel all KINDS of wrong to tell you what they are. That's just becuase they are so intensely personal to me, though.

Oh, how disappointing. I guess I am so interested because you rarely see this topic come up.


Oh, I didn't mean to imply that NO ONE would talk to you about this -- I was only explaining why some of the people you've been approaching may have been reacting oddly. This strikes me as the kind of thing where you pick your audience, you know, rather than just springing it on everyone. You were getting the funny reaction because not just everyone is down with talking about it. That's all.

Fortunately, you've found people here who are down with talking about it, so yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on November 5, 2009


I do this all the time, and have since I was a kid. When I was little (9-12 or so) I had a lot of injuries that were pretty painful, and as part of my treatment I learned visualization techniques that helped with pain and stress reduction. I still use the same techniques now for a variety of things.

I do (and have done since childhood) almost the same exact thing you do as far as headaches - I lie down and imagine a hole in the back of my head where all the "green ooze" comes out of. This gross, thick green ooze = pain, so envisioning it coming out of my head can really help. I like the idea of imagining the water as well, I might try that.

The other main thing I do is a technique to help me fall asleep. This one is more personal, and I don't even know where it came from, but it really helps me relax and get to sleep. I pretend I'm in a river, floating on my back, and there's a waterfall ahead of me. Someone (I've never really specified this person, but I imagine that I trust them completely) is standing at my head, holding my shoulders so that I don't rush down the river. I imagine the water flowing over my body and through my hair, and the sensation of the water helps whisk away any pain or worries I'm having.

I can see how someone (and especially a teenager) would think all this is weird, but since visualization techniques have been used for centuries in meditation, I think there's something to it - I know it's helped me.

Also, 16 year olds think *everything* their parents do is weird. Don't sweat it.
posted by DulcineaX at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2009


I don't think this is odd at all. I used to get migraines on a regular basis, and I would visualize a rectangular fish tank filled with black water (poison), then I opened a drain plug in one of the bottom corners, and let it all drain out slowly.
posted by HopperFan at 8:45 AM on November 5, 2009


I use the trepanation visualization when I have a hangover, in which case the "poison" is pretty obvious. Other times, I imagine a whole-blood-filtering going on: one needle feeding my blood through a fiberglass filter (like some chemical company used to show in their back-patting commercial), the second one feeding the cleaned blood back into me.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2009


With certain flavours of migraine, I find it helpful to imagine that the stabbing sensation (that ice-pick feeling) behind my left eye is actually a very large syringe administering some kind of analgesic to an angry (trigeminal?) nerve. I have tried the imaginary trepanation visualization, too, but I have found the needle version effective because it re-frames the pain I'm actually experiencing as part of the solution rather than the problem itself.
posted by onshi at 9:22 AM on November 5, 2009


I do this with any sort of pain. I imagine surrounding the pain and isolating it, then bringing it out of my body, then releasing it down into the earth where it can't hurt anyone (especially me :P). It helps a lot.
posted by Verdandi at 10:11 AM on November 5, 2009


When I'm outside in the cold and want to warm up I take rapid, forceful breaths and imagine that I'm blowing on ambers of a fire that is in side of me.
posted by bdc34 at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2009


I use visualizations occasionally but choose not to share the specifics with others. They are not at all uncommon and are often used in movement based classes to help describe things.

and my family find it...eccentric. Actually my 16-year-old finds it weird.

If I hear any of my relatives start describing their kegel exercise routine, I'm going to be really uncomfortable. TMI! Are you sure it's the visualization aspects they think are odd? Maybe your family and 16 year old just don't want to hear you talk about your genitals.
posted by yohko at 11:58 AM on November 5, 2009


You might like to try the Middle Pillar Exercise. At one point in my life, I remember finding it very relaxing. YMMV.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:53 PM on November 5, 2009


When I am tired/achy during exercise, I imagine myself a robot which can perform more smoothly and for longer periods of time than a mere mortal.

I don't, but the above is fantastic! I'm going to try this next time I'm flagging during my workout.

I wouldn't be too concerned, it sounds like you have a variety of creative ways to control what's happening with your body, and to soothe yourself.

There's a very old stress-busting visualization where you imagine squeezing a lemon slowly in each hand. It's pretty straightforward and mainstream. You're doing similar stuff, but it's more tailored to your needs. That sounds cool.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:35 PM on November 5, 2009


I used to get migraines that were so painful that I referred to them as suicide headaches. I usually ended up in the emergency room. One time I was alone with no one to help me and was so distressed that I actually banged my head on the floor thinking that if I could crack my skull open the pain would be released. It actually seemed to help but I knew it was incredibly stupid so I crumpled into a heap on the sofa and freaked out about what I had just done. I knew I had to help myself so I imagined a crack in my skull that would relieve the pressure. I also pretended that my head was porous. I entered some state of being that I had never been in before. It was amazing. Thankfully, I haven't had a migraine in years.
posted by futz at 5:37 AM on November 6, 2009


Thank you, everyone! It is interesting to see that so many people use some kind of visualization technique to help with pain, especially headaches. In my case it is because there is very little else you can do with a headache except lie there and wait for it to pass so I imagine it is the same for you as well. Can't eat, can't talk, can't read or watch TV...well I'll just lay ny head on a pillow and think about the pain and wish it away.

Just as a brief aside, I want to mention that my 16 year old sometimes pats me on the face and says in her sweetest voice, "Oh mommy, you're so weird." It is said in a loving way rather than in disgust. She often finds me odd but claims she likes that I am not like other mothers. I then realized after polling my husband and my mother that nobody in my family except me does these things so I wondered how common it is. Not so uncommon after all.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:43 PM on November 16, 2009


feel like I'm a tony homonculous who is operating a giant jessamyn-robot

Also wanted to add that I puzzled over that description from jessamyn for quite awhile; I thought it must be a pop culture reference that I wasn't getting. Then I realized she must have meant "tiny homunculus." But from now on I think I will probably think of her as have Tony, the homunculus, driving her around.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:48 PM on November 16, 2009


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