While meditation may be defined as emptying the mind to make space for our inner self to speak to us, or clearing the mind of clutter, there are other ways to use the power of our minds. One way is through imagery. Imagery could be defined as a formalized approach to daydreaming; we’ve all used it, whether we are aware of it or not. Have you ever found yourself smiling as you think of a pleasant time you have had, for example? Have you had a very clear vision of the way you would decorate the baby’s room if money were no object? Both of these are forms of imagery. In the Leclaire Method, I have used imagery to help many women sort through and come to terms with negative thoughts or emotions about pregnancy, labor, birth, and motherhood.

Emotions and thoughts can have a profound effect on our bodies. Our emotions affect the flow of our blood, constricting or dilating our blood vessels. Likewise, our bodies can limit the expansion of our minds. Even if our minds want us to, we can’t necessarily “leap tall buildings in a single bound” or fly through the air, for example. If our bodies say stop, we can’t continue reading or working on mental challenges endlessly. We can’t memorize the encyclopedia. If our mind goes in one direction, then, will our body follow? If our mind does not want pain, how can we create that reality?

The goal is to become conscious of our behavior and thus to direct change and redirect our biological responses. I have observed that our unconscious reactions to our experiences are “habits.” It is necessary to redirect these habits at a time when we are not stuck in a situation, at a time when we are relaxed and are not pushed to alter our behavior at that very moment. The purpose of trying to change unhealthy mind/body responses during pregnancy is to allow for the free flow of blood supply to the brain and uterus and uborn.

Using imagery is one good way to do this. It seems that imagery can be used to train the autonomic nervous system so that its two branches do not act as antagonists. The first of these branches, the sympathetic nervous system, regulates the function of the body as a result of unconscious thoughts or involuntary or habitual reactions; it enables us to mobilize in reaction to emergency situations, creating the fight-or-flight syndrome we all have heard about. This system allows us to use our adrenaline instead of letting our adrenaline use us. It mobilizes our neuro-transmitters in a true emergency situation.