In the United States, an estimated 27 million people suffer from asthma. The cost of treatment of asthma totals more than 56 billion dollars annually. Most of this money is spent on medications that provide temporary relief and control, but none of these medications have reversed the disease process, nor looked beyond the physical “causes” of the problem. While adult-onset asthma is often due to environmental pollution, childhood asthma, in contrast, has been found to be related to an interpersonal conflict (generally with a parent), a search for freedom in a constricted living environment, or crying over a loss not easily expressed openly.

My late husband, Dr. Jerry Epstein, conducted a study using mental imagery to treat adult asthmatic. Many of the participants in the aforementioned study were able to wean off of their inhalants with mental imagery after a few sessions of meeting with him and practicing imagery for a few minutes a day.

From an integrative approach, the body and the mind are a unitary whole. There is no mind and body – but rather a mindbody. Asthma, as well as all other physical and emotional illnesses, is a visible sign of a disturbance in our being that is manifesting on the physical, social (including environmental), mental, emotional, and moral aspects of our being (if this topic interests you, consider learning more about this process through my GEMS I course). The physical manifestation knocks on our door to remind us we have strayed from unity. We can find our way back to wholeness and health by first asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Who or what are you allergic to in your life?
  • Who or what is constricting your breath?
  • Who or what situation is taking your breath away?
  • What are you breathless about in your life?
  • Who or what is inflaming you, chronically?

The second step is to separate yourself from the illness. The asthma and you are not one and the same. Stop referring to it as “my asthma”. Instead, distance yourself and call it “the asthma”. Once you don’t “own it”, you stop possessing it, and it stops possessing you! Imagery is one way to make space between yourself and the illness. It is the language the mind “speaks” to the body. With imagery you can plant a new seed of change and healing within yourself. Here are two simple imagery exercises to choose from:

Lastly, asthma is deeply connected to feelings of emergency – you respond to the daily stressors of life, living life on the edge, believing and experiencing at times that your life is at stake. To learn more about emergency states listen to Dr Jerry’s The Phoenix Process; For more on imagery, listen to The Natural Laws of Self-Healing, or read Healing Visualizations.

Imagery Exercises for Asthma

Cleaning the Airways

This is a general healing exercise for the condition of asthma.It should be done three times daily (before rising, mid–day and before bed) sitting upright in a chair with arms.

Close your eyes and breathe out three times slowly.
Taking a light with you, enter your body through your mouth and see your way to your bronchial tree.
See the mucus that has accumulated there. See its color.
Now, see a big glass syringe with a golden bulb at the end.
Using the syringe, suck up and out all the mucous deposits, and put the waste in a container that you have with you.
After finishing, imagine a golden air gun and spray a jet of warm air through the bronchial tree, making the whole area dry.
Use your light to see everything that you are doing.
Next, breathe in pure oxygen in the form of white light.
See and sense your chest wall and rib cage expanding.
See and sense your lungs expanding like a bellows in all directions–up and down, front to back, left to right–allowing your lungs to fully expand and fill with this white light.
Sense your diaphragm descending to receive the full lungs.
Then, see your lungs contracting as the bellows contracts, forcing out all the carbon dioxide that comes out as a black stream. At the end of your exhalation, squeeze your lungs with transparent fingers to get rid of the last bit of trapped carbon dioxide, expelled as a jet of black smoke.
Repeat this “bellows breathing” two more times.
Then, come out the way you came in, using your light to see the way, and take your waste container with you.
When you are outside your body, bury this container in the earth.
Lastly, breathe out slowly and open your eyes.

Pine Forest

From Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times and see yourself in a pine forest.
Stand next to a pine tree and breathe in the aromatic fragrance of the pine.
As you breathe out, sense this exhalation traveling down through your body and going out through the soles of your feet; see the breath exiting as gray smoke and being buried deep in the earth.
Then, open your eyes, breathing easily.

1 Epstein GN, Halper JP, Barrett EA, Birdsall C, McGee M, Baron KP, Lowenstein S. A pilot study of mind-body changes in adults with asthma who practice mental imagery. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):66-71. PMID: 15285276.