The universe conspired to introduce me to Belleruth Naparstek. She wrote, thanking me for the link to Health Journeys that I had provided in Soul Food's ever popular guided imagery section. She told me how much she was enjoying romping around Soul Food. Our communication began and cheekily I asked her whether she would "have happened to have communed with a muse" when she had done a guided imagery, because if so I wanted to hear about it. Belleruth wrote back telling me that:

my muse... well, let's see...
i actually do a lot of research, talk to many people who suffer from the health or mental health issue i'm making the imagery for.... i also talk to their health providers and families... but mostly it's the people themselves who inspire and motivate me, so that when i sit down to write, i ask that their experiences and wisdom flow through my fingers and into the keyboard. i never quite know what i'm going to write til i start, even with all that research and careful preparation...

later, after i've written it, i go over all my research notes again in a nice left-brain way to make sure i've covered all the bases, and then i test it out on people and tweak the text with their feedback. but i guess you could say that my muses are the people who need the imagery.

No prizes for guessing that I was delighted that such a busy woman should have stopped to take the time to do this. But then, I have always known that if you want something done you need to ask a busy woman.

Enjoy reading more about Belleruth here at Soul Food and make sure you stop to read the poetry, which she is generously sharing with us.
Heather Blakey

Here are assorted interviews, reviews, puff pieces and substantive articles. They are listed by type of media and provide interesting reading.

Submit your poetry to Belleruth's Poetry Page at Health Journeys

Introducing Belleruth Naparstek

Clinical social worker, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek, MA, LISW, BCD, has practiced psychotherapy for over 30 years. She is best known as the creator of the 52-title Time Warner Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Naparstek's first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery (Warner Books), first published in 1993, continues to be a widely used primer for medical professionals and health consumers. Her second book, Your Sixth Sense (Harper San Francisco), first published in 1997, has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Slovenian, Polish, Czech, Turkish, Chinese and Japanese and is considered one of the more thoughtful examinations of the nature of intuition. She is currently completing a third book on imagery and trauma.

She has helped to make guided imagery part of mainstream healthcare by persuading corporations such as Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the U.S. Veteran's Administration, GlaxoSmithKline, The Red Cross, Blue Shield of California, OrthoBiotech, Roche Laboratories, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Kaiser Permanente, and nearly 2000 hospitals, clinics and worksite health venues to distribute her guided imagery recordings.

In addition, her audio programs have been involved in 24 clinical trials, with over a half dozen studies completed to date. Efficacy has been established for several psychological and medical challenges.

Most recently 35,000 of Naparstek's Healing Trauma (PTSD) tapes and CDs were distributed to survivors of September 11th by The American Red Cross, and an additional 14,500 trauma-related audio programs were released to uniformed officers and their families by the Counseling Department of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the National Victims' Assistance Organization.

Naparstek's trauma imagery is now being studied in research at The Louis B Stokes V.A. Medical Center, The Biloxi V.A. Medical Center, and The John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Other Health Journeys research continues at academic centers including Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh's Magee-Womens Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, The University of Southern Michigan, The University of Vermont and The Moffitt Cancer Center of Tampa.

Naparstek received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago, obtaining her master's degree in clinical social work in 1967. She maintained her psychotherapy practice for over 30 years and for several years taught graduate students at Case Western Reserve University. Earlier in her career, she supervised psychiatry residents at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School and was Chief of Consultation & Education at the Woodburn Center for Community Mental Health in Fairfax County, VA. She is now CEO of Image Paths Multimedia and serves on the professional advisory boards of The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, The Gathering Place for People Touched by Cancer, The American College of Cardiology's Complementary Medicine Consortium, The WellSpring Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, The Association of Humanistic Psychology, The Mind-Body Wellness Center and Healing Retreats Magazine. She lives in Cleveland with her family.

by Belleruth

Just give me this:
A rinsing out, a cleansing free
Of all my smaller strivings
So I can be the class act God intended,
True to my purpose,
All my energy aligned behind my deepest intention.

And just this:
A quieting down,
A clearing away of internal ruckus,
So I can hear the huge stillness in my heart
And feel
How I pulse with all creation,
Part and parcel of Your great singing ocean.

And this too:
A willingness to notice and forgive the myriad times

I fall short,
Forgetting who I am,
What I really belong to.

So I can start over,
Fresh and clean,
Like sweet sheets billowing in the summer sun,
My heart pierced with gratitude.

--Belleruth Naparstek
from Prayers for Healing:
365 Blessings, Poems & Meditations from Around the World,
Edited by Maggie Oman, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA: 1997.

Subversive Women
by Belleruth

Women are by nature subversive, you know. Even when they don't know it.
That witchy thing will surface.
It comes with the territory
Of bleeding and giving birth;
Of connecting to each other in overlapping circles,

Laughing from the belly,
Sharing from the heart,
And to hell with chains of command.

We women are stupid, you know,
About lines of authority.
Hierarchies go over our heads.
This is not disrespect;
We just don't get it.

This alarms the men,
Who sense the danger of loose cannons
And even looser lips.
We see the quick glimmer of fear in their eyes Before it is diverted to an offhand glance,
And we chuckle deep in our bellies
At the power we don't claim
In so many words.

Belleruth Naparstek, 3/16/98
1998 Belleruth Naparstek, All Rights Reserved