Visualization, like few major self-help techniques, is free and readily available to use right now for pretty much everyone. Yet, only a few people take advantage of its scientifically proven powers. Read on to deep-dive into how 10 minutes a day of visualizing will help your ideal life become reality.
What is visualization?
Visualization is a powerful meditation technique based on a cognitive process of intentional generation of mental imagery with closed or open eyes, to ultimately benefit from the resultant social, physiological and psychological effects. Visualization is used to consciously exercise the power of thought by creating mental imagery to design the future.
This technique of creative generation of mental imagery has been used for centuries and finds its reflection in many religions of the world. For example, a prayer, when a person speaks to higher forces and articulates the wishes and desires to God is also a form of visualizing. During a prayer people dream up the things they would like in their life, imagine them in their heads and word them into a prayer.
Actually, when talking about the mightiness of imagining your perfect life, it is worth saying, that whatever you see around you is a result of an idea. A fruit of imagination. A tangible outcome of the visualization. Whatever surrounds us – furniture, a smartphone, nail polish, electricity – at some point in history used to be just an idea in one’s head. So it’s pretty safe to call visualization a conception stage of all things real.
Everything starts in a mental plane to be later transformed and manifested in the physical plane, provided there are enough effort and resources invested into the conversion of thought to real life.
Types of mental imagery
Scholars and psychiatrists distinguish several types of mental imagery:
- visual mental imagery;
- non-visual mental imagery:
- auditory imagery (sounds);
- haptic imagery (touch, i.e. temperature, pressure, texture);
- olfactory imagery (smells);
- motor imagery (movements);
- gustatory mental imagery (tastes).
Polysensory mental imagery involves a practice involving revoking several senses during a meditative session. This type of mental imagery is often part of the Guided Imagery practice, whereby a trainer will evoke the senses of a client involving multiple sensory modalities, triggering the emotional response.
Polysensory mental imagery is often used by sportsmen to improve on-pitch performance. The practice is a widespread technique among coachers world over as an essential step in the preparation of the team for an important match. Therefore it is highly recommended that sportsmen perform a session of polysensory visualization practice on the stadium so that the mental picture is accompanied by the smell of grass, sounds of the stadium, textures around. As a result of such deep immersion, the neuron links are formed quicker and tend to be stronger, thus helping the sportsmen during the game.
Generation of an Image
With means of memory or imagination, a mental image is created at this stage.
A mental effort has to be taken for the mental picture to linger in mind for further manipulation, or else, it will disappear briefly after its generation.
Inspection of the image
At this stage of the creative visualization technique, the mental image is closely studied for nuance. For example, the visualizer may mentally rotate, zoom in on details or imagine the object in the personal context.
Specifically used in therapeutic creative imagery exercises, this stage will often involve a mental transformation of the object in the status quo to the desired state. In meditative practices, this stage will be used to place the visualizer in the context with the imagined subject. Subsequently, the further visualization of life transformed under the object’s influence is performed.
Functions & benefits of the visualization technique
This mental practice brings several benefits, some are scientifically proven, some are still in the subjective health and happiness. We highlight 4 benefits that arise with mental imagery practice that the biggest skeptics agree with.
Heightened brain activity
The practice stimulates brain activity in general, imagination and memory in particular. Just like learning languages and playing Sudoku are proven to upkeep mental health at an older age, so is visualization is good to maintain one’s mental health fit and toned.
Formation of well-established neuron connections
Do you know how hard it is to do something for the first time? Say, when you first saw that excel sheet, you have to fill out in the morning, you probably thought: “OMG, is this even possible that this small shop has so many figures to be registered?”
Then you were trained to use it. It took you 30 minutes to fill in your first report. Then you asked multiple questions and made mistakes, and deleted a couple of formulas along the way.
Then, in a few weeks, it took you 5 minutes to fill it in.
This is established neuron connections. It works with every new process. Every person on this planet.
When people visualize a situation, they form those neuron connections. If they repeat them a few times, they strengthen them too – so that when real life takes over, the neurons know exactly how to behave and act quickly. This is why this technique is widely used in sports.
Instilment of a positive mindset
Positive thinking is proven to alleviate stress, fight depression, boost self-confidence and is associated with a longer life span.
During the visualization practice, a person exercises the positive thinking most vigorously, imagining positive life, events, people, circumstances.
This meditation rewires the brain and sets it into the positive wavelength. A person remains in a positive state for a few hours after such practice. As a result of such uplifted spirits are likely to further create a positive atmosphere around such a practitioner, as positivity is contagious. So such a person would set other people around into a jolly mood. This way, even when their positive mindset wears off, the snowball effect kicks in, as the rest of his surroundings have picked up the optimistic vibe.
Motivation to act on the goals
This benefit of the visualization brings the most tangible and verifiable fruit to the table. While at the process of generation of positive mental imagery, people will get into details and specifics of the desired objects, states, circumstances. It is usual to also go into the particulars of how to get there. So as a result of such practice, visualizers will also go into the how not only the what.
By imagining the more abundant & prolific versions of their lives, people get closer to the realization of such mental imagery and get a boost of motivation to achieve it quicker.
Exercises to improve your visualization skills
Preparation is half the battle, right? So to get to mastery levels and attain a Ph.D. at generating mental imagery, one can train those skills.
Start with a 2-dimensional recreation of a picture
Look at any picture at hand – from a glossy magazine, family album or internet. Then close your eyes and try recreating it in your mind’s eye. Get specific and go back to the real-life image if you need more detail to be engraved into your memory. Finally repeat till you get a perfectly detailed image in your mind, that is just a reflection of the live one.
Go to 3D mental image difficulty
By gradually increasing the complexity of the mental image generating skill, let try and recreate a voluminous object, like a vase or a bottle opener. Take it into your hands and remember every aspect there is to instill in your mind: size, color, curves, temperature, texture.
Close your eyes and try to imagine the object just as you have experienced it a few seconds ago. Twist and turn it in your mind, as you have done physically.
Incorporate yourself into your mental image
For most pleasurable experiences, you can choose any location to your liking. Have you had that dream, that got interrupted, but you really wanted to see it through to the end? You can pick it up from there. Chose any spot in the world or universe where you would like to spend some time.
Look around, smell, touch things around. What is the air like? Is it damp or dry? Is it windy in your chosen location? Is the sun touching your skin and wind ruffles through your hair? Recreate in your mind every sensory feeling there is in the physical world. Try and get down to details in your mind’s eye.
Spice the movie up with action
OK, now that you have tamed your inner eye to the extent of recreating the entire movie set, lets bring in some action to your visualization session.
Are you on Mars now? Try and make that first step. Can you feel the zero-gravity state? How is it to breeze from the gallon? Can you hear the oxygen going through the tube? Can you see the sun? Is it blinding or can you look up effortlessly? Move your fingers in those bulky gloves – can you operate as normal or are they restrictive and limiting?
Have you ended up in the night club in your mental imagery generation session? Is it smoke-free? Icos-friendly? Shisha bar? Is it your favorite tune? Dancing is a good idea – why not grab a refreshing mojito? Feeling the icy-cold glass yet in your hands and the minty aroma?
Such a level of precision and detail is very hard to achieve for the first-timers or people with poorly developed imagination. But through the mental effort, it is possible to train your brain to dive into such intricacies of subconsciousness.
Remember not to go to another level of complexity of exercises until you gain the maximum clarity and intensity at the current level. Going from 2D still image to 3D and adding yourself and the action is a natural progression of training your mind’s eye. Make sure to follow the flow for best results.
Integrating your Goals into mental imagery generation practice
Goal-setting is a vital stage in the process of attaining harmony, peace, well-being, prosperity and abundance in one’s life. It is great to know where it is you are going before starting your journey. Similarly, Goal-setting is a crucial phase of planning your life, months, days.
Once the Goals are set, one effective method of how to make them happen is actually to visualize them as complete.
When imagining in having accomplished your Goals, you think of ways of achieving them and experience the benefits of results. So you go to the practical stage of planning steps to get closer to your goal and you get a massive motivational boost.
These are the best practices on marrying your goals with mental imagery practice:
Zoom in on the positive thoughts
As Mother Teresa once said that she would not join the rally against the war, but would gladly join the meeting for peace. It is important to remember, that your mind should be producing positive vibes only in this exercise. Think about optimistic ideas and avoid negative at all costs.
Visualize having what you want as opposed to wanting it
Talk in the present tense, not the future one. Not conditional sentences. No “if”s and “when”s, please. Grammar permitting, go ahead and use Present continuous tense. You have to be in the state of possessing your covet things, emotions, people. Not in the state of wanting them, but having them already.
Have a razor-sharp focus on your goal
No deviation or uncertainty or doubt. The visualization technique is so good as it helps get rid of any hesitations, fears, and disbelief. Be focused beyond focused on your Goal. Dare to dream big. Dare to believe in yourself and your better life.
Be meticulous about visualization practice
If you have a calendar or diary – use them to schedule the sessions regularly. Don’t expect miracles, but do anticipate to invest lots of effort.
Pedantry and stamina are your big friends when it comes to achieving results. Persistence and regularity are a default setting when it comes to training any muscle – be it a physical or a mental one. It requires time and resources to grow and harden up.
Vision board – the tool for personal growth & inspiration
Vision board is one of the most effective ways to approach the mission of generating mental imagery of your perfect future life. It is a fantastic initial routine and exercise that set the plan for your further creative mental imagery practice.
It is recommended to use the glossy magazine print outs or internet images printouts, putting them up on the board and fixing it atop of your bed. With the digital era advancement, there are plenty of websites and even apps offering to compose your vision board digitally. It can be further printed out or installed as the wallpaper on your laptop to work as a frequent reminder.
However you approach the task – the value of the exercise is in the time that you sit down to get down to things that matter to you most. The value of this practice is to sort out your values and instill them as part of your life right now – first in physical image, than in mental image to be later converted to life.
Visualization might not be a Panacea on its own. But it is an effective self-help practice, that sets your feet walking in the direction towards your dream life.
See it with your mind’s eye, believe it, own it, act on it, persevere.
If you are on the way to incorporate visualization practices into your life, Weave App might come handy. Weavers love using this highly impactful technique to get their minds synched with their desires and plans. Have you tried the Weave App yet? Now on iOS and Android.
Dare to dream! Dare to act!