Visualization is often quoted as an excellent way to achieve results. Oprah has even said, “I do believe, and I have seen in my own life, that Creative Visualization works!” Recently, Shakti Gawain explains in her book Creative Visualization that:
“Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life. There is nothing new, strange or unusual about creative visualization. You are already using it every day, every minute in fact . . . whether or not you are aware of it.”
So many people consider visualization strange or ‘new-agey’ or just plain woo-woo! But actually visualization has been scientifically proven to achieve amazing results. Olympian trainers and sports psychologists have been using this technique to train elite athletes for decades, since the 1960s.
And over the years, this practice has become even more sophisticated and elaborate. Trainers have worked to perfect this process of mental stimulation. Sounds are used and very accurate images are painted through words; and it is very clearly recorded that muscles are getting trained in these exercises. There are neurons firing in the brain and muscles working in the body, even though the athletes are sitting still.
And scientists claim that visualizing actually can change the brain and the way we think. Visualization is a key to self-directed neuroplasticity. New behaviors can build new neural pathways, but so can imagination. Just imagining new behaviors, seeing yourself doing something over and over again etches this in your brain. Keep repeating that in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.
It’s actually been proven to break negative habits as well. A lot of our bad habits (not necessarily addictions since those are not only habits but chemical as well) are because we have ingrained certain actions in our brains. But with visualization and practice, self-directed neuroplasticity can work here and help you break bad habits too.
Ok, so it’s scientific and proven to retrain your brain, but how do you do it?
Actually it’s very simple, not necessarily easy as it does take focus, but relatively simple.
- The first step is to decide what you want to visualize, determine what you want, your goal, or as Shakti Gawain puts it: You create your opportunities by asking for them. Focus your thoughts consciously on what you want – not on what you don’t want. This is the beginning of reprogramming your subconscious mind so that it’s default is to focus on achieving your goals, on success rather than failure.
- It’s important to create a mental picture of what you want as clearly as possible. Be as detailed as possible. Imagine it as clearly as you can before you start the relaxation, so it is in your mind before your start the relaxation process.
- Get your brain into a relaxed state – any relaxation technique is fine. There are several on You Tube that work great. Start by relaxing each part of your body; slowly moving up from your feet to the crown of your head. Then in your mind’s eye create a safe space, a sacred place to do your work. Create this space so it is comfortable and soothing. Having this space to do this ‘inside work’ is vital. This becomes your go-to spot in your imagination to do your future visualizations. It helps to have a specific piece of furniture to do your visualizing work from. Create this space with vibrant colors and comfortable furnishings. Make it a space where you want to spend time.
- Give yourself at least twenty minutes to complete this visualization; take time to journal about it afterwards, making note of anything that might have stood out for you – a color, an unusual image, etc.
- Think about your visualization often, bring it to mind throughout the day, both in quiet meditation periods, but also casually whenever you happen to think about it. And focus positive energy toward it. Whenever you think about it, spin it to the positive. Don’t worry about it, don’t dwell on what could go wrong or how long it could take to get there, just focus on the positive, get excited about it, conjure up feelings of success around it.
- And finally, make it a regular part of life. If you have time to do a relaxation, and get into a meditative place daily, that’s wonderful. But even if you can’t do that, make it a priority to practice it a bit each day. Just take a few minutes every day to imagine achieving your goal, to feel fabulous as you imagine success. And do feel it, try to get to that place of viscerally feeling that excitement and thrill of success.
Creative Visualization is the key to consciously creating your life. The more you practice this, the easier it is to do. And the more you do it, the more you succeed, which makes doing it even easier.
About the Author:
Patti Clark is an accomplished speaker and workshop leader dedicated to helping people through various life transitions on their journey to an extraordinary life. For more than 30 years, and over several continents, Patti has been sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, has a B.A. in Social Sciences from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Education. She has taught English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and at Oregon State University. Patti spends part of her time in the United States, and part of her time in New Zealand and is the author of the new book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life. She and her husband and their two sons live near the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.