12 May The Importance of Visualization
Imagine you getting up from your chair and walking to the kitchen.
Now imagine yourself making a cup of tea or coffee. You can see the water bubbles starting to form and you decide to dip an aromatic tea bag or throw in some freshly ground coffee into the water. The color of the water starts to change and the scent of your drink pleasantly fills the kitchen.
Were you able to smell your cup? Did you picture your stove top or your favorite cup? You may even feel like going and making yourself a cup of coffee or tea right now.
That’s the power of visualization.
I was able to visualize the same thing too when I first did this small exercise. And then I thought, what is the difference between imagining and visualizing?
What is Visualization?
Visualization is a scientifically proven technique that helps us to recreate feelings, images or sounds in the brain, so that your mind is placed at a perfect surrounding. Meditation and visualization are amazing tools that we can use to empower ourselves. It increases an influx of positivity into the mind and body which helps us in redirection and surrender to being calm.
Why do we add Visualization in meditation?
For years we have let the mind free, to think of whatever it wants to, without being aware of how fast we produce thoughts. I can think of hundred things after I wake up from my bed and starting the day. Let me brush my teeth, cook my oatmeal, get my workout gear ready, wash my dishes, make lunch and wash my car. Sounds INSANE when you think about doing it all in one shot, but doing is different from thinking. I thought of all of these things in almost split seconds- because that’s how fast the mind runs!
In meditation, we add visualization in our courses because we want to calm down this mind and reduce it’s rapid ruminations or incessant chatter. Although it is quite genuinely common that thoughts pop up during meditation, we try to re-direct the brain by painting a peaceful picture. This way your mind is concentrating not on the thoughts, but on relaxation, which is the best time to visualize.
As the mind is clear of distractions, and as we introduce body scanning, your body begins to relax too. This is a great platform to begin an influence of positive healing.
The amazing benefits of Visualization:
Firstly, it connects the mind and the body. Visualizations is a great method used in the field of sports to influence the body. A study conducted in 1996, by Dr Blaslotto showed that in a free-throw experiment, the people who only visualized taking shots and didn’t touch the ball, scored 23% as opposed to people who only engaged in practice, with no visualization improved by 24%. Now, 24% is a whole lot of sweat and practice, but the mind was able to achieve the same, without any practice what so ever.
Secondly, highly detailed images are very powerful in training the mind to go after something and actually achieve it! For example, Athletic superstars like Tiger Woods, World Champion Golfer Jack Nicklaus and NBA all-star, Micheal Jordan have all publicly shared that they mentally visualize and use it to drive them to success. They use it to get into “the zone”- A place where everything is so effortless. Jack Nicklaus has even said, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
Thirdly, it can help you form the future you want. Let’s say that your health is your goal. Imagine yourself looking into a mirror one year from now. How does it look and more importantly how does it feel?
I feel amazing- I can see myself feeling happy and exited about waking up. I can catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror and feel so different, I no longer have a double chin! I look healthy and fit. I can even see how my daily routine has led to all of these changes. I look amazing too- I surprisingly look younger, I can finally fit into a dream dress or skinny jeans I never thought I could fit into ever!
Once I enjoy the positivity associated with my goal, I can then move on to executing it. Applying this imagery into every facet of my life and making the changes. Maybe it’s time to cut back on eating fried food, I visualize the look and feel of this diet change and relish the possibility of actually doing it!
Last but not the least, many studies show that visualization has incredible health benefits. These include boosting immunity, easing depression, relieving insomnia, decreasing stress, and alleviating headaches and chronic pain.
Sometimes we have to get into your minds, visualize the image of achieving our goals and that’s enough to communicate to the body as something real. Your future goals lie in how well you visualize!
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.