Words To Live By: Visualization -Part 1

While visualization isn’t a value like some of the Words to Live By, such as “honesty”, I still know that it is a key Word to use in daily life.

(you can listen to a podcast here)

For a long time I wanted to visualize more often and struggled with it. I was always concerned I wasn’t doing it right and probably even held off because I thought I would ‘do it wrong’. Then I read one simple passage about it in a book and realized that any visualization is helpful. So I now try to do it often in different ways.

First of all, let’s all realize and agree about an example of ‘bad’ visualization: Worry. When you worry, you typically picture – or visualize – something going wrong, right? Well, guess what, you’re reinforcing that image in your mind. You are physically creating the chemical and biological connections that could make that negative thing more likely. I read once that “worrying in like praying for bad things to happen”. I think that society has taught us – especially my mother’s generation and many mothers in our country – that if you don’t worry, you don’t care. I know so many women that feel that worrying is a necessity if you have a family. Some feel that if you don’t worry, you aren’t as good of a mother. I say all that is wrong.

Visualizing is a form of praying, I believe. When we pray for someone that is sick or in need of help in some way, we want them to get better or find themselves in a better situation. We often pray for help and guidance in our own lives.

Visualization is very important. Regardless if you believe in the Law of Attraction, the Secret, or anything spiritual, there is so much scientific support for it. I think that schools should teach it. If you talk with any coach or athlete at a good college program, in the Olympics, or a professional athlete, they all use visualization. Arnold Palmer, Michael Jordan, entire teams of players. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps was taught by his coach to “play the tape” each night and morning. That meant to play the mental tape, like a video, of him swimming and winning.

  • Michael Jordan: used visualization to become arguably the greatest basketball player in history.
  • Jack Nicklaus has won a record 18 professional majors and is considered the best golfer in history. He has described how he used visualization extensively to help him prepare and win at golf.
  • Tiger Woods was taught how to use visualization and imagery when he was a boy by his father, Earl. Tiger visualizes exactly where he wants the golf ball to go. Tiger Woods uses visualization to become one of the best, if not the best, golfer in the world today.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, five time Mr. Universe, four-time Mr. Olympia has not only used visualization for athletic success but also credits it for his success as a movie star:”When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.”
  • Jim Carrey When Carrey was just starting out in Hollywood, he was completely broke and out of work. He decided to write himself a check for ten million dollars and dated it for Thanksgiving 1995. On the bottom he wrote “for services rendered”.  He would then carry the check around in his wallet and look at it everyday. Six months before Thanksgiving of 1995, he was paid ten million dollars for his work on a film. It wasn’t long before he became of the highest paid actors in Hollywood -earning twenty million per movie

So many great business people use imagery and visualization. They use it for business meetings, presentations, specific events and also for the big picture strategies.

Many people believe that we can attract things with our thoughts. You may believe that we are connected to God, the Universe, to the Source. Many people believe that thought is energy, especially a concentrated thought laden with emotional energy. Perhaps thoughts change the balance of energy around us, and bring changes to the environment in accordance with them.Visualization initiates or triggers the Law of Attraction, many say.

Others provide a different explanation why visualization brings results. It may come as a surprise to most, but the theory of “Maya” – Illusion, which comes from the eastern philosophies, provides the explanation. According to the Indian philosophy “Advaita- Vedanta”, which is called “Nonduality” in the West, the world is not real, but only an illusion, created by our thoughts.

Since most people think and repeat the same or similar thoughts often, focusing their mind and thoughts on their current environment, they create and recreate the same sort of events or circumstances. This process preserves the same “world” and status quo. It is like watching the same film over and over again, but we can change the film by changing our thoughts and visualize different circumstances and life, and in this way create a different “reality”. For us, it is a reality, though in fact it is just a dream we call “reality”.

According to vanderbuilt.edu, visualization, also called mental imagery is defined as
experience that resembles perceptual experience, but which occurs in the absence of the appropriate stimuli for the relevant perception  (plato.stanford.edu/entries/mental-imagery/).  Whenever we imagine ourselves performing an action in the absence of physical practice, we are said to be using imagery.  While most discussions of imagery focus on the visual mode, there exists other modes of experience such as auditory and kinesthetic that are just as important. 
One important thing I found in this study and others is that “There is no correct way to practice mental imagery.

From Psychology Today’s FLOURISH by by Angie LeVan  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization

A study looking at brain patterns in weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they only imagined lifting.  In some cases, research has revealed that mental practices are almost effective as true physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either alone. For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. He found that a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. However, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.

Begin by establishing a highly specific goal. Imagine the future; you have already achieved your goal. Hold a metal ‘picture’ of it as if it were occurring to you right at that moment. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. Engage as many of the five senses as you can in your visualization. Who are you with? Which emotions are you feeling right now? What are you wearing? Is there a smell in the air? What do you hear? What is your environment? Sit with a straight spine when you do this. Practice at night or in the morning (just before/after sleep). Eliminate any doubts, if they come to you. Repeat this practice often. Combine with meditation or an affirmation (e.g. “I am courageous; I am strong”, or to borrow from Ali, “I am the greatest!”).

Scientifically, there is ample evidence that visualization can significantly enhance physical skill development and increase performance in many sports. There is even evidence that visualization of weight training can lead to significant gains in muscle mass and strength!

Neurologically, visualization invokes many of the same areas of the brain involved in the actual physical manifestation of the skill. Because of this, there are tremendous neural connections that are strengthened during visualization that are transferable to the physical domain.

Visualization helps with motivation and inspiration. Put simply, when you imagine something you then remind yourself of how good it will feel to achieve your dreams, and you become more so motivated to strive for them. This motivation allows you to take the steps needed to fulfill your dreams – and feel like fun along the way.

Visualization burns the mental picture, images, feelings and emotions into your subconscious mind – a very powerful tool. Once your subconscious mind latches onto an idea, it begins to work without you. It creates the belief. Your subconscious can effortlessly lead you to your goals, if it has a belief. Beliefs rule our lives. One day we couldn’t do something, the next day we could. One day we believed that we could not, the next day we believed that we could. Visualization helps us believe sooner, and helps us believe when we probably would never do so.

Here is a reminder from Focus – The Path to Perfect Execution

“The Power of Visualization will only work when your inner self is totally confident that you can faultlessly deliver what you have learned. The only way to make this possible is when you physically repeat the action over and over again – be it presenting to a customer, writing a document, driving a golf ball down the fairway or executing a slick cross court volley. Practicing over and over will also convince your inner being that you can do it. It gives the power to the mind to play the video of perfect execution picking up pieces from the hard work it saw you do while you were building and rehearsing the skill.”
“When done with sincerity, the human nervous and muscular systems prepare themselves by firing precisely in a similar manner to what they do when the ‘physical action’ actually happens. Medical tests were conducted on Olympic athletes where they were asked to run races in their minds by visualizing themselves doing so. While they sat absolutely stationary, it was incredible that the same nerve cells and muscular tissues fired up that would have if they were actually running the race!”
  1. Keep is simple at first then graduate to more complex imagery.
  2. Make your images very clear, elaborate, and kinesthetically true
  3. Prep your mental work out with real external images through videos
  4. Follow it up with your own real physical practice
  5. Visualize as often as you can to reinforce your new brain connections
  6. Go the distance! Visualize yourself doing what’s just out of your physical reach and then watch it manifest on the field – mentally and physically!
  7. The most important, in my opinion, attach and use emotions when you visualize! The more positive, strong emotions you have attached to an image or mental picture the better! This is a must!

You can see that there is a lot of info on visualization. Therefore I will follow it up with a part 2 soon. Above I’m leaving you with some quick thoughts on how to visualize. Just do it. Spend 5 minutes twice a day. If you can, write it down and them imagine it. If not, just take a moment, get in the right state of mind and visualize.

More to come soon. If you like this, please hit “LIKE” ?

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