Below is a short discussion of visualization to improve the mind/body connection that may be helpful in counseling some patients. ---RCS
by Rita Milios
Visualization is a "mind tool" you can use to "program" your mind. Visualization creates belief, belief that can alter the circumstances of your life. Visualization means creating pictures in your mind.
With visualization, you "speak" directly to your subconscious mind, by-passing the censorship of the intellectual left brain. Your subconscious mind "thinks" in pictures, and imaging is a right-brain faculty. You can reach the programming levels of your subconscious mind quickly and easily with visualization.
Visualization is an idea complex, a thought form, in a mental picture. By starting with a picture, a mental image, you take a short cut directly into your brain's right hemisphere (for right-handed individuals). No words have to be "translated" from left-brain to right-brain language. You deliver a simple, clear, direct message to your subconscious mind.
Creating visualizations of the things you want to believe is very effective. Your subconscious mind does not rationalize. It takes whatever you give it as "truth." It is an unquestioning, obedient servant. If you consistently picture yourself as having already achieved your goal, your subconscious mind soon believes that it is so. Then, to balance your inner and outer reality, your subconscious sets into motion any events or circumstances necessary to create in the physical realm that which you believe in your mind to be true.
Visualization is a bit of mental "trickery." You are, in effect, tricking your subconscious into believing that an event has occurred when it has not yet. Then your subconscious, seeming to have "fallen behind on the job," gets to work to bring inner and outer reality into alignment.
Is it wrong to "trick" your mind or to help another "trick" their mind? Certainly not if that mind has previously been "tricked" into believing a falsehood. All too often one has been influenced to believe that an opinion is a fact.
The verity that you only "imaged" the outcome of your goal does not matter. In your mind (as in space), there is no past, present, or future. Just because you pictured having achieved your goal before you did does not matter to your subconscious. If you can make the scene realistic and logical, you can believe in it. And once you believe in it, it tends to come true.
We don't have to understand how visualization works; we just have to know that it does work. Numerous university studies have been done on visualization, assessing, for example, its effect on the performance of athletes, on the ability of students to recall information, and its effect on certain healing processes. From these studies and from the experiences of countless people, we have evidence of the powerful role that visualization can play in our lives.
The fact that we don't fully understand it shouldn't stop us from giving it a chance to work for us. We don't fully understand how electricity works, but that does not stop us form turning on the light when we enter a dark room. So, it is with mind tools like prayers, expectations, affirmations, and visualization. Through experience we can come to predict that they will work for us, even if the universal laws that make their power available to us may not be understood for years to come.
The key, then, to using visualization effectively is to make the mental pictures, the scenes in your mind, realistic and logical ---easily believable. Add all the action, energy, and emotion you can muster to the movies in your mind. The more they appear and feel real to you, the more certainly you are creating their (future) reality.
Again, visualization means creating pictures in your mind. For example, try to think of what you had for dinner last night. Think back over the previous evening. What were you doing around dinnertime? Who was there with you? Imagine yourself sitting at the dinner table. Look down at your plate. What do you see? When you do this, you are visualizing, creating a picture, in your mind.
Visualizing helps you remember things. This is because memories are usually placed into our brains in picture form. But these are not flat, one-dimensional photos. Memories are more like moving pictures, complete with all the action, thoughts, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings associated with the original event. By giving your mind a "cue" that hints at the original memory, you can bring forth forgotten information. You simply look back over the "movie script" in your mind until you see what you need.
Memories are but one form of visualization. We all have memories, and we all visualize. But some people visualize better than others do. For some people, who are naturally highly visual, creating pictures in their mind comes quiet easily. For others, who may be more oriented toward the auditory (hearing) or kinesthetic (feeling) states, visualization takes more practice. It's developed as any skill ---by practice.
Why would anyone want to practice visualization? Because visualization can do much more than bring forth memories. Visualization can also be creative, forming original pictures in your mind, pictures that you choose to put there ---replacing negative self-images with positive ones.
Earlier I stated that visualization is a bit of "mental trickery." But that's okay. We can trick ourselves into failure, illness, and depression, so why not trick ourselves into success, health and happiness. It is this use of visualization that may give you the ability to create your own reality. You are not stuck with the roles (mental scripts) you have chosen to play in the past. You can create new roles ---give birth to a new self-image, if you so choose.
Remember, inner and outer realities always want to match up. Once an idea is real in your mind (inner reality), it tends to be created in 3-dimensional (outer reality). The process is to make the thought vivid and logical in your mind, to truly believe in your creation. See the end result clearly ---leave the details of manifestation to the creative process of the "wizard" within.
This is where visualization can help. "Seeing is believing" for most people. We believe what we see with our own eyes. The same holds true for mental "seeing." Visualizing a scene in your mind tends to make it more real. You come to believe in the reality of the image. At first, visualization of a goal may seem forced and unnatural. But repeated visualizations, like repeated affirmations, slowly create the hope, then belief, then knowing that the desired goal is possible, then probable, then, finally, a fact. And once a goal has become real in your mind, once you believe it, it starts to become real in your life.
Using affirmations and visualization together is like a "double whammy" for creating belief in your desired goal. One or the other alone will work, but by using the two together, your success will come easier and faster.
Visualize your desired goal while you repeat your affirmation for it. Create a scene in your mind where you see yourself already having achieved your goal ("Pray, then go forth as if your prayer has been answered," taught Jesus the Christ). See yourself doing what you would be doing, saying what you would be saying, feeling what you would be feeling. By making your visualization vivid, active, practical, and exciting, you add energy to it.
STEP BY STEP TO BETTER VISUALIZATIONS
Visualization is a natural mental process. It can be made better. It can be honed toward perfection. The better you become at visualization, the more creative energy you will have available to you to create your desired reality. As you become the "seer" and "mental painter" of your destiny, you will become a witness to many curious occurrences that common people will rationalize as "coincidences."
Start by visualizing in the proper place. Close your eyes, relax, and "look" inside your mind. What do you see? Blackness, of course. Now start to imagine a scene in your mind, perhaps your dinner scene again. Where in your head is this scene taking place?
For many people, visualizations are perceived somewhere in the area of the forehead, often right between the eyebrows. While this is okay, it is more effective to move your mind-movies outward away from your head. Picturing your scene between your eyes takes more concentration because your eyes instinctively follow your inward gaze. It is better to move your mind's movie screen out about several inches from your face, comfortably out in space. This allows you to relax more and to have more spontaneous creative images.
Close your eyes and imagine a movie screen (or if you prefer, a chalkboard) several inches away from your face and up a couple inches above your eye level. This is where you should make your mental pictures.
First, practice making mental pictures with some simple exercises. Imagine (or "draw") on your screen or blackboard a geometric figure, a square, circle, or triangle. Keep visualizing this figure over and over for about twenty seconds. Each time your mind wanders simply bring it back gently, reproducing the same image repeatedly until you feel its reality. Repeat this exercise with the other two-dimensional figures.
Then imagine on your mental screen or chalkboard a figure, a stick figure or a figure like the Pillsbury doughboy. You do not need to get detailed. (Most people don't really see details like hair and eyes on their figures.) In fact, when you "see" an image or visualization, it is in the form of a thought picture, a sort of mix between an actual image and just the thought of that image. Don't expect pictures like those on television. Trying too hard to get an "exact" visualization will hamper your results. Sometimes you may "sense" an image more than you actually "see" it.
Now scan your figure with your mental eye. Note the size, shape, and sex of the mental body. Note any feelings or impressions you have about it. Then imagine this body slowly starting to become active, and to move. It might start to walk, jog, or play basketball ---whatever.
Next, bring another figure into the picture. On your mental screen, see a second figure interacting with the first. Have them talk, shake hands, become animated, and argue or laugh together. Practice creating pictures in your mind until you can comfortably imagine and visualize many types of scenes. Creating your own vivid scenes is the key to using visualization. Practice these simple exercises until you become a "natural" at visualization.
VISUALIZING SPECIAL GOALS
While making daily affirmations, you can enhance them with specific visualizations.
Visualizations for Health. Picture yourself on your mental screen, seeing yourself at your healthy best. Imagine yourself strong, vital, and happy as you recall or form healthy affirmations.
If there are any areas in your body that need attention, imagine each area specifically, seeing it whole, complete and healed of whatever ailment it once had. Make an affirmation that the ailment is now healed. You might imagine a healing light permeating every cell of the affected area. Then, see yourself joyfully experiencing freedom from this ailment. Move the body part freely, breathe deeply, whatever, to show that the body part is no longer affected. End the visualization by giving thanks for your perfect health. You can also do these visualizations for others, imaging them on your mental screen and passing this image to the other person by drawing pictures in their mind.
Visualizations for Prosperity. See yourself experiencing adequate wealth for your desires. What types of possessions would you have? What would your bank statement look like? Visualize yourself using and enjoying your prosperity. Also, (and this is important) visualize the good that can come from your increased prosperity and charity.
Perhaps you have plans to help others in some way. Visualize this happening. Life aids those who aid it. Any time you use your increased prosperity to help others, you increase your potential for prosperity becoming a permanent part of your life. Your attitude about prosperity and plenty increases your wealth. Think of money as freedom, as a tool to help you do what you do best.
Visualizations for Success. Picture your success in specific, positive images. See yourself performing a service of your choice that others need and appreciate. See yourself being congratulated and praised for your good work. Imagine that you have a never-ending supply of people who value and want your services. See yourself enjoying your work, feeling proud and happy that you can provide this worthwhile service.
If you are not happy with your present job, see yourself working and doing the sort of things you would really like to be doing. Imagine yourself in the type of environment you feel best ---at home, at an office, outside, working alone or with others. Then give thanks for this new and wonderful job (and you do not have to know exactly what this job is ---you can leave that up to the universe). See yourself depositing a check into your bank account. This check shows the amount of money that you need and desire from your work and service.
Visualizations for Happiness. Imagine the types of things you want and need to be truly happy in your life. Affirm that you have these things in your life as you visualize them. See yourself and your loved ones interacting in loving, pleasant ways. Visualize a peaceful scene where your best wishes have come true. Always give thanks for the happiness in your life. Counted blessings multiply. Recall requires focused attention, and attention supplies reinforcement.
There are unlimited ways to visualize. Make your visualizations unique and real according to your desires. Always remember to visualize the positive outcome of your goal. Visualize the good that will result from having achieved your goal. Visualize yourself appreciative and thankful. The universe likes to be thanked!
Visualizations for Emotional Healing. Not only can you "program" goals and desires with your visualizations, you can "re-program" old hurts and change old nonproductive limiting attitudes. Using visualization for emotional healing is something you can do alone if you are committed to looking deeply and openly into you mind. And, if your emotional traumas are not extensive, you can probably successfully use visualization to help you positively transform your emotional state. However, if your scars are buried deeply, or are related to a particularly traumatic event, you may want to seek professional help in facilitating your personal transformation.
You can tell when you are too upset to work with a visualization, or when you get "stuck" and nothing seems to work, feeling that you might have gone as far as you can alone. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from qualified professionals to better your life. Your intuition will guide you.
For most people, however, visualization can be a real tool in helping them uncover and re-program their own mental patterns. There are several visualizations to help you "speak" directly to your subconscious and re-program those patterns that are not helpful to you in your present situation.
The Small Child Visualization is especially good for re-programming very old beliefs, hang-ups, and attitudes. Mental ruts are shallow graves. In this process, you "meet" yourself as you were when you were a child. You then go back to an old feeling or problem and mentally visualize its solution. Even if you don't know the exact problem, by tapping into anxieties, fears, or negative feelings, you can get in touch with the mental program associated with them and change it. You may want to go through the visualization several times, each time dealing with a new problem and related feeling.
An especially difficult problem may take many repeated visualizations to clear all the negative energy associated with the abiding mental program. Just follow your intuitive feelings. They will tell you when you have repeated a visualization enough times. You will know also if a sense of peace comes over you during the visualization or if you experience the cessation of a specific anxiety.
The above is adapted from the book Tools for Transformation by Rita Milios. To order, send $9.95 + $1.75 S/H via snail mail to Tools for Transformation Press, 7150 Cloister Road West, Toledo, OH 43617.
Return to the Rehabilitation Monograph Series