Visualization and imagery have been used for thousands of years with anything from athletic performance to healing, but does it really work?
Yes, it certainly does!
Our brain doesn’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what we are vividly picturing in our mind which influences our physical reality.
Ok. I was hoping you’d ask me that because that is exactly what I am about to do!
So first of all to prove that visualization does indeed work.
Let’s look at these pieces of evidence, as it were:
1. The Lemon Test
Let’s test visualization with something we all know well — a lemon. Close your eyes and picture a lemon in as much detail as possible. While your eyes are closed imagine the lemon using all five senses:
-See the lemon’s color, bumps, shape and size
-Feel the lemon’s weight, temperature and texture
-Hear the sound as you cut or tear the lemon apart and any drops of juice that land
-Smell the scent of one half or both halves of the lemon with a great big sniff
-Taste the lemon by licking or biting into the juicy citrus fruit
Did anything happen in your mouth when you went through the five-sense lemon visualization?
I bet your mouth watered, puckered, or you had that sour tingling sensation in the corners of your mouth.
That is proof that your mind is influencing your brain’s perception of reality and it is creating a physical response in your body like you actually have a lemon.
2. The Movie Test
Have you ever been watching a movie from your safe sofa or theater seat and found yourself so wrapped up in what you were seeing that your heart started racing, your muscles tightened up, your palms became sweaty, your stomach began to knot, you cried, or you jumped out of your seat?
Me too! Your body was responding to your brain’s perception that you were actually living what was happening in the movie.
3. The Stress Test
The most powerful and frequent proof that visualization works is shown through the stress response. Stress is all perception. When we perceive a situation, event, interaction or person/place/thing as threatening the brain tells the body to go into fight-or-flight. The trickiest part about stress is that we can perceive a threat from the past, present and/or future! More times than not, we are stressing about something that may never ever happen. We have anxiety about the future or we are depressed about the past.
Remember fear stands for False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.
Through visualization you bring to life the threat of a worst-case-scenario for an upcoming event. This causes your reality to shift accordingly through hormonal and biochemical changes that directly influence your physiology and psychology.
Reflect back upon the last stressful event you were in and how your mind created a threatening picture of possibility through negative beliefs, thoughts, ideas, stories and judgements.
This is the power of visualization…but used in the negative. Imagine what we could do if we used visualization and our mind to focus on what we do want as opposed to what we don’t want.
How does Visualization Work?
Whether your mind is picturing a lemon, imagining swishing free throws or experiencing flying a plane through a simulator; the brain will process the information you are sending it through the act of visualization and then communicate that through your body’s nervous system to your glands, organs and muscles. This is how visualization creates muscle and mind memory that increases confidence and performance plus why physical bodily reactions come from a mental virtual reality.
So there you have it! It’s all in your mind, but by directing your visualisations of the ideal and successful you then you can live the life you want!!
In the words of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu — “ The journey of 1,000 miles starts with just one small step!”
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