What do you do continuously throughout your entire lives, no matter whether you’re asleep or awake? You visualise.
[This post is a guest post by Stuart Mills. Limiting beliefs affect what you believe in, and what you think you’re capable of. If you want to learn more about them and how to break them, visit Stuart Mills at Limitless Believing.]
“Visualization” is now more commonly known as a buzz word used by professionals and leading entrepreneurs, but the actual process of visualizing has been around ever since humans first gained consciousness. When we think, we use our imagination to help bring our thoughts ‘to life’, and the brain accomplishes this by using images.
For example, if you were to think of an elephant, then an image of an elephant would appear in your mind.
Did it just happen? Did you ‘see’ an elephant in your mind? It did with me. That’s the power of visualisation in action – bringing to ‘life’ whatever we imagine or think of.
But although we visualize all of the time, we are rarely aware of it. When we are aware, we use the buzz word “visualization” to label it, but those times that we aren’t aware of still affect our sub-conscious mind. The images we think of still have an effect on us even if we don’t know it – in fact, they shape much of our belief patterns and ways of living. In other words, what we think, we become.
We can take some steps to enhance our visualising when we are aware of it. We can consciously choose what to imagine, and this can then affect our sub-conscious mind, which then affects our life. Here are 4 tips to enhance your visualising:
Use More Of Your Senses
When we normally visualize, we only use our ‘mind sight’ – that which we see with our mind’s eye. What we don’t do is utilise our other senses, such as our sense of smell, our sense of hearing, and our sense of touch.
If you wish to consciously practice visualization in order to gain a happier life, then I believe you will gain better results if you added more depth to the visuals. Our unconscious visualising only consists of basic images that are just enough to leave an imprint on our subconscious mind, but nothing more.
By adding different senses into the practice, and asking yourself questions such as “What sounds can I hear?” and “What smells can I smell?” you can increase the feeling of actually ‘living’ your visualisation, and increase its power.
Here are some tips for each of the different senses:
- Ears – What sounds are you likely to hear when you visualize your better life? If you’re visualizing a conference where you’re the key speaker, what sounds would you be likely to hear in the building? How about if you’re helping out at a volunteer centre, what sounds would you hear then?
- Nose – What types of smell and scents would there be? If you’re in a plush complex building, how would it smell? How would the air and snow on the mountain smell as you were climbing it?
- Touch – Imagine yourself touching and feeling a texture in your visualisation – what sensations are you picking up? Can you imagine the soft embrace with your partner as you visualise a better relationship? Or the expensive leather on your new sports car?
Practice Deep Breathing
Often, when we attempt to practice visualisation, we forget an important part – breathing.
Breathing is essential to life, yet most people do it automatically without any awareness of how they’re breathing. With deep breathing, we make a conscious attempt to regulate our breathing by extending both the in-breath and the out-breath, maximising the benefits we receive from deeply inhaling and exhaling.
For visualization purposes, get yourself to start breathing for deeper and longer periods then you would normally. Do this before you start visualising, and let yourself relax.
If you aren’t relaxed and calm when you begin visualizing, it’s likely that you won’t be able to effectively imagine the results that you’d want to see. This may then lead to negative visualising, or the prevention of further attempts at visualizing.
There are a number of resources available which can help you learn to breathe deeply and fully, and are definitely worth checking out. My favourite are the works of the Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh, but there are also others including Dr. Andrew Weil and Jon Kabat-Zinn who have provided information on helping you breathe more efficiently.
Work Your Way In Slowly
Something that goes hand-in-hand with deep breathing is the practice of ‘working your way in slowly’. Or in other words, “don’t rush”.
A common problem when people practice visualization is that they sit down, work hard to conjure up images in their head of the things they want to be, do, and have, and then get annoyed with themselves when they fail to experience the ‘feel-good’ factor that’s associated with the things we like.
Another problem is that some people successfully practice visualization and they recognise what they want from life, but when some time has passed and they haven’t received it, they get frustrated and blame ‘visualisation’, believing it to be a waste of time.
The same situation has happened with both of these examples – the individual has rushed either the technique, or the results he/she wants to happen. In order to use visualisation effectively, it’s important to slow down, relax, and work your way in slowly.
If you’re attempting conscious visualisation for the first time, please bear in mind that you won’t gain the perfect results – there’s every chance that you won’t be able to visualize effectively. Always be patient. Work your way in slowly for every visualisation that you practice, and enjoy the process rather than the result.
Remove Yourself From Guilt
I’ve touched upon what people visualize about, such as speaking in front of an engaged audience, or having a new car, or working in a volunteer centre, but there are some who feel guilty about what they want because they think it’s selfish, greedy, or it doesn’t serve the world in some way.
In order to visualize effectively, you need to rid yourself of the guilt. The best way to do this is to avoid focusing on yourself, such as ‘you having more money’, or ‘you having a better relationship’. Instead, focus on what you can do for others using your talents and passions.
For example, focus on serving others and using your compassion to help the needy, rather than focus on making more money and living an easy lifestyle. When you focus exclusively on what you want, you ignore what you can do for others. “Helping and serving others leads to reward”, rather than “reward leads to helping and serving others”.
Guilt comes about when you begin to feel that you’re being too self-indulgent – focus on being yourself and doing what you can for others as well as yourself, and the feeling of guilt will disappear.
Limiting beliefs affect what you believe in, and what you think you’re capable of. If you want to learn more about them and how to break them, visit Stuart Mills at Limitless Believing.photo credit: familymwr