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You are watching a scary movie that you’ve seen a million times before, and when the music gets creepy and the circumstances get hairy, your heart starts racing, your breathing becomes a shallow pant and the muscles in your neck tense up. This is even though you know nothing bad is going to happen and everything will turn out OK.

These bodily reactions are produced by make-believe images and sounds, not real-life situations. You can put the same happenings to work for you by creating pictures in your mind with “creative visualization.”

Thoughts and Images Cause Reactions In Your Body

The thoughts, words, and images that run through your mind have very real physiological consequences for your body. Your brain sends the same messages to the central nervous system whether something is being imagined or actually experienced. So be very careful what you think! Seriously, consciously being aware of and controlling your thoughts is a huge way we can change our realities. Magic!

I used visualization daily for years to recover from a brain injury, and it proved to be miraculous. It was amazing to me that everything I visualized has eventually come true. Not quick enough for me most of the time, but better late than never.

At first, I imagined the messages in my brain traveling along lines like an old telephone switchboard because connectivity and getting signals across the hippocampus were an issue for me. My grandmother used to be a switchboard operator at a hotel.  So it was an image that worked for me and was comforting at the same time.

The images naturally evolved as my healing progressed. Next, I imagined my brain finding information like the old, card catalog file that used to be used at the libraries  Then, I graduated to picturing it as a computer doing a quick search.

My mother had breast cancer. After her first round of chemo, her white blood cell count fell so low she was “isolated.” At my suggestion, she did visualizations to bring up her white blood cell count. She used the mental pictures of a field of daisies bursting with blooms, snowflakes piling up, and white beans. Her white blood cell count before the next treatment was higher than before she started chemo. It really works!

Visualization can be used for anything and is a recognized mind-body therapy that’s effective with any health concern, especially stress-related ones.  Visualization has been shown to be extremely powerful in improving performance, changing behavior, or influencing an outcome. (Although, I don’t know that it is a good use of time to sit around and see yourself winning the lottery.)

How to Visualize

In her book Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life, Shakti Gawain offers the following guidelines:

1. Set a goal – decide something specific you would like to have, work toward, realize, or create.
2. Create a clear idea or mental picture or feeling – This should be in the present tense. Think of the situation already existing and immerse yourself in the feeling of it.
3. Focus on it frequently – Bring the idea to mind often in quiet meditation or casually throughout your day. Make it part of your reality in a light, relaxed way.
4. Give it positive energy – Think about your goal in a positive, encouraging way. See yourself receiving it or achieving it. Feel the feeling of doing that.

When you cut your finger, you don’t have to tell your body, step-by-step, the specific details of how to heal the wound, thank goodness. Your miraculous body just does it using the natural wisdom and power it already has. Creative visualization is consciously directing these innate forces. Ready, set, pretend!

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  1. Lori Franklin (JaneBeNimble) Reply

    Hi Debbie,

    I loved this post — and I used visualization often, daily. Also, I quite enjoy Shakti Gawain's book and have read it several times.

    Thanks for this article. I once used visualization to prepare for races having been a marathoner and triathlete, but now that my MS has progressed and I can no longer race, I use visualization for another purpose, to heal my brain.

    I love your blog — thanks for all the work you do here. We appreciate you! : )

  2. Debbie Hampton Reply


    Thanks for breaking your silence with the kind words! I am honored! Keep visualizing. It is certainly a way to increase the mind/body connection and to focus and direct your body's energy and innate wisdom. It may not be able to "cure" the MS, but I know it keeps it from being worse faster. You are an inspiration.

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  4. Dandelionmama Reply

    Could you give any examples of this? “It has been amazing to me that everything I have visualized has eventually come true”. I ask because a few times I have visualized something, it has also come to pass. I could not understand it at first. I could see how visualization could heal or make changes WITHIN in the body, but for something to happen out side myself that I had visualized, came as a HUGE surprise to me! I am also using visualization to help heal from an illness.. It is wonderful when you are in visualization, it feels SO real. I don’t visualize anything in my body healing, interestingly, I visualize myself doing all the things I love to do. And example would be, taking my kids on vacation, performing again, etc. I figured visualizing that way would send the message to my body that this is what I would like to be doing!!!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thank you for commenting. I give an example of visualizing the sale of my house in this blog:

      I recently sold my house and moved. I visualized the whole process to be smooth and easy. It was for the most part. I sold my house in just 4 days. In this market?! I had no idea where I was going to move. The buyers offered to have me rent it back from them for several months. Perfect. Remember The Staples easy button? It was a successful marketing gimmick years ago. You press the big red button and it says in a very synthesized voice “That was easy.” Before the whole process even started, I envisioned me pressing that button after the move and feeling the big sigh of relief along with it.

      I have visualized my brain healing as outlined in this blog. From the brain injury, I have had manual dexterity issues. They were much more severe than they are now. I visualized my hand holding a pen and signing my name and writing, in cursive every letter of the alphabet daily for years. My handwriting, which did look like chicken scratch, gradually improved. I visualized me speaking, complete with audible imaginings, clearly, fluently with precise, sharp enunciation. While I do have some speech issues still, my speech is much better. I also did other things to facilitate improvement here as well. I could go on and on and on.

      Now, since I am physically healed for the most part, I primarily visualize myself accomplishing and achieving different things in my life in my future. I have no doubt that I will get there.

      It is powerful stuff. Blessings to you!

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  22. Roger Bannister didn’t have time to train much for the one mile race via running. His competitors were out jogging and sprinting every day, multiple times a day. Instead Roger spent his time visualizing every tiny detail about running and then winning the race in under the time believed unachievable. He is now known as the first man to run one mile in under four minutes.

    • Wow! What a cool story, Brandy. I’m going to have to look into that one. Thanks for sharing. I have NO DOUBT that my visualizing every day for years helped heal my brain. No question in my mind. I use it for other things now.

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