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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