Visualization is a subject many talk about. It is a skill that we can all implement in our lives no matter how big or small an activity is. Visualization is a mental tool which allows us to imagine all the possible outcomes of an object or experience. It is a method that does wonders for me. It makes me peaceful and hopeful about what I am doing and what’s to come. It shows me what I should be doing, which steps I need to take to get closer to my goal. It allows me to emphasize on what is important in life and what direction I desire to move towards.
What does your dreamlife look like? What is your day going to look like? How would you like to feel and behave throughout the day? Not only can visualization do wonders if you ask yourself these types of questions on a daily basis, it can also help you to practice and master certain skills (as you’ll read further along).
The key is to see yourself in the position you dream to be in. See yourself as the chef traveling the world, as the sales person, living with your family at the beach with the perfect temperature, sunny blue sky and the smell of the ocean. Try to experience what you expect to experience. What does it feel like? What smells can you smell and what views can you see?
You need to experience as if you are already the person that you want to become. How does that person behave? What does he/she do on a regular basis? The funny thing is that this provides you with answers. In a way you are finding the answers within yourself. And if you do this on a weekly basis (or what you find pleasurable) together with self-reflection, it will provide you with a clearer view of what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Why is it important?
Not only does it enhance your capabilities to perform well, it allows you to think about what you want to manifest, what you want to make happen. It helps you to formulate and shape your future and to reduce any unwanted experiences or feelings.
Visualization is used to overcome anxiety and to enhance performance. Several psychological studies have looked into the effects of visualization, and if by visualizing alone you can enhance your performance. If you are wondering, yes you can.
A well-known study regarding this subject, was done with basketball players. A group of basketball players was asked to take free throws and see how many they would score. This was the baseline measurement. After this measurement, the players were slit up into three groups: group 1 could practice the shot, group 2 could only visualize how they would take the shot, and group 3 didn’t practice. After 30 days the results were as follows:
- Group 1 improved by 24%
- Group 2 improved by 23%
- Group 3 improved by 0%
As you can see, in this study the group that did not practice but did visualize, had almost the same improvement rate as the group that did practice the free throws.
This study, and others like it, do not suggest that we should stop practicing or exercising or studying! They do suggest how implementing visualization into our studies can improve our wanted results. Rehearsal or practice is effective, and mental rehearsal or visualization can be almost as effective.
How can you practice it?
Of course there are many ways in which one is able to practice visualization. I personally like to do meditations that focus on this method, however, I also like other versions of it like:
- See yourself achieving your goal: As described above, if you can see yourself do it, you probably can. If you make a habit out of visualising how you will achieve your goal, and seeing when you will triumph and what obstacles you will face along the way, it will provide you with a clear path.
- Be as detailed as possible: The more detailed you are the better. At first this might be a bit difficult, but once you get the hang of it, it will become a lot easier. Make sure to include what you feel, see, and hear. This will help you make the visualization seem more real.
- Mental rehearsal: This is something that high performing athletes do. They visualise how they will achieve their goal, win their match, or achieve the desired performance. And they continuously do this mentally, going over all the steps as detailed as possible. When the important match arrives they have already experienced it many times in their mind.
- Affirmations to maintain the visualization: Once you have visualized, you can write down affirmations (sentences aimed to affect your subconscious) that will maintain the visualization alive.