by Lisa M. Wolfson
As a cancer survivor, I am constantly on the lookout to find new techniques for reducing stress and maintaining optimal health. One very helpful tool I’ve recently undertaken is visualization. This technique involves using your imagination to visualize specific things you desire to have, be or do, or events you wish to take place.
Visualization is particularly helpful while going through difficult times. It can help to take us to a better place or see things more clearly. The idea is to use your imagination to create detailed scenarios in your mind’s eye. This allows you to create a mental picture and then focus on this image for a period of time. The fundamental belief is that you can create a desired result in the outer world by properly adjusting your inner beliefs and perceptions.
Visualization can also be used with people who are sick or dying, or merely in pain, by having them focus on images of themselves in healthier, happier, safer times. For example, as parents, we often have our children try to visualize a fun experience from their past to help calm them down during a frightening medical procedure or other painful event.
Many of the world’s most successful and influential people are also firm believers in the practice of visualization. They are convinced that, by visualizing specific behaviors or scenarios, they can change energy patterns to bring about their goals and desires more quickly. By the same token, clinical psychologists believe that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and an experience imagined in vivid detail.
Today it’s rare for successful athletes not to use some form of mental imagery to achieve greater results on the field of play. Professional golfers, for example, stand over a putt and visualize the ball rolling and dropping over the edge of the cup before they actually strike the ball. Pro tennis players imagine the precise landing location of each 150 mph serve before they even toss the ball in the air.
Visualization has many benefits, including spiritual development, emotional and physical healing, enhancing creativity, profoundly deep relaxation, opening the heart and healing relationships, curing negativity and self-defeating behaviors, improving performance in business and sports, and resolving psychological difficulties.
To get started with your visualization, create a picture in your mind of something you desire, and then use all your senses to embellish the image. Be as detailed as possible — include the way you see it, hear it, feel it, smell it and taste it, wherever applicable.
Some tips for creating an effective visualization include quieting your mind. Shut out all the mental chatter. Meditation can help with this. Doing some simple calming breaths can help as well. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, envisioning the calming energy being drawn into your body on the inhale and all the tension being released on the exhale.
Now envision yourself or the situation the way you want it to be. If you are undergoing a medical procedure, you may visualize yourself at your favorite place, happy and healthy, possibly relaxing or doing something you love to do. Don’t wish for your desired state. See yourself already there. This is the key to visualization. Whether you’re calling to mind a happy event or time of the past or envisioning one in the future, you need to see it as already existing, rather than just hoping for it to happen!
Conjure up a strong feeling of gratitude and happiness as if what you desire has already been delivered. Don’t include a plan, for instance. Don’t include in your visualization the belief that you’re going to recover or reach a goal. Simply envision yourself as already there. Exercise your visualizations everyday: mornings and before bed are great times to apply the technique. Or whenever it is most needed. You decide.
In my case, whenever I go for a mammogram, I do my breathing exercises and envision myself at an upcoming event, happy and healthy. I visualize every detail — what I’m wearing, what I’m thinking, how I feel, the decor of the room around me, the scent in the air, the chatter of the other people . . . Surely the test results will be excellent if I am already seeing myself so vividly and cancer-free at a future point in my life. That’s how visualization works.
Lisa Wolfson is a Reiki Master and lives in Rockville Centre, NY.