Does Visualization really work? Discover the power of visualization
Have you ever wondered if visualization really works?
Visualization works, and I will show you how in this article. All of humanity’s’ greatest achievements started in someone’s mind.
Visualization has been practiced and proven by many different people for ages; from high achievers to rich people and top athletes.
You also probably visualize more often than you realize, albeit with no particular intent.
Have you ever craved something, maybe a specific type of food, and immediately visualized the look, the smell, the taste, everything about it?
You were visualizing. Let’s look at an official definition.
What is visualization?
Visualization means to form a mental image of something: events, situations, or people. It is used in many areas to achieve a desired outcome.
It is believed that visualization practices became more mainstream since 1976.
In the 1976 Olympics Russians started winning gold medals in nearly all events. Many athletes accused them of cheating, but they were passing all drug tests.
What could they be doing differently to achieve such success?
Russians “confessed” that they had practice visualization because they had come to realize that those athletes who visualized repeatedly achieved the best results.
Let’s take a look at some visualization studies.
Visualization Study 1 – The Counterclockwise Experiment
There are several studies that support visualization techniques work. Let’s start with The Counterclockwise Experiment.
In 1981, a team of researchers headed by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, Ph.D. , author of many books including Counterclockwise: Counter Health and the Power of Possibility, took two groups of men in their seventies and eighties to an old monastery in New Hampshire to perform the Counterclockwise experiment.
Members of the first group stayed for one week and were asked to pretend they were young men, once again living in the 1950s.
Members of the second group, who arrived one week later, were told to stay in the present and simply reminisce about that era.
Both groups were surrounded by mid-century mementos. Langer wanted to understand the biological impact of “acting as if.”
Before and after the experiment, both groups of men took many cognitive and physical tests, and after just one week, there were significant positive changes across the board.
Both groups showed improvements in physical strength, manual dexterity, posture, perception, memory, cognition, taste sensitivity, hearing, and vision – even their performance on intelligence tests had improved.
But the men who had acted as if they were actually back in the 1950s showed significantly more improvement.
Those who had impersonated younger men seemed to have bodies that were actually younger.
These results provide evidence that our mind is very powerful and our thoughts can cause a physical response.
Meditation, imagining, remembering, and wondering can all have corresponding physical effects.
Dr. Langer said that wherever we put the mind, the body will follow.
She explained that it is not our physical state that limits us, but our mindset about our own limits and our perceptions that draws the lines in the sand.
As Dr. Langer’s study proved, visualization works very well to aid healing too, because visualizing a healthy body and recalling loving memories from the times when we were healthy will transmit healing frequencies all over our bodies.
(Also bear in mind that painful, destructive, and distorted memories transmit frequencies that cause illness and disease.)
Visualization Study 2: The most known visualization example
Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson made an experiment.
Research has revealed that a person who consistently visualizes a certain physical skill develops “muscle memory” which helps him when he physically engages in the activity.
With this in mind Richardson took a group of basketball players, who have never practiced visualization, and divided them in 3 groups.
He asked them to visualize making free throws.
• The first group would practice 20 minutes every day for twenty days.
• The second made free throws on the first day and the twentieth day. No visualization.
• The third group made free throws on the first day and the twentieth day like the second group, but they also spent 20 minutes every day visualizing free throws. If they “missed,” they “practiced” getting the next shot right.
The results were amazing.
There was significant improvement on the group that only visualized, just as good as the first group who actually practiced. The second group did not improve at all.
Other Creative Visualization techniques examples
Visualization is a well-known tool used by top athletes.
In 2014, when the Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, The Huffington Post featured an article called The brain training secrets of Olympic athletes.
The article discussed the importance of the mind and visualizations for Olympians.
“The physical aspect of the sport can only take you so far,” said Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shannon Miller during an interview with the Dana Foundation. “The mental aspect has to kick in, especially when you’re talking about the best of the best. In the Olympic games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medalists from the silver medalists is simply the mental game.”
You can also see an example in this video by Emily Cook, of the United States freestyle ski team, where she visualizes each aerial jump as part of her training for the Olympics.
Visualization video: Flying High While Still on the Ground
Visualization success stories
I have read in numerous places that the actor Jim Carrey credits his success to visualization.
He lived in poverty in Los Angeles.
He explains that he would regularly visualize himself as a successful actor, and he would write himself a check for 10 Million Dollars, “for acting services rendered.”
Allegedly he wrote the check in 1998, dated for 1994, the year he got a 10 Million Dollars check for Dumb and Dumber.
What are the benefits of visualization?
If you don’t see great riches with your imagination you will never see them in your bank balance. — Napoleon Hill
You can use visualization for many things:
- To manifest your dreams
- To heal from a specific condition, or to reduce stress (related: 11 Powerful Self-Healing Practices for Your Mind, Body, and Soul)
- To improve your confidence
- To help you see the positives and get out of any negative patterns
- To change your habits
- To increase your creativity
- And many more
I have used visualization on numerous occasions. For example, when I go to an interview I like to visualize myself tall and confident. I picture myself doing well, knowing what to answer, etc.
If you are not familiar with visualization or how to do it, this video might help you.: how to visualize what you want. I have also added some great visualization books at the end of this article.
How to Visualize What You Want (and Get It)
Does visualization work? Why Visualization works
I have taken the following explanation from Chapter 11: The Power of Your Mind to Create of my book Living on Earth: A Guide To Help You Achieve Health, Happiness, and Success.
This is what I wrote:
Austrian Psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the first known person to introduce the idea that the human mind is contained in three levels of awareness or consciousness.
He termed them the conscious, preconscious (most commonly known as our subconscious), and unconscious.
According to this model, the conscious mind is the rational decision maker, and it defines all thoughts and actions within our awareness.
It is our ego personality and its belief system.
People who don’t believe in having a soul, or spiritual self, usually think they are just their ego.
The subconscious mind defines all reactions and automatic actions, and it can’t reason like our conscious mind does.
Have you ever over-reacted to a minor incident?
What’s really happening is that the same type of unwanted behavior, or situation, has happened enough times to be permanently sealed in your subconscious mind, which is a million times more powerful than your conscious mind, and one more occurrence of the same issue pushes you over the top.
The unconscious mind is the soul presence.
Often called higher self (or inner self), it has full knowledge of our planning sessions, contracts and agreements, and all past events and memories which are usually (consciously) inaccessible to us.
The unconscious mind is the bridge between the soul and the Earth plane. It is the part that is accessed through kinesiology and tapping; it is the seat of our intuition.
The conscious and subconscious minds are interdependent.
With the conscious mind we will conjure up all our positive thoughts, but it is with repetition that those will be ingrained in the subconscious mind.
We can use the power of our mind to learn new habits because our subconscious mind learns from patterns and the repetition of patterns.
The subconscious mind runs all the programs of automatic behavior.
We learn how to drive, and then one day without our conscious effort we arrive at our destination.
It has probably happened to you: You get in your car, you start driving, and then you take the road to work although you didn’t mean to go that way and it was your day off.
This is important to understand because with the power of our subconscious mind we can create new habits that will serve us in achieving our goals.
The subconscious mind controls all the vital processes of our body, and our unconscious (or higher self), knows the answers to our problems.
The periods when we are drifting off to sleep and upon awakening are two of the most significant doorways into the sub-conscious.
Particularly at night, we can ask our subconscious mind what we need to know, or how to resolve an issue, and our subconscious mind will work on our goals or any tasks that we give it all night long.
We might also want to visualize the day ahead; waking up feeling energized and in an excellent mood, our morning meetings going very well, and accomplishing whatever is important for us.
By accessing that deeper mind, we can rewrite those issues and habits. We can do that in various ways: with affirmations, visualizations, visual boards, and meditation.
Visualize the most amazing life imaginable to you. Close your eyes and see it clearly. Then hold the vision for as long as you can. Now place the vision in God’s hands and consider it done. —Marianne Williamson
Visualization, through the Law of Attraction, magnetizes and attracts to you the people, resources, and opportunities you need to achieve your goals.
Visualization works for the same reason affirmations do: Our subconscious mind has no idea what is real or what is not. It only knows what the conscious mind tells it, so by placing positive and uplifting pictures in our mind, repeatedly, our subconscious mind activates them as real.
The universe doesn’t know if our vibration is because we are experiencing something real, or because we are imagining it.
In either case, it answers the vibration, and by the Law of Attraction the manifestation must follow.
When is the best time to visualize
It varies by person, and your schedule.
I find that it works well after or before meditating, because I’m sited, calm, and ready to utilize my mind.
I love journaling, and sometimes I will visualize my desire after I wrote it down.
I find journaling a great tool too to manifest my desires and to ask for help from the universe.
Visualization, affirmations, and visual boards
I love doing visual boards. They are so much fun. I don’t consider myself a creative person, but I certainly enjoy creating visual boards.
A vision board is a poster on which you create a collage of images you have collected from various places.
The images you put on a vision board relate to your desires: a picture of a new car, receiving a trophy, a happy family life, or a holiday destination.
Visual boards along with affirmations work really well with your visualization, they go hand in hand.
Affirmations are one of the most powerful tools we have to reprogram our subconscious mind.
I have an extensive article that talks about affirmations and visual boards, I have mentioned earlier. It is called:
Visualization success. How to achieve the best visualization results.
The following are some tips to help you visualize more efficiently:
1. Avoid visualizing the end goal only
For example, imagine you are a runner and you want to obtain gold at the next race.
Your visualization should not be just getting on top of the podium (although it won’t hurt to do that), but the main focus should be on seeing yourself with the best technique, the best speed, the most stamina, and seeing yourself at the frontline of all the runners.
And then visualizing yourself running first through the finishing line. Seeing yourself elated, delighted, out of this world happy. Jumping up and down with joy, you did it!
You need to break the visualization in the actual steps you should take to achieve your goal, and imagine doing those.
2. Use intense emotion
Visualizations need to be done with great emotion.
Emotions energize our thoughts and propel them to the outer world. That which we feel strongly, we will experience.
The stronger our emotions are, the more rapidly we create what we are thinking about.
By making our positive thoughts more vivid and real, we increase our ability to create what we want.
Another reason why we need to visualize adding strong emotion is that we always remember events by their emotion attached to them.
The stronger the emotion felt (good or bad), the more we remember it.
When we visualize our dreams coming true, the feeling of excitement and magnetism is more important than any other step.
3. Be realistic (and kind to yourself)
You can admire someone’s beauty without questioning your own.
Imagine that you want to lose weight, and you are visualizing yourself thin. The problem sometimes is that we have an unhealthy idea of what a healthy body should look like.
Unrealistic expectations can do more harm than good because if you don’t see results fast you might think that visualization doesn’t work for you. All the “Hollywood” images are never ever realistic.
4. Take action
Visualization absolutely works to achieve better results in many areas of your life, but you also must take action: stop over-eating those cookies, go to the gym often, take care of yourself, etc.
5. Be joyous, don’t take visualization too seriously
You might get frustrated if you don’t see results fast, but life is a journey, not a destination. Buddha said there is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.
There is divine timing in everything we do and try to accomplish.
6. Practice, practice, practice.
Don’t visualize one day and leave it at that.
Visualize often, ideally daily for 5-10 min until you achieve what you want.
The following is a great 10-minute video that can help you.
Manifest Your Goal in 10 Minutes (Powerful Visualization)
7. Last but not least, read some great visualization books
The following three books will help you with your visualization goals.
Visualization Book for Healing
The Healing Power of Mind, by Tulku Thondup
The Healing Power of Mind is a wonderful book. Our mind is an incredible tool to help us heal and feel better.
This book includes the foundations of healing, breathing, visualization, and healing meditations.
I have done some of the visualizations and found them to be very useful. They are very easy to follow, and there are plenty to choose from.
I particularly like the visualizations for letting go of sadness and the exercise to focus the scattered mind.
I feel at peace after reading and applying the exercises.
This is a powerful book, I highly recommend it.
Visualization Book For Sports
With Winning In Mind, by Larry Bassham
This is such a great book.
The author, Lanny Bassham, explains that there is a mental system that when used will speed up the process of winning.
Bassham took silver in rifle shooting at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich which left him devasted, obviously he wanted to win Gold.
Bassham explains that this defeat set him off on a journey to find out everything he could about how the mind is involved in sports and performance.
His discovery lead to the creation of Mental Management Systems and brought Bassham to Gold at the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal.
A Powerful book.
Best General Visualization Book
Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life
Creative Visualization is a worldwide bestseller for good reason.
You will learn everything you need to know about visualization in this book.
In part one you will learn the basics of creative visualization: what it is, how to visualize, etc.
In part two the authors go into more detail about contacting your higher self and how to use creative visualization to attract what you want in your life.
In part three you will learn meditation and affirmations, in part four special techniques, and in part 5 how to live creatively.
It is a relatively small book but worth its weight in gold.
To close out the article, I want to leave you with a great quote:
“Everything you can imagine is real.” —Pablo Picasso
Do you have any visualization success story you would like to share? Do you visualize often? Please let me know in the comments below