The power of the mind to influence the body is quite remarkable. Imagery can be helpful in 90 percent of the problems that people bring to their doctors or counsellors. Images are the most fundamental language we have. Everything you do, the mind processes through images. When we recall events from our past, it is hardly ever through words.
Images may not be limited to visual. We can include sounds, tastes, smells or a combination of those sensations. In fact incorporating a combination of our senses with our visualizing is powerful.
Imagery is the language that the mind uses to communicate with the body. We do not talk to a damaged or ill part of our body and speak it away. Instead, we imagine the diseased part of our body healing or shrinking away. Likewise, we do not speak to our future and tell it what to show up. We imagine our futures with images, feelings, smells and sounds.
In a Special Issue of Memory, Mental Imagery and Memory in Psychopathology edited by Emily A. Holmes and Ann Hackmann (ISBN: 978-1-84169-967-7), M.A. Conway presents novel insights that suggest, “imagery is highly associated with self goals. Imagery can both reflect and maintain goals linked to psychopathology.
An exciting consequence of this framework is that imagery can be used to resolve dysfunctional states in therapy. Imagery in psychopathology tends to be highly intrusive, distressing, and repetitive. It may arise ‘out of the blue’, i.e. directly triggered from autobiographical memory.
Images can hijack attention and reflect negative self goals. It may therefore understandably provoke a variety of cognitive and behavioural responses. For example, interpreting the image as representing fact rather than fiction, trying to block it out of mind, or avoiding triggers for the image. Cognitive behavioural therapy targets such responses because they are thought to maintain psychopathology in a vicious cycle.
In contrast, responses that update the image in memory could break that cycle. Further there is a role for positive, alternative images.” Conway suggests that generating new images can generate new goals and thus ameliorate distress: an insight that may further enhance therapy.
Unfortunately, many of the images popping into our heads do more harm than good. Your thoughts have a direct influence on the way you feel and behave. Imagination can either be a run-away train speeding towards a wreck, or you could choose to harness your thoughts and visions. It is preferable to manage your responses to life situations, make conscious choices and move them toward what you see when you visualize your desired outcomes.
We are feeling machines. What have you been putting in front of that feeling machine each day? Are you filling it with the emotions and feelings fed to you from a television screen? Have you noticed how negative these images are becoming and how desensitised we become over time, as we view more and more of them? Your brain is sending your body powerful messages of being comfortable with maiming or killing another human being, with yelling and anger. Is that what you want for yourself and for your children?
Athletes commonly use visualization to enhance their performance. We can do the same for our lives. Seeing something over and over in our mind starts to tune our body toward producing that result. See it, feel it and experience it before you actually do it. Begin with the end in mind.
You can do this in every area of your life. See your desired end results vividly, over and over again. This creates for you something akin to an internal comfort zone. Then, when you find yourself in the actual situation, it is not foreign and does not scare you. When that is the case, you are far less likely to reject the situation and sabotage the success. Instead, it will feel like home.
The most effective images are the ones that have some meaning to you. If you want to put your visions on display for yourself and add affirmations to them, then a good affirmation wants the five basic elements of being personal, being positive i.e. stated in the affirmative, set in the present tense, is itself visual, and carries with it emotional feeling.
There are many techniques available to support you with visualization that adds power to your life. Most of them do recommend that visualizing closest in time to the beginning and the end of your day is preferred, for best effectiveness. You can also visualize certain intended outcomes just moments before an event. This is essentially what athletes do, however I am sure that they would also set aside deliberate, alternate times to imagine the successful result for their sporting events.
Some people have shared about personal experiences of almost miracle type situations showing up in their lives shortly after beginning to practise imagery techniques regularly. It may simply be due to the fact that they have now opened themselves up for noticing, tuning in and receiving those opportunities, which at earlier times, might have been ignored or not even seen and heard.
Learn to use your imagination in a way that is purposeful and directed, and it can be a powerful vehicle for getting you where you want to go.
Six minutes a day, meditate on your visions in a Mind Movie.