5 Reasons Why You Should Visualize

image: iStock Photo

We’ve all heard of visualization. Many people visualize daily, either to improve their health or their life situation. Some people try it from time to time.

My personal experience of visualization is that it is highly powerful for a few different reasons. And it’s good to know why! Maybe that’s just my science training, where I need to know the how’s and the why’s. But, honestly, there is no question that understanding the how’s and why’s actually bring you more belief in yourself and in the process of what you are doing. That’s why I’ve written this short blog about the reasons why visualization is so powerful.

Whether you are visualizing on a health goal or a life improvement one, visualization helps a lot … for the following reasons:


1) It makes you feel empowered

When you visualize on better health or achieving a goal, it brings you a sense of inner empowerment. This is because you start to notice small changes in your life as you move in the direction you want to go in.

With health, you start to see improvements and it brings you a belief in yourself and in the process of what you are doing. The effect of this is that it shifts the sense of power away from the outside world, where you often feel powerless, to the inside, where you feel you are more in control of what happens. And this makes all the difference because it breeds motivation, creativity, and positive emotion.

With life goals, you start to realize that there is actually a lot you can do to move yourself in the direction you wish.

2) Your brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary

Research shows that if one person does something and another person visualizes doing the thing, the same brain areas are activated in both of them. And if they keep doing the thing or imagining doing the thing, their brain regions undergo actual physical change (called neuroplasticity) to the same degree.

You can harness this for health. A growing body of research shows that when you visualize improving health, the body moves towards health. And you can harness it for life goals. When you imagine living your dream, your brain processes it as if it is happening now. In fact, afterwards, to your brain, it’s a memory.

3) It focuses your willpower

Regular visualization helps to focus your mind on what you want. One of the problems many people face when aiming for goals is that they lose focus, becoming distracted by the goings on of life. When you visualize on a regular basis, especially if you set aside some definite time each day, it focuses your mind. It trains you to hold your focus despite what else is going on.

And as you stay focused you spot opportunities to move towards your goal. If it’s a health goal, you tend to learn extra insights that can help you. If it’s a life change goal, you’re more likely to be in the right place at the right time.

4) It has health benefits

Countless people all around the world use visualization to help facilitate their recoveries from illness and disease. The most common strategy is where they imagine changing a picture of illness into a picture of wellness, and they do it over and over again, 2 or 3 times a day.

And you can get as detailed as you like. Some people visualize cleaning individual cells, restoring them to health and wellness, and others simple visualize a whole body region in perfect condition. Both scenarios work equally well.

There is now a growing body of research that shows this working. Whether it is through a harnessing of willpower, a sense of empowerment, or that the brain processes what you are imagining as real, or a combination of all three, there is no question that visualization for better health has positive benefits.

5) If you believe in visualization, it works even better

Belief carries great power! The placebo effect shows us that belief can heal. Belief changes brain chemistry and brings about immune, hormonal, and physiological changes throughout the body.

When one person takes a painkiller and the other a placebo, for instance, brain scans look strikingly similar. This is because the person’s belief produces its own chemistry that brings about what they expect to happen – ie., a reduction in pain. In this case, the brain produces natural painkillers (endogenous opiates).

When you do anything and believe in yourself, your ability is enhanced. Any elite athlete will tell you that. When you visualize better health, believing that what you are doing has powerful effects, your own belief amplifies the power of what you are doing. The same is true with life goals; your own belief brings you more energy, motivation, and helps you spot opportunities when they arise.


Oh, and one final point: You don’t need to be a great ‘visualizer’. It’s the quality of your intent that matters most. Some people ‘see’ clearly, others just have a vague picture. Some people see out of their own eyes, others imagine looking at themselves from outside. All of these different versions work equally well. We’re all different and we all have different ways of doing things.

My experience is that your intention matters most. If your mind is pointed towards where you want to go, then you’re doing it right.

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  1. Sue on June 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for this clear explanation. It’s a reminder for me at just how well cisualisation works.
    I’ve used it in the past for major health issues and getting to exactly where I wanted to be (from a place I really didn’t want to be).
    Now I’m happy again and involved in daily life a lot, found I’ve been out of touch with this technique and little signs of getting ‘stuck’ again can happen (ie, colds, low mood, bad sleep, worry), it’s actually real fun to use this, exciting even, when you literally create change. Thanks again, Sue

  2. Ursula on June 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Love this explanation! You’re amazing and we are all very grateful for what you’re doing. One of my favourite scientists!

  3. Kathy on June 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Love this article! I visualize my own great health every day. And I have visualized wonderful trips and great family times together – which turn out just like that.
    One question: can I visualize for someone else? Health and/or relationships?
    Thank you!

  4. Susan on June 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Thank goodness for David….and his words of encouragement….think how many people will see this and
    feel good about visualizing wellness….it will make our world well!

    Always a pleasure to get any info from David Hamilton! I’m visualizing daily and doing distance healing s
    and, I have proof they are working on my clients! But, it sure helps for someone to come along and say you’re
    not crazy….visualizations DO WORK!

    Thank you, David!

  5. Karon Clements on June 30, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Perfect. Doing a workshop in my Town Hall on Wed night mostly on visualisation for improving performance. Just reinforced my notes. Thank you

  6. Monika D on June 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Dear David,

    I visualise most days. For some reason, some times it works and other it just does not want to. Just what could be the reason?

    I have two small spots on my face, they have been there since spring. Thinking I ought to see a doctor… but the spots are small and regular, so I have decided to visualise. Some time I just see my skin in full health, spot free. Other times, I take T helper cells and they drive across and eat up all the cells that are not a 100%. Other times I feel the skin very intensely, so it’s like sparkling. But alas, the spots have not heard me! They just sit there.

    Just like the verucca. I’ve said good-bye to it so often, but it’s still there, just as my tummy.

    Actually, only one visualisation I’ve done has worked, coming to think of it, but then I repeated it for years.

    I’ll be ever so grateful for good advice, tips and such.

  7. Heidi on July 1, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Hi David – Thank you for this post, as it is a reminder of what I read in your book over a year ago and practiced diligently for a while. I still incorporate it when I can, but I am a busy single mum of three and find it hard sometimes to make the time for me to sit and meditate, especially with them all out of school for the summer. Is it okay to use visualization during meditation, meaning can they be one in the same? And for how long do you visualize on a subject per session (you had mentioned above about doing it over and over again, 2 to 3 times a day). If you have more than one thing you’re working on (i.e., better health, eliminating physical pain, getting stronger muscles through exercise, the job you desire, meeting your soul mate, etc.), is it a few minutes of each, all combined into one session? I feel like I am always multitasking, something I am good at in my day-to-day life, but I’m thinking that’s not the best way to meditate…or is it? Thanks for any input! 🙂

  8. Santimoy Ghoshal on July 1, 2014 at 5:26 am

    I entirely agree with Dr Hamilton and know visualisation to be very effective.Dr Hamilton has

    explained the point very nicely here and also in his Book ‘How your Mind can Heal your Body’

  9. Alan on July 1, 2014 at 6:45 am

    I love this article & your books David. I am setting a health goal to avoid an operation.
    God bless

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on July 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      I hope your goal is fulfilled, Alan. 🙂

  10. Tessa Guy on July 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Since my experience with cancer, I’ve taken up visualization BIG time! I have also read copious books on and around the subject – mediation, visualisation, collective consciousness…..each author adds his or her different take on ‘how’ best this works. As a society we are always keen to do it ‘right’ but for me this is where it is easy for people fall down…..it doesn’t necessarily ‘feel right’ for them, so eventually they give up and end up visualising what they don’t want rather than what they desire.
    I think, as you write, it is the ‘intent’ that matters. As individuals we are all unique, therefore there is no ‘right’ way to do this. Believe what you do is ‘right’ for you. Hold belief and faith in your visualization and give yourself the best possible chance of success.

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on July 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks for this great advice for readers, Tessa. 🙂

  11. carol on July 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for this David love your posts I visualize as well for a parking space if I take my mum to the hospital always get a space or a good day at work with colleagues and customers it always works for me

    Would u reccomend to visualize for your goals in life ? Thanks carol

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on July 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Carol, Great you get it to work for parking spaces. 🙂 Yes, certainly, you can visualise for your goals in life. I do that! 🙂

  12. sharon Hughes on July 5, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Just interested in the answers to the questions posted on visualization, i.e. how long do you have to visualise for and can you visualise for someone else?


    Sharon Hughes

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on July 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Sharon, Most people visualise for about 5 minutes at a time, either once or twice a day. There’s no actual rule. To be honest, in my experience, you can only do it right!!! In some ways, visualisation is just a way to focus your intent. Whether you can do that in a few minutes a day, or several times for a few seconds, you are doing it right.

      I do believe you can visualise for someone else. You can’t force a person to do something, but I’ve found that visualisation some someone else is like saying a prayer for their happiness. It’s best if it’s something you know they want. 🙂

  13. Anne Curran on July 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

    thank you
    very helpful
    very wise

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on July 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks Anne. 🙂

  14. Marléne Rose Shaw on July 22, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Hi David, I always ask my new clients, where they see themselves at the end of counselling. I ask them to describe to me what life will look like when they are happier. Often they don’t know at first, they struggle with this question; but a simple exercise in visualising brings them into alignment. Even if this is only for a few moments it’s such a good start; its amazing how happier they become just by having that vision in place.

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