5 tips for making visualisation work

image from istockphoto
image from istockphoto

Here are 5 tips that can be used to help you get the most out of your visualizations, whether you’re applying them to heal your body, to change your life, or to improve your sports performance.

 

Believe in yourself

This is why I write about and teach the science behind the mind-body connection. If you understand that you’re always affecting your body with your mind, and that the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and imaginary, you realise that your mind is not some floaty, ethereal, thing that only interprets life events, but something that actually causes changes in the body. This way, you develop faith in yourself, that what you imagine, hope for, or intend, does have effects.

You can only do it right

This is something I say every time I guide people through a visualization process. Many people think they can’t visualise because they think everyone else sees in high definition (HD). Trust me, they don’t. But it’s the thought that they do that makes us think we’re doing it wrong. Actually, most people just get a vague set of images. What matters most is your intention and that you’re not thinking that you’re doing it wrong. I like the word, ‘imagine’ rather than visualise, because we all imagine in our own way. When I imagine, I have images in my mind’s eye but they are rarely that clear. For me, it’s more a feeling and sensing thing.

Relax

This can be easier said than done, but a regular practice of relaxing goes a long way to reducing stress in the body, which can only be a good thing. Meditation is great, as is yoga. Physical exercise is also a good way of relaxing. Eating a good diet can also help, one free of stimulants and high amounts of sugar and saturated fat.

Lighten up

I often suggest that people add a tiny bit of humour to their visualizations. This helps get around the worry that it might not work. When we worry, we activate brain areas associated with fear and anxiety. So if we inject a little lightness into the visualization, we retain our concentration on what we’re imagining and we might even help wire our brain networks away from the worry centres so that optimism and hope are born instead of worry. I encourage people to create a ‘victory dance’ to end their visualization. Basically, you do a silly dance of victory after you finish, and you have to do it until you find yourself smiling. This helps wire lightness into the brain.

The 3 R’s – Repetition-Repetition-Repetition

Research shows that we change brain structure through repetition of imagining movements. Brain scans of people playing piano versus people imagining playing it showed the same degree of changes in the same areas of the brain. But to get the changes required repetition of the movements – real or imaginary. When we stop doing the work, the brain regions shrink again. This is why consistency is key. You don’t become Olympic champion by going to the gym once. It’s important to do consistent visualization practice to get the best results.

 

References:

David R Hamilton PhD, “How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body”. Paperback kindle

11 thoughts on “5 tips for making visualisation work

  1. jackie blain

    Would it be possible to have some events in the Manchester area.? I saw David at the Quaker Meeting house in Manchester some years ago but haven’t seen any events advertised since apart from Sowerby Bridge which was obviously cancelled.

  2. Kathy Bott

    How true the visualisation works as it does for me. I have been doing this over the last 2 years and success is now pushing me forward to do all the things I want to do. I have got on the diet, went to look at houses I didn’t think I could have and now I have almost got to my goal weight and buying a house and move in next week! How great is that. All positive and powerful stuff.

    Kathy

  3. What a brilliant concise but informative nugget of information. Although I already practice visualization/imagination – the ‘Lighten up’ part about doing a crazy dance really resonated with my thinking… Thank You x

  4. Excellent advice, David – so encouraging and exactly what I need to hear and have reiterated at the moment – so thank you! Hugs, Sf xx

  5. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Glad it was useful for you Sarah-Fiona. 🙂

  6. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Yes, the lighten-up part is the bit I most enjoy about visualization. Glad it was useful for you. 🙂

  7. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Well done Kathy. 🙂

  8. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Hi Jackie, I have nothing in my schedule for Manchester at the moment. Sorry. But I may have something later in the year. I spoke in Sowerby Bridge in February and also a couple of years earlier. I’ve not had a cancelled event there, other than once in Shipley, a few miles away, due to heavy snow. That was 2/3 years ago, I think. 🙂

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