• The face of a loved one or pet
• A possible solution to a thorny problem
• Where I’m going on vacation
• A different option for a challenging situation
• Something I appreciate or for which I feel gratitude
• A new, creative idea
Larry left my office scratching his head and mumbling that he guessed he’d have to think about this topic a bit more. Closing the door I picked up my chuckle where I’d left off.
Studies have shown many benefits from visualization:
• Health issues – Patients are learning to picture wellness. Children with severe asthma are being taught to visualize their bronchial tubes expanding and allowing air to flow freely into their lungs. In many cases, this effectively aborts asthmatic breathing attacks.
• Stamina-related activities – Many athletes, musicians, and other performers use visualization in their training as they prepare for their events. They internally picture an ideal performance over and over. When they actually perform, their mind and body follow these pre-established configurations.
• Learning strategies - Imaging is seen as the basis for comprehension in whole-brain learning. Learners are encouraged to visualize, draw, and use drama as they develop new ideas, in order to retain them.
• Spiritual awareness - People interested in meditation or prayer (a form of meditation) are learning to ponder a mental picture, focusing their thoughts in contemplation. This gives brain and body a map to follow. Eventually they can move toward becoming the mental picture they have been seeing in their mind’s eye.
Long before the advent of moving pictures, people created their own internal movies. And some of them were amazingthe movies, that is. Family members gathered around the radio after dinner or read stories aloud. Their brains created pictures in their mind’s eye of what they were hearing, with unlimited imagination.
Today’s world is quite different, with its emphasis on television, movies, and videos. Those mediums largely promote passive mental picturing, i.e., the brain processes what other brains have already created. Studies have shown that viewing large amounts of television may decrease one’s skills of active mental picturing, a key component of both creativity and problem solving.
Although not composed of muscle tissue, the brain resembles a muscle in terms of function. It strengthens with exercise. You can hone the skill of visualizing and stimulate your brain at the same time. Every thought creates a movie in your mind’s eye. In effect, you are your own script writer, director, photographer, editor, and viewer.
Unfortunately, some use their brain function in negative ways: rehearsing worry, anxiety, fear, and failure, to name just a few. Others, in positive ways, honing visualization skills to improve their personal health, relationships, well-being, and to be more successful in life.
Your brain habits can be critically important in relationships as well as in other aspects of life and living. How are you using the natural brain phenomenon of visualization? Do you allow your brain’s visualization ability to run away with itself, focus primarily on negatives, and imagine the worst? Or do you create positive mental pictures and move toward those?
Such choices are no laughing matter.