The Science Behind Visualization

If the very title of this blog post makes you start mocking me in your head, you are not alone.  Many people question the validity of visualization and its use in attracting what we want into our lives.  I know this because I was one of those people. 

It all sounds a little too hokey for us left brained, mathematicians.  We need some concrete evidence, some data that either proves or disproves this theory.  What is visualization anyway?  And how do people use it?

Visualization is the act of creating compelling and vivid pictures in your mind.  In other words, the process of creating an image or feeling of what you want to take place. 

Ask almost any professional athlete, and they will attest to the power of visualization.  For decades now, athletes have completed their perfect performance or played their perfect game in their mind many times before the actual competition.  This increases their confidence as well as experience in handling a variety of situations because their mind is prepared in advance on how to react. 

It's called mental rehearsal, and I've used it for a variety of circumstances, including visualizing myself giving a speech with ease and excitement.  Then I walk onstage and do just that!

And its not just happening for athletes and speakers.  The science side of this is phenomenal.  You asked, you left-brained nerd, so we have to go here. 

It’s called the Reticular Activating System and it resides in your brain.  Now don’t ask me to get more technical than that without sending you to a lot of science based articles.  But let’s just dissect how it affects you and me on a daily basis.

This part of the brain processes information and brings relevant information to your attention.  Picture yourself walking through a noisy airport.  Flight announcements and delays are booming over the loud speakers all around you.  Fellow travelers are talking on their mobile devices.  Children are scuffling, releasing pent up energy between flights. 

But you are oblivious to all this noise, until you hear your name called on the loud speaker.  Your brain goes into action to bring this to your attention, even though seconds before they had been announcing a list of other names, none of which you can recall. 

This system in your brain helps you notice things or resources that have always been there, but you haven’t needed them until now.  Until the moment you ask.

So back to you and visualization and how you can apply this to your life.  If you’re even a little bit curious to try it, here are some practical steps to start adding this powerful technique to your success principles.

1)     Sit quietly and ask yourself what you want.  What do you want to feel?  What do you want to have?  What quality of relationships do you want to manifest?  Ask God to guide you to His purpose in your life.

2)     Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater.  The screen depicts you as you go about your day and your life.  Set your intentions for how you want your day to go, conversations to go, each meeting to go.  If you have certain career goals, envision yourself in that job, how it will feel, what you will do. 

3)     Put concrete pictures to your goals by creating a vision board.  These are helpful in quickly bringing up images of things you want, feelings you want to create, bringing continuity and clarity to your goals and intentions. 

4)     Review your vision board daily, preferably first thing in the morning, right before bed, or right after meditation, as you tend to be most relaxed at these times. 

I know, I know, you’re still doubtful, and honestly, I continue to doubt sometimes too.  However, when I look back on my past vision boards and realize most of those things have come to pass, I get less sarcastic about this technique.  If the worst thing that can happen is me wasting a few moments being positive about my future, then I guess I’m willing to take that risk. 

Have you tried visualization?  What for?  Are you willing to give it a shot?