What Is Visualization Meditation, And What Are The Benefits?
When we’re children, our imaginations often run rampant as we envision ourselves in a variety of exciting scenarios. As we grow up, however, we may begin to use our creative muscles less, not realizing that imagination can be a useful tool for adults as well. We might scrap imagination because we don’t need it for most of our adult responsibilities.
However, experts are discovering that using our imagination in adulthood can be beneficial to reaching our goals and manifesting what we want in life. Visualization is actively used by a host of successful people, including athletes, entertainers, and business moguls. While you can simply visualize reaching your goals, one of the most effective ways to use this technique is to practice visualization meditation. This is a simple, step-by-step process you can do almost anywhere and anytime. Below, we’ll take a closer look at how visualization meditation works and how it can benefit you.
What Is Visualization Meditation?
Visualization meditation combines the practice of meditation with the technique of visualization.
Visualization can make a difference in numerous areas of life. Scientists have found that visualization can even improve health problems like cancer symptoms and depression. In visualization meditation, you simply combine these two practices, visualizing something positive while you meditate.
What Are The Benefits Of Visualization Meditation?
Meditation on its own can provide many health benefits, such as reducing high blood pressure, lowering your heart rate, and calming your mind. In addition, visualization can help you move toward success surely and steadily. The following are some of the potential benefits of combining the two and practicing visualization meditation:
- Increased Positivity: As you practice this technique, you may naturally develop a more positive outlook. You might learn to let go of negative self-talk that might have been holding you back for years. You can also develop the habit of problem-solving and gain a more positive, success-oriented outlook.
- Better Goals Held In Mind: Since visualization meditation requires you to focus on your goals, these goals can become more real and immediate to you. Once you’ve focused on them intently for a while, they may stick with you and inform the choices you make every day.
- Emotional Preparation: The calming element of meditation can help you prepare for the challenges you’ll meet while working toward your goals. When you do finally meet these goals, you might be in a healthier mindset to enjoy the pleasant and exciting feelings that often accompany that success.
- Improved Focus: The ability to focus isn’t necessarily something you have or lack. Instead, it’s something you can develop, build, and improve over time. If you flex that muscle enough, you may find your focus can be as strong as you need it to be when it really counts.
- Increased Motivation And Energy: Meditation sessions usually bring increased energy. As your body relaxes and takes in fresh air, you may become more physically and mentally energetic. Plus, your motivation might increase as you continue your practice.
- Readiness For Action: With a clear plan and extra focus, you might feel more prepared to move toward your goals every day. Instead of lacking self-confidence, you may feel more assured that you have what it takes to succeed.
Moving Toward The Future
When you think of the challenges that lie ahead of you, you may have only a vague idea of where you want to go with your life. If that’s the case, you may be more likely to stumble into anything that comes along without exerting much control over what happens to you.
However, visualization may allow you to see the future you want in vivid terms. You know not only what you want but also how to achieve it. Combined with SMART goals, visualization can move you steadily toward the future you want to create.
What Is A SMART Goal?
In 1981, George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham wrote about SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that would come to be used by corporations, governments, and individuals alike when planning for the future. Here’s what it stands for:
- Specific. According to the SMART system, goals need to be specific. Otherwise, you know neither how to achieve them nor when you’ve been successful.
- Measurable. Goals need to be measurable so that you know when you’re falling short of the mark and when you’re moving toward it. In the end, if a goal isn’t measurable, you may only have a vague notion of whether or not you have achieved it.
- Attainable. You must be able to assign a goal so that someone (or a team) is responsible for making it happen. Someone or something outside your control may not be an attainable goal.
- Realistic. If a goal isn’t realistic, it may not be fair to set it. Instead, try to set goals that are possible to achieve.
- Time-related. Your goals need a deadline, or they may never get completed.
Goals can be helpful in nearly every aspect of life. It’s important to note, however, that a goal is not a visualization, but rather something you can visualize. For visualization to work, you need to find your own unique vision.
How To Visualize Through Meditation
If you want to try visualization meditation, you’ll need to give yourself some time to stop and reflect on your life. You can do a quick visualization meditation in a few minutes, or you can take a bit longer to connect with your inner self on a deeper level.
When people first use this method, they often find it difficult to stay focused for very long. They’re usually quickly distracted by random thoughts or their environment. However, persistence can lead to improvement. Eventually, you can develop a greater ability to practice this technique. The following steps may help you visualize during meditation.
Focus Through Mental Exercise
When you want to meditate, you can use a focusing exercise. Deep, controlled breathing may help keep you calm and alert. Plus, it can give you something to focus on other than your problems. Alternatively, you can look directly at an object and focus on that. Whatever focus you create will carry you through the next steps of the visualization process.
Focus On One Area Of Your Life
If you’re using visualization meditation to make big changes, it may be tempting to try to fix everything in your life all at once. Instead, however, it can be more effective to focus on just one aspect at a time. For example, you might focus on your career, your relationships, or your financial situation.
Imagine The Best That Could Happen
One of your main tasks during the meditation is to imagine the very best that could happen. You might try to imagine it clearly, distinctly, and in detail. Also, try to visualize where you see yourself and what you want. Picture what you want to manifest over time.
Allow Negative Thoughts To Pass
Let your worries, fears, and arguments pass by without dwelling on them. You can’t stop thoughts from coming, but you can simply observe them until they go away. This may open up your mind so that you can dwell on positive thoughts instead.
Meditate On A Mid-Range Goal
Think of a time in the not-too-distant future when you’ll have had a chance to make progress toward your goal. Ideally, what do you want to achieve by that time? You might think about what steps you’ll take in your imagined future to move toward that goal.
Imagine Your Life When That Goal Comes True
Next, you can imagine what your life will be like when you achieve your SMART goal. Visualize the specifics of it. What sights will you see? What else will you experience? How will you feel emotionally?
Step Back And Enjoy the View
Next, you might gain some perspective by imagining that you’re watching yourself experience the good feelings and exciting sensations associated with achieving your goal. Enjoy the moment, knowing you’ve already taken an important step toward making your dream come true.
Come Back To The Center To Choose Immediate Steps Toward Your Goal
The last step of visualization meditation is to think about the concrete steps you’ll take in the coming day, week, or month to move toward making your goal a reality. Make these short-term SMART goals, and dwell on their ability to guide you toward success. As you close your visualization meditation, relax into your physical self, feeling the sensations that are present in your environment.
Move Toward Your Goal Every Day
Although the meditation itself is over, you can continue to benefit from the insights it gave you. You can’t go about your life in a constant state of intense meditative focus, but you can reflect regularly on your goals and the actions you take toward those goals. You can take small but consistent actions every day.
How To Get Started
Meditation is one of the simplest exercises to try because it requires no tools outside of your body, your focus, and your mind. Below are a few tips to help you start your visualization meditation journey:
- Find a quiet, distraction-free place to meditate: After a little practice, you may be able to meditate anywhere, but those who are new to meditation may be more likely to succeed in a quiet environment with limited distractions. You might want to put your phone on do-not-disturb and settle in before you start meditating.
- Practice your visualization every chance you get: You might think of imagination as a muscle that needs to be worked out. Even after you’re done meditating and visualizing, you can continue trying to build mental images whenever you have a chance. Whether you’re imagining your workout before you lift weights or you’re picturing a great day at work, try visualizing every aspect of your life to get more practice.
- Be as realistic as possible in your goals: There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and it can be useful to expect the best from yourself. However, it can be helpful to know your limits and work toward goals you can achieve. When you set unrealistic goals, you may inadvertently set yourself up for failure, which can be detrimental to your mental health as well as your future goal-setting attempts. For this reason, it may help to take some time to consider goals that are ambitious yet attainable.
Talk To A Counselor To Learn Visualization Meditation
If you’re new to the practice of visualization meditation, you might consider easing into the practice by talking to a counselor with training and experience in this area. If you don’t have time to go to a therapy office, you might try online therapy, which research has demonstrated to be just as effective as in-office therapy.
If you’re looking for affordable, convenient online therapy, you can connect with a licensed mental health counselor through BetterHelp. Meditation visualization is just one technique your counselor can teach you to improve your life. You can also get advice on other mental health concerns, find new coping techniques for stress or worry, and learn how to have more control over your emotions. BetterHelp allows you to choose when and where you meet with your therapist, and you can choose video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging as means of connection.
Below are some reviews from individuals who have worked with BetterHelp counselors:
“Rachael is OUTSTANDING. This is my first experience with counseling/therapy and she’s made it something I didn’t realize I would enjoy so much. I always feel more confident and planned out after we talk. She helps me build realistic goals and checkpoints to help me get there. I never have to feel embarrassed about what I say (or if I’m crying the whole time!). She feels like my smartest, most helpful friend who gives the very best advice by aiding me in finding my own solutions. 10/10 would recommend!”
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How do I train myself to visualize?
Visualizing can take some practice if you are not used to the activity. Instead of launching straight into visualization meditations, it might help to practice some visualization exercises. These exercises might involve creating tangible reminders of what you are hoping to achieve, such as a post-it note with your long-term goals on your desk, or a vision board with artistic representations of your desired accomplishments. These reminders can help you more easily connect a mental image of your visualization.
Is guided meditation the same as visualization?
Guided meditation typically involves some elements of visualization, but it does not have to. Guided meditation is an umbrella term used to describe meditation programs that are not self-directed. Typically, a guided meditation practice involves listening to a recording of another person as they give you instructions about what to focus on and what to imagine. Depending on what you would like to accomplish through meditating, whether your goal is to reduce stress and anxiety, achieve a sense of inner peace, focus on the present moment, or simply take some time to take some deep breaths, guided meditations can help, especially for meditation newcomers. You can choose a guided visualization meditation, a guided loving-kindness meditation, a guided compassion meditation, or whichever type of meditation speaks most to you.
What is the difference between hypnosis and visualization?
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy use guided imagery to help a patient achieve a goal. Some may argue that visualization, especially visualization meditation, is a form of “self-hypnosis.” However, there are some concrete differences between hypnosis and visualization. While visualization meditation often involves a state of deep relaxation, it typically does not produce a trance state, which is integral to hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is also often focused on achieving a singular specific goal, such as quitting smoking, while visualization can be oriented more toward making significant larger life changes, such as reorienting one’s career.
What is visualization relaxation?
Visualization relaxation is similar to visualization meditation, but it is primarily used as a technique to reduce psychological stress, as opposed to visualizing goals you may want to achieve. Visualization relaxation involves envisioning yourself in a scene you find relaxing or where you have found relaxation in the past (common examples include hiking in a forest or sitting around a campfire). Visualization relaxation can help decrease anxiety and boost positive feelings.
Why do I struggle to visualise?
Visualizing can be difficult, especially for people who do not believe they have a very active imagination. The truth is, everyone has the ability to imagine and visualize, even if you have not used these skills since childhood. If you are having difficulty with visualization, it may help to start out with guided visualizations.
Why do I see black when I try to visualize?
Difficulties with visualization can be common, especially if you are new to the practice. However, if you continue to not be able to “see” anything in your mind’s eye, even after trying guided visualizations and other visualization techniques, it may be a sign of a condition known as aphantasia. Aphantasia refers to the inability to visualize images. It is a rare condition that typically does not negatively impact a person’s day-to-day functioning.
What should I visualize while meditating?
If you are hoping to use visualization meditation to achieve specific goals, it can be helpful to visualize what your life might look like once you have achieved those goals. For example, if you want to progress in your career, your visualization may look like imagining a day in your life at the office after you receive a promotion.
How do you practice Visualisation meditation?
First, you should find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed for however long you hope to meditate. Seat yourself in a comfortable position and take a deep breath. If your mind is racing or your thoughts are wandering, you may want to focus only on your breathing for a little while, until you become more relaxed. Once you are in a meditative state, you can begin the visualization process. Imagine yourself accomplishing a goal you have been striving for. The more specific the details in your visualization, the more effective your practice will likely be.
Is visualization meditation effective?
More research is needed to determine if visualization meditation is effective in helping people accomplish their goals, though anecdotal evidence suggests that the practice may be beneficial. Current research indicates that visualization meditation can improve health outcomes, though. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine found that consistently practicing mind-body therapies, including visualization meditation, reduced patients’ experiences with physical pain to the point where they did not require as much opioid pain medication.
Is visualization subconscious?
Visualization is a conscious process that occurs with the participant’s full knowledge and awareness.
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