What Is Visualization Meditation And What Are The Benefits?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated September 28, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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. 

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What Is Visualization Meditation?

Visualization meditation combines the practice of meditation with the technique of visualization.

In meditation, you sharpen your focus through a variety of exercises, such as practicing controlled breathing or repeating a mantra. It’s a practice based on calm reflection. Visualization is a technique that can help you experience the feelings associated with achieving a future goal. It’s similar to guided imagery in that it’s rooted in visual images and other sensory experiences.

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

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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.
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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:

Counselor Reviews

“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!”

“As I maneuver through difficulties, Krista has made the experience a little bit easier, less lonely, and something of a challenge to overcome rather than a reason to be stagnant. I’m grateful for her professional skills and long-term partnership I have been fortunate to be able to build. Living this past year mindfully the best I can made me see my strengths and things I need to work on clearer. The resilience I’ve gained and Krista helped me realise became a quality of mine I’m very proud of. I believe the skillset and tolerance I’ll continue to gain living mindfully in my 20s will be an asset that will help me tackle any issues that come up in the future. Krista really understands my values and aspirations. She encourages me to pursue my passion and chase my dream no matter the many, long-lasting, face-scrunching hiccups along the way. I’m also thankful for BetterHelp. This is only possible online as I move and travel a lot.”

Takeaway

Visualization meditation can help you mentally prepare for success as you work toward your personal and professional goals. It can provide many benefits for your health both physically and mentally. By connecting with an online therapist, you might learn more quickly how to reap the benefits of meditation and other types of evidence-based self-care practices. With the right support and set of tools, you may find that you can achieve your goals faster and live a healthier, happier lifestyle. Take the first step toward greater fulfillment and contact BetterHelp today.

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