The power of creative visualization in 3 steps
PRACTICAL CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
Creative visualization is an ancestral technique of Yoga Nidra in particular, to program the subconscious mind and bring about the desired results in our lives. Studies show how effective creative visualization is.
LEARNING AND CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
It is a relatively recent discovery:
The brain doesn’t really make a difference between a situation resulting from good positive visualization and a situation actually experienced.
If I put myself in a situation of public speaking, really and virtually, by MRI, we can observe that it is the same cerebral areas that “light up.” Thus, a study on pianists has shown that following visualization rehearsals (without physical practice, only seeing and feeling mentally playing the piano) we can observe an enlargement of the cerebral area dedicated to finger motricity!
Creative visualization, therefore, physically impacts (and modifies) the brain because of its neuronal plasticity (this is another recent discovery that interests us particularly for visualization.).
In a study conducted by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago, a basketball team was divided into 3 groups to test their free-throwing skills:
The first group practiced free throws for one hour daily.
The first group practiced free throws for one hour daily. The second group just visualized themselves taking free throws.
The third group had nothing to do.
After 30 days, the groups were tested again for free throws.
The third group obviously did not improve.
The first group improved by 24%.
The second group improved by 23% just by visualization alone.
The visualization, therefore, had an effect on performance almost as important as the physical training! Thanks to the repetition of this visualization (here for 30 consecutive days), new neuronal connections were thus put in, as if the people had been training, allowing them to really progress, without having touched a ball.
EMOTIONS AND CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
Faced with the uncertainty of a situation (match, negotiation, conflict, etc.) our brain will analyze the environment, the context and search its database for past experiences that are closest to it. A bit like a jukebox, it will select the disc of answers it is used to use in this context, in order to simplify the amount of information it has to manage. This disk, which contains emotions and behaviors, will play some music almost automatically.
Creative visualization is all the more important in situations that are more emotionally marked (one context makes me angry, another stresses me, another disturbs me. Because emotions disturb the reflexive action and our capacity to process information (MRI visible decrease in the action of the prefrontal cortex) in favor of a reflex and automatic action (overactivity of the amygdala).
Because of cerebral plasticity, creative visualization will allow us to condition a particular emotion (in addition to behavior) to respond to a specific context. A good creative visualization will therefore include, in a specific context, the desired behavior and a positive state of mind. In Robert Dilts‘ book “From Coach to Awakener” a study on leadership is reported where top managers were asked how they deal with difficult situations full of uncertainty, conflict and complexity.
Roughly speaking, their answers looked like this: “Before, I look at the situation from all angles, but I don’t really think about what I’m going to do or say: there are too many things that are uncertain and that I won’t think about anyway. I only have one thing on my mind: what state do I want to be in?
If I am in a state of mind that is good, even if I don’t know the answer, inspiration will come. In order to optimize the effects of creative visualization, it is, therefore, advisable to associate these internal states with the content of your visualization.
3 STEPS TO ACHIEVE A GOOD CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
1/ PREPARE YOUR CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
Choose a situation that you want to succeed in and imagine the ideal situation.
Dare to visualize a dazzling success, an extraordinary situation.
Good creative visualization includes:
A precise context and environment (visual, auditory, olfactory)
behaviors (and the reactions they produce on the environment)
kinesthetic sensations of thoughts (This can be right: “I am fully present”)
emotions (Calm, concentrated…) the achievement of the goal to be achieved.
We must therefore look for these elements, to see you achieve your goal in the target situation, projected mentally in as concrete and sensitive away as possible.
Identify the 4 key elements of the performance mindset
Search for a memory in which these 4 states were present: – Calm: to be lucid – Confidence: to dare – Determination: to be focused (concentrated) and to advance in spite of the obstacles – Energy: to do. And associate these feelings of calm, confidence, determination and energy with your target situation, to amplify the effects of your creative visualization.
If you have no recollection of a situation you experienced, just imagine what that scene might be like. Visualization makes no difference between what is real and what is not.
Let’s imagine that the scene begins by going perfectly well… and that an element (an event) comes to impel a completely different turn in the situation… what could this event be? What do you want to focus your attention on at that moment?
How do you decide to react?
Do you find it difficult to see yourself succeeding?
Compared to this situation, find a similar situation that has already gone well.
For example, you could say;
if it is a situation of conflict with a person, look for a situation of tension in which you remained serene, lucid, and efficient.
If it is a public speaking situation: a situation where you acted confidently despite the gaze of others.
If it’s a negotiating situation: a situation in which you remained determined yet open-minded…Remember…what were you thinking about just before that moment? What was your strategy? What was your focus during the action?
These will be resources that you can use (or not) to build your visualization.
2/ START YOUR CREATIVE VISUALIZATION
Pay attention to your breathing
Observe how “it” breathes in as you inhale, then how “it” exhales as you exhale.
Simply paying attention to your breathing can increase the duration of exhalation or inhalation… Don’t change anything, just observe the breathing process that happens by itself without your active participation.
Observe the body’s movements.
In the positive internal state
Set up your mental landscape:
Inside or outside?
Alone or accompanied?
Rather bright or dark?
Noisy or quiet?
Are there any particular smells?
Now visualize accurately several details of your behavior in the target situation:
What do you do? Visualize yourself doing some of these actions.
What sensations are associated with them?
Now pay attention to thoughts: What are you sure of? What is important here and now to be successful?
Feel the feelings of confidence, calm, determination… Let these feelings grow. They may for example grow like the sun shining inside you.
Now visualize the perfect scenario (use all your senses, all the elements for a good creative visualization.), pay attention to the reactions of the people present in the scene (if any), to the tone of your voice, feel the pleasure it gives you.
Travel freely in the creative visualization. Scroll through the scene again, focusing on the most emotionally intense moments. Enlarge what you see, add clarity… animate your creative visualization. You need to feel like you’re there.
Now visualize even the unexpected: imagine the scene that takes a different turn and that you can manage to restore perfectly…
3/ ANCHOR YOUR CREATIVE VISUALIZATION IN YOUR BRAIN
Repeat the perfect scene, and this time “anchor” this positive scene in the present moment by choosing a shortcut (a word, an image, or a gesture), which will serve as a reminder of the resource state you have created through your creative visualization.
At the height of the visualization, associate a word, an image, a gesture… a kind of “label”. Repeating this anchoring will save time to trigger the internal state of the resource associated with the behaviors. After several repetitions of the complete visualization, the anchoring will become effective. It will then only take one minute of concentration on your breathing and on the word, gesture, or image in order to positively condition you to act well. Then, when you need to reconnect this internal state of confidence, calm, energy and determination, you will only have to reproduce your anchoring (the gesture, word, or image that will have served as a label for your creative visualization).
CREATIVE VISUALIZATION IS NOT A MAGIC FORMULA!
It is a practice that requires repetition so that new connections are created. It is possible that surprising results will come quickly, just as it is also possible that it will take some time for brain plasticity to do its work.
I, therefore, invite you to be patient with your behaviors and emotions…
knowing that a month’s work at the daily frequency (about fifteen minutes) produces remarkable results!
In the meantime, I invite you to think about the following: By imagining that the situation you are going to visualize in an ideal way does not give the desired result (you cannot always control the result.)… what will you be able to be proud of anyway and which only depends on you?
Let’s take as an example the case of a conflict situation that repeats itself and generates chronic stress: “I was able to remain calm, lucid, receptive to my client/partner/colleague while being focused on the objective of this meeting. I didn’t get the desired result, but I improved a relationship with a colleague or partner, which is a good starting point for next time. Moreover, I am always calm for the rest of my day. I do something daily to resolve this situation and I am proud of it. »