Did you know that most of what you learn throughout your life comes from visual cues? Your ability to see and visualize is extremely important to being able to learn and grow. It’s no surprise, then, that visualizing your health and wellness is a useful tool for teaching yourself new habits and changing your behavior as well as your mindset.
Understanding Visualization Meditation
Many religions and medical traditions have practiced the use of visualization for centuries. Seeing what you desire or are trying to achieve in your mind is extremely helpful to attaining your goals. There is not one specific form of visualization meditation. Instead, this concept represents many different practices, all of which involve using your mind to see a specific vision for yourself.
Your brain has difficulty distinguishing between what you are seeing with your eyes and what you are “seeing” with your mind. When you visualize something, your brain registers that it is happening. Therefore, the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical effects of your visualized reality will be the same as if it is actually happening. For example, mentally rehearsing a specific physical performance, such as by an athlete about to perform, can enhance their performance as well as lower their anxiety about the event.
So, how do visualization and meditation intersect? When we meditate, our goal is to focus the mind while relaxing the body. As you do this, you can then create visualizations that allow you to focus on your present reality, to envision how your body is connected to the world, how your mindfulness is affecting your health, and so on. Visualization allows you to influence your body.
By visualizing your body relaxing, your breath flowing in and out of diaphragm, or the positive energy moving from your toes up through your head, you can directly influence your state of relaxation and well-being.
These types of visualizations can help you naturally ease depression, boost your immune system, lower your stress levels, and even alleviate pain. Visualizing your own healing process can actually help you to heal! And using visualization meditation regularly can strengthen the connection between your mind and your body, as well.
How Do I Practice Visualization Meditation?
If you are new to meditation or visualization, it may be helpful to use guided meditation in the beginning. These generally consist of an audio script that helps you form your visualization and engage in meditation through prompted cues. There are several mobile phone apps and podcasts today dedicated to meditation, and more than a few of these will have visualization guidance, as well.
A popular form of visualization meditation is known as loving-kindness, or metta, practice. Derived from Buddhist practices, it uses imagery, focused attention, and phrases to invoke feelings of compassion and friendship within yourself. It helps you connect to your loving side, which allows you to feel loved and protected.
This form of visualization allows you to visualize the love you already feel, whether it is for yourself or something as simple as your dog, amplify that emotion, and extend it outward. This practice has been used to successfully lower chronic pain, help people feel more connected to others, and invoke positive emotions.
Learning to meditate is a process. And it is easier to learn when you have a teacher or some form of guidance. If you don’t want to use the guided apps or episodes, attend some classes or read a good book on the basics of meditation.
The same is true for visualization. It will take some time to learn to do both well. But, once you have mastered the simple but elegant techniques of each, combining them can help release the power of your mind over your body, which can have innumerable health and wellness benefits.