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“Be great in act, as you have been in thought.” – Jean Paul

In this posting, I want to discuss visualization. Visualization is a really handy tool to solve problems, create something new, or simply to contemplate new ideas. I realize that many people cannot visualize. Hopefully the steps I provide below will help you build your ability to visualize. Once you know how to make visualization a part of your life there are all kinds of benefits you can use to improve it.

We all possess the ability to visualize what we want. When we create something, we always visualize it in our minds first, even if it is a subconscious process. Steven Covey (author of the 7 habits) discusses this as the first and second creations. At first, we “see” in our minds what we need and how it is put together. Then we build from our visualized blueprint. This occurs whether we are creating a plan of action, writing a blog post or book, giving a speech, or building a machine, a home, or a piece of art.

Visualization is not hard, but if you have never consciously done it, it can be a little daunting. Like any skill, it takes practice to build from where you are currently. Here are a few ways for you to improve your ability to visualize.

Steps to build visualization into your life:

  • Step 1: Imagine you are sitting in the sand on a beach. As you sit there, visualize the blue-green water and your feet in the white sand. The picture is the first step in visualizing. Keep the picture simple. Only visualize your feet in the sand and the picture of the ocean in front of you.
  • Step 2: Add sound. Now hear the ocean surf washing up on the shore 20 feet in front of where you are sitting. Only add the visual and the sound.
  • Step 3: Add feeling. How does the sand feel? How does the breeze feel coming off of the ocean? How does the sun feel beaming down on you? Only add the visual, sound, and feeling.
  • Step 4: Add taste. Visualize drinking from a water bottle. Feel the condensation and temperature of the bottle. Feel the gritty sand under your feet. Feel the sun on your legs. Taste the crisp water coming out of your water bottle. Only add the visual, sound, feeling, and taste.
  • Step 5: Add more complexity. Add Seagulls to your picture. Add a porpoise diving out of the water. Add a person (man or female) running down the beach in the distance with their dog.
  • Step 6: Ad infinitum. Add whatever you wish to your visualization. When you come back to the present, write down any notes on your experience when you’re completed. Typically I try to visualize things daily for about 5-10 minutes as part of my meditation practice. Revisit this place when you are stressed out or just want a respite from the day.

This is a simple exercise that you can practice every day. Once you’ve mastered this scene. You can make your own scenes and practice on adding complexity to them. The really interesting part of this exercise is when you begin adding complexity unconsciously and your creation takes off on its own (this takes a lot of practice).

Here are some prompts for other visualizations you can do:

Visualize a trip you would like to take. What sounds do you hear? What do you feel internally and externally? What unique smells do you encounter? (If you are having difficulty, go online and search for images of the place you want to go. This helps a lot when you are first starting out)

Visualize your body in good shape. What do you look like? How does your body feel?

Visualize a place you can go to relax and reduce stress? What does your safe place look like? Is it a garden? Is it a monastery to meditate in? Is it a mountain top allowing you to hear the wind and take in a breath-taking panorama?

As you can see, your creativity will allow you to go anywhere and do anything. It’s how we take the basics of visualization to create what we want and really experience it. You have unlimited freedom in your inner worlds and all of it will be uniquely tailored to you. I hope you have a good time doing this and enjoy yourself.

If you try these techniques and something works for you, reply to this posting. I’d love to hear about your inner adventures.

Until next time…