Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Power Of Visualizations

Vizualizations can be helpful additions to meditation techniques you already use.

Some people use a kind of 'clear the mind' meditation in order to effect a calm and peaceful mood. Visualizations can have the same effect and can also be used as a tool to effect calm and peace during stressful situations later on.

The idea here is to create a calm, peaceful mental image, instead of relying on the 'mind-clearing' that some meditations provide. Frankly, sometimes when we are very stressed and a lot is happening in our lives, it is hard to perform the 'mind-clearing' kind of meditations. Often, our stresses will intrude upon our meditations and keep us from obtaining the desired 'calming and peaceful' effects of some meditations.

The power of visualizations lie in the fact that, with some practice, visualization-meditations can often overcome what our minds do in sabotaging other kinds of meditations during stressful times in our lives.

The subconscious doesn't really care what we are doing or thinking. It treats many thoughts and situations the same way, simply storing things into our memory base for later retrieval. Sometimes, with visualizations, we can sort of 'trick' the subconscious into allowing our visualizations to be more powerful than what is going on around us so that we can 'recall' a calming, peaceful visualization in times of need. This is helpful when we are so stressed that our mind is keeping us from 'recalling' earlier real instances of peace and calm.

Here's how you can learn how to create a 'peace/calm' scenario for yourself that might be used later during stressful times:

Firstly, visualization IS, in fact, a kind of meditation, so if you already meditate a different way, go to a physical environment that has previously been successful for you. You'll need to be undisturbed for about a half hour, so if you have a 'usual meditation location' such as your bedroom or the den, use this area. If this is new to you, just find a location where you can be comfortable and undisturbed for about a half hour. TURN THE PHONE OFF if one is around!

Lie on the couch or in a bed or on a yoga mat on the floor if this is comfortable for you. Or, sit in your favourite comfortable chair, if that is better for you.

Just start with some attention to simple breathing and start your focus there. Just tend to your breathing to ensure that you are taking evenly spaced breaths for about a minute, and then start to 'visualize.' Once your attention is turned to the visualization part, your breathing will just take care of itself, and hopefully, your body will allow for slightly deeper and steadier breathing than you usually do during times of activity. This will help you feel refreshed later on, once you get back to normal activities. Luckily, as you turn your attention to your visualization, you won't have to think about either the breathing or future benefits at all.

Imagine a 'space' for yourself that is 'safe' and has no threatening aspects involved. Most people imagine outdoor areas such as unpopulated beaches by the ocean or quiet meadows on a sunny day, but some people actually prefer to imagine a closed room somewhere, or another safely enclosed location. Create the scenario that works for you.

Once you have a reasonably vivid picture in your mind of this 'safe space,' go ahead and casually 'examine' the area in more detail. If you are in a meadow, note the colours you see in this quiet, peaceful location. Note some of the shapes you see if you are looking at the clouds from this location. If you are on a beach, 'see' whether there are any footprints in the sand, take note of whether there are rocks nearby or things of this kind. Perhaps there is a boat sailing in the far distance that is interesting to you.

Next, spend a few minutes imagining YOURSELF in this location, doing some light activity or even just reclined on a blanket on the sand or laying down in the meadow, looking up at the sky. If you decided that a 'room' or enclosed location was right for you, imagine yourself INSIDE that place, relaxed, reading your favourite book or magazine.

Here's a trick to use if you have other thoughts intrude on this meditation:

If something intrudes - some negative or unwanted thoughts and items, now that you have 'put yourself' into the imagined scenario, simply see yourself being assertive about this. Watch yourself announce: "This is my safe place, you don't belong here." Then go back to imagining the beginning of making your 'safe place' again.

This meditation is kind of like an 'active daydreaming,' and often, things that you don't want will, in fact, intrude on your 'safe place' space if you are meditating during a stressful time in your life. The benefit here is to learn to be assertive about this when it happens because YOUR TREATMENT of intrusions can be made to transfer into daily life to make you more assertive outside of your 'active daydreaming.' It may not be greatly helpful in helping you be more assertive with certain people, but it can help you be more assertive about your own thoughts during times of stress.

Some people seem to be very much at the mercy of where their own through process takes them when they are stressed. Visualizations help with this problem. Some people get on 'one track' of thinking during stressful times, but successful assertiveness during visualization/meditation gives people PRACTICE at leading their own thoughts in better directions when they are 'fully conscious' later on.

If you don't experience a lot of 'intrusions' during your 'active daydreaming' then this is a BONUS! You will have experienced, in your imagination, an event that your subconscious doesn't really want to make judgment on. Later on, you should be able to 'retrieve' this experience from your memory when you want to remember thoughts of peacefulness and calmness.

For a duration of about a half hour, just keep visualizing calm, peaceful, positive things in mental images. Keep taking note of colours, shapes, sometimes with distances between objects that you see in this 'safe place' you are imagining.

After a half hour, you should feel quite refreshed, fairly calm and peaceful. If you were experiencing situations of stress just before you meditated, you will probably be able to go back into these situations and deal with them more logically and calmy, with more focus on objectivity.