By Judith Albright
Volumes have been written in recent years about the power of visualization, which has been utilized by countless people throughout the ages by everyone from Aristotle to Tiger Woods. Centuries ago Aristotle said, “The soul cannot think without pictures. The reasoning mind thinks in the form of images… As the mind determines the objects it should pursue or avoid in terms of these images, even in the absence of sensation, it is stimulated to action when occupied with them.”
The concept of creative visualization gained momentum after the movie The Secret came out. In that movie Denis Waitley, PhD, a noted psychologist, states that he was inspired by the visualization process used by the Apollo Mission. During the 1980s and 1990s Waitley used that technique, called Visual Motor Rehearsal, in the Olympics program.
According to Waitley, “When you visualize, then you materialize. And the interesting thing about the mind is… we took Olympic athletes, and then hooked them up to sophisticated biofeedback equipment, and had them run their event only in their mind. Incredibly, the same muscles fired in the same sequence when they were running the race in their mind as when they were running on the track. How could this be? Because the mind cannot distinguish whether you’re really doing it, or whether it’s just a practice. I believe if you’ve been there in the mind, you’ll go there in the body too.”
And that is the crux of it. The mind does not know the difference between reality and imagination. If you can see it clearly you have the ability to make it happen. Everything that has ever been created by humans began first as an idea in someone’s mind.
Visualization is similar to daydreaming. In both processes you create imaginary mental images, but the difference between visualization and daydreaming is intent. Daydreaming allows your mind to wander at will, but when you visualize and focus on something specific you are putting intention behind it. It is the intention that creates the energy that creates the attraction. The attraction starts the action that produces the manifestation.
There are numerous accounts of how the power of visualization has been used to create success, even in seemingly impossible situations. An excellent example is the story of Air Force Colonel George Hall, who was captured during the Viet Nam War and spent seven grueling years as a POW locked in the dark box of a North Vietnamese prison. He loved golf, and every day he envisioned himself playing a full 18 holes. He would choose his club, walk through the motions and see himself in top physical condition. Throughout his imprisonment he held fast to the belief that the first thing he would do when he got home would be to play a good game of golf. The result? One week after he was released from his POW camp he entered the Greater New Orleans Open and shot a 76.
Another powerful story is that of Vera Fryling, M.D., a Jewish teenager on the run from the Gestapo, who lived undercover in Berlin during the Holocaust. During this time she sustained her hope and courage by steadfastly seeing herself as a doctor and a psychiatrist in a free land. After escaping the Nazis and the Soviet army and surviving a bout with cancer, Fryling became a member of the faculty of the San Francisco Medical School. “Imagination,” she says, “can help one transcend the insults life has dealt us.”
A more recent example of envisioning success happened in 2007 when, before the season began, University of Florida head football coach, Urban Meyer, gave each new player a photograph of five rings. The photo was of four Southeastern Conference championship rings and one national title ring. Meyer told his new players to focus on these rings because that was the goal they were aiming for. After the team experienced its first loss of the season, a situation that usually eliminates most teams from playing toward the national championship, Meyer did not waver. Instead, he chose to keep his team focused on their ultimate goal and gave his team a card on which to concentrate.
On one side was a photo of a national championship ring and on the other was a motivating quote from former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. The result? The University of Florida beat Ohio State 41-14 in the NCAA national championship football game. Another surprising outcome of that same game involved University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak, who completed almost 70 percent of his passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Leak attributed much of his performance to something he did during the week prior to the game — he decided to borrow a national championship ring from a player from the 1996 winning Florida team. He said that he wanted to know what it felt like to wear it, which he said intensified his focus on the desired outcome.
While the power of visualization has been proven over and over, it’s also a fact that it doesn’t always work. The message of The Secret was quite simple — to activate the Law of Attraction we need only envision what we want, ask for it, believe that we already have it, and then stand by to receive it. While this sounds good in theory it is not always true in fact. Why is that so? There are several ways to short-circuit the process:
We don’t really know what we want.
It is generally easier to identify what we don’t want than what we do, but for visualization to work we must be absolutely specific. In our imagination we must be able to see, feel, smell, taste or otherwise experience our goal with one or more of our senses. If we cannot accurately envision what we want we are certain not to get it.
Our programmed beliefs interfere.
Many people go through life believing they are undeserving and unworthy, thus they broadcast conflicting messages: “Yes I want this, but I don’t deserve it.” “Yes I want this but I am unworthy of having it.” The result is a big disconnect.
Doubt also interferes. We live in an era of instant gratification, so if what we are asking for doesn’t materialize on our time schedule, it is easy to start believing it won’t come at all. But the minute we start doubting, we short-circuit the whole process.
Then there is the belief that we must “do” something. To one degree or another we are all controlling, and have been conditioned to think that if we just push or pull hard enough we can make things happen a little faster. It is uncomfortable for us to simply stand by and do nothing — we feel compelled to “help” things along. Yet the minute we do that we are imposing conditions and limitations and not allowing things to happen in their own time or in their own way.
We have difficulty receiving.
It follows that if we believe we are undeserving or unworthy it will be difficult to accept freely, graciously and with gratitude. Thus if we are ever to have what we want we must first overcome our inability to receive it.
Using the power of your mind is not the only tool for success, but it is one of the best. Combined with steadfast belief, a positive mind-set and perseverance, skillful use of your imagination can give you a competitive edge that will help you achieve almost anything you want.