Focusing the Mind's Eye - 3 Essential Visualisation Techniques

A mastery of visualisation techniques is one of the most important skills you can possess, but it's a skill that many people believe they don't have. In reality, everybody visualises, all of the time. Everything you do, from getting a pint of milk out of the fridge to driving a car, is visualised first. It's just that most of the time you're not aware of it. By consciously taking control of this, you increase your ability to learn and to act in more beneficial ways.

When you vividly imagine doing something, you set up an expectation in your mind that needs to be completed by actually doing it. It's rather like creating a mental "hole" that you have to fill with action. At the same time, the mind doesn't differentiate between real and imagined events. If you use visualisation techniques to imagine yourself delivering a confident speech, for example, the mind stores that as a template or pattern of behaviour. When you get up to deliver that speech, the mind refers back to the template and uses it to help you give a confident speech.

The more vividly you can rehearse something in your mind, the more likely you are to act that way in real life.

1 of 3 Visualisation Techniques - The Written Word

Every time you read, you visualise the sense of the words. If you read about pink elephants, for example, somewhere in your mind you form an image of pink elephants. This is pure, creative imagination, since pink elephants don't exist in reality. As you've read about pink elephants four times already in this paragraph, you should have a pretty strong image of them by now, but often the mental images we get are just fleeting glimpses. The trick is to turn them into something more solid. As you read, linger over any images that arise in your mind. Get a sense of the "outline" before filling in as many sensory details (sights, sounds, sensations) as you can.

2 of 3 Visualisation Techniques - Eyes Closed

Study an object in front of you for about thirty seconds. Note its colour, size, shape and texture. Now close your eyes and see it again in your mind's eye. Study it in detail. Open your eyes and look at the real object again, and compare it to your mental image. How much did you get right?

3 of 3 Visualisation Techniques - Eyes Open

With your eyes open, imagine picking up or touching things that are in front of you. Get a sense of how that would look, feel and sound. For example, what would it look like if you were to reach out and run your index finger along these words as you read them? How would the screen feel beneath your fingertip? These visualisation techniques are all designed to strengthen your natural ability to visualise. As you become more practised, use that ability to mentally rehearse areas in your life that you'd like to improve.

- Dian Winter

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