Visualization is an ancient technique, already known and used in Eastern meditation thousands of years ago.
Over the last century Visualization has been studied by western physiology and psychology, and has since been used as an anti-stress technique also outside the meditation field.
Even if not completely aware, we all create mental images: fantasies, memories, daydreams, images or real movie about our expectations or projections.
We know that our thoughts, our mental images, have an effect on our body. Imagine, for example, to take a bite into a slice of lemon: that usually makes us turn up our mouth and causes an increase in salivation. Or imagine to scratch a blackboard with your fingernails: that’s makes us shiver and gives us goose bumps. Other examples are sexual images, capable of arousing sexual stimulation, or recalling a stressful event that can cause increased heart rate.
Once we have become aware of these images and their effects, we can use them to our advantage, creating positive feelings that help us better manage stress and anxiety, as well as increasing our creativity.
The aim is to use our imagination thoroughly, for example imagining to see objects not only in two dimensions, but in three dimensions, with their colors, smells, tastes and aromas. Let us try and close our eyes, imagining to be at the beach. It is a beautiful day, the sky is blue and the sea is calm. We can see all the shades of color of the sea, from the shore to the horizon. We hear the sound of waves on the shore. The sun is shining enlightening and warming our skin. The wind caresses and refreshes us, bringing the scent of the sea…
In short, the more the images are complete and rich in details that pertain to all five senses, the more they will have an effect on the body.
Below is a simple visualization exercise, the Waterfall of Light.
This exercise must not be practiced while driving, performing work or other activities; only practice it during a break from all those activities.
Take 5 minutes to devote only to yourself, at home or in a place where you can be quiet. It is not important if it is in the morning, the afternoon or the evening. If you are very busy throughout the day, you may do this exercise when you are in bed, before falling asleep. Be sure not to be disturbed by loud noises, and turn off the phone.
If you exercise during the day, you can set the alarm after 5 minutes. If you do it at night before falling asleep, once you will have finished the exercise, you can take the usual preferred position and fall asleep. At the beginning of the practice, when not accustomed to the technique yet, it is important to do the exercise when you are not too tired or nervous. It is very good to do it during the session of autogenic training.
The Waterfall of Light
Chose the position you prefer, sitting or lying down. Close your eyes.
Begin to observe your breathing. Tell yourself mentally, for a few times, that with every exhalation you take, you will become more and more relaxed.
Now imagine a waterfall of white light that is pouring on you from above, entering from the top of your head. Its energy is light, beneficial and bright. It goes through the brain, and permeate eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. It continues downwards to the throat and into the chest, which is filled with light. It descends along the shoulders, arms, forearms and hands, leaving from the fingers together with any tension held in your body. The light continues to flow down in the solar plexus, abdomen, pelvis, buttocks and genitals. Then continues down into the thighs, knees, calves, ankles and feet, flowing out of the toes and taking away any tension or discomfort in the body.
Now you are immersed in a waterfall of white and light energy. Your whole being is filled with white light. Let this energy fill you up and enjoy the serenity that it brings to you. Stay a few minutes with these positive feelings, then open your eyes feeling relaxed and awake.
- Choose your own color for the waterfall of light, the color that makes you feel more comfortable.
- You can have your friend or your partner read the exercise for you while you relax. After the 5 minutes of practice your partner will advise you that he or she will start counting form one to five and then at six you both will count to ten aloud. At ten open your eyes, feeling relaxed and awake.
- Another possibility is guided practice, listening to the recording of the steps made with your own recorded voice.
- The technique can be used more specifically, visualizing the energy permeating specific organs of the body or part of them.
- Moreover, you can concentrate the visualization on a part of the body where you feel more tenseness.