There is a famous example in the field of sports psychology about the power of visualization.
Psychologist Charlotte Reznick describes the research study (done years ago, by a Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago) with basketball players.
“There were three groups… one group shot from the foul line, actually practiced every day for 20 minutes. Another group didn’t do anything, and the third group visualized – didn’t actually play, but just visualized the ball making the curve, going in the basket.
“And you know what happened? The group that visualized and the group that actually shot the baskets did just as well, I think it was 23 and 24 percent improvement, while the group that didn’t do anything didn’t improve at all.”
This is from the transcript of “An Interview with Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D. on Helping Children Cope with Anxiety and Stress Via Imagery” by David Van Nuys, Ph.D. in his Wise Counsel Podcast.
The dragon protector
She talks about working with an 11 year old girl who was “terrified someone was going to break into her house even though they had an alarm system, and she was just afraid to go to sleep… So we [asked], ‘Who could come in and protect you?’
“And she imagined this giant white dragon called Valkore that wrapped around her bed and would protect her at night, and she also put a tiger at her door.
“And interesting, what helped her – because she was a very bright girl – was that she knew that her fear wasn’t really real, because she knew there’s an alarm system, they had dogs in the house.
“So she knew it was coming from another realm, so that made it easier for her to tap into this ‘mythical’ realm, she called, and bring in the tiger and bring in the dragon, because the fear was coming from that realm so we had to go there to fix it.”
Dr. Reznick is author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success.
[The image is from the book Drawing Dragons: Learn How to Create Fantastic Fire-Breathing Dragons, by Sandra Staple.]
his is not just for childhood, of course. Visualizing, imagining, creating images and ideas of how to work with our fears – or what we want to accomplish in life – can be a powerful strategy for achievement and growth, according to many writers, coaches and artists.
“Fairy tales were created not only to entertain, but they addressed spiritual subjects for me. Not to any canon or religion, just what it is to be human. They made manifest troubles that happen inside the soul of the human being.”
That is from the post Guillermo del Toro on the power of fairytales.
Related page: Myth and story
Visualizing his acting roles
Actor Dennis Haysbert (movie “Jarhead”; tv series “24” etc) says, “I visualize the roles that I want. If I hadn’t visualized playing athletes, I wouldn’t have gotten ‘Major League.’ If I hadn’t visualized playing a president, David Palmer never would have happened.
“You’ve got to have a sense of what you want to do; otherwise, the universe is just going to throw something at you.”
Visualizing to deal with anxiety
Joe Barry McDonagh, developer of the Panic Away program, writes about a visualization “to enable you to quickly clear mental stress, tension, and anxious thinking.
“The visualization can be used when feeling stressed and is particularly useful when your mind is racing with fearful, anxious thinking. There are numerous such visualizations found in different self help courses, but I have combined three of the most effective ones and adapted them so that the resultant single visualization can be used literally anywhere.”
See his article for details: Visualization Tool for Ending Anxious Thinking and Intrusive thoughts.
“Raking in a zen garden is one form of relaxation, but visual guided imagery is a specialized form of meditation that teaches a patient to focus on their breath and different muscle groups.
“Even learning for a short period of time could teach you how to reduce stress, reduce anxiety in different situations,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Harden.”
See more quotes and video from ABC-TV report: “Study shows meditation is powerful medicine to conquer fears” – and video about guided imagery and biofeedback program developed by Doctors Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish and Andrew Weil, in the post Relaxing Rhythms Guided Training Program.
Our inner world
In her article The Key to Mental Re-Programming, Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler suggests: “Take a moment to look around you with open eyes. Unless you are physically blind, you clearly see the reality lying immediately outside yourself. You can see the furniture around you, the walls of the room, the view out the windows, other people who are present, etc.
“When you close your eyes, on the other hand, inner images and thoughts unrelated to the physical reality around you flow through your mind. Your imagination takes you beyond the limits of space and time as you revisit the past in memories, or preview future possibilities.
“Many people attach little importance to such inner visions, but they actually hold a major key to creating our mental programs. There’s now solid scientific proof we actually create our reality with our thoughts -– and not the other way around.”
There are many posts on how important our thoughts and beliefs are – see the Awareness tag.
Art is almost by definition a creation of imagination, which is certainly in the same arena as visualization.
Hearing Dr. Reznick’s story about the fearful girl creating a protector dragon reminded me of the amazing creatures in the movie “Avatar” – especially the dragon-like banshees “flown” by Na’vi riders.
Enhancing our visualization ability for achievement
As noted on the site for the MindMovies program, creative genius Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
[But he also had many setbacks. The photo is from the page Failure.]
The site continues, “The problem is, most of us simply can’t visualize long enough, strongly enough, or consistently enough to make it work for us.
“Plus, you may stop yourself by not believing the process will work at all–thinking, “why bother?”
“Fact is, the only way you will ever achieve anything is by ‘seeing’ where you want to go in crystal clear detail. And it’s the consistent ‘seeing’ that sets off a cosmic ‘chain reaction’ and brings your dreams to life.”
The program provides is a tool for creating your own inspirational movie.
“YOU choose the images that mean the most to you. YOU define the size and shape of the life you want. YOU create your personal Mind Movie, and begin watching it for a few minutes several times a day.
“A Mind Movie is a short 3 minute video filled with powerful affirmations, and emotionally inspiring images.”
For a sample video using this program (& link to site) see Mind Movies – Create your own affirmations video.
But there are many other paths to creating visualizations: books, movies, and, of course, the infinite wealth of the web can be used in making your own guided visualizations – in your own video or audio project, or just in your head.