What Visualization Meditation Can Do For You
Did you know that most of what you learn throughout your life comes from visual cues? Your ability to see and visualize is extremely important to being able to learn and grow. It’s no surprise, then, that visualizing your health and wellness is a useful tool for teaching yourself new habits and changing your behavior as well as your mindset.
Understanding Visualization Meditation
Many religions and medical traditions have practiced the use of visualization for centuries. Seeing what you desire or are trying to achieve in your mind is extremely helpful to attaining your goals. There is not one specific form of visualization meditation. Instead, this concept represents many different practices, all of which involve using your mind to see a specific vision for yourself.
Your brain has difficulty distinguishing between what you are seeing with your eyes and what you are “seeing” with your mind. When you visualize something, your brain registers that it is happening. Therefore, the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical effects of your visualized reality will be the same as if it is actually happening. For example, mentally rehearsing a specific physical performance, such as by an athlete about to perform, can enhance their performance as well as lower their anxiety about the event.
So, how do visualization and meditation intersect? When we meditate, our goal is to focus the mind while relaxing the body. As you do this, you can then create visualizations that allow you to focus on your present reality, to envision how your body is connected to the world, how your mindfulness is affecting your health, and so on. Visualization allows you to influence your body.
By visualizing your body relaxing, your breath flowing in and out of diaphragm, or the positive energy moving from your toes up through your head, you can directly influence your state of relaxation and well-being.
These types of visualizations can help you naturally ease depression, boost your immune system, lower your stress levels, and even alleviate pain. Visualizing your own healing process can actually help you to heal! And using visualization meditation regularly can strengthen the connection between your mind and your body, as well.
How Do I Practice Visualization Meditation?
If you are new to meditation or visualization, it may be helpful to use guided meditation in the beginning. These generally consist of an audio script that helps you form your visualization and engage in meditation through prompted cues. There are several mobile phone apps and podcasts today dedicated to meditation, and more than a few of these will have visualization guidance, as well.
A popular form of visualization meditation is known as loving-kindness, or metta, practice. Derived from Buddhist practices, it uses imagery, focused attention, and phrases to invoke feelings of compassion and friendship within yourself. It helps you connect to your loving side, which allows you to feel loved and protected.
This form of visualization allows you to visualize the love you already feel, whether it is for yourself or something as simple as your dog, amplify that emotion, and extend it outward. This practice has been used to successfully lower chronic pain, help people feel more connected to others, and invoke positive emotions.
Learning to meditate is a process. And it is easier to learn when you have a teacher or some form of guidance. If you don’t want to use the guided apps or episodes, attend some classes or read a good book on the basics of meditation.
The same is true for visualization. It will take some time to learn to do both well. But, once you have mastered the simple but elegant techniques of each, combining them can help release the power of your mind over your body, which can have innumerable health and wellness benefits.
Mind/Body Practices Strengthen Communication Between Mind And Body
Mind/body practices have been around for millennia; however, it’s only been recently they’ve become popular for promoting emotional and physical health separate from their Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist traditions.
Is there anything to this? Are there any health benefit separate the religious and spiritual customs that have helped keep these practices alive for so long? The scientific research says yes.
According to Healthline, there’s evidence mind/body practices:
● Reduce stress
● Control Anxiety
● Decrease depressive symptoms
● Increase attention span
● Reduce age related memory loss
● Improve sleep
● Control pain
● Decrease blood pressure
Of course, more research needs to be done. So far though, the results are promising.
In today’s overworked, overstressed, and overstimulated world, mind/body exercises are even more important for having a better connection with your body that carries over to all facets of life, from how you act in relationships to how you handle stress.
Here are 3 mind/body practices to get you started.
What is it?
Psychology Today defines meditation as, “the practice of turning one’s attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.”
If want to improve something, you practice it. If you want to improve your basketball skills, you practice playing basketball. If you want to get stronger, you practice lifting weights. It makes sense that by practicing meditation you improve your body and mental awareness.
How to get started:
You literally need nothing except yourself and a quiet spot. So, it’s very accessible for beginners.
Naturally, a practice as old as meditation has many different styles. However, if you’re new to meditation, the learning curve doesn’t need to be steep. Keep it simple:
1. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed.
2. Set a timer.
3. If you’re new, just do 1 minute to start.
4. Then, focus on your breath until the timer goes off. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
This will feel way more difficult than you feel it should be. Your mind will drift away from your breath. You’ll start thinking about completely random stuff.
This is normal. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Simply bring your focus back to your breath.
Try doing this every day for a week. You’ll be amazed at how much more focused, relaxed, and connected with your body you’ll be.
What is it?
According to Dr. Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, the Director of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in India, there’s evidence yoga existed as far back as 2700 BC. So, it’s been around a while to say the least.
Yoga can be thought of as a type of moving meditation, emphasizing the breath and bodily awareness as you flow through various poses.
Dr. Basavaraddi says the poses, called Asanas, consist, “in adopting various body (psycho-physical) patterns, giving ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length and period of time as well.”
How to get started:
You could start taking a class. Donation based classes are fairly common if you’d like to try it out without spending lots of money. There are also plenty of YouTube videos if you’re not quite ready for doing yoga in front of lots of people.
Doing yoga for an entire hour can be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to it, especially as the poses are often referred by their Sanskrit name, making it hard to keep up. I’d personally recommend just doing 2-5 minutes of YouTube yoga at home a few times a week to get a bit more familiar with the practice.
There are many different styles of yoga, and it seems there’s something for everyone.
So, try out a few different styles to see which one clicks best.
What is it?
If you haven’t heard of Qigong, you’ve definitely heard of the most prominent form of qigong: tai chi.
The National Qigong Association says,” Qigong can be described as a mind-body-spirit practice that improves one’s mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent.”
The constant flow of slow, intentional, and controlled movement makes qigong a great practice for building mind/body communication. It can also be easily adapted to all fitness levels.
How to get started:
You can find a class, a private instructor, or, as with yoga, good old’ YouTube lessons.
Mind/body practices have good reason for sticking around for so long.
In the modern world, it’s crucial to make time for practices that bring you back to the present and help you reconnect with your body. Whether it’s taking a yoga class 3 times a week or meditating for 1 minute per day, you’ll see near immediate and marked improvements in your mood, focus, and relationship with your body.