This is the second part of the Visualisation Mini Course. Hopefully, after all your practice, you are feeling much more confidence in this art and are ready to push the boundaries a bit. So let’s start having real fun with lesson four.
Very good! Now we are ready to have some real fun. Again, choose a descriptive passage from a book. Read fully or record the instructions.
Perform your relaxation routine.
Breathe in deeply, close your eyes. Imagine a tunnel in front of you and enter it. There are ten steps going down. Count each one as you go down, down the tunnel, 9, 8 7, down the tunnel, 6, 5, 4, down, down, 3,2,1. There is the exit. And as you leave the tunnel you find yourself inside the excerpt from the book, as if you had entered the pages and were now part of this fictional world. What do you see? What can you hear? See your feet. Are you standing on a pavement, some grass, a muddy road? Look above you. Are you indoors or outdoors? What’s the temperature like? What can you smell? Who do you see? What are they saying or doing?
Go to them and introduce yourself as a visitor and see how they react to you.
Now walk about, away from what you already know from your reading of the passage and see what’s out there.
When you are ready, breathe in deeply, wiggle your toes and fingers and open your eyes.
Write down both the ideas that came that you can compare to the passage, as well as any insight which you may have gained from your exploration. Repeat the practice for three days before moving on to the next visualisation exercise.
In our fifth exercise we are going to start tapping into the power of visualisation. As always, read fully or record the instructions first. Go to a space where you can move and run freely; your back yard, a park, the beach. Have something handy that you can use as markers. You have two choices for this exercise: you can jump or you can throw, in which case you also need an object you can safely throw.
Place a marker at the “start” area, from which you will throw or jump.
If jumping, walk a few feet back, so you have space to run.
Now, go! Mark where you or the object landed.
Take a few minutes to perform your centring practice.
When you are ready, visualise yourself carrying out the throw or jump. See how your muscles move, hear the beat of your heart, feel the sensation of being up in the air or letting the object go with all your energy.
See yourself landing further than the original marker.
Feel the rush, the satisfaction, say “Yeah!” smile, and focus on the good feelings that achieving this evokes in you.
Breathe in deeply and now do the jump or throw again.
How did it go? Chances are that you or your object landed a bit further than the previous time. Now, do the opposite; if you were throwing, jump, if you were jumping, throw. But now you are going to visualise first and decide where you are going to land. Do be realistic, but do not sell yourself short, when it comes to deciding on the goal. Make it a real yet achievable challenge. After the visualisation, place the marker where you decided the spot will be and perform the action. How close did you come to your goal? How did it go? Repeat this exercise for three days, creating variations on the theme: how far can you stretch, how fast can you do something, and so on.
Our sixth exercise is frowned upon by some people, who believe you should visualise only the outcome and not the process towards a goal. Yet I feel it’s very helpful to clarify ideas and useful once you have divided the goal into stages.
Let’s say you are giving a presentation to convince a client to buy your product or service. By now the presentation is prepared; you have gathered information about the client; you know the people from your company who are going to be present, and how they can help or hamper your presentation; and you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your product, your company and yourself.
Do your centring practice. See yourself going down the tunnel, as in exercise four. On the other side of the tunnel, is the venue where you are going to deliver your presentation. Visualise the presentation. What problems may come up and how would you resolve them? What else do you need to take into account that you had not thought of before? What possible attitudes may you encounter and how do you react to them? What ace can you have up your sleeve to pull out in case the client is not receptive?
Run through the different scenarios and see yourself overcoming all obstacles and succeeding in all of the “alternate” realities in your mind.
You can do this in a single session, with short breaks in between visualisations, or perform the different visualisations on different days. Be sure to write down all the insights you have received and see how to incorporate them into your overall plan. Once you have finished, carry out a final visualisation, this time focused on the positive outcome.
See yourself toasting with friends, celebrating with colleagues, being congratulated by your boss, having your hand shaken by a smiling client.
Try to make the image as real as possible. See, hear, smell, touch. Feel the elation, the joy, the relief, the satisfaction. See if you can sense where in your body these feelings rest or arise.
If this was a movie, what would be the tag line that describes it? Write it down and re-read it a few minutes before presenting.
Before the presentation, draw upon brief images of the previous visualisation and the feelings that it evoked.
You may have come across visual boards before: images that represent your goals and dreams. Usually they are cut out from magazines and some facilitators recommend that you paste a picture of your face over the model’s head, to give you a sense that it is you who’s enjoying the life depicted in the picture. I do believe visual boards are very powerful and it’s fun to make them, but personally
I think that putting your face on another person’s body looks and feels fake. So for this exercise, I’m going to ask you to make an “open” visual board, with landscapes, be they natural or man-made, that suggest and represent your goals, such as an office, a garden, a café or a beach. Be sure you are clear on what you want and the way the different images connect with each other.
Let’s say you are going to make a career-oriented visual board. Include pictures not only of a beautiful office, an imposing meeting room and the latest technologies, but also pictures that show your work-life balance: those ten minutes for fast meditation or relaxation; that coffee shared with co-workers; dinner with the family. The collage doesn’t have to be over complicated, but do make it pleasing to the eye. Going back to the career-oriented visual board, you could use three big pictures that represent your main goals and two or three smaller ones that represent that flow of work-life balance. Include powerful words or sentences across the images and if possible create your visual board on an A3 or A4 sheet of paper, so once you are finished, you can copy it and even reduce it in size and carry a small version with you all the time (do laminate it). This way, you can have a version at home and another at the office. Once you have your collage:
Perform your centring practice
Look at the visual board and choose a picture. Close your eyes.
See yourself inside the picture. What does it feel like to be in that environment? What do you see, what do you hear, with whom do you interact? Look at yourself. How do you carry yourself in this environment, how do you talk, how do you act, how do you dress, what do you do?
If you remember clearly your visual board, “walk” now to the next picture and repeat the above visualisation. If you don’t, open your eyes, choose another picture and repeat the process above.
Breathe in deeply and now visualise a “day” in these new circumstances, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go back to bed. Again, evoke the feelings that would likely come to you from living in this way; visualise the way you would like to deal with people and circumstances; see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the aromas and touch the textures.
If you remember them, say out loud the empowering words and phrases. If not, open your eyes and read them from your board.
Undertake this visualisation for about three days and then perform a shorter version (visualising the “day”) each morning or evening until you feel you have reached your goal if possible. If not, do it once or twice a week.
Carry your small board with you and look at it several times during the day. If possible, say or think the empowering phrases. You could put it in a small picture frame on your desk or inside a drawer or in your wallet, like a credit card. It doesn’t matter if the image is not so clear, as you know the content from the bigger board. The small board is just a trigger to remind yourself of your goals.
Another more discrete and creative way to make a visual board is to use symbols instead of actual images. I am a great fan of Tarot cards and personally believe that part of their attraction is that they depict almost every possible human experience, so I usually make my boards using such beautiful cards. If you are into old wisdom, you could also use Runes, I Chin, Totem Animals or Ogham symbols. Or you can just create your own symbols (hearts, suns, money signs, simple house sketches) to create your visual board, a bit like you would do in a Mind Map (which could also be used as a board). As long as you are clear on what each symbol or group of images means, you can create a visual board any way you want. And if you are very abstract, you could even create a “sigil”, where you unite different letters or simple symbols into one. For example you could draw the female and male symbols inside a heart to symbolise harmony between different or opposing factors or a money sign inside the peace sign, to symbolise inner and outer prosperity.
Before performing this exercise, create a circle on the floor, big enough that you could stand in its centre comfortably. You can draw it, use a piece of string to delineate it, use a hula hoop, rocks, crystals, flowers, cushions, whatever. Stand or sit outside the circle and do your centring practise. Close your eyes. Think about a feeling, a sensation you would like to experience in your life: joy, excitement, security, comfort, confidence, love, romance, satisfaction, strength, power, bravery, courage, determination. Try to feel the sensation. You can do this by remembering a time when you felt it or by imagining what it would be like to feel it. See if you notice any change in your posture, in your body. Now ask yourself, what, be it an action, an object, an event or a situation, would give you this sensation on a regular or permanent basis. Another way to ask it is: what would this feeling manifest in the material world if it could: a new job, a business venture, travel to a new place, a course, a new acquaintance or friendship?
In your imagination, see the circle begin to glow and in its centre, an image appear, an image that represents that “something” linked to the feeling. It can be a stylised symbol or a very detailed picture. Now, both in your mind and physically, step into the circle. Feel the sensation or feeling become more intense; see the image or picture merge with you. See yourself living and acting in the manner suggested by the image and within the intense feeling. See the glow from the circle extend upwards, enclosing you in an energising tunnel of light. It then subsides to a soft glow and disappears. The image is gone, because it is now imprinted in you, in your subconscious, in your spirit, waiting for you to act upon its inspiration. Breathe in deeply three times, and when you are ready, open your eyes. You may wish to write down any ideas that come to you and revise them a few days later. This is a great exercise to get a “vision,” when you feel ready for a change but are not sure where to start.
Elements of Visualisation
I think that by now you may have noticed some more elements of visualisation. Besides a peaceful frame of mind, a good visualisation will involve as many senses as possible, hence the questions of “what do you hear; how does it smell; what’s the texture.” It should be as realistic and detailed as you can manage. And it should evoke emotions, preferably strong ones: happiness, joy, excitement, rush, a sense of triumph. It’s also good to have a “trigger” that will bring the essence of the visualisation quickly to mind, like the tag line in our last exercise, or more often than not, an affirmation. As I mentioned earlier, the general consensus is that you usually visualise the outcome and not the process of a goal. This, however, can be split into several visualisations for the different stages of a goal.
It is good practice to keep the main goal more or less open-ended (that’s why you focus on the feelings of the end-result), and to really focus your work and attention on the different stages. That is, place most effort in the process and have the main goal as guidance. The reason for this is that you don’t have control over all the variables of a situation and the final outcome may not be exactly what you visualise. However, if you see the stages as “the things I can do” you can really focus your creativity and power, and find that sense of purpose and meaning we all are looking for.
Let’s say that your general goal is to be rich. You see yourself as a rich person, enjoying a luxurious life and feeling at the top of the world. Now you divide that goal into different stages: to get rich I first do this and that. You then create visualisations that support this first stage, like we did in exercise six. In the material world, you take the actions necessary to achieve this stage. And once achieved, you go to stage two. As the process unfolds, it may turn out that you reach your goal not by selling cars, but by buying-to-rent properties, to give an example. Because you have focused more on the process than on the outcome, most likely you won’t be terribly disappointed that you don’t own 20 dealerships, because you still get the essence of what you wanted: the rich, luxury lifestyle.
For all the reasons stated above, it is important that your visualisations put you in the driver’s seat. If in your visualisation people react favourably towards you, let it be for a skill and quality that you have or can develop. Visualisation can only change you and your view of the world. Then again, once the change is achieved, the way people deal with you will also change, most likely to what you want. The breaking of goals into stages is also important because it allows you to create more realistic visualisations - which in turn means than the nagging critic we all have inside will have less ammunition to attack our good spirits and positivity.
One last though about visualisation: on the one hand, you must visualise with a firm belief that your end goal will happen; on the other hand, you mustn’t become too obsessed with the result (remember what I said a few paragraphs back: open ended.) Visualisation does not go against the laws of nature and one of those laws says that things need time to mature and grow. There is a process for events to happen. Think of a pregnancy. The mum may want to hold that baby in her arms as soon as possible. But the reality is that, in a healthy pregnancy, it takes nine months for a baby to be ready to live and thrive outside the womb. Most women don’t spend this time focused on the delivery: they live each stage of the process in the firm belief that their baby will be born and they do all that’s necessary to have a good pregnancy. Yes, mums will be very tired by the last month, but no normal mother would wish for a premature birth. They accept that the baby will come when it’s good and ready and, deep down, know that when they hold it in their arms, their first thought will be “is it healthy?”, not if he or she looks exactly the way they hoped or imagined. Visualisation is very much like that. So use your visualising power to bring all those changes and new opportunities to your life and remember, with visualisation, as with anything in life, practice makes perfect.
© Karem Barratt 2015