The Hall of Fame American Football player Jack Youngblood is quoted as saying:
“I visualize things in my mind before I have to do them. It’s like having a mental workshop.”
The tool of visualization is used by many successful people who claim that it makes a difference to their life. World famous golfer Tiger Woods was taught this technique as a young child, and he believes that it is a key ingredient of his success. Tiger just imagines where he wants to ball to go, and then just makes this a reality. There is little doubt that positive visualizations can help people so it makes sense that those who are trying to build a new life away from addiction could benefit from it.
Positive visualizations usually refer to using the imagination to create a desired scene. To visualize can be defined as, to form a mental image of something incapable of being viewed or not at that moment visible. A more scientific definition of visualization might include 3 criteria:
* It is based on non-visual data
* It needs to produce an image
* The image must be readable and recognizable
There are different ways that positive visualization can work. For some people a positive visualization will involve imagining successfully accomplishing something. An example of this would be the athlete who imagines their performance before they attempt it. It can be a type of rehearsal. There are also those people who would claim that these positive mental pictures are somehow able to have an impact the future – this is often referred to as the law of attraction. This more paranormal claim for the technique is more or less pseudo-scientific.
Another type of visualization can involve imagining a relaxing and positive scene in order to promote well being. This could involve developing a mental picture of lying in the sun by a swimming pool. This means that the individual can create positive feelings easily and at any time they wish. The mind offers great potential and most humans fail to even scratch the surface of what is possible.
Any individual who is capable of daydreaming will also be able to use positive visualization. It differs from daydreaming in that the person is far more purposeful in what they are imagining. Some people can feel guilty about spending too much time daydreaming but with active visualization they are actively working to improve their life.
This tool can be of great value to those who are recovering from an addiction. When people first become sober they will be faced with the task of rebuilding their life. It can all seem a bit daunting, but there are some definite advantages in being able to start again. Once the individual has developed a strong foundation in recovery they will then be able to begin building the type of life they want to live. Positive visualizations can be great for helping them move in the right direction. Not only will it keep them motivated, but it will also allow them to develop a better idea of what it is that they want to achieve. If the individual is able to really put their faith in these mental images it will mean that they are already halfway towards their goal.
There are some definite benefits of positive visualizations that will be of benefit to people in recovery such as:
* One of the interesting benefits of positive visualization is that it helps to improve focus and concentration. This means that it can work as a powerful type of meditation practice.
* The fact that this type of tool is able to focus the mind means that the individual is in a much better position to achieve their goal. A common reason why people fail to achieve their ambitions is that they lose focus and become distracted or disillusioned.
* By imagining accomplishing a goal the individual is boosting their own confidence to do just that.
* It can help to increase self esteem. This is particularly important for people who are recovering from an addiction because they will often start off with low self esteem, and this will be one of the reasons they fell into addiction in the first place.
* It can greatly increase motivation because the individual clearly sees what they are working towards.
* This type of mental imagery is a good way to relieve stress. This is because positive visualizations are a form of relaxation technique.
* It is claimed that positive visualizations is a way of practicing before attempting the real thing. For example, a gymnast might imagine their moves, and this increases their ability to perform well in reality.
* One of the really nice things about positive visualizations is that there are no limits to what can be imagined. People can become highly skilled at creating mental images so they can do things like visit a warm tropical beach without leaving their sofa.
* When people are imagining a positive scene they can experience real feelings of joy and comfort. This means that they can end their visualization session feeling full of positive energy.
* If people are feeling low they can use this tool as a means to boost their mood.
* There is good reason to believe that this technique can lead to improved mental and physical health. At the very least it reduces the risk of develop stress related illness.
* Positive visualization is a simple technique that anyone can learn. It can also be a stepping stone to other types of meditation.
* This type of activity can increase creativity and is great for problem solving. New and novel ideas crop up while playing with the imagination – it is undoubtedly a powerful tool.
There are no exact rules when it comes to positive visualizations. Most people discover what works for them by a process of trial and error. There are some tips though, that can help people just starting off with this tool:
* It is important to be comfortable when attempting to visualize. A good idea is to lie on the bed or on the sofa – the only drawback with this is that it is too easy to fall asleep.
* The optimum time needed to visualize is probably 15 to 20 minutes. The individual should make sure that they are not going to be disturbed during this block of time.
* It is preferable to do this technique alone and undisturbed. It is recommended that people turn off their mobile phones or any other gadgets that could cause a distraction.
* It is best to wear loose fitting clothes. The room should not be too hot or too cold.
* When people are visualizing their metabolism tends to drop, and this means that they can feel colder. It is a good idea to have a blanket within arm’s reach.
* In order to begin visualization it is vital that the individual is first relaxed. One way to achieve this is to focus on each part of the body and mentally will that area to relax.
* A couple of minutes of slow deep breathing will also help the individual to achieve a relaxed state.
* If people are worried about falling asleep they should set a timer for the exercise. This is preferable than constantly opening the eyes to check the time.
* Some people use prerecorded visualization audio tracks that guide them through the session. It is possible to purchase professionally made guided visualization or the individual can create their own tracks.
* It is not mandatory for people to use an audio guide. So long as they know what they want to achieve they will be able to guide their own visualization.
* It is normal for the mind to wander. As soon as the individual notices that they are thinking about something else they can gently bring their attention back to the matter at hand.
* In order for visualization to be effective it needs to be done regularly. If people only visualize achieving their goal one time they are unlikely to get much benefit from this technique.
* It is often advised that people use each of their senses when trying to image something – this means imagining smells, tactile sensations, and sounds. The more vivid the image is the more powerful it will be.
* It is unrealistic to expect instant results from this technique. It isn’t a case of just imagining a Ferrari and then opening the door to find it waiting on the drive.
* Those individuals who are recovering from an addiction should not use this technique as a means to imagine using alcohol or drugs. This is referred to as romancing the drink or drug, and it can quickly lead to the real thing.