World class athletes use holistic visualization to enhance learning and performance, and you can, too. Here's proof. Recall--as vividly as you can--holding a fresh lemon in your hand. "Feel" its weight. Imagine tossing it in the air. "Hear" it land in your palm. "Examine" the knobbly texture and colors of the rind. "Hold" it close to your nose. "Smell" the aroma of pure lemon oil. Imagine lifting a knife and halving it. "Pick up" half and look at the little sacks of juice. "Squeeze" it slightly and "lick" the juice.
Tah dahhhh! Your salivary glands respond like you really licked a lemon! And that puckery feeling at the sides of your throat is equally real.
What makes visualization holistic is the practice of imaginatively sensing sounds, sights, touch, smells, and taste as fully as possible.--all aspects of the outer activity one seeks to manifest.
Holistic visualization literally primes body and mind to bring about the physical reality. You are multi-dimensional. And you can deepen fulfillment in every aspect of your life by living more experientially, not just in your head.
So how do you build a stronger, healthy "inner active" life? A life that feels rich with meaning? With enough adventure to hold your interest, and enough comfort to nourish your roots?
By strengthening your "imagination muscles." Albert Einstein declared that imagination is a more important faculty than intelligence. A most effective way to exercise imagination is by practicing mindful awareness.
This means being more "present" doing an activity--paying attention to micro-details of sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and physical sensations.
Scientists studied two similar groups of grade-schoolers practicing basketball foul shots. They scored several rounds to get a baseline average of baskets for each group. For six weeks, every school day, one group spent an hour practicing in the gym.
Meanwhile the other group spent the same time just being coached to vividly visualize. "Stand" at the foul line. "Hear" the gym acoustics.
"Smell" the floorwax. "Dribble" a couple times. "Site" the basket with the ball. "Bend" knees. "Launch" that ball. "Watch" it sail through the air. "Hear" the swoosh of net as the ball falls through without even touching the rim. "Dance" your victory. "Hear" the crowd roar. "Feel" elated.
Visualization resulted in an 18% increase in the number of baskets.
Actual practice resulted in a 20% increase. Olympic slalom skiers blend both physical and mental disciplines in their training. Standing at the top of the run, waiting their turn, they deeply experience kinesthetically hurtling elegantly down the course, with its snow conditions, sun's angle, wind direction and velocity.
Now, it's your turn to apply mindful awareness and visualization. Okay, you're not an Olympic contender. What are you good at that you'd like to do even better? The sports angle is obvious. Movies like Bagger Vance document the impressive results of these holistic, multi-dimensional strategies. Here is a suggestion for a not-so-obvious application.
If you've got any resistance about getting up and into your day on a workday morning, sit up in bed and vividly visualize the next hour unfolding, doing your usual preparations, but experiencing each moment in a new light. Live your own virtual reality scene with every sense heightened to marvel at each experience.
Make it reality-based--no knock at the door by an alluring celebrity or by a lottery messenger. Make it the most fulfilling reality you can imagine. You can use fantasy to boost your enthusiasm with the idea of commuting to your dream job or to an interview with Jay Leno to be a guest on his show. If that were the situation, exactly how would you feel--physically and emotionally--while brushing your teeth?
Put a Post-it, VISUALIZE, on your clock where you will surely see it first thing. Just do once, earnestly, and you'll feel a benefit. Ten minutes daily for a month, and you'll feel a miracle.
"The only reality is action," urged French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre nearly a century ago. Take action to train your mind in a progression of small, manageable experiments. In a very short time, you've got the creative momentum of a snowball tumbling down a mountain, picking up mass and speed exponentially.
Here's another idea. It's late afternoon. You wonder what to eat for dinner. The committee in your head chatters--what you've eaten so far today, tiredness, time crunch, what constitutes good nourishment, evening agenda, what taste sensations you're craving, convenience, economy. Politely, thank "them" for sharing.
Get comfortable in your chair. Sit tall, feet on the floor, hands resting on your legs or lap. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself in the kitchen. "Open" the fridge. "Take out" something fresh. One item--a carrot, a bunch of grapes, a celery stalk, an acorn squash.
Under cool running water, massage it clean. (How long has it been since you played in the sink? You ever get washed in one as a baby?) Notice its color and texture. Choose a knife you really like the feel of. Sharpen it, aware of the sounds. Cut this food differently than you usually do, or, maybe hand grate it. No noisy machines. This is an "inner active" adventure, not multi-tasking.
Let's say it's the carrot your imagination is working with. Slice it diagonally. Admire the sleek speedboat shape, or they might remind you of snowshoes. Take one slice and cut it lengthwise into julienne strips. Nibble one. Mmmm. How sweet it tastes. You think to add it to the stew leftover from two nights' ago. Maybe add onion and celery, too. A splash of hot sauce or a dollop of barbecue sauce would perk it up. "Maybe I'll bake a potato, too...."
This carrot scenario could play out differently. You might "notice" a bottle of maple syrup in the fridge fantasy, get the idea of drizzling some on the acorn squash and microwave it. At any rate, you've got a tempting dinner to look forward to.
What happens is that you've directed your thoughts to solution-oriented baby steps. Free of the energy drain of swirling possibilities, your mind executes one proactive maneuver, then another, letting you explore feelings one at a time.
Stabilizing one datum is what holistic visualization builds on. Invest genuinely pleasurable feelings into the process to create a magnetic vortex that attracts real physical components. Practice, practice, practice with the fresh mind of an enthusiastic beginner.
Getting started may be easier if you recruit some buddies to experiment with you. Gather on the floor with a pile of crayons, like kids. Color and draw your realistic next step for some aspect of your life. That step needs to be what you can see yourself accomplishing. It is not about gaining power or domination over others. Nor is it idle day dreaming. You are multi-dimensional. Get on friendly terms with all aspects of yourself using mindful awareness and holistic visualization. Then all the other areas of your life will flow with unbelievable ease to delightful realms of fulfillment.
- Writer's Bio: Karen is a naturopathic physician who has taken holistic healing and education into the realm of quantum physics. She is credited with “the first major breakthrough in Swedish Massage ~ research demonstrating energetic interconnections ~ since Peter Ling systemized it in the early 19th century.” International recognition for her healing and educational work includes an honorary degree, a silver medal, listing in Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, appearances on TV and radio, lecturing in Europe and in the U.S. for professional symposia, colleges, corporations, community groups, and being featured in professional journals, magazines and newspapers. She has published more than 200 articles on holistic health and education. She has facilitated joyful well-being and health for hundreds of students she has personally certified in holistic healing and holistic massage and for hundreds more clients she has personally touched including luminaries in science, medicine and religion. firstname.lastname@example.org