what is creative visualization?
"The mind is everything; what you think, you become." -Buddha
"When I was very young," said Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it. The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. The title was already mine. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it. Then when I moved on to the movies, the same thing. I visualized myself being a famous actor and earning big money. I could feel and taste success. I just knew it would all happen."
Creative visualization is the art of creating pictures in your mind to obtain whatever it is that you desire. Some people, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, use it instinctively, but most people need to learn how to do it. It is arguably the most useful skill you could ever master, as it can totally transform your life. You can use creative visualization to change your circumstances, progress in your career, improve your health, eliminate negative habits, and even attract love, money, and any other goal. Amazingly, there is nothing strange or remarkable about this incredible creative power that we all possess. Everyone who has achieved great success in life has used this power consciously or unconsciously.
Walt Disney is an example of someone who believed in creative visualization and used it to create his entertainment empire. He called the process "imagineering." When you visit Disneyland or Disney World you are seeing examples of "the dream that you wish will come true."
Many years ago, I heard a story that I like to think is true. Apparently, years after Disneyland and Disney World were completed, someone said to Mike Vance, the Creative Director of Walt Disney Studios, "Isn't it a shame that Walt Disney didn't live long enough to see this?" Apparently, Mike Vance replied, "But he did see it. That's why it's here." Walt Disney may well have been the world's greatest creative visualizer.
No matter what your present situation may be, you are using your creative mind to attract to you whatever it is you think about all the time. If you think you're unlucky or unfortunate, for instance, your subconscious mind will make this a reality. Most people use this ability unknowingly, and are not aware that they can deliberately use creative visualization to transform their lives. It's sad that most people use the incredible potential of creative visualization for negative purposes, when, with just a little effort, they could use it to achieve positive and productive goals.
Years ago, I met a man who told me how unlucky he was. He recounted a sad story of all the terrible things that had happened to him. He looked at me in amazement when I said that I believe we create our own luck in life.
"Do you think I'd deliberately inflict all this pain and suffering on myself?" he demanded.
Of course, he hadn't done it deliberately. He was simply unaware that his negative thoughts had created all the misfortune he had experienced.
Fortunately, many people are the complete opposite. They consider themselves fortunate, talented, or blessed in other ways, and as a result, these qualities are manifested in their lives.
You have probably heard the story of the half-filled glass of water. Positive people tend to think that the glass is half-full, while negative people consider it half-empty. Both points of view are correct. All the same, which group of people do you think live happier, richer lives?
I'm sure that many people are born with a predisposition toward positivity or negativity. However, this can be changed. If you tend to look on the gloomy or negative side of every situation, you can use creative visualization to change your approach to life. Even if you have become negative as a result of events that have occurred in the past, you can use creative visualization to turn your life around and become more positive. It is important that you do this. When you think in a negative manner, you act in the same way. Your body language, voice, and general approach will reveal your negativity to others. And, not surprisingly, you will attract more negativity.
Thousands of years ago, Aristotle taught that imagery was an essential part of thought, and that we simply can't think without pictures. He believed that motivation came about when someone either saw (or sensed) something, or imagined it, by creating or remembering the image in his or her mind. Over the centuries, different thinkers, such as Albertus Magnus, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Hobbes, expressed similar views. However, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this view came under attack, as people were considered to be nothing more than "conscious automatons." As a result, psychologists virtually ignored visualization until Robert Holt wrote a paper called "Imagery: The Return of the Ostracized" in 1964.
Your thoughts create your reality. By changing your thoughts, and focusing on what you want in your life, you have the power to create the life you have always dreamed about.
You possess a magnificent, creative imagination. Absolutely everything begins in the mind. Every time you think a thought, you are creating energy. If someone calls you a dreamer, you should take it as a compliment, as nothing will happen until after someone has imagined it in his or her mind. Daydreaming is valuable, as it allows you to think about what you most desire in your life.
With creative visualization, you use your imagination to create a clear impression of whatever it is that you desire. Once you have done this, you need to keep feeding this thought with energy and emotion until it becomes a reality. You must constantly focus on the result you desire. You can have anything that you're able to visualize. You can ask for anything at all, and know with absolute certainty that if you apply the correct principles, you can have it.
However, you need to be specific. Asking for a lot of money is not a good idea. Money on its own is not of much use. It's what you can do with the money that is important. Consequently, you should visualize whatever it is you intend to use the money for. Do you want a million-dollar home? Visualize it. Picture it as clearly as you can in your mind. Visualize the number of bedrooms it will have. Notice how well appointed the kitchen and bathrooms are. Visualize the grounds and the views from the windows. Spend as much time as you wish walking through your new home in your mind. It is much easier to visualize your dream home in your imagination than it is to think about piles of money.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is best known for his general theory of relativity, but he also devised totally new ways of looking at time, space, and gravity. He used creative visualization techniques throughout his life. He said: "Words or language ...do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought ...My elements of thought are . . . images."
Einstein was fortunate in attending a school that followed the precepts of the Swiss educator, Johann Pestalozzi (1746-1827). Pestalozzi believed the process of education should encourage the gradual unfolding of a person's inabilities. Observation and visualization were a major factor in this. In fact, Pestalozzi considered visual thinking to be one of the most powerful features of the mind, and believed that imagery was the start of all knowledge.
Einstein practised this throughout his life. At the age of 16, he used creative visualization to determine that the speed of light was always constant. Einstein visualized a cart that chased a point of light. The existing theory was that when the cart reached the speed of light, it would seem as if neither the cart nor the point of light were moving relative to each other. In Einstein's visualization he clearly saw that if he was sitting on the cart, the point of light constantly moved up and down as it rode the wave of light.
I came across an interesting example of creative visualization in a book called This is Earl Nightingale. Earl Nightingale told the story of a man who had become extremely wealthy in the lumber industry. When reporters asked him how he had done it, he told them that he sat every night in a darkened room and meditated, trying to visualize how the lumber industry would be conducted in another ten years. He wrote down any ideas that came to him, and implemented them in his business right away. His evening visualization sessions put him ten years ahead of his competitors and he made millions of dollars as a result.
Many people use creative visualization to achieve prosperity, but you can use it for almost any purpose. You can visualize a perfect partner, a promotion or new position, spiritual growth, abundant health, and a happy and fulfilling home and family life. You might want to become more confident, or develop a winning personality. You might want to eliminate stress and worry. You might want to progress in your favorite sport.
While working on this book, I came across an interesting example of creative visualization in my daily newspaper Michael Mayell, a successful entrepreneur, described how he used the technique to find his wife. "I sat down and wrote a list of all the attributes I really needed a partner to have, as well as things that would be a bonus," he said. "Then I visualized it and I affirmed it and I just knew I was going to pull this person into my life." Six months later he met Melanie, who ultimately became his wife.
You cannot use creative visualization to force another person to do something. That affects the natural balance of the universe and creates negative karma. Consequently, you are unable to use creative visualization techniques to force a specific person to fall in love with you. However, you can use these techniques to attract the perfect person into your life.
I have a good friend who had a series of relationship problems. She has an incredible talent for attracting losers, and despite her total lack of success in the past, she continue to think that somehow she could change each new partner. Of course, sooner or later, every relationship ended disastrously. After several bad experiences, she decided to forget men entirely and lead a celibate life. This didn't work, either. She finally learned the techniques of creative visualization and has now found "Mr. Right." He possesses all the qualities that she visualized, and she finds it hard to understand how she had sent out the wrong message to the universe for so many years.
This is just one example of someone who used creative visualization to attract the right partner. My friend finally managed to send out the qualities she desired, and did not request a specific person by name.
An acquaintance of mine named Brendan wanted to play the oboe. He had inherited an instrument several years earlier, and occasionally thought about having lessons. When he finally decided to do something about it, he couldn't find a teacher. He found teachers of other instruments, but no one was able to suggest someone in his town who could teach him the oboe.
He started visualizing himself having regular lessons with a wonderful teacher. Nothing happened for several weeks. One evening, he and his wife were at the movies when the man sitting next to him appeared to have a heart attack. Brendan helped the man get comfortable and arranged for an ambulance. He sat with the man and his partner in the lobby until the paramedics arrived. About a week later, a small advertisement appeared in the local paper thanking the kind stranger for his help, and asking him to make contact. Brendan phoned the man and was delighted to find that the attack had not been as bad as he had feared. In the course of the conversation, Brendan learned that the man played the oboe, and would be delighted to teach him. The universe had enabled Brendan's visualization to work.
I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. I had been studying the I Ching, but was unhappy with the imprecise interpretations that this great oracle produced. I was on the verge of giving up my studies, when my wife suggested that I visualize myself learning the I Ching from an expert on the subject. A month or so later, I was in a shopping mall and an elderly Chinese man came up to me. He had been to a talk I had given several months previously and wanted to thank me. I was grateful for his thanks, but his next words stunned me. He asked me if I'd like to learn the I Ching from him. For the last two years I have enjoyed weekly lessons from him. He refuses any pay, but allows me to buy him lunch after each lesson.
A few weeks ago I had a drink with a friend. He told me about the problems he was having with a family who had moved into the house next to his. He told me that the phrase "neighbors from hell" did not even begin to describe the situation. Everything they did upset him, and he was planning to tell them exactly what he thought of them. I asked him if he thought that was a good idea. He shrugged and said that he couldn't think of anything else he could do.
I suggested that he sit down quietly, and visualize himself having a pleasant conversation with the neighbors. He should picture himself discussing his concerns with them in a quiet, friendly, reasonable way. By doing this, he might defuse a potentially dangerous situation, and might even find them to be pleasant, friendly, and agreeable. He agreed to try it, and told me a few days later that it had worked out extremely well. The neighbors were aggressive and angry when he knocked on their door, but soon invited him in. They had a pleasant conversation, and by the end of it all the problems had been resolved. My friend accused me of putting a magic spell on him. In fact, it was his creative visualization that ensured success. Instead of approaching the neighbors expecting trouble, he knocked on the door anticipating a positive resolution.
This example shows that creative visualization can be used for almost everything. The only limits are those that you create yourself.
There are four essential ingredients to achieve success at creative visualization. Obviously, you need to visualize your goal. You do this by "seeing" it in your mind. The second step is to use mental imagery. This means clothing your desire with as many senses (feel, taste, smell, sound, and emotion) as possible. The third ingredient is to practice. This is a mental rehearsal of everything that is involved in reach your goal. The fourth ingredient is repetition. The more frequently you visualize your goal, the better.
Let's Get Started Exercise
This first exercise will teach you the basics of relaxation and visualization. Sit or lie down comfortably. I usually use a recliner-type chair or the floor for this. Unless I am doing a creative visualization in bed at night, I seldom lie down on a bed to visualize, as I usually fall asleep during the relaxation stage.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Ensure that the room is warm enough, or that you are covered with a blanket. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Temporarily disconnect the phone, so that you will not be disturbed while doing this exercise. Dim the lights, or draw the curtains.
Now you are going to do what is called a progressive relaxation. It is called this because you start with your toes, and then progressively relax different parts of your body until you are completely relaxed.
When you feel comfortable, close your eyes and take three or four slow, deep breaths, holding the breath for a few seconds each time before exhaling. Once you have done this, think about the toes on one of your feet. I always start with my left foot, but it makes no difference which foot you choose to start with. Tell them to relax, and allow a feeling of pleasant relaxation to enter into these toes. If you find it hard to do this, wiggle your toes for a few seconds and then try again.
Once your toes are relaxed, allow the relaxation to drift into your foot. Take as much time as necessary to do this, and then allow the pleasant feeling of relaxation to drift through your ankles and up into your calf muscles. Once these muscles feel relaxed, allow the feeling to drift over your knees and into your thighs.
Once your leg feels completely relaxed, focus on the toes of your other foot and gradually relax that leg, also. Once both legs are relaxed, allow the relaxation to drift into your abdomen and up to your chest. Relax one arm, followed by the hand and fingers. Repeat with the other arm. Now let the relaxation drift into your neck and face, and spread up to the top of your head.
You are now almost totally relaxed. Think about the muscles around your eyes and allow them to relax as much as they possibly can. Finally, mentally scan your body searching for any areas that may not be completely relaxed. Focus on any areas you find until they are completely relaxed too.
You are now totally relaxed. It is a wonderful feeling, and one that most people seldom experience while they are awake. It is also extremely beneficial, as it allows every cell in your body to relax. When you are relaxed like this, your brain produces alpha waves and you enter the alpha state. This is a state of heightened awareness and suggestibility.
Relaxation is the first part of this exercise. The second part is to visualize. Think about someone you know extremely well. It might be your partner, a work colleague, or a friend. It makes no difference whom you choose, as long as you know the person well enough to picture him or her in your mind.
You might see this person perfectly in your mind. This means that you are naturally a visual person. Sixty percent of the population use their visual sense more than their other senses. They make use of the other senses, of course, but rely primarily on their visual sense. These people have the ability to see something clearly in their minds. Other people rely more on their sense of hearing, and are called auditory, and still others rely on their feelings. They are called kinesthetic.
If you are naturally auditory or kinesthetic, you may find it hard to "see" someone in your mind. This does not matter. The more times you practice this exercise, the better you will become at it. After all, when you were a very young child and hadn't developed any language skills, you used your visual capabilities all the time. As you had the ability then, you can learn how to use it again. Even if you never get beyond the stage of seeing a vague shape in your mental eye, you can still become an expert at creative visualization.
(If you want to "see" your visualizations, the next experience will help you develop this ability.)
For this exercise, all that is necessary is to imagine the person in your mind. Some people "see" the other person, and others sense his or her presence. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. The purpose of this visualization is to see how clearly you can imagine the other person in your mind.
Picture your friend as clearly as you can, and think about an incident you can remember that involved him or her. It might be something mundane, such as getting into a car, or eating lunch. It might be something exciting or titillating. Again, it makes no difference what it is. Experiment to see how clearly you can recall this incident in your mind.
The final stage of this visualization is to imagine you and your friend visiting a place that you know, but have not been to with this person. If you and the other person have never gone to the movies together, you might want to imagine the two of you walking into a theatre, buying the tickets, and then going into the cinema. Again, it makes no difference what you decide to do.
Once you have imagined this clearly, take a few slow, deep breaths, stretch, and open your eyes. Congratulations. You have taken a major step toward becoming a successful creative visualizer.
Practice this exercise as often as you can. Just for the fun of it, choose a different person to visualize. Picture other scenarios as well. You might want to visualize the living room of your home when you were a young child. An elderly friend of mine used to enjoy walking down the main street of the town he lived in when he was a child, visualizing all the shops that he passed.
How To "See" More Clearly
It is not necessary to "see" your visualizations. However, you can improve your ability at seeing them, if you desire. Study a painting or a photograph for two or three minutes, and then close your eyes. See if you can recall it in your mind's eye. With practice, you'll be able to recall the picture in detail.
You can also experiment anywhere you happen to be. Close your eyes and see how much you can recall of wherever you happen to be. Don't worry if you find it hard to "see" anything clearly when you first start. Be patient, keep practising, and gradually your skill will improve.
Most people want to skip the early experiments and move directly to a creative visualization. However, you will move ahead more quickly if you spend a reasonable amount of time working on the preliminary exercises first.
In the next chapter we'll look at desire, one of the essential qualities of an effective creative visualization.