How to Improve Your Visualization Skills & Mental Imagery

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In a world where we are often bombarded with the issues that life may bring, visualization skills and mental imagery are essential.  It is vital we mentally see ourselves in a better frame of mind and in a better circumstance.  Even before we see the fulfillment of it and the peace it brings in reality.

This method can be the anchor that keeps us grounded when we may want to give up and run away.  It is also a way to “rebuild our selfhood” mentioned in the article 25 Self Care Day Ideas & Activities for 2022

In addition, visualization helps us see where we want to go mentally and grab ahold of the emotions of the vision beforehand.  Essentially we are using it as fuel until our goals are accomplished. 

For example, we visualize ourselves getting a promotion at work.  As we meditate, we see the boss asking us up to the front of the room and see the looks and smiles of our co-workers as our promotion is announced before the whole group.  We feel the pride and thankfulness and the feeling that all the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it.

In reality, we encourage ourselves as we focus on the fact that all our hard work has not gone unnoticed.  See Visualization: How Mental Imagery Can Make You Better at Life to further understand the benefits of visualization.

But our question for today is how to improve visualization and make it more effective and potent in our everyday lives.  So first, we will discuss that and answer the questions further, “what is visualization?”

What is Visualization?

Generally speaking, visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen.  But, in addition, it also involves the emotion you seek to feel in reality.  Therefore, it is crucial and practical to see what we want to make it happen. 

This mindfulness process is much more effective than simply writing down goals (though it is a helpful habit as well).  Furthermore, it is much more than psyching yourself up or someone psyching you up. 

Visualization is like mental rehearsal using meditation and mindfulness.  You see the entire process played out in your mind as you meditate on the outcome you desire to see in the future.

Athletes use visualization and mental imagery to imagine every detail of their desired performance and how it feels to perform at that level.  Similarly, musicians use visualization and mental imagery to perform at a certain level and overcome performance anxieties.

Visualizing and imagining the complete picture of a scenario is typically accompanied by images of previous successful performances.  By meditating on a future desired outcome, and the experience of performing each move, the person can fully embody that feeling.  While visualizing these mental images, a person should try to imagine the details and the emotions associated with performing in the desired way.

We seek to enhance our skills through repetitive motion or rehearsal, which is similar to physically practicing.  However, with mental rehearsal, the mind and body become trained to perform the imagined skills and performances.

A person can also study notes, using internal imagery while training and during competitions to improve their performance more than trusting external words of praise and encouragement from others.

Preparing Yourself for Visualization

There is not necessarily a wrong way to practice visualization.  However, you want to put yourself in the best possible scenario to get the most out of it.

The visualization process is a well-thought-out process that must be prepared for.
First, you must eliminate all distractions and find a nice, quiet place to meditate. Choose a time and place where you aren’t likely to be interrupted.  Unplug from technology if needed so that calls, texts, and notifications aren’t vying for your attention.  See 7 Steps to Unplug from Technology and Live a More Mindful Life – Happier Human for additional help. 

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In practicing visualization, you want to put yourself in the best possible scenario to get the most out of it.

Another part of effective visualization is to feel relaxed.  Controlling your breathing and hand placement can help you achieve the level of visualization you need to go deep into mental imagery.

How to Improve Visualization

Just seeking to improve your visualization process shows how serious you are about getting the most out of the practice.  Here are 5 steps to improve your visualization and mental imagery skills.

1. Don’t overthink it.

Many of us may wonder if the image we are imagining is correct.  We wonder if we are thinking too small or too large concerning what we desire.  Before long, we've made the process difficult because we began judging our mental images too harshly.  The best technique is to simply put little mental pressure into the process.

2. Rely on all five senses.

When paying close attention to the details of what you have envisioned, it is helpful to notice any taste, smells, textures (from feeling), sounds, in addition to the things you saw.

The more detailed the vision, the more impactful it is on you.  Lastly, if you have issues envisioning things by seeing them in your mind’s eye, utilizing the other sensory functions can improve your skills.

3. Don't be too hard on yourself.

If you find your mind wandering and you're having trouble focusing when trying to meditate, don't be too hard on yourself.  It is common to find ourselves becoming distracted in our minds.  This can occur when we hear certain sounds that distract us or see our minds wondering about things we have to accomplish later in the day.

Simply bring your focus back to the visualization by paying attention to your body and breathing techniques to get yourself back on track.  You may also want to see the 7 Best Subliminal Messages Apps to Program Your Mind – Happier Human.

4. Be aware of your emotions.

Let whatever emotions and feelings that arise come to you naturally each time you visualize.  Try not to force it or judge anything but let the feelings come to you.  Then, afterward, enjoy them while you relax and allow them to grow and expand in your mind.  This is one of the most powerful things we can experience as we use visualization. 

5. Visualize with a sense of expectation.

Having a sense of knowing is the fuel behind seeing our visions come to pass.  First, we see in our minds what we desire to happen. 

Secondly, we are sensitive to our emotions while focusing on the future we see coming to pass. 

Lastly, we need to use visualization over and over again.  The more we see and mentally experience these special moments from our future; in this way, the more we believe they will happen. 

Final Thoughts on How to Improve Visualization Skills & Mental Imagery

When thinking of how to improve visualization skills and mental imagery, it's important to remember to relax.  Unfortunately, relaxing can feel like an ugly, dirty word to a busy person.  It may also feel counterproductive for someone who desires to accomplish great things in the future.

However, visualizing helps us relax and take productive steps to accomplish our desires in life.  This type of meditation and thoughtfulness is also helpful to help us overcome fear, worry, anxiety, and stress.  If you struggle with finding the time for visualization, Mindful Commuting: Making Time for Mindfulness During Free Moments is a valuable article to read.

If you are new to visualization and mental imagery, another helpful resource to read is Top 7 Tips: Beginners Visualization Techniques – EnVision.

For more resources on meditation, mindfulness, and how to improve visualization, see 9 Enlightenment Apps to Help Your Spiritual Journey.

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