Picture this: visualizing a year of active engagement

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Stand up anyone who made a new year’s resolution! And now remain standing if you’re still committed! It’s no surprise that only one out of every ten people stay the course. And not to mention, what a way to start the new year, creating high expectations followed closely by disappointment! Do we need to be reminded of the familiar list?

eat more carrots
drink more water
exercise regularly
take the stairs instead of the elevator
take regular breaks while working at the computer
reach out to coworkers, friends and family
find quiet time to relax, if possible

evoking change through the power of visualization

The new year is a great time then to take stock, to regenerate, to dream, and to lay plans for self-improvement but without a concentrated power of will, a degree of self-awareness, focus and intent, our best laid plans fall on the proverbial heap of broken promises and well-intentioned resolutions.

But, is there a better way, a different way, a way to shift our perspective, how we approach acceptance and the change that is all around us, particularly seizing the opportunity for a new start at the beginning of a new year? Well, picture this…

For years, professional athletes, creative people and mere mortals have been evoking change and improvement through the power of visualization. We’re all familiar with the adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Yet this picture doesn’t necessarily need to be drawn on paper, and can just as well be imagined inside our heads.

our brain can not distinguish between actual and VISUALIZED

Basketball players, for example, have been observed using fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) connected to their brains, first physically and then as they visualized themselves shooting

basketballs into a hoop, over and over again changing and improving their game. Researchers discovered that there was no discernable difference between the physical versus the virtual observations; in other words, our brain is not able to distinguish between the actual physical action and us sitting quietly visualizing the event inside our head!

The process of creative visualization places great emphasis on the power of thought, imagination, our sense of smell, sound, and felt sensations. It then allows us to manifest some of our intentions creating agency and a reclaimed sense of self.

So, let’s get started

We will picture in our mind a desired goal or objective and hold this image until it sinks into our unconscious mind, and in a very practical way use it to make positive changes and improvements in our own lives.

Start by deciding on a good moment to practice. Setting time aside every day to visualize the objective is essential. This can be done whenever you have some personal time, first thing in the morning, on the bus, at lunch, or last thing at night. The key to a successful outcome is dedication.

we can change our internal dialogue and rewire the neural pathways of the brain

Once you are in a comfortable position, think of a scenario around an objective or goal. Make it specific and make it simple. Create the visual in your mind, see yourself as the actor in your movie.

For example, if you want to be healthier by being more active in your life.

Create an image in your mind of yourself already being that healthy and active person.
See yourself in the image. What do you look like? Focus on the image.
What are you wearing? Visualize the clothes it in your mind. See the colors, the details.
What activities are you engaged in? Watch yourself walking, running, playing.
As you engage in the activity, what are the smells around you? Breath in the smells.
As you take action (exercise, meditate, eat a meal) hear the sounds around you.
Experience the activity. Observe your detailed movements.
How do you feel during the activity?
See yourself actively changing your patterns. How are you doing this? Focus on the details.
What is your train of thought? What is you dialogue?
Create an image of how ideally you would like to engage in this activity. Hold it vividly.
Project yourself into the future. Visualize the new and improved outcome, e.g. a better health report.
Create an image of yourself with your loved ones and coworkers.
Visualize the expression of pleasant surprise of your doctor during the next checkup.
Allow yourself to experience all the positive sensations from the changes and improvements.

Creative visualization goes hand in glove with positive self-talk. By habitually focusing our awareness on what we ‘tell ourselves’, and actively challenging the negative thoughts, we can change our internal dialogue and rewire the neural pathways of the brain. This requires practice and patience; and like a child imaging an amazing magical adventure, the more vivid the sensory experience the more resolute the new connections will become.

You are your most valuable asset, nurture it!

Most importantly, you need to see the beauty in your goals and your efforts. Notice the tiny increments of progress. Rome was not build in a day. There will inevitably be set backs. For lasting personal progress, there is often one step back for every two steps forward. Take pride in every baby step. Practice regularly, be kind to yourself.