Creative visualization is the process of generating visual mental imagery, with eyes open or closed. These images can be for the purpose of inspecting or transforming and then understanding the associated feelings with that image to experience a more beneficial emotion, which can help deal with pain, loss, etc.
Too complex? Let me simplify it.
Creative visualization, means creating an image or a scene or imagining something in your mind, with eyes open or closed. That image or scene or imagination, is then used to replace any pain or cope with any loss, by attaching positive feelings to it. But creative visualization is not simply about dealing with pain or loss. It also helps boost self-esteem, improve moods, fighting anxiety etc.
Our mind has the ability to imagine some really fascinating things. These things do not need to be real or even make sense. If it is imaginable, our mind will imagine it. The power of creative visualization lies in its ability to affect our psychological, physiological and social behaviour.
The brain is capable of creating two kinds of images. Let us look at them in detail:
1. Visual Imagery
This form of creative visualization is where an image can be seen, voices can be heard and at times you may even feel the effects. Most creative visualization involves visual imagery.
Many times when we imagine a beach or some form of water, we see in our minds a beautiful shore, the sound of the ocean and if you are quite the imaginative one, you even feel the sand beneath your feet!
2. Non-Visual Imagery
This is when there is no picture formation in the mind. But all other senses together help one imagine. So when a trained musician tunes his instruments or tries to remember a music piece, it is non-visual imagery which comes into play. He can hear the sound or feel the strings of the instrument and judge if everything is in tune or not.
Creative visualization has an extremely strong impact on people. The way we think, react, behave, etc. can be modified with the help of creative visualization. Let us now look at the benefits of creative visualization.
First of all, the benefits of creative visualization are felt in all spheres of life. It is widely used in treatments and other situations where these kinds of creative visualizations come in handy.
• Therapeutic Benefits
In case of various psychological disorders, a person is subject to creative visualization. If a person is suffering from anxiety disorder, they are asked to visualize serene, calm and soothing scenes. The sounds of the sea are played and they are asked to calm down, imagining a sea shore. This helps them calm down, without using any medication.
When a person is going through physical pain, they are asked to visualize painless and pleasant things, while the other medication takes effect. This is done because when in pain, constant attention to the pain makes it seem worse than it actually is.
• Forgetting Fear
Very often people get cold feet at the very last minute. This is natural, but it becomes a hindrance to their performance. Be it on stage, in an exam hall or anywhere. To handle such a situation, one can visualize post victory scenes. This helps us to get over last minute jitters and give our best.
• Morale Booster
Every once in a while, our morale goes down. We feel low and not motivated enough to get things done. Through creative visualization we can convince our mind to imagine all the glory and prizes that await us at the end of the activity. This helps us get up and at least start.
The same visualization also helps us complete tasks once we start them.
• Mood booster
Naturally, if we are becoming more confident, relieving stress and experiencing more joy then our mood is going to be positive as well. When we day dream of all those things that make us happy, we automatically put into motion, the process of forgetting our problems.
Stages of Creative Visualization
1. Image Generation
Here the image comes into being. We begin imagining and forming a mental image, sometimes from memory, sometimes from fantasy and sometimes from both.
2. Image Maintenance
Here we try to keep the image alive. Our mind is prone to forgetting easily. So, this step is all about maintaining and keeping the image alive in our minds, long enough to actually see it as real.
3. Image Inspection
Now, our mind may be forgetful, but it has a great attention for detail. So the next step involves a thorough inspection of the image to make it seem as real as possible. This involves comparing the image to other mental images and our real experiences.
(Yeah... the mind actually does all that. And here we thought only we multitask!)
4. Image Transformation
This is the last and most important step. Making it real. The image which was only part of the mind, is now experienced by the mind and body alike. The effects of the imagery, be it soothing, calming, relieving, etc. are all felt and enjoyed in the last step.
Creative visualization is much more difficult than we give our mind credit for. It can often be a draining experience, physically and emotionally. But when we do it, when we achieve creative visualization, we are often left with a sense of deep calm and serenity. Problems seem to solve themselves and we are left feeling relaxed.