Visualization is an
often ignored but highly important skill that should be taught to your
athletes. If kids can master visualization, they can call upon it
throughout their lives to enhance their self-confidence in any
situation. Visualization skills are taught to many of our Olympians who have successfully used the technique
at least in some fashion a part of their training and competition
is a creative means to develop imagination to positively transform any
situation in life. Its power becomes real when the idea of creating our own reality"
becomes experience rather than theory. If we believe and act on the assumption that life is positive
and that the universe is a safe, supportive place to be, this assumption
will become a genuine reality.
Creative visualization is one of our most important tools for achieving
optimum performance. It is the process of forming images and thoughts in
our mind, consciously or unconsciously, and then transmitting them to
the body as signals or commands. Creative visualization is not new or
unusual; it is a process we already use continuously, every moment. The
important thing is to learn to use it consciously, to create what
we truly want, rather than unconsciously create things we may not want
at all. Some of us may have negatively used creative visualization in
the past to produce failure in the first place, and we can learn to use it positively to achieve success.
Conscious creative visualization is the practice of creating positive
thoughts and images to be communicated to our bodies, instead of
negative ones. The key to using creative visualization is
imagination. Imagination is usually associated with fantasy, daydreaming. However, imagination is a
powerful tool, closely linked with natural creativity. Imagination is
the ability to create in your mind an idea or mental picture. In
creative visualization, you use your imagination to create a clear idea
of what you want. Then by focusing regularly on that idea, giving it
positive energy, until you achieve the desired effect. For example,
suppose that certain situations make you tense and nervous (such as a competitive event or perhaps a speech). Your image of yourself as a
tense and nervous person will tend to perpetuate the problem.
When you learn to use creative visualization constructively, you will spend short, regular periods of
meditation, imagining yourself as calm and relaxed in these formerly threatening
situations. You will
start to see yourself as a more easy-going, self-confident person. In this way, you will gradually
replace the negative image with a positive one. Eventually (sometimes even immediately), you will find
yourself more relaxed and confident than ever before.
A Sample Exercise in Creative Visualization
Choose something to work on. It may be performing a skill, or just
something you would like to improve, such as your weight or strength. At
first, choose something simple, which you feel fairly positive about.
(Later you can learn to work effectively with more complex difficulties,
where you may have deeper emotional resistance.)
Get into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, in a
quiet place. Relax your body completely. Breathe deeply and slowly, from
your belly. Count down slowly from 10 to 1, feeling yourself become more
deeply relaxed with each count.
When you feel completely relaxed, imagine the thing you want--exactly as
you would like it. See your problem as gone, or as greatly improved. You
might imagine yourself in a specific situation with everything flowing
smoothly, hitting every element of a routine flawlessly. Try to imagine
every detail that will make it feel more real for you.
You may take as much or as little time to do this as you like -- whatever
feels best to you. Have fun with it. It should be a thoroughly enjoyable
experience, like a child imagining what he would do if he had three
wishes. Now, keeping the idea or image in your mind, make some very
positive, affirmative statements about yourself, silently or aloud, such
as: "I am now in perfect control." "I feel calm and
relaxed, and enjoy myself all the time." "My body is fit and
ready to perform." These positive statements, or affirmations, are
most important to creative visualization. Remember that they should always be made in
a positive way (for example, don't say, "I am no longer nervous or
trembling," but rather, "I am confident and enjoy showing what
I can do.") They may be very specific or quite general. The list of
possible affirmations is endless, so have fun making up your own. Each
person resonates with different words, so find the affirmations that
feel very good to you and seem meaningful personally.
If doubts or contradictory thoughts arise, don't resist them or try to
prevent them. Just let them flow through your consciousness, and return
to your positive statements and images. Do this only as long as you find
it enjoyable and interesting. This could be five minutes or a half-hour.
Repeat regularly, as often as you like. Perhaps two
or three times a day for about five minutes. You will decide what works best for
you. The best times are often in the
morning when you first wake up, and at night just before sleeping, but
any time is fine. When you really get into your creative visualization,
you will find that it feels very good, relaxing, releasing, even
exhilarating. It is a very healthful process in itself.
How To Visualize
Some people worry because they don't actually "see" a mental
picture or image when they close their eyes and try to visualize. Don't worry, it is
not at all necessary to mentally see an image. some people do; others
just "sort of think about it" or imagine that they are looking
at it. Either is fine. We all use our imaginations constantly--it's
impossible not to. So whatever that process is for you, fine.
If you still don't feel sure what it means to visualize, try closing
your eyes and thinking of some familiar place, like your bedroom.
Imagine a child bouncing a bright red rubber ball. After that, imagine
that you are in some idyllic country setting, perhaps relaxing on soft
green grass in the sun, beside a cool river. Whatever process you
use to bring these scenes to mind is your way of
"visualizing." The more you practice creative visualization, the easier it will be for
Using Creative Visualization
There is an infinite number of ways to use creative visualization as a meaningful part of our lives.
Physical Health. Almost any physical problem can be
improved by means of creative visualization.
Self Image. Many people have at least some images of
themselves that are negative; we see ourselves as in some sense ugly,
stupid, selfish, or whatever. When we begin to visualize ourselves as
beautiful, intelligent, wise, and so forth, we begin to become that way.
Relationships. You can improve any relationship
(family, friends, team mates) by visualizing increased harmony, better
communication, more closeness, affection, or appreciation.
Conclusion: Making Creative Visualization Work
The basic technique, as you have seen, is quite simple. Yet creative
visualization does not work superficially; it is not mere positive
thinking. It involves our deepest attitudes toward life and toward
ourselves. That is why learning the techniques can become a process of
deep and meaningful change and growth. In the process, we may discover
many ways in which we are holding ourselves back, blocking ourselves
from achieving satisfaction and fulfillment, because of our fears and
limiting concepts. Once seen clearly, these feelings can be dissolved by
means of the creative visualization process, leaving space for us to
find the reality we desire.
At first, you may use creative visualization only at specific times and
for specific goals. As your ability grows, and you begin to trust the
results it can bring, you will find that it becomes an integral part of
your thinking or self training process. What this means from a
practical standpoint is that we always attract into our lives that which we
think about the most, believe in most strongly, expect on the deepest levels, or
can imagine most vividly.