Ewa Pietrzak is a Dublin-based success coach and motivational speaker. Courtesy of The Irish Independent, she shares her thoughts on the art of visualisation.
Visualisation is the starting point for all great inventions in the world today, including airplanes, cars and computers. The art of painting a picture of what we want using our mind is a powerful tool that successful people have been using for aeons.
After inventing the telephone in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell said: "The day will come when the man at the telephone will be able to see the distant person to whom he is speaking." Imagine how far-fetched that pronouncement must have been in the 1800s? But he visualised it, and now it's commonplace.
As children, we visualised on a daily basis. We thought nothing of disappearing into our fairytale princess castle or saddling the horse and heading for the Wild West. The academic education system grinds to a halt when it comes to teaching about dreaming or visualisation. They consider it to be a time-wasting distraction from factual learning. By the time we become adults, our dreaming faculty is more often than not transformed into a negative, fear-based imagining of what we don't want - our worst nightmares.
High-performing athletes hire sports psychologists, who trains them to visualise themselves achieving the results they desire, regardless of what they've already accomplished. Through this, we can attain our goals and achieve our dreams. Whether you want to change career, attract a partner, or own a beach house, you begin by painting the picture.
Whether you're aware of it or not, human beings think in pictures. If I ask you to think of a lemon, you can see a lemon in your mind. If I ask you to think of a beach, you can picture the seaside. Corporations have been using imagery to brand products since the 1800s, because pictures speak louder than words and make a lasting impression on consumers. Thinking in pictures is visualisation and this is an innate ability that we all possess, whether we're aware of it or not. Goal-achievers and inventors have been using this technique for many years.
Einstein said: "Imagination is more powerful than knowledge." All objects and inventions have been created on two planes. Firstly, in the imagination, and then in reality. Airplanes are the result of the dream of two mechanics to life a moving machine into the air. We could discuss hundreds of inventions - beginning with the most basic, like chairs, which evolved from man's desire to sit more comfortably - and find that all began on a mental plane. The internet was born of the concept of communication. Imagination is the starting point of all inventions.
In success psychology, the mind is divided into two parts - the conscious, and the sub-conscious. Desires and goals are born in the conscious mind, which is responsible for between two and four per cent of results. On the other hand, the sub-conscious mind governs action, habitual thinking and behaviour, which accounts for the remaining 96 and 98% of results. Visualisation is a very effective technique for reprogramming the sub-conscious mind and generating ideas and actions toward goals. In order to implement these changes, we must imprint the desired outcomes on our sub-conscious mind.
If this is your first time visualising, start small with this simple exercise for a couple of minutes daily. Take a good look at the palm of your hand and notice the colour your skin, any creases, how it smells and feels. Then, close your eyes and picture it in your mind. Repeat this exercise for 30 days straight, and as you progress begin thinking about the things you desire. It may be the starting point in passing an exam, changing a career, finding a new partner, or securing your dream home. Choose something you want, and get started.
In order to visualise effectively, focusing the mind is integral. Once we have created a mental picture, we need to focus in order to encourage ideas and isolate action-points to come to us during our journey to realising our desired outcome. If you are not already in the habit of focusing, this can be improved with a simple daily exercise. Sit in a comfortable chair, facing a point of focus. This can be a dot on the wall, a candle flame, or a picture. Set a timer for one minute and hold your gaze. Your mind may automatically begin to wander off track, so bring it back and, if necessary, reset the timer to begin again. One minute of this exercise daily for 30 days will strengthen your ability to focus and aid visualisation.
The Silva Method is a renowned visualisation practice. It's founder, Jose Silva, recommends that there are three times during the day that are optimum for visualisation. These are immediately before waking up, just before bed, and straight after a meal. This is because our brain is in an alpha state, where it is conscious but relaxed. This state is the ideal one in which to influence the sub-conscious mind and generate belief in our goals at a deep level, not just on the surface. This method has helped millions of people achieve their goals.
This effective technique involves placing yourself in the picture and observing the world around you through the senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. For example, you might want a house on the beach, but don't know how to get it. Visualise yourself sipping wine on a verandah, and experience this picture through senses. See the blue water, smell the salt, hear the waves break, taste the wine, touch the sand with your toes. Notice how this makes you feel relaxed, at ease, joyful, alive, fulfilled and happy. Feelings are the language of our subconscious mind. After a month of this practice, your belief in your dream will multiply and you will begin to generate ideas and spot opportunities. Apply this technique to your own picture and connect with the feeling of reaching your goal.
Another useful and easy technique for visualisation is projecting the picture of what you want onto a screen. Sit back and observe, as if you are at the cinema or watching TV. You may enjoy watching yourself being summoned to receive an award or lifting a trophy. This is another Silva Method technique, but personally I prefer motor imagery. This makes me feel like I'm in the moment already, with my goals achieved.
As children, our imagination is well developed. We freely dream of being princesses, singers, actors, astronauts any anything else that comes to mind. Going through school, we are told to pay attention, and are reprimanded from drifting off to our own imaginary lands. We are asked how we are going to do things, and where the money is going to come from. Basically, we are transformed into rational thinkers and are discouraged from dreaming. Most of the world's great inventors and successful people are driven by vision. They're not influenced by present results and financial circumstances. Forget rational thinking and return to dreaming.
Persistence and repetition are the key to successful visualisation. Repeating the same practice several times daily and analysing it in detail in your imagination changes how you feel about your goal. You begin to believe it on a deep emotional level, and begin to spot opportunities, locating paths that drive you to the finish line. It's the same as when you really want to buy a particular car. Once it is fixed in your mind, you begin to see it everywhere. That's the power of focus. Happy visualising.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
The Pendulum Inspired Leadership Programme is a world-class online learning experience that focuses on specific themes critical to today’s business executives and is an efficient and innovative way to train and inspire management teams.