Visualisation is the starting point of all great inventions in the world today including airplanes, cars and computers. The art of painting a picture of what we want on the screen of our mind is a powerful tool that successful people have been using for aeons.
After inventing the telephone in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell is quoted as saying: "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 it happened.
As children we visualised on a daily basis and thought nothing of disappearing into our fairytale princess castle or saddling the horse and heading for the Wild West. The academic education system draws a halt to dreaming and visualising, considering it a time-wasting distraction from factual learning. By the time we become adults, our dreaming faculty is more often than not turned into a negative fear-based imagining of what we don't want and our worst nightmares.
High-performing athletes hire sports psychologists who train them to visualise themselves in possession of the results they desire, regardless of what they've accomplished so far.
By visualising ourselves in possession of what we truly desire, we can attain our goals and dreams. Whether you want to change career, attract a partner or have a beach house, you can get started by painting the picture.
1 THINKING IN PICTURES - Whether you are aware of it or not, humans think in pictures. If I ask you to think of a lemon, you can see a lemon on the screen of your mind. If I ask you to think of the 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 are aware of it or not. Goal achievers and inventors have been using this technique for many years.
2 IMAGINATION - 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 lift a moving machine into the air. We could go through hundreds of inventions, starting with basics like chairs, which evolved from man's desire to sit more comfortably, and they all started on the mental plane. The internet began with the concept of communicating through ether. Imagination is the starting point of all inventions.
3 SUB-CONSCIOUS MIND - In success psychology, the mind is divided into two parts - the conscious and the sub-conscious. Desires and goals are created in the conscious mind, which is responsible for only 2pc to 4pc of our results. On the other hand, the sub-conscious mind governs actions, habitual thinking and behaviour, which accounts for a whopping 96pc to 98pc of our results. Visualisation is a very effective technique for reprogramming the sub-conscious mind and generating ideas and actions towards goals. In order to make changes in our life, we must imprint the desired outcomes on our sub-conscious mind.
4 START SMALL - If this is your first time to visualise, 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 of your skin, any creases, how it smells and how it feels. Then close your eyes and picture it on the screen of your mind. Repeat this exercise for 30 days and as you progress start thinking about what you desire. You may want to use visualisation as a starting point to help you get an exam, change your career, find a new partner or get your dream home. Choose something you want and then get started.
5 FOCUS - In order to visualise effectively, focusing the mind is necessary. Once we have painted the mental picture we need to focus in order to encourage ideas and new action steps to come to us en-route to realisation of 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, which can be a dot on the wall, candle flame or picture. Set a timer for one minute and hold your gaze. Your mind may automatically start wandering off track, so bring it back to the point and if necessary reset the timer and start again. One minute of this exercise daily for 30 days will strengthen your ability to focus and aid visualisation.
6 TIME OF THE DAY - The 'Silva Method' is a renowned visualisation practice and its founder, Jose Silva, recommends three times during the day that are best for visualisation. Immediately upon waking up, just before bed and straight away after a meal are the optimum times because our brain is in what he calls in 'alpha state' - conscious but very relaxed. This relaxed state is the ideal time to influence the sub-conscious mind and generate belief in our goals at deep gut level, not just on the surface. The Silva Method has helped millions of people accomplish big goals.
7 MOTOR IMAGERY - This very 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 by the beach and don't know how to get it. Visualise yourself sipping a wine on the verandah and experience this picture through senses; see the blue water, smell the salt, hear the waves breaking, taste the wine and 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 and after a month of this practice, your belief in your dream multiplies and you start generating ideas and spotting opportunities how you can have it. Apply this technique to your own picture and connect with 'the feeling' of having your goal.
8 DREAM ON THE SCREEN - Another useful and easy technique for visualisation is to project the picture of what you want onto a screen. Sit back and observe as if you are watching TV or in the cinema. You may enjoy watching yourself being called up to receive an award or sporting cup. This is another Silva Method technique but personally I prefer motor imagery as it makes me feel like I'm in the moment with my goals already achieved.
9 FORGET RATIONAL THINKING - As children our imagination is well developed and we freely dream of being princesses, singers, actors, astronauts and absolutely anything we fancy. Going through school we are told to pay attention and banned from drifting off to our imaginary lands and asked questions like "how are you going to do that" and "where is the money going to come from". Basically we are transformed into rational thinkers and discouraged from dreaming. Most of the world's great inventors and successful people are driven by vision and not influenced by present results and financial circumstances. Forget rational thinking and go back to dreaming.
10 PRACTICE DAILY - Persistence and repetition is the key to successful visualisation. Repeating the same picture a few times daily and analysing it in detail in your imagination changes how you feel about your goal. You begin believing in it at a deep emotional level and start spotting opportunities and paths to get 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 start seeing it everywhere you go. This is the power of focus. Happy visualising.
* Ewa Pietrzak is a Dublin-based success coach and motivational speaker