Using Guided Imagery To Overcome Obstacles

Guided imagery, or visualization, as it is also known, has been used by successful business people and Olympic athletes to enhance performance and increase success. Studies now show that guided imagery truly works.

Sense-Oriented: Guided imagery is not just visual. It uses all of the senses: Touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. This makes it more effective, as not everybody is predominantly a visual person. Studies have shown that mental practice (guided imagery) is almost as effective as the actual practice and that doing both of them together is better than doing either one of them alone. Researchers found that athletes who used guided imagery on top of actual workouts were able to enhance their performance by 13.5%, compared to those athletes who just did the physical work-outs. Michael Phelps, Olympian swimmer and gold medallist, was trained by his coach to “watch his movie” at the beginning and end of each day. In his “mental movie”, Phelps would picture in minute detail winning his race, and what that would look like, feel like, even taste like and smell like. In one record-breaking swim, he had water filling his goggles but he was able to overcome this obstacle by referring to his guided imagery and, even though he could physically see nothing as his eyes were blinded by the water, he could imagine how many strokes he needed to do and was still able to win.

Guided imagery impacts many cognitive processes, including movement, concentration, perception, planning, and memory. So, the brain is being trained for actual performance during visualization. Guided imagery can enhance your motivation, increase your self-confidence and self-efficacy, and can prime your brain for success.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Think about the obstacle which prevents you from achieving your success. Identify solutions. Imagine you have already accomplished your goal. Use imagery to make the solution appear more vivid in your mind. What colour do you see? What sounds do you hear? What scents can you smell?  What textures are you aware of? Any tastes? How will you feel about yourself when you achieve your goal? How will others react to you? How will you react to them? Build a very specific picture of your final outcome, as though it has already happened. Imagine how you will improve the lives of others for the better, once your goal is achieved?
  2. Visualize a positive final outcome daily to boost your motivation and confidence.
  3. Incorporate relaxation techniques with visualizations to enhance its effect. Studies have found that when the mind is more relaxed it is more receptive to the imagery.
  4. Visualize and then create an action plan.
  5. Visualize yourself taking control and acting on the plan. Then, act on it!

Yoga Nidra is a powerful practice which incorporates guided imagery to help you overcome obstacles.

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