Reality in Buddhism is called dharma, a system of natural laws that constitutes the natural order of things.

One of Buddhism’s fundamental teachings is that life is an illusion; we don’t live in dharma, we live within our perception of it. This means that the reality you live in is only an echo of objective reality.

The untrained mind is passive, tethered to surface thoughts, reactive. Mindfulness is the entry point to acquiring the power of positive visualization. Like meditation, trains the mind to look past the static. Mindfulness has been practiced by Buddhist monks for over 2,500 years, but only came light light in mainstream culture in the late 1970s (courtesy of Jon Kabat-Zinn, as a treatment for chronic pain sufferers).

To be mindful is to be in the zone, hyper-aware of your surroundings, in the flow where things naturally:

mindful-examples

 

Mindfulness Simplified

This method is especially easy to do while riding a bicycle:

Anchor attention to your breathing. As you focus on your breathing, navigate your physical surroundings as normal. Try any of the following:

  • Breathe in, breathe out: every time you inhale, say in your mind “inhale”. Every time you exhale, say “exhale”. Focus on saying those as you ride a bicycle through city traffic.
  • Counting: start from zero and count upwards, adding one every time you exhale. Focus on counting exhalations as you ride your bicycle through the streets.

Keep practicing over several rides, until you get your wandering mind under control.

 

Creative Visualization for Beginners

creative-visualization-metaphor

Once you have a sense about mindfulness, it’s time to get into the fun stuff.

Creative visualization uses the subconscious brain like a self-guided missile. When the self-guided missile is fired, it starts moving towards its programmed target. As it does it assesses its coordinates in relation to the target and makes adjustments to correct its path, until it reaches its destination (source).

The basic technique is simple: create an image in your mind of what you want to happen, and then focus positive energy on that image until it happens.

  1. Write it down: on a pice of paper, with as much detail as possible.
  2. Mentally enhance: imagine what it feels like to achieve the goal. Intensify that feeling. Add vivid colors to the picture, and perhaps a sensory element like fluffy clouds, sunshine or a breeze.
  3. Repeat daily: place emphasis on picturing yourself achieving the goal and your feelings about doing so.
  4. Adjust and keep going: as the vision develops over time, so will your circumstances. Rewrite your core vision (Step 1) whenever you need.

Fundamental Concepts

Before plunging into beginner techniques, note the following:

1. Consistent practice: visualization does not materialize instant results – it is a process. In order for it to work, you need to practice at least 10 minutes daily, either right after waking or right before bed. Make sure that the place where you practice is private, quiet and clean.

2. Be positive: don’t worry if you can’t form clear images or get easily distracted – it gets easier over time. Try to connect with any form of the image that you can: a feeling, smell, sight or any other sense will suffice. Nurture the image, keep at it, allow it time to grow and get clearer.

3. Experiment with two perspectives:

  • Associated: see the image from your own eyes, if you were living it. This is the most common method.
  • Disassociated Most often used when dealing with traumas from the past.

 

Easy Visualization Practices

Once you grasp how easily visualizations can be materialized, you’ll also come to learn that that hardest part is actually in zeroing in on what you will visualize upon. To get you started, try these two exercises that everyone can benefit from:

Practice 1: have an awesome day

Picture yourself waking up tomorrow feeling refreshed, alert and confident. You feel like you can handle anything that comes your way. Every time you smile, it sends a wave of positive energy into the air. The whole day is smooth and light; you finish your work with ease and end the day buzzing with good energy.

Practice for 10 minutes daily and assess the result after seven days.

Practice 2: resolve a frustration

Imagine a problem that makes you feel frustrated. Imagine yourself handling that problem. Instead of getting frustrated, you calmly try different methods until it is peacefully sorted.

This may not work immediately. Let’s assume you try to tackle the problem but again fail in frustration. Don’t give up, modify your visualization and keep focused on the goal. For example:

Imagine yourself making multiple failures, and learning something new with each failure. Imagine getting more successful with each attempt, until you finally achieve your goal with ease.

Practice for 10 minutes daily until the frustration gets resolved.

Create your own visualization

  1. Write down what you want to happen:
  2. Mentally enhance: imagine what you feel when it happens. Intensify that feeling and then write a description of it. Add a few sentences about the colors and sensory stimuli in the picture.
  3. Repeat Step 2 daily: place emphasis on picturing yourself achieving the goal and your feelings about doing so.
  4. Adjust and keep going: as the vision develops over time, so will your circumstances. Rewrite your core vision (Step 1) whenever you need.

Practice for 10 minutes daily until it becomes reality.

Sports Visualization

sports-visualization

Sports Visualization, one of the key techniques used in modern sports psychology, is the practice of imagining and rehearsal. Benefits for athletes include improved performance, increased focus and a greater feeling of calm during competition.

Sports visualization quotes:

Muhammad Ali: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I had a clear vision of myself winning the Mr. Universe contest. It was a very spiritual thing, in a way, because I had such faith in the route, the path, that there was never a question in my mind that I would make it.”

Bruce Lee: “The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

 

Sports Visualization for Beginners

Create an image in your mind of what you want to happen, and then focus positive energy on that image until it happens.

 

  1. Write it down: on a pice of paper, with as much detail as possible.
  2. Mentally enhance: imagine what it feels like to achieve the goal. Intensify that feeling. Add vivid colors to the picture, and perhaps a sensory element like fluffy clouds, sunshine or a breeze.
  3. Repeat daily: place emphasis on picturing yourself achieving the goal and your feelings about doing so.
  4. Adjust and keep going: as the vision develops over time, so will your circumstances. Rewrite your core vision (Step 1) whenever you need.

Conclusion

With a healthy body free from artificial distractions, you can start to practice mindfulness. To experience mindfulness is to understand it.

If creative visualization is still too abstract for you to comprehend, spend a week or two working on a sports visualization.

In addition, spend time reviewing the entire Positive Reprogramming series (on the left), and beefing up your practice in whichever dimension needs work.