Visualization is a mindful practice. Akin to a mantra, visualization is the act of putting something out into the universe in order to attract something similar. It’s an exercise in the Law of Attraction — we attract what we express. This is much more of a challenge for some than it is for others. While some of us are just born with an inflated sense of impending success (or maybe privilege), others are hopeful, and still others need a little more work. That’s OK. That’s why it’s called a practice.
Daily visualization is almost like creating a mental daily vision board, but much less involved. It can help reinforce positive possibilities, hardwiring them into our brains so that we don’t actualize negative outcomes. We know how easy it can be to fall into the habit of imagining all of the worst-case scenarios — but that’s a trap, because it then becomes harder to imagine the best-case scenarios, and we start to expect only the negative.
It’s also so much more than just achieving material things. Studies show that visualization work can help to decrease physical and emotional stress as well as feelings of anxiety. It can even be an effective tool for pain management, by way of imagining healing and accepting that we deserve it.
Visualizing activates the creative depths of our subconscious mind — and that goes both ways. Visualizing negative outcomes has just as much strength as positive predictions, motivating us on a subconscious level to work even harder at creating solutions, or falling into failures. It’s up to us to create space for motivation, rather than standing still and achieving nothing out of fear of our anticipation of failure.
On a more granular scale, located at the base of our brain where it connects to the spinal cord lives one of the most important components of our beloved noodle: The Reticular Activating System, aka RAS. The RAS’s job is to act like a mental filter for the millions of bytes of information streaming into our brains at any given time. That’s right — our noggins are the ultimate processor. Everything is input.
Because our dreams and goals are in our brains — even when we are not actively thinking of them — the act of daily visualization makes sure that these positive thoughts (rather than the negative ones) settle into our subconscious and live there. In this way, our RAS mediates them, working as a filter between our conscious mind and subconscious mind.