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The human brain is a pattern-making machine. It associates all of our actions with either failures or successes. If you never take the time to be still and enjoy the results of tranquility, your brain does not get a chance to associate stillness with success. Learning to be positive with visualization meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
At its most basic level, visualization meditation is the practice of meditating while visualizing the results you want for yourself. This differs from object-guided meditation, where you might meditate while focusing on a candle flame, or a mantra. Visualization meditation focuses on result – specifically, results that you would like to bring about in your own life.
Imagine that your greatest stress is crushing financial debt. Assume a sitting position that is comfortable for you. It doesn’t need to be cross-legged on the floor, a chair will do. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. It does not need to be performed at a specific tempo, just try to stay consistent with whatever feels natural, and do your best to make the breaths deep without being exaggerated.
Now, visualize a picture of what a life without debt looks like for you. Just for the example, imagine that it is a cabin by a lake. It is your job, while controlling your breath, to add details to the visualization. You could give the cabin a color. Take yourself on a tour of the inside. See the stillness of the lake. Hear the soft noises of the woods. Add as many details as you can, then commit to returning to this scene the next time you want to practice visualization meditation.
This is simply one of innumerable examples. Whatever it is that you want to have, feel, or be, you can probably picture it in its end state. That is your work—to return frequently enough to the visualization so that it always produces the calming effect of meditation, while priming your mind to galvanize you into actions that will eventually bring about the result. Read our article on creating the perfect meditation room.
In his book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, neuroscientist Sam Harris states: “How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives. Mystics and contemplatives have made this claim for ages—but a growing body of scientific research now bears it out.” Visualization meditation can allow you to choose what to pay attention to, rather than simply reacting and then collapsing into bed at the end of the day. It builds a time into your schedule during which you experience stillness and improve your ability to focus.
A 2016 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that visualization meditation has a freeing effect on its practitioners. It can allow them to momentarily escape past regrets and future worries, allowing them to focus on the moment. It is in the most still moments that the most effective, focused planning for the future can take place. If you are a results-oriented person, visualization meditation can be a fantastic technique to learn. There is no downside to trying.