What Is Visualisation?

Visualisation is nothing more than the act of imagining or visualising something.

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of lifes coming attractions.” Albert Einstein

Visualization is almost as good as real practice.


Does imaginary practice achieve improved results?

The simple answer is YES!

The Evidence Visualisation Works

Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson scientifically proved that mental practice, visualising scoring goals, was almost as effective as actual practice for a group of basket ball players.

He took a group of students and set them at the free throw line and determined their base level goal shooting skills.

He split the sample members into three groups.

  • Group one was told to practice shooting goals on the court for 20 minutes a day.
  • Group two was told not to practice at all.
  • Group three was told to practice goal shooting by visualisation for 20 minutes a day.

The results –

  • The practice group achieved a 24% improvement in goal shooting
  • The visualisation group by an amazing 23%.
  • The non practice group had unchanged results.

Some other researchers have found that people who practice visualisation gain in other areas as well.

  • Improved attitude to training
  • More focus
  • Improved team commitment

Guided Imagery is more than Mental Pictures

The term visualisation draws the reader into the concept of seeing pictures of something and that is usually the first stage of imagining.
That is a very limiting view of visualisation.
The concept of imagining opens up all the facets of visualisation which are –

  • Visual – what you see
  • Auditory – what you hear
  • Kinaesthetic – what you feel
  • Olfactory – what you smell
  • Gustatory – what you taste
    • a combination of some or all of these.

Visualisation is seeing something in your minds eye and for many people visualisation of something is virtual reality.
People who practice and develop the skill can readily create a visualisation of the object or concept and in their mind they not only see it but can feel it, hear any sounds associated with it, experience the taste and smells associated with the object of their attention.

The human imagination is incredibly powerful and it has been observed that the imagination will always win when a person has a battle between will power and the subconscious mind.  This is because our imagination reflects the subconscious values and beliefs which ultimately control behaviour.

The imagination will set-off physiological reactions in the body as though the imagined event is real.

It has been observed that while using visualisation the nervous pathways send micro signals to the muscles involved in the activity.  The muscles have micro reactions to these impulses and while this process is continuing the body is developing the skills as if they were being carried out in reality.  It is a very neat way to build skills.

There are many examples of this.
For example there is the Lemon Taster exercise which follows this pattern –

Close your eyes and relax
Imagine you are sitting at a table
On the table there is a juicy, ripe, yellow lemon
Beside it a plate with a small paring knife
Reach out with your right hand
Pick up the lemon and feel it’s texture
The tension in it’s skin, the smoothness or bumps
Squeeze it gently and notice how juicy it is inside
Now take the knife and being aware of the sounds and feelings
Pierce the skin of the lemon, hearing the sound as the knife cuts in
Feeling the first drips of juice on your hand
Cut a segment and take in the beautiful aroma from the juicy ripe lemon
Take that segment and raise it to your mouth
Bite into the lemon and feel those juices squirt into you mouth
The juices hitting your tongue …..
Come back now and open your eyes
Notice there is no lemon

99 of 100 people will have discovered that they had increased levels of saliva in their mouth and pulled a funny face as they tasted the lemon when they bit into it.  Many will have seen and felt the lemon and heard the noises as the scene played out in their mind.

The amazing part of this is that although there was no lemon your body reacted as if there was.

This is a very significant finding because it means we do not have to experience events in reality to learn and grow.  We can use visualisation to great effect.

What are the benefits?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world, and
all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein


The ability to utilise the imagination has profound implications and Einstein himself admitted many of his great discoveries came from his imagination and not logical conscious thought processes.

Individuals can use their imagination to greatly enhance their lives.  What we imagine has a profound effect on how we see the world and the results we generate.

There is an old saying “Be careful what you wish for.  You may actually get it!”

This saying rings true because what you wish for on a regular basis your subconscious mind works to bring to reality.
Self talk and our imaginary thoughts of outcomes need to be carefully managed so that your subconscious mind receives the best messages and instructions that you can give it.

Visualisation can be used to program your mind and body for more positive outcomes and it is a relatively easy skill to learn and master.

Imagine you have an important meeting coming up next week.
You are usually quite nervous in these situations.

You can, through guided visual imagery, significantly change your expectations and mental state so that when you attend the meeting you have confidence and an expectation of a positive outcome compared to your normal nervous and negative expectations.  Does this mean youll always get a good result from the meetings?  No, but you will have a significantly better chance of a positive outcome.

Many sportspeople improve their performance and raise their competitive edge by using visual imagery.   This works exceptionally well and many an athlete has gone from being a non-place getter to standing on the dais or even to beating their nemesis.

Salespeople can hone their skills with imagery and learn how to serve customers better and hence achieve better results.

Writers can clear “writers block” and even discover novels within themselves that they hadn’t realised were there.

These skills enable confidence to build and often that is a large part of the battle.

This approach allows you to go through the motions and build up the skills needed to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.  Remember the “Lemon Exercise” where you reacted as though what you were imagining was real.  You build neural pathways by doing the “thing” or by imaging doing the “thing” you want to be better at.

Changing what your mind delivers you

Whenever you have negative images in your mind pay attention to them and address them.

They are there for a reason and to just dismiss them will not resolve the issues bringing up the negativity.

Review the imagery and become your own Director.
Edit the imagery and re-present it to yourself portraying a positive outcome and provide your subconscious with evidence that contradicts the initial thoughts and images.

For example you may be a surfer who, when looking at the break, self delivers mental messages of wipe-outs in those conditions.   Assuming the conditions are not beyond our surfer’s capabilities this could be turned around to show times in similar surf that the rides were not only made but were exhilarating.   If there are no precedent experiences to show the surf was within his skill level then obviously he should stay out of the water.  If safe, here the surfer would re-run the images showing the way he could safely handle and enjoy the surf that day.  In doing so he’ll build his confidence and have primed his body for the conditions he will be taking on.

How to use Visualisation!

  • You need a purpose for the exercise
  • Focus on that purpose
  • Prepare your imagery consciously – like a movie
    • Ensure you have an evidence point that clearly shows your desired result
    • The better your preparation the better your results will be
    • Set a time for your visualisation – 10-20 minutes should be sufficient
    • Enter into a state of relaxation
    • Instruct yourself
      • That should you need to interrupt your session for any reason that you will awaken immediately from your relaxation and attend to the issue.
      • You will end the session after your set time is up (e.g. 15 minutes)
      • Take a few minutes to really relax
        • Start by focussing on the relaxation in your eyes
        • Allow that relaxation to spread throughout your body arms and legs
        • Discover the most relaxed part of you
        • Allow the rest of you to become that relaxed
        • Count down from 5 to 1 and with each number double the relaxation
        • Run your mental imagery as many times as you can
          • be associated with the imagery – through your own eyes
            • really see what you see,
              • really hear what your hear; and,
                • really feel what your feel
              • Make it really powerful for you
                • Adjust the speed, brightness, contrast, colours or black and white
                • Adjust the volume, tone, boost the bass or treble
                • Feel what you are feeling inside and around you
                  • intensify those feelings and sensations
            • be disassociated, step outside and be an onlooker
              • Observe and learn
              • Watch as your coach would and adjust
              • share the excitement
            • return to the associated state and repeat the process
              • last repeat go to the next step from the associated state
      • Return to a state of relaxation and clear your mind
      • Allow yourself to enjoy a minute or two of solitude, peace and quiet
      • Come out by counting from 1 to 5
        • With each number become more aware of your surroundings
        • On 5 be awake, wide awake and enjoy the feelings of relaxation, refreshment and energy that you now have

This process can be done two to three times a day.  Igor Ledochowski, renowned hypnotist and teacher advises the law of diminishing returns applies and that there is little if any gain made after the third session.  If you can fit three sessions a day in then spread them across the day – perhaps: on waking, lunch-time and before sleep.

Complimentary Physical Skills and Training

It may be valuable to discover more about yourself and how your body works and the internal control systems involved.

If you are one of those who feels like you have two left feet when dancing, can’t get a bat to ball or just seem to be clumsy one then you can improve your physical coordination by undertaking some training designed to enhance kinaesthetic awareness and proprioreception capabilities.

  • Kinaesthetic awareness – the bodys awareness of where it is in time and space (external based)
  • Proprioception  is the ability of your central nervous system to communicate and coordinate parts of your body with each other (internal based)

Your body synchronisation can be greatly improved, subject to there being no underlying medical impediments, with some specialised training that a good personal trainer can teach you.


If you’re looking to improve your game in life and want discover the power of guided visualisation then contact Chris today.
Guided Imagery involving all the senses through visualisation is a powerful learning tool and has been clearly demonstrated to deliver results almost as good as physical practice and has other positive impacts for the individual.

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