It's claimed that mental images produce changes in the body on a physical, chemical and immunological level that can affect health. What you see in your mind’s eye can change specific immune system responses that may affect such things as white blood cell count. It may sound a bit far fetched, but there is beginning to be some research to suggest that this might be so. Visualisation is taught to people undergoing cancer treatments or suffering from anxiety or depression.
Guided imagery – more often known as visualisation – is an important tool in influencing a variety of health problems. It provides benefits and poses virtually no risk. The principle is that vivid imagery sends messages from the cerebral cortex to the lower brain. From there the message is relayed to the endocrine and the autonomic nervous systems, which affect a wide range of bodily functions, including heart and respiration rates and blood pressure.
And visualisation can also be used to improve personal performance: it’s a way of programming your brain (and body) to help achieve the required outcome. Athletes place as much importance on mental preparation before an event as they do on physical preparation. It's a really simple process and since you can't stop thinking, you may as well direct your thoughts to a more specific outcome.
Why not give it a try yourself.....
- Think of a situation for which you’d like a specific outcome – being calm at the dentist, passing an exam, making an impactful presentation, being more confident, etc.
- Now sit down and relax. Observe your breathing for a few moments – you don’t need to do anything, just observe your breath coming in and going out again.
- Imaging the situation as you’d like it to be – in as much detail as possible – and as if it had already happened. How would you feel, what would you see, are there any sounds or smells that you’d be aware of? Take as long as you need to prefect your ideal scenario.
- Then really connect to it emotionally - feel the calm, excitement, triumph or whatever the predominant emotion would be once you were successful. And feel it now, as if the event had actually happened
- Repeat as often as you can, and await a positive outcome.
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