The Power of Visualization: Creating the Future
Visualization is a form of practice where you play out a scenario in your mind before you physically find yourself there. You familiarize yourself with the scenario, get acquainted with your emotions about it, and experience the potential outcomes. The more you visualize a certain outcome, the more likely it is to become a reality. That's the idea anyway..
I came across a story about a Navy Pilot named Captain Sands, who was shot down in Vietnam and became a POW at a prison camp in Hanoi for 7 years. During this time, he was forced to live in an isolated 5'x5' cell with limited personal contact. The thought of this confinement gives me the chills. But as we see time and time again, life is what you make of it. Captain Sands had other ideas.
He decided that to cope with his situation he would visualize his favorite golf course back home, in exquisite detail, and play the course in his mind. Day after day he sat in his cell and played that course. And he felt the squish of the ground beneath his feet when he did. He'd toss a handful of grass in the air and see that the wind was coming in at 15mph from the east. On the first tee box, he'd line up his feet with care and rest the clubhead just behind the ball, taking that one last breath before he began the flow of his swing. He'd slowly rear the club back behind his head where he'd reach the apex of the swing and begin to uncork his power into the downstroke. Hips lead with the left arm straight as an arrow as the mechanics of the swing sync up at the exact moment of contact with the ball. A clean follow through brings the club across his chest and over his shoulders once again, as he watches the drive soar into the foggy dawn.
Every shot. Every hole. Every feeling. Every moment of the round. Day in and day out.
After 7 long years, Captain Sands was released and able to return home with his sanity intact. Shortly after he got back, he went to that golf course and played a round. And that day he shot a 74.
His dream had always been to break 80.
This little story shines a guiding light on what visualization can do for us. Take your dreams, your visions, your fears, and sit with them. Experience them in your mind with vivid color and clarity; and realize the outcome of something before it ever happens. What we're able to do here is condition the mind to feel as if the mountain has been climbed before we ever step on the trail. Then one day when we arrive at that mountain we possess a refined confidence and strength - the deep knowledge that we have the ability to succeed.
As an interesting aside, there is much research on the power of our minds to manifest reality in our bodies and our lives. Dr. Joe Dispenza, neuroscientist and author, references the following in his fascinating book on the placebo effect:
"In a Harvard Study, research subjects who'd never before played the piano mentally practiced a simple, five-finger piano exercise for two hours a day for five days - and made the same brain changes as the subjects who physically practiced the same activities, but without ever lifting a finger. The region of their brains that controls finger movements increased dramatically, allowing their brains to look as though the experience they'd imagined had actually happened."
"In another study of 30 people over a 12-week period, some regularly exercised their little fingers, while others just imagined doing the same thing. While the group that actually did the physical exercises increased the strength of their little fingers by 53 percent, the group that only imagined doing the same thing also increased the strength of their little fingers - by 35 percent."
The implications of these discoveries are incredible and open up a host of doors to the ever-illusive mind-body connection. It seems that we may possess "supernatural" power right within our own physiology. Yet it seems that the more we discover, the less we know. Still, we should always be striving to uncover these mysteries - who knows where this knowledge could take us in the future?
Perhaps all we need to do is believe.