People who want to learn how to meditate to make something specific happen in their life are usually interested in using the technique of guided visualization.
Guided visualization is also referred to as guided imagery, or guided affective imagery. This meditation technique is used as a therapeutic tool by psychotherapists, and it easily adapted by any of us.
In the world of psychotherapy, guided visualization is lead by a therapist who uses descriptive words and phrases to help the patient ignite a mental image.
For those of us who use visualization on our own, this form of meditation can be used for working on personal goals, addressing health issues, healing emotional wounds, and a number of other tasks. Visualization is a very practical form of meditation, and when people are learning how to meditate, the visualization of an object can sometimes be part of the process.
But here is one of the important differences between meditation and visualization.
Through meditation, people can travel inward into their consciousness by starting off with a deep concentration on their breathing.
In visualization, people can create an image of whatever they choose, place this image on a mental screen in their mind, concentrate on this image, and plant it into their consciousness.
Is the visualization involved with guided imagery really a branch of meditation or more closely aligned with hypnotherapy?
There are sound arguments for both. For many people, visualization is easier, especially when it is hard to focus on a mantra.
Both practices expand consciousness. Both focus the mind. Both meditation and visualization relax the body and turn down the noise on negative, damaging thoughts.
Just as there is not one single proven best way to meditate, there is not one single way to visualize.
Here is a simple way to begin:
- Select a very simple image that symbolizes something you want before you start
- Relax and close your eyes
- Concentrate on your breath
- Slide the image into your mind from the left to the right, and stop it in the middle of your mind’s eye
- Focus on this image for as long as you can, while blocking out all other thoughts
This is where the difference between meditation and visualization comes into play. When you learn how to meditate, you rhythmically repeat the mantra to calm your body and quiet your mind.
When you use visualization, you plant the image you are visualizing into your unconsciousness. The benefit of this is difficult to quantify or measure scientifically, because of the unknowns of the behavior of the unconscious.
While we lack scientific evidence, the lessons that have unfolded over thousands of years support the notion that what we think we can achieve.
The Buddhists know this and practice this.
As Prince Siddhartha put it, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”