Hypnosis and Visualization Tips

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How can I make my visualization seem more vivid?

Use Your Senses

Visualization can be more effective if you employ all your senses. Hear what you would hear in the situation. See what you would see.

The sense of taste doesn't come into all situations, but there are times when you can use it. It's pretty easy to stimulate your sense of taste. Just think of a nice juicy lemon. Imagine what it would taste like. What a nice ripe, juicy lemon that is! Pretty soon your mouth will start to water.

Are there any odors attached to the experience you are visualizing? There may be cooking odors or there may be fresh flowers or pine trees. Stimulate your sense of smell.

Touch isn't just what you feel with your fingers. It's what you feel with your skin. Are you warm or cool? Are you soaking your feet in a pool? Can you feel that golf club in your hand?

When you visualize what you see, pick up the colors and the way the light plays off the surfaces.

Go back and listen. Can you hear more now?

What is guided imagery?

Guided Imagery

You may have experienced the type of visualization called guided imagery. There is usually a leader guiding you through, but you can do it yourself.

A common approach is to imagine you are in a beautiful meadow, high in the mountains. There is a light, refreshing breeze. The air is crystal clear. You may want to add a stream with little ripples, so clean you can see to the bottom. Give it some fish if you want to. Do you want to glimpse a deer in the bordering forest? Put it there. It's your day dream. It's your visualization, which here isn't too different from a day dream.

How did you get to the meadow? Did you just find yourself on a path through the forest leading to it? Or did you open a door or step through a hedge in a city park and find yourself there?

Maybe you would rather go to the beach than to the mountains. Do you want big breakers or small ones? You probably do want to listen to the sound of the ocean and feel the warm sun. Feel the warm sand on your feet. Isn't it amazing that such a beautiful beach is so clean and uncrowded?

Pick one favorite imaginary place to go to, or more than one. Fill in the details. Go there when you need to relax, or just when you feel like it.

Practice visualization.

When visualizing, do you see yourself as though you are someone else watching?

Inside/Outside Visualization

When you are visualizing yourself doing something, you can either see yourself from the outside or from the inside.

To see yourself from the outside, think of watching yourself as if in a movie or video. You can certainly admire your performance, but you don't actually feel as though you're doing the performing.

If you're visualizing yourself from the inside, you will feel, hear, and see what you're feeling, hearing, and seeing in the visualization.

For example, imagine you are running a race. From the outside, you see yourself starting strong, finding the right pace, accelerating and passing you opponents, and crossing the finish line first.

If you're visualizing yourself from the inside, you will hear the starting gun, feel a little jostling at the start, watch for openings where you can get through, feel your feet springing as they touch the track, hear your even breathing, see your opponents as you go by them, and see the finish line as you are the first to cross it.

Which is better, inside or outside? That depends on what works best for you. You might find one approach better in a given situation and the other in another situation. For instance, you may see yourself from the outside when you are playing or performing, and visualize from the inside when you are relaxing in a meadow.

How is visualization used in self-hypnosis?

Creative Visualization

In 1978, a book called Creative Visualization was first published. It has been in print ever since. Some people still think the word "creative" when they hear "visualization". This is one of the important books in the self-help movement. I recently attended a talk by the author, Shakti Gawain, and audience members stood up to volunteer ways in which the book had helped them.

Shakti Gawain points out that ideas always precede action, creation, or change. Change occurs on a deep, meaningful level, not just by positive thinking. You use visualization to achieve goals but also to form your thinking process so that you will be more creative.

In the process we use in this book, visualization reinforces the suggestion that we are using to reach our goal. In essence, you tell yourself what you want, then you see yourself doing it. In this way, you do, in fact, use visualization to create change.

We put the major emphasis on the suggestion and follow it with visualization, but if you want to tilt it more toward the visualization, you can do that. People learn in different ways.

How can I visualize if I don't see pictures?

Just Imagine

The word "visualization" may turn you off. Many people believe they have failed at visualization because they can't conjure up a full-scale moving picture.

Think instead of imagining the situation--the successful suggestion. Everybody imagines. We do it all the time. You don't have to mentally see an image.

Some people do see pictures, even colorful, moving ones. Others just think about the picture and get an impression of it. Even when you fill out the situation with sounds and smells, you may just get an impression of the activity. You feel that you are there or can see it, though you don't have an actual picture before you.

Not being adept at visualizing actual pictures won't interfere with your success in self-hypnosis. Just imagine yourself in a situation where the suggestion is successful.

Remember, your brain shows the same sort of activity when you imagine something as when you actually do it. That's true however you use your imagination.

Can I use visualization separately to achieve my goal?

Watch Yourself

In self-hypnosis, follow your suggestion with visualization. Use visualization to reinforce your suggestion. Make that suggestion even stronger by visualizing it working for you.

See yourself relaxing and feeling confident at work.

See yourself making that perfect golf swing you just suggested to yourself.

See yourself refusing a cigarette.

See yourself choosing healthy food.

Whatever your suggestion is, visualize it working for you. You can visualize by seeing inside yourself and feeling how you would feel.

You can practice visualization separately by feeling how you want to feel in a given situation. Stay away from anything negative. Visualize positive things in positive situations. Don't worry about what you would actually say in the situation. Project your feeling for it--your positive energy.

Practive visualizing yourself in a pleasant environment, as in guided imagery. Practice visualizing the success of your self-hypnosis goal.

You can pull out the visualization and use it right before the event or situation your suggestion is for.

If you have not given yourself a post-hypnotic suggestion to relax, you can use your visualization of relaxing and being confident when a difficult situation arises at work. See yourself making that perfect golf swing just before you address the ball. Visualize yourself refusing a cigarette if you're in a sistuation where you may be offered one. See yourself choosing the healthy food options when you're in a restaurant.

Once you've programmed yourself with self-hypnosis, you can reinforce your resolve with visualization as the situation arises.

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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.