We know that using visualizations can help some people get clear on a goal, so they can stay focused and take the appropriate steps to make that happen. But have YOU ever felt like it was just wishful thinking or you couldn’t relate to the process? Well, you are not alone! Kim shares her personal frustration with how some people exhort the positives of visualization without really explaining what it’s about. Bottom line, nothing is wrong with you and there are other strategies you can use to help you get to where you want to go:
Often, one of the main differences between our westernized version of yoga and other types of physical exercise is the emphasis on meditation (or at least, it should be…). This comes in various forms and there seems to be a trend lately focusing on positive visualizations, or in other words, visualizing yourself attaining a certain goal. In a general class, a teacher might spend a few minutes at the beginning or end of class asking you to sit with your eyes closed and think about yourself surrounded by puppy dogs or rainbows or something else that makes you happy (chocolate covered bacon?) and this practice is supposed to somehow, magically help you manifest your goal. I have heard people rant and rave about this kind of technique and how transformative the practice can be… However in my own experience, I have never found it to make much more of a difference than day-dreaming. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME???
Well, turns out I’m not such a weird freak after all! According to this study published in Forbes, Visualize Success if You Want to Fail, positive visualizations actually seem to invite failure. Their test subjects seemed to have less ambition towards their goal after the visualization, perhaps because their brains tricked them into thinking that they had already achieved it. So why does it feel better when you think about kitty cats and flowers in yoga class? It seems that even though the visualizations may not be effective in manifesting personal goals, they are effective in a physiological sense. During these visualizations, the subjects would experience an overall calming effect, which included lower blood pressure. That is something to rave about! So go ahead and visualize yourself swimming around in a vault of money, Scrooge McDuck style, while in savasana! Just don’t expect to wake up a millionaire (and definitely don’t dive head first into gold coins from a 20 ft. diving board; you might actually die).
That all being said, this study was very limited and I certainly don’t want to discredit the experience of those who have used these techniques with success. I’m sure lots and lots of people have found a way to use positive visualizations to help them achieve things. All I am saying is that, if it doesn’t work for you, it’s ok and there is research out there on your side. Different techniques work for different people and you have to find the one that works for you. Interestingly, in the article, it is suggested that one try visualizing failure. This may sound odd, but some brains may react positively to the challenge and turn on their problem solving skills. Perhaps we should stop day-dreaming and just get things done? Or create manageable steps towards change and take it one step at a time? What do you think?