Guided Visualization Exercise
Creative ways to learn to visualize
Visualization Exercise: learn how to visualize.
The following easy visualization exercise will help to improve your visualization skills. Many people believe that they can't visualize. They actually can, but they need to do some visualization exercises in order to learn how to visualize better. With a bit of practice you can learn to visualize anything easily and quickly.
This page lists some graduated exercises to teach you how to visualize, and shows how to use visualization techniques for meditation and relaxation.
Guided visualization is simple. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and begin to use these visualization exercises to increase your visual imagination.
How to do a visualization exercise
Some people are better than others at visualizing. Some people believe that they cannot visualize, but what they are actually experiencing is the inability to visualize on demand. Everyone has experience of dreaming, and dreams are just visualizations, so the ability is there. You just need to develop it. If you cannot visualize colors or you only get words or feelings don't feel you have failed or that you have to try extra hard. Just use a visualization technique that allows your mind to drift and accept whatever your mind lets you see.
Everyone can learn to visualize. For example, look straight ahead and then close your eyes. How much can you recall of what you have just been looking at? Most people can picture very little, but everyone gets better with practice. Repeatedly opening and shutting the eyes and trying to visualize more of the scene will prove to you that practice does increase the ability to recall the image and that you can train yourself to visualize.
Eating a Lemon Visualization Exercise
Imagine you are in a kitchen somewhere.
On a bench is a basket of lemons. You reach out and select a ripe yellow lemon. You feel the weight of the lemon in your hand..., you slide your fingers over the smooth waxy skin... feel the dimpled texture... You lift the lemon to your face and breathe in that lemony smell... and then you slice the lemon open. As the bright yellow flesh is exposed you see the juice run out... a lovely lemony citrus aroma fills the room. You cut a slice and put it in your mouth. You bite down on it .... the juice runs over your tongue... your mouth fills with the taste of lemon juice...
How to visualize: Association or Dissociation?
The main visualization technique used in therapy is dissociation. Dissociation allows you to distance yourself from your problems, but needs the ability to visualize in order to work. Association means experiencing something as if you are there, seeing it through you own eyes, experiencing it directly and immediately. This is the opposite to Dissociation, experiencing something as if you are an observer, looking at it happening from the outside.
In the lemon exercise, you were Associating into the experience. You were experiencing the taste of the lemon in your mouth, the feel of it in your hands. That is one way of experiencing things. The other way of visualizing is Dissociation, seeing something happen as if you were a detached, independent observer. Association is immediate, personal, emotional, involved. Dissociation is distant, detached, unemotional, calculated.
You need to learn the difference and to decide whether you want your visualization to be associated or dissociated. They have different purposes. If you want to feel the emotion, get excited, fire yourself up - you use Association techniques. If you want to distance yourself from an emotion, to get in control of a situation, to feel calm about a threat - you use Dissociation techniques.
GUIDED VISUALIZATION EXERCISE
If you think you can't visualize and you want to increase your visualization ability, then you need to do some visualization exercises. You should aim to do a series of exercises going from simple single images to increasingly complex visualizations.
Visualizing simple objects
For example, to train your visualization skills try imagining a flower, a coin, a cold bottle against your cheek, the feel of stroking a cat, the sound of the national anthem. As you get better try adding movement and action to the visualization. It will come with practice.
A FIRST VISUALIZATION EXERCISE
Close your eyes, and imagine a circle. In this visualization exercise you can imagine it floating in front of you, or maybe think about it lying on a table, or the floor. When you have something, become aware of what you know about it - its colour, size, thickness and so on. The more things you know about it, the better your natural visualization skills. If you can that easily, move on to the next exercises.
If you only get a vague feeling of 'circleness' that's OK. Try developing that by imagining making the circle with your arms, or creating a circle of people. If you get a stronger response by doing that it is likely that you are one of those rare people who experience the world kinesthetically, by touch and feelings, rather than by images.
That's OK too - it just means that you will end up with two good ways of experiencing the world. You should then just accept that it will take a bit longer, but you will be able to visualize eventually. Start with imagining a line, or something like a line, a rope or a stick. Then imagine the line bending. Then bend it the other way. Then get it to bend all the way round into a circle. Then change the circle into a triangle, then a square and then have fun changing to other shapes, getting them to rotate, to fold, to twist, to fill with color and so on.
A VISUALIZATION EXERCISE FOR HYPNOSIS INDUCTION
Put yourself somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and relax. Then visualize a blackboard, or a sandy beach, or a wide blue sky, and imagine a big circle getting drawn. Then imagine a capital 'A' being drawn inside the circle. You can draw it yourself, or you might choose to just watch it appear. Then the 'A' is erased and a 'B' is written inside the circle. Continue wiping out the last letter and writing the next letter until they are changing automatically. (Once that happens you will probably feel a little strange, because you will have entered a light hypnotic trance. It really doesn't take very much to go into trance.)
Continue this exercise. Stay in the relaxed state and imagine you are lying back looking up at the sky. Visualize a cloud appearing in the sky and then get it to move off to one side. Then gradually imagine a series of clouds moving across the sky until they are out of sight. Then while you are still entranced, visualize one small cloud in the middle of the sky, and allow your mind to go free. Watch as the cloud changes into something, don't try to force it or think of anything in particular, just allow whatever happens to happen.
You should begin to experience different shapes in the cloud, and your subconscious mind may then be drawn away to something suggested by the images in the cloud, and you will be visualizing automatically. This visualization exercise shows that visualization is actually a form of self hypnosis and is also the basis of Affirmations.
MORE VISUALIZATION EXERCISES TO TRY
a) a waving flag
First imagine the national flag. See it on a roof or on a flagpole, and then imagine how it will look if a wind blows on it, and then increase the force of the wind. Then imagine the wind moving trees, grass, bits of paper flying about.
b) a simple memory visualization....
Allow yourself to relax. Imagine your are floating high up in the sky. You don't have to see anything, just imagine yoursel flying, floating, suspended in the air. Then imagine you are looking down at houses and rooftops. Visualize what your own house might look like from the air. Then imagine floating down and you are outside your own front door. Imagine going up to it, see the color, what it is made of, see the parts of the door, panels, glass, the handle, or a door knob... You can go and have a look at the real door, check how accurate you were.
When you get more practiced at visualization you can repeat this exercise, and visualise the door opening... and go in and imagine floating through all the rooms.
c) a water reflection visualization....
work at seeing your face reflected in a pool. Let it come and go until you can see yourself clearly. then imagine you are standing behind you looking at you looking at your reflection in the pool. Then imagine you are standing to one side, seeing the reflection in the water and the side of your face at the same time. Then imagine moving further away and seeing yourself looking in the pool. Then imagine watching yourself moving away from the pool and doing something else.
d) visualize looking through a window ...
see yourself working on something.... at home or in a room somewhere.... on your own... First you look through a tiny crack in the curtain or blind... and you you can only see... a hand, maybe.... then the gap opens and you can see a bit more... then a bit more.... until you can see the whole of you and what you are working on... and then the interior like you were standing there watching. Then increase the difficulty... see yourself working on the thing, but reflected in a mirror..... so that you can see both images at the same time
e) visualize growing up....
see yourself growing from a child to a teenager... visualize every detail of how you are dressed... what your hair looks like... see yourself going to school.... imagine you are a reporter following the life of that teenager growing up. See what that reporter would see, through her eyes. Then see yourself watching the reporter watching you. Visualize seeing words in the notebook.
f) visualize yourself running in a race...
but from the vantage point of someone standing on the finishing line, and commentate on the race as it develops. Watch as you get closer.... stand there as the image gets bigger.... comment on the sweat and how that runner is breathing... keep looking as the image gets so big you can look right into her eye.
Invent your own visualization exercise....
Then invent some visualizations of your own. Imagine yourself on the TV news holding up a cup. And then wind the movie back to the race. See the finish, then the event, then the warm up, then the dressing.... and so on.
You need to practice. Practice and exercise the visualization ability. It will work. You might need some patience but it will come naturally. Everyone can visualize. We know this because everyone can dream. And that is pure visualization.
MORE VISUALIZATION RESOURCES