If you've ever read anything about visualization, you're probably familiar with the basketball study. I don't recall who did the study, but it went like this: half of the basketball team practiced free throws on the court everyday for a period of time, and half the team practiced in their heads for the same period of time. At the end of the study, both groups demonstrated improvement. However, the team that practiced using visualization actually faired slightly better.
The reason you hear this study sited so often is the same reason we often site sports when talking about visualization ... because sports are easy to picture.
Let me demonstrate: picture yourself standing at the free throw line, bouncing a basketball off the wood surface of the floor, hearing the echo off the distant walls, then holding the ball and focusing on the basket. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Then raise the ball and shoot. Now imagine the ball dropping through the rim, a perfect swish, touching nothing but net. Hear that unmistakable sound it creates.
Did you see it?
Did you hear it?
It's an easy image to create in your mind. Most sports images are. Why? Because they're mechanical, and they're very precise and specific. It's easy to imagine yourself in that situation, and going through a sequence of physical steps that lead to success.
But what if your goal isn't to shoot better free throws? What if it's to become a world-famous artist or build a $10,000 a month business from your hobby of soap making? What if you don't even know the steps that are required to achieve your goal?
That's what makes visualization such a powerful tool. It not only sets into motion the events and processes that will help you achieve your goals, it does this without you having to understand any of the steps along the way. All you need to know is your end result. If you want to be a world-famous artist, see yourself as a world-famous artist. Visualize your work prominently displayed in the best art galleries around the world. Visualize gushing reviews of your work by famous art critics. Visualize yourself in your art studio, creating works that are uniquely your own.
Your subconscious will fill in the rest.
The process is effortless.
So let's take a look at it up close.
Step One - Give yourself twenty to thirty minutes when you'll be alone without interruption. Take the phone off the hook. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit in peace.
Step Two - Relax. Take in a deep breath, let it out slowly. Repeat. Become aware of your right foot. Tense the muscles in your foot, then release the tension and completely relax the muscles. Gradually repeat this process from the tips of your toes to the top of your head, one muscle at a time until your entire body feels completely relaxed.
Step Three - Slowly count down from 10 to 1, pausing at each number to feel yourself going deeper and deeper into your state of relaxation.
Step Four - Affirm your goal. Affirmations go hand-in-hand with visualization. So in our previous example, you'll tell yourself, "I'm a world-famous artist with shows in the best art galleries around the world." As always with affirmations use present tense ... I "am" instead of I "will be."
As you're affirming your goal, picture yourself in your role as a world-famous artist, see yourself interacting with wealthy art collectors, envision yourself joyously creating a masterpiece. Involve your emotions and all of your senses. Don't just see the picture, hear it, feel it, live it!
Step Five - Live in this state of being your goal for ten to fifteen minutes, then begin the process of coming back to the moment by slowly counting up from 1 to 10. With each number allow yourself to become more aware of your surroundings, more alert throughout your body, until at number 1, you open your eyes, take a deep breath and feel refreshed and wide awake.
Again, this simple process requires daily repetition for at least twenty-four days. After that, you can continue if you feel the need, or you can start with a new goal.
Also, one more quick point. Some people aren't sure if they should be viewing their goal on a giant screen similar to what you'd find in a movie theater or if they should be actually experiencing the goal as if they were living it. Either will do the job. Often you'll start out viewing yourself on a giant screen and as you improve in your visualization skills you'll learn to actually step into the moment and live your goal. Just remember to involve as many of your senses as possible.
This is an incredibly powerful process, yet easy and fun to do. Try it for one month. You'll be amazed at how effective your subconscious can be on your behalf.