Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Paul Farrell, MRP, JD, PhD
“Visualization is an active form of meditation in which you relax and chose to view images in your minds eye that will influence your emotions and energy.
Visualization is a natural process. It lets you tap into your inner sources of peace and calm so you can respond positively to events in your life.
What you see in your mind’s eye can strongly influence your beliefs and achievements.”
– Chungliang Al Huang & Jerry Lynch, Thinking Body, Dancing Mind
Actually there are two kinds of visualization: The first one is the more traditional, passive visualization most of us naturally begin with. The second is an action-oriented visualization which is essential if you want results in sports or the tough, competitive business world. You should be using both of these powerful meditation tools – in fact, you already are and don’t realize it.
The passive one comes from Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization:
“Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life. There is nothing at all new, strange, or unusual about creative visualization. You are already using it every day, every minute in fact. It is your natural power of imagination, that basis creative energy of the universe which you use constantly, whether you are aware of it or not.”
Create the Life You Want in Four Simple Steps
Gawain’s four basic steps for an effective creative visualization are so simple anyone would agree that we are indeed already using this method of meditating “every day, every minute in fact.” It can’t get any simpler than these four steps:
- Set your goal.
- Create a clear picture.
- Focus on it often.
- Four, give it positive energy, using frequent mental reinforcement with affirmations.
This kind of visualization harnesses the mind to action.
Creative Visualizations Focus Your Actions!
Using “positive thinking” visualizations by themselves – for example, the universally popular “every day in every way my life is getting better and better” – will reinforce your resolve to achieve goals. But taken alone, they are still passive mental exercises. To ignite the full power of this meditation technique, you have to get into action, as most of us learn over time.
So at the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the action-oriented visualization. We have already seen that sports psychologists, athletic coaches and fitness trainers use this meditation technique all the time in training the physical body.
In fact, today the process of visualizing a golfer’s swing, a skater’s creative program, or a gymnast’s routine – of mentally rehearsing before the action – is as normal a part of the pre-training process as the physical training, working out with weights, doing cardio and stretching.
Actions Speak Louder than Affirmations in the Business World
However, unlike the sports world, in business arena physical action is all too often not the natural goal of the office environment – sitting at a desk and thinking is! So there is the strong possibility your visualizations may never get translated into action plans.
You sense this potential problem in a revealing comment made by Chuck Norris in The Secret Power Within. Norris worries that people may use Eastern meditation practices to justify a passive approach in business, by fostering a belief that passive meditation makes it okay to sit, meditate and visualize, with the expectation that some external force will make your dreams come true.
Get Into Action, Get to the Bottom Line!
That’s a misreading of the Eastern mind: “Although many people don’t realize it,” says Norris, a successful businessman,
“Zen is not about monks meditating as much as it is about taking action, making decisive moves in the present. There’s a certain impatience about Zen, an unwillingness to get lost in meandering arguments, a desire to cut quickly to the essential, or to get to the bottom line.”
Yes, get to the bottom line! At one point in his life Norris had forgotten this key principle. Some years after he retired as a world champion martial artist and was a successful businessman, he lost his sense of direction, “had no goals.” During dinner one night, his friend Steve McQueen suggested he take up acting. But months later he told McQueen he had “serious doubts” about becoming an actor.
McQueen looked at Norris in disbelief:
“Remember that philosophy of yours that you always stressed to students: Set goals, visualize the results of those goals, and then be determined to succeed by overcoming any obstacles in the way. You’ve been preaching this to me for two years, and now you’re saying there’s something you can’t do?”
That was his wake up call – an epiphany, enlightenment, brain storm! Norris realized that when it comes to business decision making, you better put visualization in a stronger context, as part of a bigger package – yes, you do set goals, yes you visualize the results you want, but then you must get into action and make it happen. Visualization must go beyond wishful thinking. Get to the bottom line, where visualization is a very action-oriented form of meditation.
Creative Visualization in Business
One Of The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
Creative visualization is also what other business leaders call “vision!” Management guru Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First, tells us:
“The power of vision is incredible… Vision is the best manifestation of creative imagination and the primary motivation of human action. It’s the ability to see beyond our present reality, to create, to invent what does not yet exist, to become what we not yet are. It gives us the capacity to live out of our imagination instead of our memory.”
For many people like Covey, creative visualization is not merely an ego-driven way to satisfy purely personal and material needs, but energy coming from a higher source. Covey is quite clear in this regard:
“Spirituality cannot be something a person toys with, a little compartment of our lives. It has to be at the core, in a way that affects every other part of our lives.”
Similarly, Gawain tells us that knowing that your creative visualization, your vision, is coming from “source” makes it ever more powerful, where
“Source means the supply of infinite love, wisdom, and energy in the universe. For you, source may mean God, or the universal mind, or the oneness of all, or your true essence. However we conceptualize it, it can be found here and now within each of us, in our inner being.”
The Source of all Creative Visualization “This Thing Called You”
In fact, the single most powerful expression of this connection between creativity, visualization and spirituality comes from a little book of meditations that has sustained me much of my life after getting sober at are thirty-seven. In This Thing Called You, the Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind, urges us to recognize and honor our creative visualizations as coming from another source:
“The desire you have to be something, to do something, is a mental echo in your mind of the Spirit which already exists within you. It is an impact of your divine and spiritual self upon your mental or psychological self. It is the Spirit in you seeking an avenue of expression through you. It is the real Self you would like to be, the deep spiritual Self having all knowledge, having access to all power, being one with Life. This is the Self that can heal the sick and raise the dead. It is the transcendent, triumphant self.”
Once you tap into this higher source, this thing called you – and get into action – whatever your mind can visualize, it will create.
“The Creative Mind” of the Winner
One of the most powerful – and fastest – examples I know of how you can tap into the power of creative visualization comes from Cy Young award winning pitcher Barry Zito of the Oakland Athletics. Back in 2001 he was in his second season with a losing 6-7 record and a lackluster 5.07 earned-run average. His dad, a classically-trained musician who conducted for Nat King Cole, sensed the problem and came to Barry with one of Ernest Holmes’ earlier books, written in 1918:
“He introduced me to Creative Mind and he stayed with me” for four days leading up to Barry’s next pitching start. They read Creative Mind for five to seven hours a day, recorded tapes and put up signs around his room “affirming who I was, and the power I have.” Barry finished 17-8 and lowered his ERA to 3.49.
Now that’s one powerful visualization!
About the Author
Dr. Farrell is a Behavioral Economist. His books include The Millionaire Code; The Millionaire Meditation: Stress Management for Wall Street, Corporate America & Entrepreneurs; The Zen Millionaire; The Winning Portfolio; Expert Investing on The Net; Mutual Funds on The Net; and The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing.
He also published 1,643 columns on DowJones-MarketWatch and for years was their #1 traffic-generating columnist. Before the Internet, he edited & published FNX: Future News Index, a financial newsletter for stock market traders. Earlier he was a Wall Street investment banker with Morgan Stanley, Executive Vice President of the Financial News Network; and Associate Editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
He has a Doctorate in Psychology, Juris Doctor, Masters in Regional Planning and Bachelor of Architecture. He worked on the Esalen organic farm and served in the U.S. Marine Corps as Staff Sergeant in aviation computer technology.