Creative visualization is the skill of creating, controlling, and animating images in the mind. Practicing creative visualization in an ongoing way disciplines the mind and can increase mental and physical acuity.
Since the act of visualizing is a cognitive process, it’s suited for helping people work through negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety, depression, low motivation, creative blocks, and low performance. Its long history with esoteric and metaphysical traditions also makes creative visualization a popular vehicle for spiritual growth and manifestation.
Like any practice or skill, the art of creative visualization is best cultivated through a regular, active practice. The following exercises can help you fine-tune your creative visualization skills.
Exercises to Strengthen Creative Visualization
- Sit in a comfortable position, breathe deeply, and relax before a lit candle in a darkened room. For a couple of minutes, focus your attention on the flame. Close your eyes and hold the image in your mind’s eye for as long as you’re able. Repeat often to increase the amount of time you’re able to hold the image.
- Choose an image to focus your attention on, such as a household item or postcard. Close your eyes and recreate the image in your mind. First replicate the image as closely as possible. Next, try manipulating the image in your head. Turn it upside down or spin it around. Change the shape and color. Transform the image into something completely different.
- Revisit the images you’ve played with during your creative visualization ventures. Choose one of these and attempt to visualize it with your eyes open and without the aid of a visual prompt. For example, if you choose an image of an apple, can you see it as if it were sitting on the counter? Are you able to manipulate it? Can you turn the apple upside down or cut it into pieces?
- Sit, breathe, and relax. Listen to a simple sound, such as a clock or fan. Remove the source and try to hear the sound in your mind. Repeat with scent and tactile experiences. This exercise builds your capacity to hold non-visual images in your head.
- Select a photograph. View the photo, soaking in as many details as possible. Close your eyes and create a mental representation of the image. Now project yourself into the photo. Visualize yourself moving about in first person through the scene. Pay particular attention to the senses. What do you see, hear, taste, feel, and smell? Are you alone or with other people? Allow the scene to unfold as you explore it.
Creative visualization is an age-old technique that, like any skill, can be cultivated and strengthened through regular practice.