Seeing is believing, so the saying goes.
Visualisation of course refers to seeing, however good quality visualisation calls on all of the senses.
When did you last see anything in isolation of all the other senses? Of course a dazzling sight can focus attention and minimise your experience of the sounds around you; although they are still there.
Here is a quick round up of the 5 senses.
Just in case here is a list to compliment the image:
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (hearing)
- Kinesthetic (touch)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
Keep in mind that the senses perform a complex dance in bringing the world to life. In fact the amount of information we receive from the senses is so great we need strategies to cope with it. I talk more about information overload in my post Too Much Information.
A Sensory Convincer
This quick exercise demonstrates how closely our senses work together. Find yourself a quiet place and listen to the audio; don’t listen to this audio while driving or operating machinery. It lasts just over two minutes with introduction.
If you can’t listen to the audio there are some written instructions available here
DO NOT read on until you have listened or followed the written instructions!
Now notice all the senses that have been stimulated, can you smell lemon, feel the waxy peel or sticky juice perhaps your mouth or eyes are watering a little. While there is a reasonable chance you have be told this exercise before, look back at the steps; I only asked you to ‘think’,’picture’ and ‘notice’. However the chances are your other senses were stimulated. Again our own strategies for handling and recalling information are at work here as in the post Too Much Information, mentioned above.
Steps for Good Quality Visualisation
By now you have probably realised the importance of engaging all the senses.
Here are the steps I recommend following to achieve good quality visualisation:
- Find a place where you can safely take five without distraction or disruption, ideally seated or reclining.
- Relax yourself with three deep breaths (tip make the out breath longer than the in breath and hold it for a couple of seconds before the exhale).
- Defocus your eyes and bring up a relevant image.
- Bring the image into sharper focus while thinking of accompanying sounds.
- Notice any associated or environmental smells that fit the image.
- Think of the surroundings, the temperature, perhaps wind or sun on you face.
- Lick you lips and breathe in, is there a taste in the air.
- Remain focused and turn up the experience, colours get brighter, smells stronger and sound louder.
- Draw in a fresh breath and turn it up some more, making everything more vivid.
- Notice how you feel from the top of your head to tip of toes, hold that thought for a second. Now blink and focus on your surroundings.
Doing or Completion
A quick note regarding visualisation for Motivation and Goal Setting. I strongly encourage clients to practice good quality visualisation for both of these, however, with a word of caution.
Spending an extended period of time drinking in feelings of success has a downside. Treating yourself to rewards of achievement without first making the achievement can demotivate. Why bother with the process if you can skip it and still have the rewards? Make sense?
For Goal Setting visualise the moment of completion to help with being Specific – see my post Goals Drive Attention.
For Motivation visualise you doing the task to achieve a goal – see my page Serene Motivation.
I spend a significant amount of time with clients working to investigate their desired outcomes. Good quality visualisation is an essential tool for this, allowing potential solutions to be tested and good solutions to be perfected.