Meditation and visualization techniques have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial health effects, such as decreasing anxiety and improving motivation. Choosing to meditate every day, even for just a few minutes, can help us feel more centered, with a focused mind and a passion to pursue our goals. Sometimes, however, even our best efforts can leave something to be desired.
This blog is for all those people who want to improve their visualization technique. Below we will discuss a few things that you can change to have the best visualization meditation sessions possible.
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Paramount to any visualization meditation session is your comfort. This means taking care of your body as a whole--not only sitting on a material that works best for you, whether that be a mat, a pillow, or the grass, but also paying attention to your body’s other needs. Before you meditate, be sure to drink a glass of water, go to the bathroom, and engage in some light stretching.
Also, though stillness is an important component of meditation, a lot of people don’t realize that it is absolutely okay to move to make yourself more comfortable during a meditation session--whether that mean stretching or just adjusting a limb. Ultimately, being uncomfortable will continually pull your mind away from the focus of your visualization meditation, counter-acting whatever other good habits you have worked so hard to adopt.
For someone new to visualization meditation, one of the hardest things to learn can be how to quiet their mind. With each session, they fight and struggle to rid themselves of invasive thoughts--but the more they try to go blank, the more difficult doing so becomes.
The biggest lesson touted by experts is that quieting one’s mind comes not from fighting against invasive thoughts, but by letting them wash through and out of one’s attention. Though it seems cliche, it really works: to quiet your mind, stop trying to quiet it. By trusting that your attention will return to a meditative state, it becomes easy to let go of any thoughts that slip into your mind.
If you have found yourself struggling, despite a sincere attempt to trust yourself, another technique called ‘resistance breathing’ might help.
You might have heard about the use of mantras in meditation--practitioners repeating words or phrases to aid in meditation. The act of speaking serves to contract the pharngeal muscles in the throat, which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system is responsible for keeping the body in homeostatic balance, working in opposition to the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. By increasing parasympathetic response, the body enters a more relaxed state and the mind becomes quieted.
If you are not comfortable with speaking aloud while meditating, or are otherwise in a situation where you cannot do so, you can contract your pharngeal muscles manually (Try it! They’re at the back of your mouth and throat!) to achieve the same effect. If done properly, your breathing will sound something like ocean waves.
The old trope, “practice makes perfect,” is as true for meditation as it is for anything else. Try to set aside a time at which you can meditate each day. The more regular your schedule, the more likely you will be to stick to it. Morning people tend to do well meditating right after they wake up or just after breakfast, while those with later schedules may find meditating before bed or just after lunch more amenable.
If you are new to meditating, do not feel a need to start by meditating for a whole or even half an hour. By starting shorter--just 10, 5, or even 3 minutes--you can learn how to meditate without subjecting yourself to the stress of excessive expectation.
If your visualization meditation is focusing specifically around mental practice--the reinforcement of physical learning through mental rehearsal--consider imagining making mistakes, and correcting for them, in addition to perfect execution.
While “ideokinetic facilitation,” whereby the subject imagines themselves completing an action perfectly, is effective, mental practice that includes flawed technique has been shown to be more successful. This is likely because, when we are actually performing a task, mistakes do happen. Being able to recover from them is as important as being able to do them perfectly right from the start.
Breath work is an important technique for any visualization meditation.
As you breathe during a meditation session, try to visualize your breath moving throughout your body. With each breath, feel it moving to a new area, ‘pooling’ there, and releasing its tension.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to increase heart rate variability, the gold-standard for measuring the absence of stress. Ensure that when you breathe, you inhale deeply such that your diaphragm moves down, allowing more air into your lungs. On your out-breath, the air will be forced out due to the release of tension, improving breathing efficiency.
There are a number of ways to pace your breathing, all with different effects on the body. From square breathing to triangle breathing to resonant-frequency breathing, each uses a different combination of timings for inhales, holds, and exhales. If you are ready to take your visualization meditations to the next level, try Mesmerize and see how its hypnotic, breathing visuals let you effortlessly keep your breath work in the proper rhythm.
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can bring your visualization techniques to a whole new level.