I was an ice skater when I was young. No, I was not good, but I enjoyed it anyway. It still perplexes me because I DESPISE cold. Yet, I would go to a COLD rink every week and freeze for hours on end. That’s beside the point though....
At the end of every season we had a big show. During the show you would skate in a group to a song that fit some sort of them. The week/weekend leading up to the show we would have dress rehearsals. I LOVED DRESS REHEARSALS! It was so fun because we still got to skate and practice our routines in our costumes (super awesome!) but we didn’t actually have a large audience. If we screwed up, nobody really cared. That was the best part about it. There was no pressure. In my mind, the rehearsals were better than the show.
Too bad we don’t have more dress rehearsals now. It’s a bummer that we don’t get ourselves ready and practice going through tough routines so we can perform better when it really matters.
Did you know that top athletes use a type of dress rehearsal? No, they don’t call it that. They call it visualization. It is a key tool for top runners, swimmers and many other athletes as well. Studies show that visualization increases athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination and concentration. It also aids in relaxation and helps reduce fear and anxiety.
What if we did this in our lives? Who wouldn’t love more motivation, concentration and reduced anxiety?
YOU CAN! And, I highly recommend that you do! It has been a huge blessing for me.
Visualization can help you move forward towards those goals God has been tugging you to.
No this is not meditation. Mediation has many different forms, but it is used to reflect, look back or relax. Visualization is about looking forward. It can be relaxing but it may not be. The point of visualization is to rehearse our thoughts, feelings and ACTIONS ahead of time. You practice what you are going to do before you do it. If you want to be running a race, you don’t want to feel relaxed. You’ll want to be excited and motivated. That’s what is going to get you to that finish line quicker.
How does it work? Well our brain is REMARKABLE. Several studies have shown that our brain doesn’t differentiate between a real memory and an imagined (visualized one). So, that means when you imagine something vividly, your brain chemistry changes and your mind can record it as a real memory. Basically, what you do with visualization then, is making the unknown “known”.
You know the saying, practice makes perfect. It is basically giving you extra practice.
Visualization also communicates to the brain what it should focus on. If you focus your mind, you bring more awareness and become more purposefully.
How about examples? Since I love helping women shed pounds, I’m going to speak about visualization tied to weight loss. Keep in mind, this technique can be used with ANYTHING, business, public speaking, not yelling at your children…
Let’s say you have a habit of eating ice cream every night at 8:30 after the kids are in bed. You want to change this habit. You don’t feel good when you go to bed and you know this one small modification could make a big difference if you followed through. The problem is, you have tried to kick it, but it seems like you end up with a big bowl of creamy goodness in your lap every night.
This is when I have my client’s use mental imagery to help change their habits. I have them visualize exactly what actions they would take after the kids are in bed. Will they read, watch TV, work on laundry? What are they feeling? This is key. At first, you are going to feel desire to eat the ice cream. That’s ok. Let that desire be there, but don’t act on it. I tell my clients to really feel that desire but to see themselves walking away. Next we talk about what will be going through their mind. What are they telling themselves? In what way will Satan attack?
Then I ask they write out a little script. I encourage them to visualize this everyday for a month.
At first, they will fail and eat the ice cream. But if they are consistent at practicing their “script”, their mind will start to recognize the situation. Soon, my clients start catching themselves before they hit the freezer because their mind is focused and aware about what is going on. Before long, they have created a new habit.
Visualization takes practice. Just like any good thing, it take commitment. So I want to leave you a Bible verse to help convince you of the benefit of this process...
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
This scripture commands us to focus on the positive; to dwell in this space. Paul urges us to put this into practice. I encourage you to practice this through visualization. You'll be amazed at how your life changes!
Now go visualize a life you feel God calling you to!
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