I love visual imagery.
As a pragmatic guy, when I was younger, I just believed in tangible things.
If I couldn’t touch it, it didn’t exist. I was like doubting Thomas.
It was by growing and studying the human being to increase my performance how I became more spiritual.
Today, I combine body, mind, and spirit to perform at my best.
Life is growing, as Ray Dalio said:
“If you don’t look on yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,’ then you must not have learned much in the last year.” — Ray Dalio
The more I dig into the human brain, the more I start believing in spirituality, emotions, and that kind of “intangible things”.
The more I focus on that part of the human being, the more I test it, I see amazing results, and I transform those “intangible concepts” into facts I can see, feel, and live.
Talking about performance, one of the most productive techniques to boost my productivity has been trying to be at present.
Present equals focus. Focus equals flow. Flow equals performing at my best.
“The successful man is the average man, focused.” — Anonymous
The point is: how can you stay as long as possible in the present?
Here’s where visual imagery takes center stage.
As the American Psychological Association says, visual imagery is:
“Mental imagery that involves the sense of having “pictures” in the mind. Such images may be memories of earlier visual experiences or syntheses produced by the imagination (e.g., visualizing a pink kangaroo). Visual imagery can be used for such purposes as dealing with traumatic events, establishing desensitization hierarchies, or improving physical performance.”
Here’s the thing: “improving physical performance”.
“My guess is that most world-class athletes use some form of visualization.” —Vincent Granito, Ph.D., former president of the Society for Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology.
I’ve read hundreds of articles explaining how physical performance can improve using visual imagery. From Tiger Woods to Michael Jordan, all top-performers use this technique to perform at their best.
If it works great talking about physical performance, why not using it for mental performance too?
Be sure it works too.
Psychologists Tushar Singh and Namita Pande’s article “Empirical investigation of visual imagery: an overview” concludes:
“It may be said that images are beneficial in performing cognitive operations and they also make it possible for us to preserve an emotional attitude towards absent objects… It should be noted that imagery is a resource which can help us seeing and practicing future goals and it is entirely in our control to give direction to the flow of visual images.”
So, if this technique can help you see future goals, and it’s under your control, why wouldn’t you use it?
This is how I use visual imagery to “come back to the present” whenever my mind flies away to the past or the future.
I see my hands pulling from a very thick rope. I see it in slow motion. That gives me the sensation of pulling more strongly.
I keep on pulling, and pulling, and pulling until I reach the end of the rope.
The end of the rope represents “the present time” for me because there is nothing beyond. Only emptiness. That’s what my mind needs: being empty.
Emptiness leads my mind directly to the task I’m performing. Right now!
Emptiness equals freedom, out of anxiety, relaxation, clarity, present, NOW. Nothing in front or behind.
The more I practice this technique, the faster and stronger I pull the rope. It’s a matter of milliseconds to do it.
Whenever I feel I’m moving to the past or the future, this is what I do.
Simple. Easy. Fast. Visual.
Something you can learn and train
The good point about visual imagery is that you can learn, train, and improve this skill.
Anthony Metivier, one of my world references talking about memorization techniques, share in this article 5 powerful visualization exercises and techniques you can try.
Inside this Jimson Lee’s article you can learn and apply mental imagery and visualization techniques.
There are thousands of techniques you can try, test, and see how they work for you. You should keep in mind that each of us is different, and you have to look for the techniques that work best for you.
You have a huge advantage over the rest of the species: your imagination.
Your imagination can take you to the past and the future, to envisage unrealized possibilities. It is proven that visual imagery activates different areas in our brain, as neurologist Adam Zeman and his project “The Eye’s Mind” shows.
It’s not something spiritual or witchcraft. It’s scientifically proven.
I highly recommend reading Matthew MacKisack, Susan Aldworth, Fiona Macpherson, John Onians, Crawford Winlove, and Adam Zeman’s essay “On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science”.
From ancient philosophers to modern science, you can see on it the considerable impact visual imagery has had throughout human history.
Come back to the present. You just need a rope!