Updated on:

January 13, 2023

Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

Actors, musicians, athletes, and entrepreneurs worldwide use their imagination in visualization techniques for personal and career success.

Visualization, sometimes referred to as guided imagery, involves using your imagination to picture an outcome that has not yet happened.

A recent study found that actors who used imagery and visualization techniques enhanced their confidence and acting ability in future performances. Many notable figures have used visualization to get where they are today: Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are a few examples.

Don’t worry. You don’t need to be in the spotlight to use visualization. There are many practical ways to apply your “mind’s eye”. Visualization meditation is a creative and relaxing way to promote performance enhancement, bodily relaxation, and increase self-love.

visualization, Visualization Meditation

What is Visualization Meditation?

In visualization, you imagine yourself in a state of peak performance, or relaxation, with the goal that you will access this flow at a future time. As you relax your body, you use your imagination to create a mental state that is both pleasant and conducive to the feeling you are looking to achieve. The term “visualization” is misleading as it can include more sensory experience than mental sight.

Visualization is one of many forms of meditation with specific effects. Jacobson’s psychoneuromuscular theory states that when you imagine performing a skill, you activate the same neural pathways as when you are physically conducting the skill. This theory implies that mental rehearsal can be a useful and portable training tool.

In the 1940s Jacob Moreno developed a technique that allowed patients to heal their particular mental concerns by using the positive power of their imagination. Following this development, Dr. David Bressler and Dr. Martin Rossman started forming supported research around guided imagery and visualization being effective tools in treating chronic pain and other serious illnesses in the 1970s. In the 1984 Olympics, Russian researchers discovered that visualization positively affected the relationship between the Olympian’s imagined performance and the ability of the body to achieve it. Thanks to this study, visualization techniques became widely accepted and further researched by neuroscientists.

Today, many people use visualization meditation in high-performance fields. Surgeons, astronauts, actors, musicians, athletes, and corporate professionals have utilized guided imagery to achieve preferred results. Imagine how beneficial it could be for your workday, relationships, and home life.

How to Do Visualization Meditation

One form of visualization meditation found in Buddhism is loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation guides you to invoke feelings of love towards yourself before extending them to the world.

  • Choose a specific amount of time. Set an alarm to free the mind from clock-watching.
  • Find a quiet, secure place. It is imperative that you feel safe to relax and explore the mind.
  • Take a comfortable, upright position. Keep your back straight and your chin level to help curb impulses to fall asleep.
  • Relax muscle tension. Scan through your body to relax any spots that may be tense.
  • Picture a loving being. Focus on a mental image of someone who represents “love” to you. It could be someone you know, an animal, or a religious or social figure. Imagine them looking at you with eyes full of warmth.
  • Drop the image, and focus on the heart. Let go of the image and tune into any warm, affectionate feeling that may have surfaced. Get to know the details of this feeling and allow it to radiate throughout your body.
  • Shine this warm feeling towards yourself. It may help to recite “may I be well, happy, and peaceful.” Feel free to say it out loud or in your mind.
  • Shine this warm feeling outwards in all directions. It could help to imagine a light radiating throughout the world or from your heart in every direction. It may help to say, “may all beings be well, happy, and peaceful.”
  • Thank yourself for taking this time. Invite movement back into your body and open your eyes when you’re ready.

Visualization Meditation Worksheets

We have put together the best Visualization meditation worksheets to help you enhance your meditation practice.

Each worksheet walks you through a visualization meditation guide and questionnaire, which can help you relieve stress and tension, and connect with your inner self. 

Use these visualization worksheets to complement your meditation routine or as a standalone practice.

Benefits of Visualization Meditation

Increased Confidence and Motivation

Most of us want the skills to improve our social, professional, and spiritual lives. Visualization meditation can build our enthusiasm and drive when it comes to skill-building. Whether we want to learn a hobby, a virtue, or a trade, imagining our future success is key to building faith in ourselves. A study at the University of Nottingham followed English learners who were asked to envision an “ideal self” that was successful with the English language. The findings showed the program increased the participants’ linguistic self-confidence and study motivation.

Natural Painkiller

It is natural to desire a pain-free, healthy life. Despite that, most of us have or will experience some form of bodily suffering. Research shows that approximately 25 percent of Americans experience chronic and lasting pain. Visualization meditation is now found to be an effective and non-invasive painkiller! Children’s Mercy Hospital researchers conducted a study following 22 children who experienced consistent abdominal pain. Results showed that the participants who received guided imagery therapy reported fewer days with pain, as well as decreased pain intensity compared to the control group.

Get in Shape

Did you know you can daydream your way into a more toned body? What a relief! A scientific journal, Neuropsychologia, conducted a study where participants were to perform mental contractions of their little fingers for a set amount of time with no corresponding physical finger abductions. After twelve weeks, their finger abduction strength had increased by 35%! Imagine sculpting your body without lifting…a finger.

Increased Self-Compassion and Self-Acceptance

Have you ever experienced the thought, “am I ok?” hoping someone will tell you… “yes!” That person could easily be you. Lovingkindness meditation (LKM), a form of visualization meditation, is known to greatly enhance our sense of being compassionately OK with ourselves and others. Researchers proved that when individuals practice LKM, their overall well-being increases, as well as their general happiness with themselves.

Best Visualization Meditation Techniques

Goal Setting / Rehearsing

As mentioned, the brain does not know the difference between something happening physically or mentally. With continuous imagining of your goals, it becomes more likely for your brain to believe you can accomplish your desired achievements. In this type of meditation, relaxing your body is important. This is the best way to show your mind how you want to feel during this particular scenario. Try to incorporate mental sounds, visuals, and feelings to add an element of sensual reality.

Chakra Visualization

Chakras are the main energy centers in your body that run from the pelvis to the crown of the head. They are associated with Indian yogic texts dating back to around 600 BC. There are seven well-known chakras along the spine. It is said that if these energy centers are out of balance, you can experience mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual ills in the body.  

When performing Chakra meditation, imagine each chakra as a swirling ball of colored light. Allow this image to be bright and healing for the associated energy centers in the body. Try starting with a guided chakra meditation to better understand each chakra by color and location.

Guided Imagery Meditation

This is where you might imagine yourself in your happy place. It could be a garden, a room in your house, or at the beach. What matters is that you mentally incorporate all of your senses to encourage your body and mind to relax. In this lucid imaginal state, you can conceptually bring up challenges in your life and sort through them. This can also be used as a simple relaxation technique before work or bed.

Loving-kindness Meditation

This is the aforementioned traditional Buddhist meditation aimed at cultivating feelings of love and compassion for the self and others. You can begin by imagining the smile of a loved one, or a warm light in your heart. In loving-kindness meditation, you can project this love from yourself out into the world. More in-depth versions include illuminating the visual of a very dear person, then a neutral person, and then a person with whom you have great difficulty.

Visualization Meditation FAQs

What are Other Visualization Techniques?

Another way to strengthen our capacity for visualization is writing. Researchers proved that writing goals to accomplish in great detail curbs unhelpful thinking. It also promotes a greater desire to be an active participant in your life.

How Often Should I Practice Visualization Meditation?

Personal development leader and self-help author, Jack Canfield, suggests visualization meditation after you wake up and before you go to sleep. This ensures that your goals are on your mind throughout the day and may even seep into your subconscious at night.

How to Get Better at Visualization Meditation?

If you are having trouble with visualization, you are not alone. Experts recommend following instructions to build a strong foundational practice. It is also recommended to find a visualization group so you can share your challenges and techniques.

What to Do if You Have a Hard Time Visualizing?

Not all of us have a strong mind’s eye. This is why the term “visualization” might be off-putting for some people. Not to fear. Psychologist Katherine King suggests that those with this challenge should use other senses to create the desired experience. Imagine the sound of the crowd cheering or the way you might feel when you achieve your specific outcome.

About the author 

Nicole Lannertone

Nicole is a meditator, poet, and freelance writer (in no specific order). The last two years of her life have been strongly dedicated to her meditation practice and deepening her self-awareness. She is an American temporally living in Montréal with her fiancée currently planning the next chapter of their life.