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Planning Effective Visualizations

The Visualization Creation Worksheet below gives you a step-by-step format for designing effective visualization exercises for yourself or for you to use with other people. Carefully thinking through each stage helps ensure that the exercise you create is compatible with the way the brain works to form mental images. Refer to the process column while you fill out the application column. See if you can identify in the practice exercises already presented the various stages listed on the work sheet. Note the wide variety of ways these four stages were employed.

The Preparation
Taking time to prepare yourself adequately for a visualization is key to making the process work. Part of your task is to identify the problem, question, challenge, or situation that is to be the focus of the exercise. Don’t worry—this task does not limit you. Rather it helps you focus creative energy on finding new options or solutions.

In the third column of the work sheet write a couple of sentences stating the focus of the exercise you are designing, as well as the type of visualization you feel is most appropriate.

The Relaxation
A key factor in tapping the mind’s natural capacities to form mental images is to relax the body, for the body is both the guardian of and pathway to the unconscious realms of the human psyche. Your goal is to relax the body so no tension remains, relax the emotions so that feelings of calm dominate, and relax the mind so that all concerns are temporarily put aside. You are trying get into a state of passive receptiveness, abandoning the tendency to be analytical and evaluative. You are getting ready to “go with the flow” of the process of imaginistic thinking, as when you are daydreaming.

In the third column of the work sheet, outline the relaxation process you use in the exercise, for example, progressive relaxation from the toes up to the head; tensing the body, then suddenly releasing the tension several times; lying on the floor or a sofa and imagining that you are floating.

The Journey
The journey is the heart of the exercise. There are several important parts:

1. Devise a mental gimmick to achieve a state of passive awareness where you watch the process of the exercise, almost as an outside observer.
2. Create a central image to move the focus from the everyday world to a state of introspection, insight, inspiration, and revelation.
3. Work with the central image in a way that helps you make connections with the issue you are addressing.
4. Allow plenty of time for the inner seeing process to occur (realizing that “real time” and “subjective time” are not the same because in the inner world things tend to happen more quickly and often at greater levels of complexity).

In the third column of the work sheet list the step-by-step procedures you use to facilitate the visualization process, including the mental gimmick, the central image for the journey, and the way you work with it in relation to the focus during the journey.

The Reflection
In many ways, this part of the visualization exercise is the most important, for this is where you return from the journey and harvest the insights, discoveries, and wisdom. This part is also when you acknowledge the value of, express gratitude for, and resolve to pay more attention to this important inner seeing dimension of the self. Just as with the external dimensions of the self, it is important to nurture the continued development and strengthening of this aspect of the mind.

In the third column of the work sheet list your plan for recording the insights, discoveries, feelings, possible answers, and new options received during the process of the exercise.

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