Your brain is an incredible structure.
It helps you breathe,
Pump blood throughout your body,
Remember exactly what your 4th-grade crush looked like,
And so much more.
And when you consider the fact that it can create images out of nothing,
It becomes even more impressive.
But what if you could use those images in your mind to achieve more,
And learn from past mistakes.
The power of imagery can help you do just that.
Whatever you see in your mind,
Your body reacts to as if it is actually happening.
Just imagine food and you start to salivate,
Imagine bungee jumping and your knees get weak and palms get sweaty (…mom’s spaghetti…)
Put a picture in your mind of the ones you love and you feel love.
What we see in our mind becomes reality,
As the brain experiences that image as if it is really happening.
This article will show how you can manipulate this tendency of the brain in order to:
Lose fat and get back into shape,
Play better in your sport,
Reduce stress and anxiety,
Even give a rock-solid presentation at work.
It’s all possible with the use of imagery.
Imagining is reality
Good imagery is a beautiful thing,
It can help you learn and practice new behaviours,
do the actions you want to do,
deal with the situations you need to deal with,
get the outcomes you want to get,
deal with trigger situations,
deal with emotions like anxiety,
debrief on events to learn from them,
reinforce desired behaviours and attitudes,
And be confident and in control…
It’s endless what this stuff can do.
You use the same brain centres to imagine things as you do to actually experience them.
So, if you imagine moving, your premotor cortex gets busy and starts planning the movement.
If you imagine eating, the part of your brain involved in eating lights up,
If you imagine yourself being effective in a presentation at work, the corresponding area lights up in your brain.
So, clearly visualizing an outcome or action makes our brains, and therefore our bodies behave as if it were true.
And the beautiful thing, a real solid image works faster than thinking.
What is good imagery?
First off, it needs to be specific.
You need to see exactly what you are hoping to achieve,
Next, it needs to have a specific purpose.
“Get healthy” is not specific.
It needs to be a specific desired outcome,
Like eating slowly by putting your fork down between bites,
Or packing vegetables in your lunch each day.
Next, good imagery is a full-body experience evoking sensation and emotions.
The more senses you can bring into your imagery, the better.
So, not just seeing the desired outcome,
But hearing the sounds involved in the outcome,
ie. the sound of the fork hitting the table,
Feeling the tactile sensations associated with the outcome,
Ie. the cool feeling of the fork in your hands.
Again, the more you can bring in other sensations,
the more real the imagery becomes
and the more effective it will be.
Even, go so far as to feel the emotions associated with the imagery.
Ie. feel the satisfaction, lightness, and comfort you’ll feel after eating slowly and eating until 80% full.
It’s long been a goal of mine to own a gym.
I’ve had this imagery in my head for a few years,
And although it’s morphed a little bit,
This is basically the image that I go over nearly every day.
I walk into the front door and feel the warm door handle from the heat of the summer.
I hear the door swing and feel the cool air-conditioned air from the gym as it hits my body.
I say “mornin” to our front desk staff and hear the sound of her voice say “hey coach” back to me.
I look out over the entire gym and feel a warm sense of accomplishment,
And satisfaction having built such a wonderful place.
I smell the rubber flooring and the way it feels against my sock feet.
I walk over to the warm-up turf and feel the blades of “grass” under my feet.
I approach the squat racks and grab a barbell.
It is cool to the touch and the knurling is fresh and grippy as I roll my hand around it.
I give a “half bro-hug” to our DJ playing music behind the dumbbells.
I feel his clammy hands and the feeling of his shoulder against mine.
I can hear him playing “Greenlight” by John Legend and Andre 3000.
I walk to the kettlebells lining the turf and grab one.
The handle of the kettlebell is rough and the weight of it forces me to contract the muscles in my upper back to keep my posture and position.
There is a red prowler loaded up with 270 pounds from the morning workout session.
I push it and feel my feet hit the turf.
I can feel the weight of the sled as I push through my legs.
My heart beats against my chest wall,
And I feel my chest and belly rise and fall from my increased breathing.
I return to the rubber flooring and smell the chefs cooking in the canteen as I walk to the back office.
Pretty cool, huh?
I get pretty pumped going through that.
And guess what, phase 1 of this imagery is coming true in the summer!
Can’t wait 🙂
Imagery for the win!
Whether your goal is to get back in shape,
Lose a couple pounds,
Or be a better version of yourself,
A great tool for your tool belt is imagery.
Gone are the days of just having a fleeting image of your desired outcome in your head,
You need to feel every inch of that outcome.
The tactile sensations,
Making your imagery as meaningful,
And vivid as possible is the ticket to super-hero status.