Mind Over Sports

Visualization And Your Health

Posted on: March 12, 2007

Visualization is a technique that is both ancient and powerful. Visualization is one of the most important skills you can learn, and can have a lasting effect on your health.

Success in the medical use of visualization has been documented by the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. A young boy with an inoperable malignant brain tumor visualized Star Wars space ships attacking the tumor within his head, blowing it to bits. Over a period of time, the tumor disappeared. Today, a tape recording of the young man’s visualization exercise is used by other young cancer patients world-wide.

I know a family where an 8-year-old girl, also with an inoperable brain tumor, visualized a “bunny rabbit” visiting her tumor daily, nibbling on the tumor. The tumor disappeared.

Once when working with members of the Crips gang, I told them of a program I had heard about in California where the facilitator, working with young people who were addicted to drugs, was able — through the use of visualization — to have participants create the same sensations of being on drugs without actually using drugs. This was a first step in their rehabilitation program. When I told this story, one of the gang members spoke up and said he knew all about the research and mentioned the facilitator by name. When I asked how he knew, he replied: “My brother is in the program.” Even streetwise gang members acknowledge the power of visualization.

When I began working with sickle-cell patients many years ago, I was one of the first to use visualization with them. I encouraged them to deal with stress in their lives first, to bring their unresolved issues to completion, and then visualize their sickle-shaped cells becoming whole and round and moving effortlessly through their arteries and veins. They also visualized a “log-jam” in their veins breaking up, as the sickle-shaped cells became disentangled and began to flow smoothly through their bodies. Whether or not their sickle-shaped cells did, in fact, become whole and round was unimportant; what was important was their belief that the new formations were taking place and, subsequently, their bodies responded to that belief.

In his book Shaman’s Path, Frank Lawlis discusses the use of imagery to control pain. For most, he says, this use of imagery takes the form of learning to increase blood flow to painful areas and to tense muscles. The result is less pain and more control of stress-related concerns

Dr. Dean Ornish, in his book Reversing Heart Disease, writes about emotional stress causing arteries throughout our bodies to constrict:

When this occurs in the heart it is known as coronary artery spasm. We also know from research on visualization that having a mental image of blood flowing to your hands can actually cause blood flow to increase to your hands. An erection is another example of how thoughts can increase blood flow, in this case to the penis. Other studies have demonstrated that visualization can decrease blood flow to your heart if you imagine terrible things happening. So it seems reasonable to assume that visualizing more healing images may improve coronary blood flow by dilating your coronary arteries to some degree. Other evidence suggests that visualization may reduce the number and severity of irregular heartbeats. And while there is not yet scientific evidence that visualization can affect coronary artery blockages, it is possible that visualization may help those as well.

Much has been written about the visualization process for use in the treatment of cancer. But the process is only effective once stress is reduced by bringing unresolved conflict to completion. In other words, we must deal with the issues that are producing the stress before visualization will work. And, if there are lingering feelings about an issue, those feelings also must be identified and resolved. You can do this by directly dealing with the person or issues that may be the source of the stress, or perhaps just write a letter and never mail it. How you deal with it is entirely up to you.

Goal Setting And The Visualization Process

Before reviewing the first visualization script, you should take a pencil and paper and write down goals you have set for yourself regarding your health. For example, your goal may be to put your cancer into remission; another person’s goal — someone who may be suffering from Multiple Sclerosis — may be to create the remylination process, regenerating the mylin sheath covering their nerve fibers. Or someone may want to reduce the size of his prostate gland.

After you’ve identified (and put on paper) the goals you want to achieve, you will then be ready to begin visualizing. I also recommend the use of special video tapes and soundtracks. The soundtracks can be converted to audio tapes, recreating the visuals previously implanted in your mind by the video. This process is called Image Transference. As discussed earlier, to successfully implement the visualization process, there are six basic steps:

Step Number One: See a process taking place within your body creating the changes you want to have happen. (Many cancer patients have successfully visualized T-cells attacking cancer cells.)

Step Number Two: See with you someone you idolize, someone you want to emulate. This may be a friend or acquaintance who has helped you with your illness . . . perhaps someone who, themselves, put their illness into remission.

Step Number Three: See people with you who care about you and love you.

Step Number Four: See that special someone in your life for whom you want to get well . . . this might consist of your children, or your mother . . . or a grandfather or a spouse.

Step Number Five: See yourself achieving your goal . . . see yourself completely healthy . . . even being pronounced healthy by your doctor . . . acknowledging that your illness has disappeared.

Step Number Six: See yourself enjoying the reward you promised yourself for having achieved your goal of getting well.

It’s important to see yourself in the most minute detail possible; leave nothing out, include every detail you can imagine. The exercise presented is generic in format, but keep in mind: the process can be applied to any type of illness. Multiple Sclerosis patients can begin to visualize the remeylination process. There are cases on record where people have regenerated the myelin sheath covering their nerve fibers, and recovered from the illness. One of the images that can be used by people who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis is to visualize flocks of birds landing on a telephone wire. The birds represent the myelin; the telephone wire the nerve fiber.

People with an enlarged prostate can visualize their prostate gland becoming smaller, thus relieving pressure on their bladder. People with a diabetic condition can visualize normal insulin production by their pancreas, with glucose molecules entering cells as they open, and they would see sugar going into the cells where it is metabolized and burned. To make your visualization program effective, you should obtain graphic drawings of portions of the human body you plan to visualize. These can be obtained from any public library or from your physician. Use the drawings to create an image of exactly what it is you want to achieve.

Here, now, is the script…

Visualization Script — Generic

I invite you to sit comfortably in a chair, or on the floor, in an upright position, with your spine straight. Now close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply . . . and begin to count down slowly from ten to one . . . relaxing more and more deeply with each count. 10 . . . 9. . . 8. . . feel yourself going deeper and deeper. . . into a quieter, more relaxed state of mind. . . 7. . .6. . . 5 . . . deeper and more relaxed. . . 4. . . 3?2. . . 1. . . you are now in a very deep, very calm state of mind.

Now see yourself relaxed. . . totally and completely relaxed . . . and see, in your mind’s eye, within your body . . . you can see the illness you have . . . you can see the problem . . . and you’ll now begin to visualize what you want to happen to make yourself well . . . see the process happening within your body . . . (PAUSE) see it happen, over and over again . . . (PAUSE).

See with you people who care about you . . . and love you (PAUSE).

And see those in your life who you want to get well for . . . it may be one person . . . or many persons . . . these are the people who mean so much to you, and have stood by you . . . see them clearly, and vividly (PAUSE).

Now see yourself achieving the goal you set for yourself . . . see yourself healthy . . . totally and completely healthy . . . and see your doctor acknowledging your achievement . . . (PAUSE).

And finally, see yourself enjoying the reward you promised yourself once your health has been restored . . . it may be a trip to a far-off land . . . or a new car . . . or a new home . . . see yourself enjoying your reward . . . (PAUSE).

You did it . . . you made it happen . . . you . . . are in excellent health.


Now take 30 seconds to slowly open your eyes. 30 seconds.


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N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

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