Sunday, 17 May 2009
Tips for Precise Mental Visualisation
There is a lot of hype about the merits of precise visualisation on the market. Whilst there are some benefits to having very precise visualisation, in most cases, excepting perhaps religious meditations, they are largely unnecessary, and may even hinder one, depending on its purpose.
That said, for those who are keen on improving the clarity of their visualisations, here are some tips:
1. Don't try too hard. When I took my first dynamic meditation training years ago, I used to come back with just about enough strength to crawl into bed. Yes, I once also coveted extremely precise visualisation. What I found was that there are two states (well, not discrete ones, but good enough for the purposes of this discussion) of mind when visualising: a rigid, forced one, and a relaxed, gentle one. The latter is much more useful for precision.
How do you know you are forcing too much? You are looking at an image in your mind and it is not staying still. Instead, the more you keep it still, the more it stubbornly morphs. That usually is an indicator that you are attempting to force and it is moving precisely because you fear it will move. That also happens when you (mentally) stare too fixedly and the image starts bringing up associations (Gee, that hat looks like an upside down glass - oh wait, what's that glass doing there?!). Actually, the associations are useful (see Tip 3).
2. When you notice a visualisation doing something it's not supposed to do, let it! Getting involved with it is exactly the way to spin it off course. Instead, ignore it and let it spin away whilst you simply relax, putting your awareness into an expanded state, rather than going into mental tunnel vision. When you feel the mind-jerk end, bring your awareness gently back to the visualisation and with the slightest touch possible (you'll get more expert over time), change it back to what it was supposed to be.
3. Use pre-wired associations. If you have trouble calling up a visualisation, or you are trying to learn a very precise visualisation, it helps to make associations. This is particularly true if you are going to be revisiting a visualisation multiple times. For example, to visualise a red ice cube (yes, yes - I know it just appeared automatically in your mind as you read that, but try KEEPING it there for a minute or two!), you may use a box-shape you know to bring up the shape, and then use an apple image to pick the colour adjustment.
4. Take breaks. In building very precise visualisations, do not try to create the whole image at once. Unless you have an exceptional mind, it will completely shift by the next time you try it. Build it slowly, and constantly deconstruct and reconstruct the visualisation from scratch. That way, you will become better and better at the earlier parts as you go, and you can builds the finer details on that foundation.
5. Make observations. Sometimes, making spatial observations may well aid your visualisation, especially when it comes to keeping it still. For example, in visualising a house, you may wish to note how wide the roof is relative to the building, how tall the door is relative to the windows, how the general arrangements of the door, windows and building make the house have a "face". Make micro and macro visualisations, and by doing this you will lock in the visualisation at a very precise level. Remember to take breaks!