Now what in the world do I mean by happy organs? And what does this silly concept have to do with health anyways? As it turns out, quite a lot. Recent research shows that the process of visualization can significantly increase your health, and it’s not by chance. Focused meditation can actually change your brainwaves, and this can have an effect on your immune system, stress responses and more.
What is Visualization?
Visualization is sometimes referred to as guided imagery or mental imagery. On a very basic level, it is a mind-body medicine technique where a person creates a metal image of a future event. There’s a more to it than that, however. First of all, let’s be clear about what visualization is not. It is not:
-worrying about a particular outcome.
In fact, visualization is a tried-and-true technique for manifesting a future goal, be it getting a pay raise, going on a vacation or healing from a disease like cancer. And in many instances, it works. Athletes use it to perform their best. CEOs do it to get contracts. And studies in neuroscience show its effectiveness as well.
One of the most notable studies to examine what effect guided imagery has on the brain was conducted at Harvard University. This study involved two groups of individuals with the same basic intellectual ability, all of which had never played the piano. One group was given the assignment of playing scales every day for a certain period of time. The other group was given the task of playing the exact same group of scales for the same amount of time every day too. The difference with the second group was that they were told to simply visualize themselves playing the scale in their mind.
The results were outstanding. After the study, brain scans of participants indicated that both groups underwent structural brain changes, even though one group never touched a piano.
Even more relevant to how the mind effects the body was another study also conducted at the Lerner Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. This study set out to determine if finger strength could be improved through mental exercises along. Again, one group was instructed to practice flexing their finger each day for a specific period of time while the other group was instructed to merely think about doing this for the same amount of time.
The results? BOTH groups showed an increase in finger strength—the ones who actually did it, by 53%, and the ones who thought about it, by 35%!
A final study conducted in 2014 at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine found that mental imagery training and utilization helped participants maintain muscle strength during periods of inactivity.
These groundbreaking findings provided new insight as to how the nervous system and the body work together. It also gives encouragement (and possibly a new basis for therapy) for those who may be immobile, such as after surgery or stroke.
You CAN Visualize Health!
With my coaching clients, in my monthly coaching calls and even in my workshops, I often use the tool of visualization. A short one-time visualization of 5 to 10 minutes can bring a sense of empowerment to a health situation. Visualization techniques performed daily, however, can actually change the brain, the body and perhaps even a dis-eased state. After all, most of our major organs regenerate completely within a month to 3 months. Why not visualize them happy, healthy and working perfectly?
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Use these 5 easy steps to visualize health:
#1 Position yourself in a calm, quite place. Sit in a comfortable position and turn off all electronic devices. Put your “do not disturb” sign out if you are at work or have a busy home. Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about looking at your watch.
#2 Take 2-3 deep, calming breaths to center and calm.
#3 See the part of your body you want to focus on. You can also imagine your whole body.
#4 Now see your body in your mind’s eye as happy, healed and whole. There are many ways to do this. Some people imagine smiling cells. Others imagine a ball of brilliant white healing light surrounding the organ or their whole body. You can even imagine what activities you would do if you were completely healthy. You can’t get it wrong. Allow whatever healing imagery to come up for you.
#4 For the most potent visualization, cultivate and experience the FEELING of healing, happiness and wholeness as well.
#5 Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe and smile!