Want to exercise better, gain additional mobility, or amp up your strength training? With creative visualization, all of these goals are possible. Author and Social Psychologist Bo Bennett says visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.

Creative visualization involves deliberately seeing with the mind’s eye what you want to achieve. Your brain generally cannot tell the difference between what you imagine you can do and what you can actually do. This was proven by a group of Harvard researchers who taught one group of volunteers to play a 5-finger piano note combination and taught a second group to visualize the same notes.

The researchers measured the brains of the volunteers and found that the brain changes caused by learning (whether by rote or by visualization) were practically identical in both groups.

The three parts to visualization

In order for creative visualization to be successful, it has to consist of three main components: believing change is possible, working to create change, and then achieving the change.

The most difficult part of creative visualization, however, is the believing part. Many people feel that if they cannot see it, touch it, or read about it in print, that a concept does not exist. The first step in successful visualization is understanding that many things that are beyond the current limits we have set for ourselves are possible.

Working to create change through creative visualization is simply a process of repeating visual imagery on a daily basis until our brains convince our bodies to change.

How can visualization help?

There are many areas we can use creative visualization in our lives:

  1. To heal your body

Dr. David Hamilton, who has been researching the placebo effect, feels that the same type of tricking the brain into learning that took place with the piano research can be used for healing your body. According to Hamilton, when you visualize healing, your brain makes changes on a cellular level that actually effect healing.

  1. To improve strength and ability
  • Athletes Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have taken 3 Olympic Gold Medals as a beach volleyball team using visualization.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger used creative visualization to develop his muscular body, and then to move beyond bodybuilding and into acting and later politics.
  • Gold Medalist skier Lindsey Vonn uses creative visualization with every ski run before she actually performs it, moving her body as she does the visualizations.
  • Great news! You can use visualization to get the same physical effects you could get by going to the gym. Researchers have determined that just thinking about exercising develops muscles in the same way exercising does.
  1. Celebrities use it to achieve success
  • Broke and almost penniless, Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for $10 million. He dated it for 1994 and used it to visualize his career. True to his visualizations, in 1994, Carrey earned $10 million for his stellar role in the comedy Dumb and Dumber.
  • Another celebrity who has successfully used creative visualization to go from poverty to extreme wealth is Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey uses vision boards, which have clippings, pictures and phrases to inspire her visualizations.

Years ago positive thinking author Norman Vincent Peale told us that we could achieve whatever our minds could conceive and believe if it was our heart’s desire. Creative visualization is simply a tool to help us achieve what we want in life.