Visualization exercises are powerful tools to help you lower your stress level and promote success. That’s because what the brain actually witnesses and what the brain imagines stimulate exactly the same areas of the brain.
Visualization exercise increases the probability of success because it is priming the neural circuits that will be used in the actual activity. This is the reason that visualization is an effective technique for success in any activity. And when you can imagine success in any endeavor, your stress related to the event decreases dramatically.
The Power of Visualization Exercises
James Nesmeth was an average golfer who shot in the 90’s. For seven years, however, he completely left the game; he did not touch a golf club nor set foot on a fairway. Major Nesmeth spent those seven years imprisoned in a small cell as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. During almost the entire time he was imprisoned, he was isolated. He believed that he could keep himself sane in his tiny cell under hideous conditions by occupying his mind.
Nesmeth decided to practice his golf game. He was in no hurry and had no place to go. He imagined that he was at his favorite golf course playing a full round of golf. Every day he experienced each detail. He saw himself dressed in his golf clothes. He smelled the fragrance of the trees and the freshly trimmed grass. In his mind’s eye, he experienced different weather conditions—windy spring days, overcast winter days, and sunny summer mornings.
He visualized every single step, from how he positioned himself before each swing to the follow-through afterwards. Starting at the first tee, he looked down and saw the little ball. He visualized addressing it, the feel of the grip of the club, and the position of his stance. He instructed himself as he practiced smoothing out his downswing and the follow-through on his shot. Then he watched the ball arc down the exact center of the fairway, bounce a couple of times and roll to the precise spot he had selected. Not once did he ever miss a shot, never took a hook or a slice, never missed a putt. Day after day he played a full 18 holes of golf.
When the Major Nesmeth was liberated, one of the first things he did was go to the golf course and play a round of golf. The first time out, and without having touched a golf club in seven years, he shot a 74—knocking 20 strokes off his previous best round of golf. That is the power of visualization!
Put Visualization Exercises to Work for You
Although the brain is not a muscle, it is clearly subject to some of the same principles as other approaches of learning to become more effective. When used purposefully and exercised regularly, it grows more vigorous—and when not, it becomes sluggish and can easily engender stress.
Research studies continue to attest to how the power of visualization aids memory, procedures, and motor learning. Therefore, make visualization exercises a regular strategy you use daily.
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