Do you wonder how to visualize because all you see is blackness?
You can’t craft a mental picture of your family or your friends in your mind’s eye.
Or you try to visualize your goals — “see” yourself driving your dream car, living in your dream house, living your dream life.
You’ve been trying to teach yourself how to visualize with your mind’s eye, but no matter what you do – you just can’t create mental images.
You close your eyes, and all you see is blackness or, at best, you see some blurry shapes.
It’s like you’re missing the mental canvas to ‘paint on’. Or maybe, you feel like your inner canvas is placed in a dark room and you’re pointing at it with a very weak flashlight.
Frustrating, isn’t it? But guess what… you are not alone.
If you’re in this group of ‘non-imagers’, please keep on reading because…
You CAN learn how to visualize!
When you are short on talent; Discipline is the best substitute. – Dan Kennedy.
I strongly disagree with people who say,
“Visualization is a ‘have-it-or-have-it-not-skill'”
If you’re like me, you read many of the famous best-selling books like: Psycho Cybernetics, Think and Grow Rich, Magic of Thinking Big, Creative Visualization, … and the most frustrating thing was…
… ALL these books tell you to create CLEAR, VIVID, “IMAGINE-AS-IF” images.
But somehow, every single one of them assumes you’d know how to do this. Personally, I only found pure blackness when I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I can’t do what so many others do with east. So, I researched for long time on the Internet and started doing a regiment of exercises… and then… very sloooowly… my persistence paid off.
First, I got zero results. Then, after about 2-3 weeks, I started seeing blurry, fading shapes. Next, I experienced very short moments of happy clarity. But still, very unstable.
Finally, after several months of daily practice sessions, I can now create vivid and controllable scenes, like being my own movie director.
Thus, I dare to say, that so called “aphantasia” (the dysfunction of the mind’s eye) does not exist. In my personal experience, aphantasia is solely the inability to see with your mind’s eye because of an untrained mental muscle.
Your Mental Eyes Are Like a Muscle!
This Muscle Can and Must be Trained!
Go to a gym and ask any bodybuilder, “What a biceps! How long did it take you get a biceps like that? One week? Two weeks?”
He will laugh at you and he’ll probably tell you that he started with arms like ‘toothpicks’ and it took him months, even years shape them up… and so it is with every other muscle. Mind or body. Nature acts never in haste.
Some of you might say: “Hey, but all my friends can visualize already! They’ve never put in conscious effort to learn how to visualize.”
Yes, but chances are high they’ve been using mental imagery the better part of their lives. They’ve been practicing and nurturing this skill for a long, long time, intuitively.
For them it’s always been “normal.”
Now, before we get into the “how-to part”… Let’s first talk about why would you want to visualize? What can you get out of it? What can you do with it?
For me, it was like opening the door to a new world. It’s like your secret world or playground where you can experience your very personal mental universe for things like relaxation, revisit past memories, to work with your subconscious mind, rehearse performances, etc… Powerful stuff.
OK, here are just some of the feats you can pull off with the power of visualization:
- Memorize Knowledge with Memory-Palaces: Create your own mental memory palace and store a mind boggling amount of information in it (memorize vocabulary of any language, remember speeches, sales presentations, anatomy, or any other information and facts you wish to burn into your memory.)
- Reach Your Goals Through Creative Visualization: You’ve read these books that tell you to visualize your goals vividly… as if having achieved them already. If can you get you mind-muscle back in shape you’ll finally be able to see yourself being as successful as you want to be!
- Mental Imagery in Sports: Everyone knows that pro-golfers, pro-basketball players, athletes, etc. rehearse their ideal sports performance and even entire games on a mental stage. This is proven to be a crucial factor in the careers of these high-performance people.
- Rehearse Speeches & Presentations in Your Theater of The Mind: You can practice speeches, interviews, conversations, social interactions right in your head (introduced by Maxwell Maltz in his life-transforming bestseller called Psycho Cybernetics [Amazon link].)
- Meditate and Take Mental Holidays with Guided Imagery: Of course, visualization is a powerful tool for meditation and to relax by, for instance, taking a walk in your mental oasis or relaxing on your dream beach.
- Induce Lucid Dreams: You can induce fascinating night adventures with lucid dreaming with, for instance, Dr. Stephen La Berge’s MILD method (Explained in his book “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming” [Amazon link])
- Acquire New Habits and Break Old Habits: With the power of visualization you’re to change your habits. Get rid of old, bad habits while starting and maintaining habits that will help you to succeed.
And so on, and so on. I think you get the point. This skill has the power to change your life drastically… in basically all areas of your life.
Now, let’s finally proceed to the…
Here’s how to get started. And, please remember – it takes time to get better! Stick to daily practice sessions. Dedicate a few minutes each day. Make it a daily habit and you’ll be greatly rewarded with new and beautiful skill.
#1 Exercise: Copy a Candle – Candle Visualization (Afterimage)
This is a very simple but nevertheless a very effective exercise:
- Light a candle and take a seat in a comfortable chair about 3 feet in front of it.
- Observe the candle’s flame calmly, with mild eyes. Ask yourself a few questions about it:
“Which colors do I see? What’s its shape like? Does it move, or does it make a sound?”
Answer these questions internally and in silence. Observe the flame for about 5-10 seconds.
- Next, close your eyes. Make sure you keep your eyelids calm and relaxed. Unwrinkle your brow. Scan your eyes and make sure you release any tension. Now, do you “see” an after-image? Even if it’s fading instantly, fact is, you will be able to see something. Maybe it’s just blurry light or, even better, you actually see the shape of the flame.
- Observe this mental shadow-image and keep it up as long as you can until it fades completely. Don’t fight. Keep it easy and most of all stay very relaxed.
- Wait. Before you open your eyes again: Try to recall the image by thinking of all its details. Recall and internally describe the colors, and the shape etc. The more details you can recall the better. Be very specific. Imagine you’d need to describe (from memory) an artist the flame. He wants to paint it for you but he relies on your observations alone. The more information you can feed him with, the better he’ll be able to paint. By doing this you strengthen recall ability and you communicate to your mind that you want to focus on these specifics.
- OK, open your eyes and repeat the process for a few times. Commit more details to memory.
Do this for max. 5 minutes. And again, stay relaxed at all times.
Practice this REGULARLY and your visualization skill will improve bit by bit.
#2 Exercise: Visualize Solid Colors:
Some people can only see specific colors. Others only see grey shades, or, like many of us, pure blackness. This exercise will help you to envision colors.
Get yourself a few colored surfaces. A book cover will do or you can use the images below. Observe a color carefully and then try to imagine it in your mind. You don’t need to see the shape’s outlines. Just focus on capturing the color. Repeat this with different colors and different shades.
Download for your convenience all solid colors here (packed into a “.rar”-file)
#3 Exercise: Geometric Shapes:
- Grab a piece of paper and draw a basic geometric shape on it. Say, for example, a triangle or a circle.
No need to make it perfect. You can also use the shapes I uploaded for you below.
- Now, observe a shape calmly for a moment. Slowly follow its contours once. Think of carefully retracing its contours with a pencil. Then choose a single small detail of this shape. This could be a corner or a small section of a line. Calmly observe this area, and again, think of retracing this particular part a few times. Close your eyes.
- Make sure your face, your eye lids, the area around your eyes is relaxed.
Try to replicate the object on your inner screen. Start with a tiny part of it. The part you previously carefully observed. Think of redrawing the shape with that imaginative pencil. Try holding out your finger and then slowly draw the shape into the air in front of you (with closed eyes).
This is critical now; If you don’t see anything, explain to yourself — in your mind — like, “I see the top edge of the triangle. It points upwards. It’s black. The background is white.” Be very detailed!
- Open your eyes, soak up more details of the shape. Discover more details. Observe carefully like Sherlock Holmes would. Be on the lookout for “new” and rediscover old. Keep retracing with your mental pencil.
- Close your eyes again and bring your mental image closer to the “original” one. If you still see only blackness, keep on describing all the details. Describe to yourself what you should see. The more the better. Also, use your finger to draw into the air.
- Repeat this exercise over and over again… until you can reproduce the shape clearly.
You will, sooner or later, if you keep at it. The most important thing is to discover and rediscover all details. The more details you can perceive the more information you feed to your brain the more you will be able to recreate mentally.
- Once you’re able to deal with simple shapes, try this exercise with a more complex shape like a star or a letter of the alphabet.
Here some shapes for you to practice. (Each shape opens up a new window on click)
#4 Exercise: YouTube Videos that work with after-images:
This is a little video that displaying a few random items. Your goal here is to observer each single one and then replicate them in your mind’s eye. Please use the guidelines of the above exercises. Stay relaxed and focus on details to sharpen your vision.
#5 Guided Visualization Exercises
You can use the following guided meditations for relaxation while you’re working out in your mind-gym.
Listen to these videos over and over again. In each session try to gain clarity through mentally filling missing details of scenes and objects. Soon you will be able to lighten up your mental theater.
My absolute favorite: TheHonestGuys! These guys create beautiful guided meditation/ imagery videos.
By the way, you don’t need to watch these videos on YouTube. In fact, the easiest way to practice with these videos is to download the audios and listen to them on your phone or MP3 player.
Again – Please pick one or two methods and stick with it. Daily. For 31 days.
I would love to hear from you and your progress. I personally know that this is frustrating but it’s merely a matter of endurance and persistent practice.
What’s your greatest challenge with visualization? Why do you want to learn it? How do you want to apply it? What’s your progress? Do you have any questions at all? Please comment below.
Don’t give up on it and keep at it. Learn how to visualize. Yes, it may take you several months to get better, but then, this is en extraordinarily valuable skill you’ll be able to benefit from all your life.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. If you’re seriously interested in using and benefitting from visualization, you want to apply it in your daily life. As often as possible. You goal: To become a ‘natural’.
Let’s look at some resources, that’ll help you to find the right real-life training ground for your personal goal:
The best books employing visualization to improve your life
Memory palace courses to multiply your ability to recall anything. Create your own memory palaces to file away any kind of information (vocabulary, facts, names, playing cards, birthdays, etc.) The cool thing about it: In the process you develop a sharpened focus and automatically shape the part of your brain that enables to you gain clarity in creating images.
First off, thank you all for your comments! Your comments and feedback means a lot to me! Please keep it coming!
Then, Josef (in the comments below) brought this to my attention:
It’s an audio product from “Hypnosis Downloads. These guys claim that it’ll help you’ll improve your vis.-skills by listening to their audio. I have not tried it yet and therefore don’t know if it’s any good… so, if you’re willing to invest some money to test their product, here’s their official page: Listen & Learn: Improve Visualization. <= And, after you’ve tried this, please leave your review here in the comments below, so that others can learn from your experience.
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