In the vast field of neuroscience, one of the most interesting things to me is the act of re-training the mind through visualization.
What is visualization, you ask? It is the deliberate act of first quieting the mind, and then imagining what you want in vivid detail. And, do so in a way that is unattached to an outcome.
Sounds hard, doesn’t it? It really isn’t.
We get hung up on the outcome part, I think. When I was 7 years old I began playing baseball. From the moment my father put a glove on my hand I was hooked. When I wasn’t on the field or playing in the streets with my friends, I was throwing a rubber ball against the garage wall.
I would imagine myself being Don Sutton or Steve Carlton pitching against the likes of Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. For hours upon hours my imagination ran wild with diamond success as I toed the rubber against the greatest players on earth.
By the time I got to college and pitched for my school’s team, During the grind of training in which I’d run 3-5 miles each night, I would offset the tedium by pitching a game in my mind as I ran. These long periods of intense visualization would prepare me for my time on the mound.
During the game I would trigger my imagination into quick visualizations before each pitch, imagining that my arm angle was correct, that the ball would go where I wanted. Often it did.
What I learned is that I needed to focus only on what I could control. I wouldn’t imagine a swing and miss, but just putting the ball into the desired location. That’s all I could control.
This technique of visualization can be transferred into any area of life. It’s a process of training the imagination, directing it, breathing life into whatever it is we are doing. At first you may have to concentrate a focus a little – but after a while it comes naturally and quickly.
I find the best time to practice is during times of meditation. As a writer I begin to see words on the page. The story comes together. I allow myself to experience the emotions associated with the piece.
When it comes time to write the words generally flow easily from my mind to the page.
The key is being focused on the process rather than the outcome. With some things outcome is intertwined with the process – and that’s okay. Just don’t get too attached. The more you focus on process – of becoming a craftsman at whatever you are doing – the better your outcomes will be – without being attached to them.
Why be unattached to outcomes? Because they lead to expectation, perfectionism, and ultimately disappointment.
However, the simple act of seeing yourself doing a thing, and then manifesting the actions through repetition (action), you’ll master the process and you’ll experience success.
Simple. See it. Be it.