Train your brain day – The neuroscience of visualisation

Today is ‘Train Your Brain Day’ and it was so hard to decide what to write about because there is a plethora of topics I would looove to share. I decided though after much deliberation and probably too much procrastination to share a tool to train your brain that is both free and accessible.

Visualisation if you haven’t come across it before is a technique where you actively focus your attention on creating an image of a future goal or outcome or scenario. As you become more practiced at this technique you will be able to make the image move, see yourself in the image, see other people, start to see and hear the visualisation and really feel the emotions attached to it.

You have probably heard of the study where some basketball players were divided into 3 groups. Group 1 practiced free throws every day for 20 days, group 2 practiced free throws on day 1 and day 20 but no visualisation, and group 3 practiced on day 1 and day 20 and visualised successful free throws for 20 minutes a day in between. On day 20 their % improvement was measured. Group 1 showed a 24% improvement, group 2 showed no improvement and group 3 showed a 23% improvement. The group that only practiced the throw twice but visualised the throw on every other day showed almost as much improvement as the group that practiced every single day. This blows my mind!

I don’t know about you but if I can understand something and how it works with a tangible scientific basis then I’m in and I’m more likely to action it as opposed to someone just telling me “it works”.

So I’m now going to bring on the science so prepare yourself!

Our brains process tons of information and it is organised via neural pathways so if we deem it important we can recall the information we need either consciously or subconsciously. The ability of our brains to form and reform these pathways is called neuro-plasticity which can be influenced by sensory stimulation i.e. what we think about.
By thinking about a goal or outcome and really immersing ourselves in the experience as if it were real time can actually make it more likely to happen as we will begin to consciously create and engage with opportunities that align with that goal and push us further along in the journey.

By regularly activating the neural pathways associated with your goal through visualisation they become stronger. Think of it like this, if you went for a walk in the woods the first time you would need to clear the way, maybe cut some weeds down, tread down the grass etc. The next time you walked the path it would be a little easier. After a little time the path would be well trodden and very familiar to you. This is exactly how neural plasticity works.

So how do you visualise:

1- Commit to visualising your goal or outcome regularly. Regularly means once a day ideally.
2- When you come to do your visualisation make sure you are relaxed and have a block of time where you won’t be interrupted.
3- As I mentioned try to engage all of your senses; sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch in your visualisation.
4- Quash any negative self talk or intrusions on your visualisation. This can take practice so don’t worry if this happens.

Visualisation is an incredibly powerful tool to help us on the way to a goal or outcome but it does take practice so if you don’t get it straight away then give it time and be patient with yourself. I promise you this is a great tool and a fantastic way to train your brain.

If you are struggling to know what to visualise on, what your goals are or what your future looks like then consider booking a free 30 minute chat with me to see how we can work together to get you there.
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