Visualization, aka imaginative meditation, or positive thinking, was popularized by
French pharmacist, Emil Coue, who believed it is difficult to “will” yourself to relax but
easy to visualize yourself in a safe refuge. He believed your thoughts can change your
reality. You can get guided visualizations, but I think that images that you create
yourself are more powerful.

Visualization can be as simple as imagining a single image, or as complex as creating your
own safe refuge, complete with sound, smell, color, taste, & feel. You can use the
images to rest, answer questions, or imagine solutions.

    1. Receptive Visualization is where you imagine yourself in a safe refuge and then
    ask a question and wait for a response, such as asking “Why can’t I relax?” then
    wait for a response to emerge. You're waiting for your own consciousness,
    intuition, or feelings to respond. This can also be done with an imaginary guide (a
    character from your mind that can help clarify your tension and help you find
    solutions). You can visualize this character interacting with you in your refuge.

  • A quick note on guides: this guide is an imaginative character from your
    own mind. It's like talking to yourself from one part of your own
    consciousness to another. Objective and subjective. It is not an outside
    force or spirit.
  • I highly advise against asking outside forces and spirits to act as your inner
    guide. This is extremely dangerous. Such spirits may appear comforting and
    helpful at first, but are almost always deceptive.

    2. Programmed Visualization is where you imagine a positive outcome to a goal,
    healing, or solution you want to attain. Studies have shown that people who
    imagine themselves healthy are actually healthier than those who do not (probably
    because they have less tension, lower heart rates, etc).

A couple of simple visualizations exercises are written below. Once you have visualized
your safe refuge and begun to relax, you can progress to the purposes listed above- ask
questions, or visualize outcomes.

To begin, I recommend that you lie down or find a comfortable sitting position, and do a
breathing preparation. See
breathing exercises.


Using Metaphorical images may help you begin to relax. The best images are the ones
you create yourself. Think of a metaphorical image of tension (e.g. siren, glaring light,
jackhammer, a taut cable, high shoulders, large crowd, dark tunnel, etc). Then replace
that image with an image of relaxation. Imagine the tension image softening into
something calm, (e.g. a siren softens into a whisper of wind, the glaring light softens
into the warm glow of sun, the cable goes slack, shoulders descend, you pass through
the crowd into an open meadow, the dark tunnel opens out to a quiet beach).

Creating a safe refuge

When structuring your refuge, follow these simple guidelines: allow a private entry.
Make it peaceful, comfortable, & safe. Fill it with sensuous details (the more details the
better). Visualize foreground, middle ground, & background, and allow room for
expansion and revision. It can be indoors or outdoors. It might be easily accessible or
require a short journey (nothing too complex or strenuous). Imagine all the details.
Imagine yourself unloading your tensions there and becoming at ease, healthy, &
vibrant. Examples of safe refuges: a country kitchen with a view of waving wheat
outside the window, a horse trail taking you to forest meadow with quiet stream, or a
private sunny beach with warm white sand. Wherever you find peaceful.

Five Finger Visualization Exercise
1. Touch thumb and index finger- remember a time when you felt healthy fatigue. Let
your mind dwell on all those sensations.
2. Touch thumb to middle finger- remember a time when you had a loving experience.
3. Touch thumb to ring finger- remember a nice compliment and accept it again.
4. Touch thumb to pinky- remember the most beautiful place you have ever been,
imagine being there again.
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