Tag Archives for " visualization "

Mental Moment-an exercise in visualization

lemonsSome people are better than others at visualizing. Some people believe that they cannot visualize, but what they are actually experiencing is the inability to visualize on demand. Everyone has experience of dreaming, and dreams are just visualizations, so the ability is there. You just need to develop it. If you cannot visualize colors or you only get words or feelings don’t feel you have failed or that you have to try extra hard. Just use a visualization technique that allows your mind to drift and see whatever your mind lets you see.

Everyone can learn to visualize. For example, look straight ahead and then close your eyes. How much can you recall of what you have just been looking at? Most people can picture very little, but everyone gets better with practice. Repeatedly opening and shutting the eyes and trying to visualize more of the scene will prove to you that practice does increase the ability to recall the image and that you can train yourself to visualize.

Eating a Lemon Visualization Exercise. This exercise has been around for years and is a good one for developing your visualization skills. Imagine you are in a kitchen somewhere.On a bench is a basket of lemons. You reach out and select a ripe yellow lemon. You feel the weight of the lemon in your hand…, you slide your fingers over the smooth waxy skin… feel the dimpled Eating a lemon exercisetexture… You lift the lemon to your face and breathe in that lemony smell… and then you slice the lemon open. As the bright yellow flesh is exposed you see the juice run out… a lovely lemony citrus aroma fills the room. You cut a slice and put it in your mouth. You bite down on it …. the juice runs over your tongue… your mouth fills with the taste of lemon juice…

Most people will find their mouth watering after reading the Eating a Lemon visualization exercise. This is because in order to make sense of what you hear or read your brain has to retrieve the memories – the images, smells, textures – that the Lemon Visualization brings to mind. The experience of eating a lemon is something that generates powerful physical reactions. Recalling eating the lemon recalls the distinctive reaction, and your body responds with a conditioned reflex. The Eating a Lemon visualization exercise demonstrates that words undoubtedly do have a physical effect on the body.

Visualization is an excellent tool for the following reason’s:

  1. Stress relief: visualization is a form of relaxation. The simple act of quieting your mind and visualizing something reduces the amount of stress you are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis.
  2. Joy: visualizing something that you want to have or want to experience can bring great joy into your life. We may not be in the position right now to do or have what we want, but we can visualize it. This is the next best thing to actually having it or doing it. Our minds don’t know the difference in visualization and actually having or doing a thing, so it will respond in the same way it would if you where actually experiencing that which you are visualizing.
  3. No limitations: with visualization there are no limitations. You can be and do anything. When we visualize, we have the power to visualize whatever we want without limitations.
  4. Improved focus: when you quiet your mind to visualize, you are actually improving your ability to focus. You no longer are bound by the restrictions of your day. The more you visualize, and the better you get at it the better your overall focus becomes.
  5. Inspiration: you can gain inspiration and you can become inspired to take action toward your dreams by taking the time to visualize them. We are more likely to believe in and to move forward toward or dreams, if we can actually see them as possible and visualization can do that for us.
  6. Self confidence: as we visualize and see ourselves having and doing the things we want, we begin to become more confident in ourselves. The more confident we become in ourselves, the more we start to do and be, which in turn, builds even more self confidence.
  7. Goal achievement: as we have seen above, visualization can help us to have greater focus, it can inspire us, and it can help build self confidence. With all of this it becomes easier for you to achieve your goals, not to mention you are seeing yourself accomplish these goals in your mind’s eye so your mind starts to believe you can accomplish these goals and starts the process towards those goals.
  8. Mood booster: naturally, if we are becoming more confident, relieving stress and experiencing more joy then our mood is going to increase as well. Any time I finish visualizing, I feel calm, relaxed and extremely happy. I feel like I can do anything. These are the true benefits of visualization.
  9. Practice and rehearse: even on a rainy day you can practice pitching, or running, or swimming all in your mind. It has been proven that visualizing yourself doing something is just as effective as actually doing it and in some cases even more so. Combining creative visualization with actual physical practice can catapult your results.
  10. Health benefits: you can actually visualize yourself getting better. You can visualize your body rebuilding itself, and in turn, your body will begin to respond. The other benefit is that the act of visualizing, no matter what it is your visualizing, reduces stress, relaxes the mind, and increases our overall mood which in turn lowers our blood pressure and allows our body to function at full capacity.

I hope you had a great Memorial Day!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org 

Mental Moment-imagery part II

IMAGINATION*Part I & II were written for tennis players but the same applies to all performers.

When to use imagery

  1. Use snippets during the day whenever you have a moment, particularly in times when you are thinking about practice or competition, more particularly when you are having anxiety or thinking negatively about practice or competition.
  2. Incorporate imagery into your dreams. Thinking about imagery prior to going to sleep will help it to remain fresh in your mind and allow the sub consciousness to carry it over into your dream state.
  3. Use imagery as part of a pre-practice/pre-performance routine. A pre-practice/pre-performance routine is a way of positively structuring the experience before training and competition to keep you focused on the task at hand.

Imagery takes practice

Everything we do in life takes development, support, and refinement. None of what we do is (really) automatic. Imagery takes practice. After you develop your piece of imagery support it by giving it the time it deserves through patience and practice. This is probably one of the most difficult aspects of imagery because you will have to train herself to stay focused enough to use it. You will also need to work on refining your piece of imagery by providing more vividness (using more senses) and better controllability (learning to manipulate the images so they do what you want them to).

The benefits of imagery

As a tennis player, imagery can be beneficial in a variety of ways.

  1. Imagery can improve concentration. If you are focused on what you want to do and how you want to do it, then you won’t be focused on unrelated elements of your performance that detract or distract from performance.
  2. Imagery can build confidence. Although your coach might be yelling at you because your volley was not what he wanted it to be, you can still feel good about your performance by visualizing yourself taking control and maintaining confidence with your volley and the rest of your game.
  3. Imagery can help control emotional responses. If you feel lethargic before practice or matches, imagery can get you pumped up. On the other hand if you are feeling uptight or anxious imagery can help reduce those symptoms.
  4. Imagery can help acquire or practice sports skills. You can practice skills to fine tune them or realize weaknesses and then visualize correcting them. Research clearly concludes that combined with physical practice imagery can produce superior skill learning.
  5. Imagery can help you cope with pain or injury. Imagining the healing of an injured area can speed recovery. Using imagery to practice drills help keep skills from deteriorating during injury.
  6. Imagery can help solve problems. When you are not performing at expected levels of performance, imagery can help you imagine current performance and compare that to more successful past performances to find out where the problem is.


As children we reveal considerable imagery capabilities but are quickly taught to neglect this form of thinking to develop our analytic and language centers. Fortunately, although we are taught not to, we can still utilize that area of our brain. Much like a muscle is strengthened, imagery skills can be regained through practice. It’s not magic. It’s a human capacity that few tennis players have developed to its potential and most have chosen not to use. With all the potential benefits imagery has to offer, why not give it a try?

Happy Halloween!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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Diary of a cyclist-focus

G: Well here is where I lie. I have been working on my focus, I have been working on my affirmations and visualization with CDs as well.

I have been doing the concentration exercises on your site and can stare at the black dot for 4 minutes. The numbers chart…you got me! Not even getting better at that one!

The reason for now that 4 minutes is my goal is that I am training for the national
track pursuit on Sept.9th. I want to do it in 4-4:10 minutes.
It is hard to focus during the whole event. I can’t picture the 12 laps without a lack of focus at some point.

I listen to visualization CDs at night. I try to see myself racing as well.
For me I find it hard to see myself doing the whole pursuit. I get distracted with thought.
I have tried hard to TURN UP THE DIAL and see myself BIG and hear my breathing and see my skinsuit etc. I can do that. Holding the thought is difficult.

Last week I had troubles at the track with focus. I was with another very fast competitor and her fast times were throwing me off. Even if I pretended they didn’t.

Last night I went and this time when she was up doing her pursuit I did not watch. I closed my eyes and with the sound of her racing I visualized that it was me. I did not want to hear her time nor did I want to know anything. I could not help hear it from others which is fine. But overall I performed better myself. My focus was more on me.

For me with focus I find that sometimes I just go out there and don’t focus, I do it and I was not INTO it so to speak. My last 2km repeat on Wed was like BUTTER. I was SO focused. The pacing was epic…my legs felt so good and I was on. That is how focus feels. My speed was on, I was red lined at the end.

This Sat night I race. THis time with all the equipment. It will be a good test. I want the focus to be BANG ON. I want to be calm. I want to feel that butter feeling.

It’s emotions with me. They take over. My whole life. I can get overwhelmed iwth emotions in an instant and cry. I never liked this. WHen I get embarassed, it happens and it is more embarassing!

Learning to control my emotions will make me a better athlete.

Dr. Michelle: you are doing so WELL with this mental stuff; so give yourself some credit 🙂

There are 2 simple things I want to instill in you about focus: 1) when you are trying to use your focusing skills, instead of emphaticlly trying in a frustrating way to get immediately rid of the negative thoughts, once you notice the negative thoughts, take note of them, maybe take a breath and then move back into something positive. Allow yourself time to recognize what’s occuring and then move into something more positive (key words, your breath, visualization, form, etc) 2) Maybe visualizing the race or course doesn’t work for you so choose something that DOES work for you; something that makes better sense and something that better captures your attention. Obviously visualizing the race is good, however there are other things you can use: visualizing yourself cycling maybe in an area you LOVE; visualizing your BEST performance or ride. What visualization do you think would work and keep you focused because basically that is what it’s all about. And any/all of this takes PRACTICE :-). Start with something that is simple and something that works for you, which is focusing you and once you feel a little better focused move into the tough stuff like your race. Does that make sense? Does that help?

I like how you closed your eyes and used your competitors race sound as your own. This IS all about you and you do have the control. Right? It sounds like you controlled this situation and made it work to your advantage and that is what this is all about.

Emotions…tell me more about the emotional stuff. What’s happening? Why is it happening? What are you feeling?

For those reading this blog, I hope you have a great weekend!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: cyclodelic.wordpress.com