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Visualising Visualisation
an article by Gillie Whitewolf

Some people can skip off into a fantastical dream-world at the drop of a hat, or picture a place they visited 10 years ago as if it was only yesterday, for other people visualising something as recent as what they ate for breakfast can be an uphill struggle.... but with a little practice and patience anyone can hone their visualising skills.

I would say that without a doubt the group of people who are likely to find visualisation easier than others would be those of a creative / artistic ilk - and of course children. I would also hazard a guess that left-handed people find it easier than right-handed people. I don't just mean those who write with their left-hand, just anyone who is left-hand orientated [opening doors, brushing your teeth etc - the arm you use the most]. Left-hand orientated people tend to be controlled more by the the right side of their brain - this is the creative, visual, imagining side, as opposed to the left side of the brain which is more analytical, logical and verbal. The right brain also specialises in memory and recognition of objects, places and music, whereas the left brain specialises in memory and recognition of words or numbers. [This is of course a rather simplified look at a very fascinating and complex topic].

When we practice visualisation and image based ideas we tend to be using more of our right brain than our left. The interruptions that block so many people from successful visualisation tend to come from the analytical left brain - the one which modern day society tends to favour and teaching methods in schools only seem to encourage. The trick to encourage visualisation and artistic expression may be to allow your right brain more freedom! But don't panic, it's a lot more simple than it sounds :

If you tend to be right-hand orientated try using your left hand more - brushing your teeth with your left hand, opening doors or picking up objects, holding your mug or brushing your hair with your left hand. You could even try writing with your left hand, or drawing / doodling - finger painting is a great way to start, especially if you feel totally uncomfortable holding a pencil in your left hand.
The right brain is also connected to the left eye, you could try covering your right eye for short intervals and using your left eye to take in information. [If you have a lazy left eye, or weaker vision in this eye, you may even find that this exercise will improve your eye strength and health].
If you're already left-handed there are still plenty of techniques to help enhance your visualising skills. Any form of creative expression will help - get into the habit of doodling, or try copying simple pictures or objects.

Exercises to help build your visualisation skills :

Concentrate on one object [a flower for instance] - observe it, describe it out loud, be aware of how it feels, how it smells. Drink in the detail, close your eyes and try to see it in your mind’s eye. You may like to keep a journal in which you can sketch and make observations of objects you come across.

Picture a journey you make frequently - you may be surprised at just how much detail you can remember, but don’t be disheartened if you can’t remember much detail at first. The next time you make your journey be sure to take in as much information as you can, then write a detailed description of your journey. Read over your description a few times, and then close your eyes, relax and build up the journey in your mind’s eye.

Visualise a room that you frequent often - it could be your bedroom, kitchen, living room [or even your garden] - observe the room, drink in the details, and then close your eyes and build up the room around you. Then move to another room and visualise the previous location.

Daydream your way to an imagined location : Decide on an initial setting [edge of a field; a tree on a hill; on a beach etc..], then find somewhere comfortable to sit, ensure that you won’t be disturbed, and work on building up this setting in your mind’s eye, adding more detail as you go along.... we often do this when we're engrossed in a particularly good story / book.

Exercises to try with a partner :

Describe an object - pick an object you feel particularly drawn to and take a few minutes to take in the details - the shape, the feel, the colour, the smell, is it hot or cold? dry or wet? Drink in the detail and try and hold it in your mind's eye. Then give the object to your partner and sit facing the other direction [so you can no longer see the object]. Now describe the object to your partner in as much detail as possible. Your partner can prompt you with questions if you run out of steam too early.

"Photographic Memory" - Get a collection of photos, postcards or pictures together and choose one to start with. Now describe to your partner the image - absorbing as much information as you can. When you have finished, hand the picture to your partner and proceed to describe the picture - recalling as much information as you can. [Again, your partner can prompt you with questions if necessary].

"Object Tray Game" - we used to play this one a lot at school - the teacher would place a number of different objects on a tray, which would be covered over with a tea-towel. Once the tray was uncovered we would have 1 minute to try and take in as much information as possible before the tea-towel was placed back over the tray. We then had to write down everything we could remember. When we were finished writing our lists the tea-towel wool be removed and we could see how much we'd remembered.
There were variations on this game - the following omitted the list writing part : After the initial 1 minute look [although the time allowed got shorter and shorter] the tray would be recovered and an object taken off the tray. The tea-towel would be removed and we had to say what was missing. This was usually combined with objects being moved around too.

Keep a visualisation journal so you can keep track of your progress - and don't be disheartened if you find yourself struggling at first - perserverance and patience is needed whatever skill we're learning / improving. If you find you struggle to keep focus when you're trying a particular visualisation you might like to get a partner to read something out loud, or if you prefer to work alone record yourself and play it back - remember not to speak too fast so you can allow time to build up scenes and situations.
The important thing is to have fun! Relax and enjoy yourself and you may just be surprised at how quickly you can improve your visualisation skills, and what effects this can have on other areas of your path.

Related Articles [Visualisations] :

The Tree on the Hill - Taking a Walk - a guided visualisation by Gillie Whitewolf . Read

The Wood beside the Lake - Animal Guide Visualisation - A visualisation by Gillie Whitewolf guiding you through a lake to a wood where you will meet one of your animal guides. Read


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