Meditation benefits all parts of my existence, that of my mind, my body, and my soul. When I first started to meditate, I didn’t know where to begin. I honestly thought it required me to sit still and well, that was about it.
Through my research, I found out that it was much more. Even though it is about just being, there are a variety of ways it can be done. I have learned that there is always more to learn, as the journey in meditation is an infinite path.
Visualization meditation requires the individual to relax the body, while the mind envisions a concept or an image. It allows for the mind to not only connect with the body, but even allows for a physical change to take place based on influential thought.
This piece is my way of helping others understand the power it can have in your life. But before we delve further into visualization meditation, it is important to understand what meditation is as a whole; so, let’s take a look.
What is Meditation?
Meditation has grown from its original ancient traditions to spread across the Western culture. It is a practice that allows you, the meditator, to deliberately direct your mind with the result of altering your mental state or an emotional experience.
These indigenous cultures practiced meditation in various ways, such as through the use of rhythmic dance or song, fasting, breathing techniques, or even through the use of drugs.
It was not uncommon for a religious or higher figure to enter a trance. This allowed them to gain healing powers or insight into a question posed by a follower or believer.
The first records of meditation being practiced travel back to the early years, B.C.E and appear in a variety of religions. In its current practice, we focus on yoga meditation, that which comes from Buddhism and spiritual traditions from India.
As there are many variations of this ritual, there is no real wrong way for you to meditate. Why we choose to do it, that is the next question we will answer.
Why Do We Meditate?
Meditation serves two purposes; to calm the mind and to bring the meditator some insight. Once the mind is calm, you are able to enter a different state of consciousness and thus see thoughts more clearly. With visualization meditation, it is less about calming your body and more about bringing insight into yourself.
In my experience, I frequently find myself falling into a negative thought pattern. According to the laws of Karma, this pattern attracts more negatively to our lives just as a magnet draws in other ferromagnetic materials.
By changing the thought process to a positive one, through this form of meditation, we can dig ourselves out of a negative trap we may be existing in.
This type of meditation has allowed me to realize that the mind is a powerful tool, and that I, along with anyone who is willing to try, can take control over negative thoughts and outcomes. That is why I practice visualization meditation and why I feel others should too.
Are Visualization and Meditation the Same?
Through my research I have found that there are some that don’t believe that the two are the same and they offer you different results. Arguments for this opinion stem from meditation’s purpose to be that of relaxation and visualization’s purpose to be that of stimulation.
One particular site also believes that meditation is used to calm a person, specifically the nervous system within. When you choose to visualize, you can actually reprogram stress reactions.
Perhaps there is some truth to this, but I do believe there is a connection with the two and that they can be combined, thus we can now look at where to begin.
Positions of Meditation
Although floor-seated meditation is the most traditional manner in which to practice, you are not actually obligated to perform it in this way. Walking or standing may make it harder to focus, but if you find that you become too sleepy in a seated state you are free to give it a try.
Some choose to meditate while lying down in what is called Yoga Nidra, also known as Yogic Sleep. It is a state of consciousness where you remain balanced between sleep and wakefulness, or to use its scientific terms, hypnopompic and hypnogogic states.
This form of meditation requires that you lie down in Savasana, or Corpse Pose, to calm the body and the mind. Yogic Sleep has also been known to help aid those who suffer with insomnia and anxiety.
If you choose the traditional pose, where you are seated with your legs crossed, make sure that your spine is straight, so that your breathing is unrestricted.
Comfort is Important
Bolsters and cushions were created for a reason, to offer you a place to sit without becoming too uncomfortable or distracted by a sore bottom or numb legs.
It is also important that the temperature of the room is comfortable, as our breathing becomes relaxed our heartbeat slows down and our body temperature drops. It is wise to keep a blanket nearby, or even a pair of socks if your feet become cold.
Now that you are set in your position and you have warm blankets and clothes at the ready, you can decide how you would prefer to meditate.
Do You Want to Meditate Alone or With a Teacher?
In my experience, meditation is a personal journey, one that I prefer to do on my own. I am not opposed to having a guide through an app on my tablet, because even if there is a voice guiding me, I still feel like I am the only one in the room.
Meditation within a classroom setting means that you are surrounded by others, and its up to you to decide if this is something that would bother you or not.
There is great value in having a teacher to guide you through your meditation. Unlike with following an audio instruction, you have the ability to ask questions before or after the practice.
Compare this idea to whether or not you feel you could learn a sport through reading a book alone, or whether you would need a coach or instructor to guide you along. If you feel like you want the benefit of a teacher, then a class will likely suit you more.
A teacher may also be more beneficial to those who are going through a great challenge in life; meditation after all, may be your form of therapy. A teacher may be what you need to help you through a troubled period in your life.
If you are like me, and you choose to use an audio instruction on your phone or tablet, remember to put it on “do not disturb” before you commence. I have forgotten on occasion and find myself distracted when I hear the “ding” of an email or message coming in.
The other option is to follow along with an online video. You may need to try a variety of videos depending on what you would prefer. You will need to decide your preferences with gender, tone of voice, length of the video, and even images that are shown throughout.
Powerful Abundance Meditation is one that I like for its ability to relax my entire body and bring about my creative energy. It is 15 minutes long, which for me is a nice length and I like the peaceful music it plays.
Length and Frequency
If you have chosen to follow along to a guided meditation video or audio instruction, keep in mind that the instructor has a planned sequence of imagery throughout. It is important that you don’t stop halfway through, so plan for enough time.
Similar to exercise, meditation is more beneficial to complete a few times a week in smaller amounts, than once a week for a long period of time. You may find that once you commit to a few times a week, you will want to increase the length because you benefit greatly from its practice.
Now that we have gone through the technical parts of meditation, we can begin the journey from visualizing our consciousness to creating other visualization imagery.
Begin by Connecting with Your Consciousness
Once you are still and have chosen a place for your practice, you will need to connect with your consciousness. I like to imagine my consciousness as a white light or even a glowing orb above my head. Whichever you choose to envision, feel as though you could reach out and touch it.
Allow for this light or orb to surround your entire body within your mind’s eye, and create a sense of peace and a gentle loving energy within.
If you so desire, you can reach this energy out to others in your life, your family, friends, even your neighbors. Feel as though you are all connected as one with the universe.
Focus on Your Breath
Awareness of breath is an important part of yoga practice and any form of meditation. Breathe through your nose. Acknowledge the coolness of the air through your inhale and the warmth of your breath as it leaves your body with your exhale.
With visualization meditation in particular, the focus of your breath is a great place to begin. As you inhale you can imagine your lungs filling up and as you exhale you can picture them deflating.
As Gaiam suggests, you can even introduce a script with this technique such as “Breathing in, I relax. Breathing out, I smile,” to aid you in your practice.
Gaiam also suggests that you can repeat this script, as you would a mantra or an intention, as often as you like and pay attention to the physical parts that come with this mental thought.
You may want to count your breath at first until you get the rhythm of it. In standard practice, the inhalation (in-breath) is shorter than the exhalation (out-breath).
Learning How to Create an Image
Understand that when you begin to build a visual image in your mind, there are no rules as to how you view it in your mind. Just as with the connection to your consciousness is compared to that of a light or a glowing orb, the image that you are trying to create can also come from light.
Imagine if I asked you if you would like a cup of tea? Your first image might be of a mug, perhaps even your favorite mug. With visualization meditation, it is done in the same manner, but you learn to focus more and fill in the details. One such detail may be the steam that emanates from the hot tea within.
Initially, you may find that you can only focus on one part of the tea at a time. Perhaps the cup, perhaps the steam, but after some practice you should be able to see the image as a whole. This will allow for your mind to become calmer and more focused.
A great video I like to use to help further practice my visualization is with the following video called Ocean Escape. It allows me to train my conscious mind and practice my ability to focus and see an image as a whole, in this case walking on a beach.
I like this video because you can close the windows that pop up over the image, select a different background music, or even turn off the music to just hear the ocean waves. It is ten minutes in length, and I can view the picture before I close my eyes and try and recall all the parts of the image in my mind.
I find this imagery very calming. I like to accompany it with a mantra of “I am at peace” to increase the tranquility I am feeling and unify my mind and body together.
Visualizing an Idea or a Feeling
Once you have practiced envisaging an object, whether that cup of tea, or perhaps your lungs breathing in and out, you may feel ready to try something a little more challenging.
When I am given an important task, one of my favorite ways to help me through this challenge is to imagine the feeling of completing the task.
Jobs or projects often have a way of creating a weight on our shoulders, so I like to imagine the weight of the task being lifted off my shoulders. Anytime I feel overwhelmed and need that extra push to complete it successfully, I turn to my visualization of a completed job.
The key is to do this with your breath. When you breathe in, imagine pulling in the strength that is needed to complete the project. When you exhale, imagine the completion of the task with positive results.
This visualization technique can be used for negative feelings as well, such as the feeling of loneliness or not feeling like you are enough, the possible feelings are endless. A feeling of love can be given to yourself with a suggested mantra of “I am enough” repeated to yourself with each breath.
Visualize within your mind whatever makes you feel loved and what you associate with love. It can even be a positive force you feel within.
Visualization of a Goal
Visualization provides the power to change yourself with a goal in mind. Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds, to get out of a difficult relationship, or to quit smoking, by combining this technique with your meditation you may start to see the physical change.
When you are practicing your visualization, create a mantra in your head that reflects directly with your goal and envision yourself at the end of the goal. Repeat this as long as you need, and remind yourself of this mantra every time you are tempted to quit on your goal.
If you need help with remembering your goal, Mala Beads are a great way to aid with you reaching your end target.
The Use of Mala Beads
Mala Beads are a tool that are used by some during meditation, but if you don’t know enough about them, you may not be sure if they are something you want to use.
Known to mean “heavenly garland” the Mala Beads should be treated as a sacred tool within your practice of meditation. These beads date back to the 8th century B.C.E and traditionally consist of 108 beads.
Sometimes, the beads can have spacers between them and a larger guru bead (which changes the count to 109 beads). They can be finished with a tassel at the end. The guru bead represents the starting and finishing point for your meditation journey.
Choosing to use beads within your practice aids in keeping an awareness of time, or the count in which you say your mantra or intention. Mala Beads are not overly distracting and can actually help provide better focus to your practice. They connect the body and mind together.
If you choose to meditate with a string of beads, keep in mind that different stones represent different intentions. You may choose to carry the beads around with you as a reminder of your meditation practice and the intention you associate with it.
Benefits of Meditation
There Are Three Ways Meditation Helps:
- Mental health
- Physical Health
- Spiritual Health
The benefits of meditation depend on how you choose to meditate, the frequency of which you practice, your disposition, and even your life experience.
If you find yourself questioning the actual benefits of meditation, consider the fact that it has been around for thousands of years and is still being practiced today.
Let’s look a little deeper at how meditation benefits each us in these three ways.
A variety of conditions, from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, eating disorders, to other mental conditions have all found a positive impact from the practice of meditation.
It has even been known to decrease levels of anxiety and aid in the elimination of negative thought. This process can actually be seen in the negative or anxious areas of the brain.
Other mental benefits can include the increased ability to deal with difficult emotional states, better capability to focus on tasks, and better satisfaction in personal relationships. You may even find that over time, with faithful meditation, that you aren’t as frequently upset by situations or people.
The calmness we gain from meditation relates directly with your physical state of being. A calm mind can help you if you are often stressed, which can in turn help with physical attributes that are directly a result of stress.
High blood pressure, heart disease, insomnia, are just a few of the physical symptoms that come from anxiety. In some cases, chronic pain can be experienced by a person who has a stressful life, and when you focus on being calmer in life, you will likely find you focus better on your physical health overall.
Spiritual health is not an important factor to every person who meditates. After all, meditation is not a religion, it’s a practice. If your spiritual health is important to you, you may find meditation is a helpful way for you to feel more connected with the higher power you believe in.
As prayer is traditionally done in a similar manner to meditation, it isn’t inconceivable to view the two as being connected with one another. You may find meditation allows you to contemplate a higher spirituality that in turn may lead you farther down a spiritual path.
Visualization meditation is a way to connect the body with the mind, and have the mind influence the body. In order to understand what it is to visualize, we must first understand the nature of meditation.
It can bring calmness to you, the meditator, or provide you guidance and insight. If you choose the path of visualization meditation, you can envision many ideas and images with the hope of seeing a change within yourself.
You can elect to meditate alone, with a selected video or audio instruction, or within a class, each one providing you with a different experience. There are many paths to take, you must choose the one that is best for you.
Meditation offers many benefits to our body, mind, and spirt. Our frequency will influence the benefits we receive from our practice.
The journey through meditation is a long, unending road and you may still find that you have questions about it, or want to share an experience with how you have benefited from its practice.
I welcome you to leave a comment or question below; I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic.
Remember the key steps in combining your meditation with images are:
- Connect with your consciousness
- Focus on your breath
- Learn to visualize an image, idea or feeling, or even a goal.
I invite you to try visualization meditation to aid in connecting your mind and body and allow for you to envision yourself in your best light.
- Meditation and Visualization https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/meditation-and-visualization
- Why Meditation and Visualization Aren’t the Same https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21539/why-meditation-visualization-arent-the-same-and-how-to-use-them.html
- Discover the Peaceful Practice of Yoga Nidra https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/reflections-of-peace
- Mala Bead Etiquette https://malakamala.com/blogs/news/114261827-mala-bead-etiquette-what-you-need-to-know