What we want to tell you right away is what imagery is not. It is not hypnosis, meditation, daydreaming, or fantasy. It is only in part visualization.
Hypnosis acts essentially by suggestion and submitting your will to someone else’s influence. In self-hypnosis you subdue your will by force of your will! It is as though two wills are in combat. One will is diminished. Then we become subject to suggestions and generally we willingly follow them. Attention and arousal are subdued.
Meditation is the state of being where you passively surrender your active thinking process, allowing your thoughts that spontaneously arrive to drift away out of consciousness without attending to or acting upon them. You watch yourself feel and experience emptiness. It is a process of overcoming sleep, expanding awareness without attachment. Generally speaking, mental imagery is shunned as being just another “activity” of mind that may clutter the emptiness.
Daydreaming and fantasy are conjured up mentally and are repetition of waking life ideas, and perusal of past events, future desires put into visual form, usually to provide some sort of elusive escape, and maybe as a means to find some answers to a perplexing situation. In these processes there are neither particular or special physiological changes nor special brain wave shifts. In hypnosis and meditation there can be physiological changes and brain wave shifts: For meditation prominent alpha waves=peaceful; for hypnosis delta waves=toward the sleep end.
Now for imagery: It is an inner source of knowledge and understanding, helping us to shape our lives; give us directions and information for living a healthy and balanced life; show us how to change self-limiting beliefs and help break unproductive habits. In the imagery state, there can be profound physiological changes accompanied by healing of illness, as well as distinct brain wave patterns called “theta,” associated with being hyper-attentive, hyperaware, hyper-awake. These images are not conjured or made up. Rather, they are discovered as new and novel communications and a true and natural language of inner life full of revelatory understanding for us. There’s more but that’s enough for now.
Now you may see why mental imagery is such a powerful tool to use for change and such a natural fit for a quality called power, a force for self-empowerment to be reckoned with.
Oh, by the way, visualization refers to only the seeing part of imagery. In truth mental imagery, as a function of that great inner sense called “imagination” utilizes all the senses; auditory, touch, taste, smell, kinesthetic (position of body in space), proprioception (position of muscles in space).
Yes, the visual is a prominent part of the inner sensory experience of discovery, but we don’t want to neglect the others.
Elizabeth and Jerry