Visualization is something that I have come to consider an integral part of a healing journey. When I want to make a shift in my life, I visualize. When I want to heal something, I visualize. When I want to manifest something, I visualize.
But why is visualization so important and how exactly does it work?
In essence, visualization helps you to effectively and easily redraw the neural networks in your mind.
What does this mean?
Your brain has a map made of neurons that have repeatedly fired together over the years. As you formed your self-image and world view, the dominant messaging you received became encoded in these neurons. Your brain does not question if your neural network is perceiving things correctly - it just follows the directions laid out for it.
This information may not have been direct or clear, but instead, based on both subtle interactions and how the adults around you treated their own self.
As a child, each time you perceived something, made a conclusion, and formed a thought on it, neurons in your brain fired together in specific ways. Your brain did this so that it would not have to re-process every detail of the world in every second. It was building an internal map that would save you time and energy, and also, in theory, protect you from danger you had already experienced.
As these neurons continued to fire together, they began to strengthen and form what are known as neural networks (they look like big, deep tree roots). The bigger a neural network is, the more your brain defaults to it and processes information through this pre-established lens. Think of it like a riverbed - an entrenched pathway that your brain's energy follows simply because it's already there.
Which means, if you repeatedly internalized the message 'My feelings aren't important. I am safest when I put the needs and feelings of others before myself' then your brain is going to build your life experiences based on this information.
Your brain is NOT going to question or re-process this information. It is not going to step back and ask "Is this true? Do I have value outside of what I can do for other people? Am I allowed to ask for my needs to be met?"
Rather, your brain is going to follow the neural map exactly as it's drawn, no matter how faulty or harmful the information is, because this is energy efficient.
When I think the thought I'm a loser and everyone thinks so too, I am not thinking a thought based in reality. I am thinking a thought based in past experiences that programmed into me a distorted sense of my own self.
Not only that, but to question and reassess my inner story requires my brain to burn energy. When my brain defaults to the pre-programmed story, it takes no effort. It feels easy, natural even. But there is nothing natural about tearing myself down in this way. This feeling that it's so natural it must be true is an illusion.
When I question these thoughts, my brain has to start firing on all cylinders. I can no longer be passive, coasting through my experiences, but rather, I become an active participant, and again, this takes energy and can feel really uncomfortable. This is part of why change can feel so frustrating. It's not because it's impossible - it's because your brain knows one way of doing things and it's trying to get back there to maximize efficiency.
In order to break free, you need your neurons to fire together in new ways. You need to program in a new story that will eventually become the dominant pathway for your brain's energy to flow through.
And this is where visualization comes in. When you visualize something, you consciously tell your neurons to fire together in the way that is beneficial to you. You no longer default to information that was internalized based on other people's faulty and distorted self image and world perceptions.
Instead, you tell yourself who you are and how you see the world based on your own experiences. You become the author of your own story. You write things how you want them to be, and NOT how other people told you that they are.
This is not an instant process. You cannot visualize once and turn a corner. Instead, it will feel like a back and forth as your brain transitions from the old program to the new one. As you build the new neural network, the old one will atrophy and die away. Until the new one is stronger and bigger than the old one, it will feel as if you keep falling back into the old one.
This is why healing often feels like two steps forward, one step back. Your brain is switching back and forth until it acclimates and fully changes to the new program.
However, the good news is, visualization will not only greatly accelerate the process, it will ensure the changes are permanent.
Additionally, meditation can enhance and accelerate the process further.
Meditation is the single best way to get those old neural networks to atrophy. Meditation is the practice that clears out the old, and visualization is the practice that programs in the new.
These two things go hand in hand.
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