Brain imaging research has shown that the mind cannot differentiate between something that is actually occurring in your life and something imagined. Both activate the brain in identical ways and since your mind literally controls and coordinates the functioning of your cells and body as a whole, what you regularly think, feel and believe is ultimately reflected in your body in some way, shape or form. Essentially, what you predominantly focus on or experience has an incredible level of influence on your physiology. Your mind is literally programming your cells’ functioning in real time, via the activation and deactivation of specific segments of your genetic code ...
Visualization is, in a sense, a way to “hack” the dynamics of this internal biofeedback loop. Your cells respond to changes in the the mind and so by changing your “mental focus” for extended periods of time you can directly and indirectly influence your cells, which are the fundamental compositional element of everything in the body. When they shift, any corresponding organ or bodily system/process shifts, begetting healing in the body.
For your visualizations to have a measurable effect, they must be practiced consistently as there is natural resiliency built into the nervous system to maintain stability in the body. If every change in thought had an immediate corresponding effect in the body, we’d hardly be able to get out of bed in the morning. The mind, and hence the body, responds most strongly to the dominantly held programming (thoughts, images, emotions, beliefs, etc.), and in order to tip the scales in favour of what you are visualizing, you need to be consistent. In many cases, we are trying to balance out a lifetime of faulty mental patterning and self-destructive thought processes. The more vividly and intensely you can “lean in” to the visualization process the more effective it becomes. This means incorporating some or all of the senses and a strong emotional element.
Beyond simple thoughts or visualizations, lie our beliefs, which are our most fundamental programming. And in order to experience the full benefit of a visualization practice, you’ll need to begin working at this level as well. This is because beliefs allow us to make sense of and interpret the complex and overwhelming incoming sensory data that is constantly streaming into our minds. They are perceptual filters that dictate what we perceive, and what we perceive ultimately influences our thoughts and emotions. As such, they powerfully control our physiology, and can keep us locked into unhealthy patterns if we are holding onto any number of limiting beliefs. A strongly held limiting belief can counteract any positive effects of a visualization practice, so if you are not experiencing the results you had initially hoped for then it’s time to dig a bit deeper into the realm of belief. Since thoughts, emotions and ultimately our automatic visualizations are controlled by our beliefs, it is extremely important to do a thorough inventory and adjust anything that is potentially creating illness and dysfunction in the body. ...
Set an intention to mindfully observe your mental chatter and catch yourself next time you begin thinking any kind of negative, doubting or fearful thought. When you do, ask yourself the following question: “What must I believe is true in order to be having this thought/perception?” Coming at it from another angle can also be helpful, asking yourself: “What am I making this mean about myself?”
The answers to either of these questions will lead you in short order to discover a limiting, self-destructive belief that is having a significant negative impact on your overall experience of life and potentially your health as well. Sometimes you may need to ask the questions a few times to continue digging past initial, superficial answers in order to get to deeper unconscious programming. It also helps greatly to put your ego aside and really strive for honest inquiry. What you find may greatly contradict your perception of yourself and the world and often times people do find the belief they are looking for but since it contradicts their projected self-image so strongly they reject them outright, not understanding that it is possible to hold conflicting beliefs.
Once you have identified a limiting belief, you can then decide if you still want to believe it is true. Often times simply becoming aware of a limiting belief is enough to loosen its hold on our psyche as you realize how irrational it actually is. Always remember that beliefs are simply deeply held perceptions of and generalizations about reality, and they can change in an instant once we realize that they are not true.
Similar to beliefs, our predominant emotional state also has significant effects on our physiological experience, as well as our thoughts. Each emotion we experience consequently generates a series of hormonal cascades - and it is communicated to and affects our cells’ functioning via our central nervous system. As you might imagine, negative emotional states - like fear, worry, anxiety, anger and various forms of stress - tend to release hormones that can have detrimental effects when out of balance ... Elevated levels of stress hormones over time can negatively impact our health. Consequently, positive emotions promote hormonal balance and homeostasis. Since hormones are the master regulators of every organ, process and system in the body - including consciousness - imbalances here affect the whole person - physiologically, mentally, and psycho-spiritually. Emotions can and do influence our thoughts and behaviour significantly, meaning that our predominant emotional states will essentially determine our overall health and quality of life.
As such it is important to address negative emotional patterns - that is recurring patterns of emotion that are detrimental in nature - as these will be reflected in the body over both short and long periods of time. On the other hand, positive emotional states are the foundation for healing and health, as well as a generally positive experience of life, among many other things.
The overarching idea in the emotional healing process is non-resistance, meaning that when an uncomfortable emotion surfaces, do not repress it or seek to escape it through drugs, food, or distraction of any kind. This only leads to deep imbalances in the mind and body, which can and do create disease over time. Instead, you will want to begin the process of experiencing and ultimately releasing the emotion, which returns the body and mind back to a state of harmony, health and healing ...
The idea is to practice detachment from the emotion you are experiencing and observe it objectively. Next time you feel an unpleasant emotional state coming on, instead of letting yourself get sucked into it, take a moment to step back and just observe the changes you are noticing in your body and mind. Notice how there is the experience of the emotion in the body and mind, and then you yourself - your awareness - observing the experience of the emotion in the body and mind. In this process you realize that you are not the emotion - it is like a cloud coming and going through the sky. You are the sky - you are the awareness experiencing an emotion, and it’s your choice how deeply you let yourself get sucked into it. Taking this slightly detached viewpoint typically causes the emotional energy to dissipate and be released quite quickly, without becoming overwhelming or painful. Over time you learn to be in the observer mode permanently and at this point you cease to be negatively impacted by any emotional state.
The deeper practice is to not just observe, but to actually acknowledge the wisdom of the emotion, by allowing yourself to move into states of gratitude, appreciation and love when experiencing any type of negative or unpleasant emotional state. This has the effect of transmuting or transforming the negative emotion into a higher level of vibration ... with the added benefit of training and rewiring the nervous system and mind through a form of pavlovian conditioning - to automatically shift the experience and processing of negative emotions. It is important to remember that negative emotions are not happening to us, but are created and controlled by us, and that we can choose to change them at will. This process of transmutation is simply the path of least resistance.