Nowadays, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are not uncommon terms. Even kids have heard of meditation and they know to sit and close eyes with index finger and thumb pressed together. They are both important tools and highly effective if practiced with discipline. Here at Apneista in Amed, Bali, our yoga teacher training program includes learning about methods to discipline our minds through both meditation and visualisation.
Though they two are not synonyms, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are both effective mind training. There are hundreds of different meditation styles and visualisation is just one of them along with affirmations, mantras and chanting.
I used to teach yoga to a group of artists and every time we sat down to meditate, at least one or two students would open up to me after class, rather embarrassed, saying “every time I sit down, I try to clear my mind but all these great ideas would just pop up in my head and I feel such a strong urge to write them all down…”
And that is precisely what can happen if we get confused in various methods of meditation. A tsunami wave of great and not so great ideas, thoughts, emotions rushing into our mind all at the same time. Visualization is an extension of imagination. If we do not cultivate an ability or discipline to steer and clear those waves of thoughts, even the most effective visualization can be just a cover up for another thought and it would only create agitation, anxiety and more destructive, unproductive thoughts that would hinder your performance (if it is being used for freediving) or your well-being.
The reason great ideas just seem to pop up one after another when we sit down to meditate is because we are constant talking machines to ourselves. We have about 50,000 thoughts a day. We rarely sit down, and just BE to watch our breath. And so when we do sit down to meditate, our minds see a little gap of silence and all of a sudden, we can see things very clearly, kind of like that Limitless pill Bradley Cooper took. Well, not that dramatic but slowly, we have more gaps and pockets of real presence that allows our visualisation to become more precise and effective.
So set aside a time to create a discipline and a habit of sitting down with one pointed awareness. Notice your thought, place your mind on your breath. Best idea ever? Go back to the breath again. Then take a separate time for visualisation. Over time and practice, you will find your visualisation to be much more effective. In future, we will be looking at more visualisation and mindfulness meditation techniques suitable for yoga practitioners and freedivers.