There are many reasons why you might want to improve your visualization skills.
For one, our ability to visualize is an important survival mechanism. It enables us to envision, and plan out our future actions. The more visceral and realistic our visualization, the more likely it is to influence our behaviour.
Another reason might be to simply improve your brain’s processing power, speed and memory. The brain’s visualization abilities are closely linked to long term memory and recall. You’ll know this if you are familiar with the Memory Palace visual memorization technique.
There is also scientific evidence to suggest that visually rehearsing physical actions in your mind can train yourself to perform them in the real world. This is often put into practice by elite athletes and sports-people.
Creative Visualization Exercises
People often think that their ability to visualize is fixed. Many believe that some are good at it and others aren’t. This simply isn’t the case. Visualization is a skill that can be improved like any other. Here are three exercises for you to flex and improve your visualization skill.
1. Photograph Recreation Exercise
If you’re just starting out with your visualization journey, the best place to start is with photograph recreation.
Find a photograph, and study it for as long as you like. Take notice of both the overall structure of the image, and the small details. Take note of the colors and textures as these will help you recall the image more vividly. You can also add supplementary qualities to the image, such as smell and emotion. Adding these elements will help you recall and create the photograph in your mind.
Feel free to look back at the photograph at any time. Remember, this isn’t a test so take your time and have fun with it. Here’s a great photograph to have a practice with!
2. Object Recreation Exercise
An alternative exercise to recreating a photograph is visually recreating a physical object in your mind.
Pick up any object near you. It could be a mug, pencil, bottle etc. Hold it in your hands, look at it, turn it around, experience how it feels and then close your eyes. You don’t necessarily need to put the object down, so feel free to keep hold of it. Now, attempt to recreate the object in your mind’s eye.
If you’re struggling, go ahead and open your eyes to have another look. It’s good to interact with the object in your mind, imaging how it feels to rub your finger along it for example. Try with a mix of different objects until you get good!
3. Motion Visualization Exercise
Our final exercise is motion visualization. In many ways, this type of visualization is easier than others. For whatever reason, the mind is better at imaging a moving image than a static one. This makes it a great exercise to flex your mind’s eye.
Your first option is to imagine something in motion that you have seen before; this could be from a movie, a sporting event, etc. From here, play out the scene or sequence in your head. Do this many times, each time focusing on different aspects of the moving image until you build up a fully populated motion visualization in your mind.
The second option is to imagine a static object. You can choose anything really, just as long as you can imagine it. From here, create your motion sequence. Let’s take a flower, for example; we’ll imagine it blowing in the wind.
Imagine the swaying of the stem and the petals, the sound of the wind, the moving of cast shadows, etc. Again, add more details to the image every time you imagine it. Do your best to include as much sensory information as possible.
For many people, vivid visualization doesn’t come super easy. Don’t worry about it! It’s a skill like any other that you can improve. With that said, here’s a couple of parting tips to help you on your visualization journey!
- Pack as many senses into your visualizations as possible
- Try practicing with your eyes closed and open
- Be mindful and pay attention to the sensory information you take in during your everyday life
- Practice every day, even if only for a short time – consistency is key!
Looking for more ways to boost your brainpower? Check out our explanation of how to enhance neuroplasticity! ⚡