Visualization Techniques

Subtractive Visualization – [Post: Visualize]

Man looking at night sky of the dreamer

Most visualization involves the addition and morphing of imagery. Here we look at something different, when visualization is used to subtract imagery.

The Stoics, early Roman philosophers who focused closely on what causes suffering (like the Buddhists) used negative visualization to live more calm and simple lives. They would routinely visualize not having something they already possessed or had a relationship with (a friend or family member). This feels like a loss and it has a way of alerting the mind and heart to have renewed appreciation for whatever one owns. So this work taught how to appreciate what we have rather than producing restless that comes with searching for something next, new thing. More at Life Hacker article here.

Other subtractive visualizations can’t be specifically identified with groups or individuals because they are ancient and current notions.

Washing – Ritual bathing or imagining submersion in water conveys cleaning away from unwanted stains or dirt. Washed, we are free of this substance and renewed.  Letting the dirt drain away we can see it leaving our sight/awareness.

Burying – Placing things in earth or at least covering over, subtracts something from our lives and puts it somewhere it where it will stay and stay away from us.

Burning – Fire transforms by heating away or turning something to raising fumes, again separating something from us or our lives and sending it away.

Letting something fly upward or sail away – A balloon is a good object to fill with some inner quality or experience and simply releasing to the sky. Likewise, putting something in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean promises that it will continue onward but it will separate from us in a vast, uncharted realm.

Open Focus is technique that has us switch our attention to undefined space that is around us and in us. Our minds are good at grabbing things but space?  A new experience.  It is something that is barely graspable and therefore switching to space we switch to having no or very simple thoughts and very limited associations to memories. We are much freer than usual. See more on Open Focus here.

Next Steps:

– Give some of these visualizations a try.
– Notice which one works best for you in terms of releasing and refreshing.

Imagery Techniques, Visualization Techniques

Pick an Image, Any Image – [Post: Visualize] [Post: Imagine]

Stop stalling about trying imagery or getting into imagination. Start simply but profoundly. Sometime when you are just hanging out and are relaxed with nothing too special on your mind other than hanging out:

1. Pick an image, any image. This can be from any source or form (I prefer to hold something rather than just have it on the computer screen). This can be a photo of something you know or something totally unknown to you.  Don’t spend too much time picking “the right image” because the goal of this exercise is doing imagery work, not how to pick the right image.

2. Get comfortable, probably sitting rather than reclining.

3. Look at the image a bit until you have it rough out enough in your memory and then close your eyes.

4. Bring up the image but don’t worry too much about capturing all of the details. In fact, let your mind drift towards that seems the most interesting.

5. Let the image hang around and when it slips away, gently bring it back. This is not an exercise in concentration so let the image morph and float a bit in your head and heart.

6. Be aware that soon associations to the image will drift into your head. No problem, but be a bit curious as to why those associations came up with this image. Again, no hard thinking about this matter just appreciate it.

7. Explore for five, eight, or ten minutes.

8. Open your eyes.

9. Contemplate on what you discovered from this one image.

More await you.

Imagery Techniques, Visualization Techniques

Three Hats: Guided, Guider, the Observer of the Whole Thing – [Post: Imagine]

wearing many hatsWe naturally split ourselves whenever we practice some guided practice such as guided imagery or self-suggestion (aka self-hypnosis). We give part of our attention to the guider, some attention what we are experiencing, and there is a quiet observer that takes on the task of watching the process. Three hats at the same time are on top of our heads and we thought we were in deep relaxation.

Erika Fromm, in her research on self-suggestion, called this multi-hat process ego division, where our self-awareness gets allocated to three concerns. She even threw in a fourth, the doubter. Ah yes, there is the doubter. Our inner critic that has serious questions about the process, whether important things can be experienced, and whether we are the right person for the job. One more hat, please. Fromm did find that, at least in hypnosis, some people could do somethings better when guided than when they guided themselves. But she also found that some experiences were better in self-guided processes than when there was guider.

Find Out for Yourself – Guided or Self-Guided, Which Works Best for You?

First, get some guided imagery recording that you like and are very comfortable with (you don’t need the doubter rambling on about the guider, his/her voice, word choice, etc.) and work with it four or five times.  Note what happens, what works and what doesn’t.

Next, use the same script, as best as you can recall or and/or take notes to self-guide. Use that approach four or five times.

Compare:  How do the processes differ in terms of: getting deeper; getting more vivid imagery; getting involved in the action; effectiveness post guided imagery session.

From this work you can really sharpen your practice by knowing how you wear many hats and still get quality experiences and focusing on the most effective process for your interests/needs.


Self-Hypnosis: The Chicago Paradigm – Erika Fromm and Stephen Kahn