YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Energy Bite 195 – Mind and Body Working Together, Part 1: Mental Imagery

Will picturing yourself younger, make you younger? It might help you feel younger.

Have you ever tried visualization? “Imaging” is a better term since it applies not only to visual imagery buts to other senses: Kinesthetic, emotional feelings, smell, taste, and hearing.

In 1961, while I was in training to be a Marine Corps Officer and Naval Aviator, I nearly flunked out of flight school because I couldn’t seem to do a “loop”, an aerobatic maneuver where you fly the aircraft in a vertical circle. I always seemed to fly too slow at the top of the loop and “fall” out of it.  Not being able to do it jeopardized my future in the program.

One night, while laying in my bunk, I had a “vision” of actually seeing, and “feeling”, the right way to do it. I could see the horizon moving around overhead and I could “feel” the G forces as I repeatedly went through the maneuver correctly in my mind. All of a sudden, I “knew” precisely how to do a “loop”. The next day, I flew the maneuver perfectly and never again had a problem with it. Ever since, I have been a firm believer in the power of mental imagery to affect physical circumstance.

Jack Nicklaus, the professional golfer and tour champion many times over, said he visualized every shot he ever took before he ever physically took the shot. He said that he knew precisely where the ball was going to land before it left his clubhead. He could “see” it.

Can visualization help heal physical ailments?

Emile Coue was a French Pharmacist and Hypnotist (interesting combination) in the 1800s. He combined mental imagery with Affirmations to heal many of his patients. He would tell his patients to mentally visualize themselves as becoming cured of whatever ailed them, and to repeat the affirmation: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”  It seemed to work.

How does it work? There seems to be several schools of thought on how it works. Some suggest that you must visualize the end result. If you clearly and vividly see the image of yourself with the result you want, along with a verbal affirmation that you have reached your objective, you will physically realize that objective.

Others say that you must visualize the process, just like Jack Nicklaus visualized the entire process from the beginning of his golf swing until the ball settled wherever he pictured it to be. Emile Coue’s patients visualized themselves becoming cured rather than being cured.

With either method, it works best when the emotional component of “feeling” is a part of the imaging process. Remember the experience I had in flight school? The feeling of the “G” Force, the physical force of gravity pushing me down into the seat, was an integral part of the imagery.

Researchers have demonstrated that visual imaging, when combined with the emotional component of mentally “feeling” during the process has resulted in:

  • Faster and better healing of injuries
  • Higher motivation to be healthy and fit
  • Improved feeling of well-being
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced use of pain medication
  • And much more.

I know from first hand experience that mental imagery can result in physical benefits. I attribute my fast recovery from open heart valve replacement surgery three years ago not only to having been in good condition physically to start with, but also to mentally imaging and “feeling” the very fast and easy recovery.

More on the action steps necessary to make mental imagery work for you, in Part 2 coming next week.

Thank you for reading.

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