“You merely picture in your mind having already accomplished or attained your goal, whatever it may be. Hold it firmly in your thoughts, picture it as already being yours, and amazing things will happen.” — Og Mandino, The Choice
I’ve been studying and trying to apply the power of positive pictures for over two decades now. These skills, habits, and techniques are often called visioning, imagery, and visualization. And they have a power for change, improvement, and energy creation that we’re only beginning to understand.
Here’s a small sample of the research and examples I’ve collected over the years:
A railroad worker was repairing a refrigerated boxcar when he was accidentally locked inside it. Once he discovered that, he called frantically for help. No one heard him. He finally laid down on the boxcar floor to freeze to death. Five hours later the man’s dead body was discovered. But the refrigeration unit was broken and there was plenty of air to breathe.
I have files and books full of examples of the sickly, deadly, or healthful relationship between our thoughts or pictures of our health and our bodies. Edward Shorter’s book, From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era is full of examples of past and current “fashionable” diseases and sicknesses that are caused by the unconscious mind. In the last few years a new medical field has developed by the tongue-twisting name of psychoneuroimmunology. This is the study of the dynamic links between the mind, brain, endocrine and immune system.
Surgeon Bernie Siegal has practiced, taught, and written about many of these principles since he began a specialized therapy in 1978 called Exceptional Cancer Patients. In his book, Love, Medicine, & Miracles he writes, “…exceptional patients refuse to be victims… one of the best ways to make things happen is to predict it. Pooh-poohed for some 20 years by the medical establishment, the placebo effect — the fact that about one-fourth to one-third of patients will show improvement if they merely believe(his emphasis) that they are taking an effective medicine even if the pill they are taking has no active ingredient — has now been accepted as genuine by most of the profession…I therefore use two major tools to change the body — emotions and imagery…our emotions and words let the body know what we expect of it, and by visualizing certain changes we can help the body bring them about…there are no incurable diseases, only incurable people.”
Charles Garfield’s two books, (Peak Performance and Peak Performers) reporting on his long-term study of peak performers is full of studies and examples of what he often calls “mental rehearsal.” He concludes, “Peak performers, particularly in business, sports, and the arts, report a highly developed ability to imprint images of successful actions in the mind.”
A final example of this exciting and exploding field of research comes from a bastion of objective thinking and analysis. A study on the effects of visualization headed by Robert Jarn of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) group (and dean emeritus of the university’s engineering school) found that people could measurably influence and increase the numbers of heads thrown by a coin-tossing device..
There is much we don’t yet understand about the powerful metaphysical forces of vision. Our rudimentary understanding of this field puts us at about the same stage as in the time of Sir Isaac Newton and his discoveries of basic physical laws. We’re in for some exciting times of exploration, discovery, and application.