Creative Technique for Visualizing the Future
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The concept originally arose in the US with the nineteenth century New Thought movement. One of the first Americans to practice the technique of creative visualization was Wallace Wattles (1860–1911), who wrote The Science of Getting Rich. In this book, Wattles advocates creative visualization as the main technique for realizing one's goals; a practice that stems from the Hindu Monistic theory of the Universe that is subscribed to by the book.

Creative visualization is the technique of using one's imagination to visualize specific behaviors or events occurring in one's life. Advocates suggest creating a detailed schema of what one desires and then visualizing it over and over again with all of the senses (i.e., what do you see? what do you feel? what do you hear? what does it smell like?). For example, in sports a golfer may visualize the "perfect" stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.

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In one of the most well-known studies on Creative Visualization in sports, Russian scientists compared four groups

of Olympic athletes in terms of their training schedules:

 

Group 1 - 100% physical training

Group 2 - 75% physical training with 25% mental training

Group 3 - 50% physical training with 50% mental training

Group 4 - 25% physical training with 75% mental training

 

Group 4, with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best. "The Soviets had discovered that mental images can act as a prelude to muscular impulses." 

 

visualization

 

Visualization practices are a common form of spiritual exercise, especially in esoteric traditions. In Vajrayana Buddhism, complex visualizations are used to attain Buddhahood, e.g. Generation Stage.  Additionally, visualization is used extensively in sports psychology.