Creative Visualization

A Facebook friend posted this article entitled 18 Spiritual Teachings That Will Alter Your Mind and Improve Your Life. The second item on the list reads:

I can (and do) create my life through creative visualization

(to a certain extent). 

Using the common sense techniques Shakti Gawain outlines in her books, I was able to realize my dream of living in California and becoming a full-time yoga instructor 11 years ago. I do not, however, subscribe to the “Secret.” Reality is reality, and people and objects are not mere pawns in our manifestations. 

I have heard this sort of thing quite a bit. I read “The Secret.” I understand the attraction of the “Law of Attraction.” I must say, however, that I’ve never experienced anything that fully convinced me that visualization actually leads to manifesting the visualized.

Part of me would like to believe that this is true. It sort of makes me feel empowered to pretend to believe in the Law of Attraction. On the other hand it sort of makes me feel lonely if it is true because this leads to solipsism and solipsism ultimately means that I am alone in the universe or if I am not alone I have no means of communicating with the other people who inhabit the universe along with me. The other part of me does not want to believe this is true because to accomplish something in a world where it takes effort to achieve seems more valid than getting everything I want through visualization. It almost seems like cheating in this respect.

The author of this article seems to take a middle of the road approach saying that visualization can lead to achievement but not in the magical way that The Secret seems to imply. But what does it mean to take a middle of the road approach on the issue of creative visualization? I have not read anything by Shakti Gawain but if I had to guess I would say what Shakti Gawain espouses has something to do with creative visualization creating new neural pathways which give rise to new behaviors and beliefs which in turn allow for overcoming previously insurmountable obstacles on the road to achievement or manifestation.

In a way believing in visualization can be a trap in that one can expend a lot of effort on visualizing something and believing that it will happen and then when it does not happen feel cheated or defeated and that the world is an unsatisfying or hostile place. Perhaps the middle-of-the-road approach works better because expectations are not so high and visualization is seen more as a tool rather than as the only tool the way The Secret seems to imply.

Obviously if I visualize myself living forever this will not come to pass. So there are limits to the technique. The Secret seemed to be marketed towards gullible, Oprah watching housewives looking for magic in their humdrum lives which sort of impeaches its credibility. This does not mean that there is no truth to creative visualization. Perhaps the greater or most authentic use for creative visualization lies in the creation and following goals and self-improvement.


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