Dealing with chaos is fascinating- and debilitating. Multiple layers of life forces happening simultaneously, information lashing out like lightning, enticing you to respond to simultaneous demands, demanding different neuro responses. Caught up in either multitasking, some version of ADHD, or just being too distracted, we often feel vulnerable to the environment, where chaos strikes in destructive ways. Visualizing acts as an intervention to the situation and feeds a line of communication to the central nervous system that order can be intact.
As a young diver, I learned to be in my dives through visualization. Visualizing tecniques weren't coached, taught, it was just assumed. I learned through the years that I was dependent on visualizing the execution of the dive. And visualizing in the pool led to visualizing scenarios that helped me make decisions out The dive itself takes less than 15 seconds; a dynamic explosive moment. You can only physically train so much for that event. So much valuable training happened and continues to happen in the head- converting fear into energy, trepidation into curiousity, anticipation into patience. It's certainly all possible, not easy.
When I started racing bikes, I tapped into that tool. I'd study videos of courses, get to know the type of rock, terrain, dirt, elevation. I visualize what my lungs will feel like, and the conversation that will inevitably take place at say 12k’ when I think I’m going to have a cardiac incident. I'd see myself riding the course, debating my value, skill, strength. Then into a flow with the masses of other riders, holding on to the mountain, continuous motion, letting go of tension, letting go of fear, breathing, talking, relaxing into my joints and moving with the bike and flow of the course.
But the most valuable aspect of that is visualizing the negative feedback loop that I know shows up, without fail, to tempt me off the course, out of the race. Having those conversations before they show up, diffuses the bomb. I can lay down doubt, fear and criticism if I go through the exercise of conversing with my 'demons' before they sneak up on me.
Visualizing enables clear action planning, and tragedy diversion. Allows for a step back from chaos to let the tension unfold to insert yourself and make an imprint on the situation. In any conflict now, I visualize the scenario...Look at the environment and take all information in with ALL of my senses where I set myself in the epicenter of the location and just be slightly if not totally overwhelmed for a moment. I let the information sit and synthesize without feeling forced to process. Then, make a decision. I decide where I need to belong in that ecosystem, resisting temptations to flee. Visualizing is an old powerful tool. Visualizing is simply making the decision where you belong, where you can play out your role, your action plan in any scenario, present, past or future.
Advancing visualization one notch to hypnosis, meditation and plenty of other tools makes visualizing an intuitive accessible tool, enabling clear problem solving through creating a full visual sensory scenario. The deeper I go into my subconscious, the more interesting it is, the more complex and less logical- that only happens through practicing meditation, hypnosis, tools to readily access subconscious. Exploring hypnosis is worthwhile. Like anything, it’s not for everyone. I take time in the middle of the day, when I’m beat up, exhausted, overwhelmed, and will do a session of self hypnosis. It resets me more than a nap, coffee or any other tool. I sink deep into visualization, through total relaxation, very different than meditation, and envelope myself in a very clear experience with very clear images that are regenerating, engage serotonin and oxytocin. Through that, I release stress and dump all my high vibrating tension. Often, there’s an ocean and waves involved in the visuals. My parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. It's my most effective mind hack that's also a very spiritual practice. So, for efficiency, this folds into all aspects of my performance.
Visualizing, I become clear with everything I need. This is a graceful moment, another flow moment, where anxiety about the future transforms; it looks like this. Fear STAYS PRESENT, but I'm comfortable in not knowing what will happen next. I lay waste to apprehension, and sit comfortably in fear, to get really curious about what's going on. In that, I'm as present as I ever can be. This is the key. I can be apprehensive, and in peace. I can be focused on the moment, very precise, in each moment, AND grounded- I know I'm on track. Because it's creative, it's a process, it's evolving, I feel the growth, not the pain. When I'm so entirely focused in each moment, there's no chaos, no anticipation or expectation, fear, or happiness. Chaos disappears and the conflicting noise continues in whatever direction it will go- I just stay with it, STAY CURIOUS. Running through the scenario of all possible conflict and disaster and all potential seamless issues, I have a full scope of the experience laid out and I can trust myself.
Virtual reality- some think that's visualizing. The tool plays on the tradition of old school visualizing. It's cool, but it's effect is the opposite of pushing you deliberately into solving your own internal or external situations. It's a scene crafted from an outside source, so it's not going to have the same effect as you taking the work to generate full sensations from your own senses. Some specific situations are groundbreaking. Brilliant research is happening with virtual reality and paraplegics. By enabling the patients to visualize their limbs moving through a virtual reality headset, they begin to generate neurological connections between brain and nerves. Ultimately all of the patients in this program have moved from a status of fully paralyzed to partially paralyzed.
Self generated visualization creates new neuropathways, strengthens old ones, establishes boundaries, clarifies intentions, settles the mind when it could otherwise implode. It’s one of the most powerful tools I know. In these moments, I feel closest to myself, and outside of my mind, free to mobilize in any direction. Pain converts into power and confusion into clarity. Try it.