Thursday, October 8 , 2015, 7:49 pm | Fair 84º

Susan Ann Darley: The Incredible and Creative Power Visualization

By Susan Ann Darley, Noozhawk Columnist |

Imagine yourself locked in the dark confines of an enemy prison. How would you maintain your sanity — your will to live?

Air Force Col. George Hall, a POW of North Vietnamese who was subjected to mental and physical cruelties for seven horrendous years, played a full game of golf everyday in his mind. One week after his release, he shot a 76 in the Greater New Orleans Open.

Vera Fryling, M.D., during World War II was a Jewish teenager on the run from the Gestapo who lived undercover in Berlin during the Holocaust. During this time, she often visualized that she was a doctor, a psychiatrist living in a free land. After her release, she became a doctor and eventually joined the faculty of the San Francisco Medical School. “Imagination,” she says, “can help one transcend the insults life has dealt us.”

Visualization can free you from the confines of your present experience and charge you with renewed energy to achieve new goals. You begin by painting a better picture in the inner landscape of your mind no matter what your circumstance.

5 Simple Visualization Steps

» 1. Begin by taking deep breaths to relax.

» 2. Visualize in your mind a picture of what you want.

» 3. Fill the picture with vivid detail and rich emotion.

» 4. See the outcome as already complete.

» 5. Repeatedly view your vision — especially when you doubt the most.

Pour your passion into your vision and let your senses fill it with color, sounds and feelings. Supercharge it with emotional excitement to help bring it to life.

Visualization for Athletes

While many athletes practice visualization to meet their goals, physiologist Edmund Jacobson discovered that when he had his subjects visualize certain athletic activities, the visualization alone affected their muscle movement. He found that when a person consistently visualizes a certain physical skill, they develop “muscle memory,” which assists them when performing the imagined activity.

Around the age of 10, I used to go bowling with my brothers. When I wasn’t dropping the ball in back of me, I discovered that when I put all my focus on the middle pin my game improved immeasurably. It’s a technique that anyone can benefit from and disciplined athletes often do. World-class golfer Arnold Palmer would “see and will” the ball into the hole when putting.

When the late Gary Ballman played football for the New York Giants, he shared an incident of running to catch an overthrown ball and how in his intense desire to catch it he imagined it slowing in its flight and dropping into his hands. To his amazement, it happened.

Healing with Visualization

Visualization is a powerful tool to help reduce stress, tension and anxiety. It supports the healing process of disease, wounds, emotional and mental upsets.

Dr. Carl Simonton pioneered the use of visual imagery as an additional treatment for cancer patients. His technique of combining relaxation with personalized images has helped cancer patients reduce the size of their tumors and sometimes experience complete remission.

The challenge in healing a health problem or discomfort of any type is to rise above the physical appearance and the feeling and then hold a positive image of the outcome you desire.


It is estimated that we have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. Our thoughts color the images we hold in our mind. When we don’t monitor our thoughts, we can create negative and frightening images. It’s up to us to consciously become the guardian of our thoughts in order to create positive and nurturing images.

This requires a watchful attitude and a focused awareness of our thoughts and images and the willingness to change them at will. It is well worth the effort as the use of visualization can help you to heal illness, lose weight, overcome anxiety or trauma, and get past obstacles in your life. This is when self-responsibility becomes a guilty pleasure.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and writer of marketing material for businesses, entrepreneurs and artists. Click here for more information, or contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.845.3036. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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