Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Visualize A New You

I read an article today that questioned whether we are able to imagine ourselves into a new way of being. Can we imagine ourselves thin, smart, healthy? Though it isn't that simple, imagining your future self the way you want him/her to be is beneficial.

The belief is that once we imagine ourselves to be a certain way, the energy created in that imagery moves us to act accordingly. I remember doing this nearly twenty years ago. I was in college and eating poorly. I was smoking cigarettes, and my beverage of choice was beer. I knew that I wanted to get healthier, but it just wasn't part of my life. I was living (illegally) on campus, as a squatter of sorts in my friend's dorm room. I ate whatever was cheap at the campus dining room, usually something heavily processed and buttered. The majority of my money went to Parliments, and beers from a bar (again, illegally) whose name I cannot remember, though I swore at the time that I'd be going there until I died. 

I just didn't see 'healthy' as an option.

Someone close to me, a new age friend, told me to imagine myself biting into an apple every time I grabbed for a heap of bad food, or a soda, or cigarette. The visual was dramatic, me smiling in a cable-knit sweater in jeans, skinny, biting into a giant, red apple. At first, it felt silly and I didn't see any change in my diet or health choices. For some reason, though, I kept at it. I think my body was really just begging for health. After a few weeks of this, I started picking fruit and yogurt from the campus dining room, began drinking more water (which was, by the way, free), and thought about kicking the nicotine habit. 

It took a couple of years to completely revamp my lifestyle, but the point is that the visualization of me eating an apple, that I did almost as a lark, actually caused some changes. Imagine if I'd taken it more seriously.

I am currently working with a new visualization. It's basic, and I will use it as my example to teach you how to create your own. For my 40th birthday (are you sick of hearing about it yet?), I have an outfit I want to wear. The dress is black, long sleeved and crewneck, 23" hem (whoo hoo! short!), the boots are 4" heels, knee high and black. With this, I plan on wearing fishnets, since much of my leg will be covered. The dress, though, is very fitted. It will show every curve on my body. For this, I want to be firm, lean, and sexy. 

Every morning I wake up and stretch, then lay back down to do a five to ten minute visualization. I see myself getting dressed, pulling on the fishnets, then the dress, and the boots. I feel the way the clothes fit. The fishnets snapping at my thighs, the soft cotton of the dress going over my head, the sleeves sliding perfectly over my arms. I see my hands, pale, with red painted fingernails. I zip the boots on and feel their height. Everything feels, looks, smells, and sounds as real as possible. I imagine myself walking to the door dressed and feeling comfortable and sexy. Then, I am at dinner, standing and laughing, feeling confident, without a thought about how my body looks. It's perfect. I both feel and look amazing.

I do this visualization again once or twice during the day, and again before bed. I do it before I put anything unplanned into my mouth. I do it when I am feeling chaos and need an escape. I try to really feel everything, and be in that place three months from now. It's been proven that athletes who practice visualizing feats in their head actually perform better. It should work for me, too, right?

People don't just wake up and enroll in college, or start a new job. First comes the thought. Maybe I'd like to (insert plan here)... and it goes from there. Visualizing is initiating a positive thought and directing it over and over again in your head, until your body follows with actions to support that thought. 

Who would you like to be when you grow up?

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