Imagine you are eating shave ice while sitting on an iceberg that’s floating in sub-zero waters. You can actually induce goose bumps and even drop your body temperature if you close your eyes and envision this. Or if you imagine you are drinking freshly squeezed sour lemon juice, chances are your saliva glands will immediately respond.
Visualization is so powerful it’s part of the mental mettle that’s used to train military elite.
This is because the mind and the body profoundly influence one another. In working as a life guide for close to 20 years, I have seen how life can bring pain of all kinds — from emotional anguish to physical aches and pains.
Here are a few of my favorite ways using visualization to control two common types of pain:
Control your emotional pain
Based on various studies, it was found that the perspective in which we recall an experience determines how much pain is evoked.
When we analyze painful experiences in our minds, it’s natural for us to do so from a self-centered perspective. When we see the painful scene unfolding through our own eyes, we relive the painful experience. Instead, do this to markedly reduce your emotional pain.
>> Get comfortable and recall the beginning of the painful experience or memory.
>> Zoom out until you see yourself as if you were watching the scene (like on a television).
>> Watch the scene unfold while maintaining a third-person perspective (like a stranger would).
>> When you think of this challenge, remember to see it from this third-person vantage point.
Control your physical pain
This next process may seem very strange if you’ve never done it before. However, it’s a fast, dependable and powerful way to reduce physical pain by turning it into a visual.
>> Get comfortable and put your attention on the pain. Let’s say it’s a headache.
>> Determine the shape of the pain (oval like a mango with soft edges, the shape of a golf ball with hard edges, etc.)
>> Determine the color. (gray, milky-brown, charcoal, black, etc.)
>> Determine the texture (rough, bumpy, jagged), and the density (thick, heavy, etc.)
>> Next, try envisioning the shape of the pain using different colors, textures and visuals. For example, see if changing it from brown to light blue or meadow green feels better. See the texture go from jagged to smooth, or the density lighten. Perhaps putting “warm sunlight” on it or “cooling mist” on it feels better.
>> Once you know what reduces the pain, remember it and when the pain recurs, close your eyes and visualize again for relief.
Most of all, know that pain has purpose. A broken branch grows back stronger. As difficult as it is, it can sometimes create help you to pioneer new avenues of healing.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.