I’ve been doing a bit of the old self-help lately, dipping in to Paul McKenna’s books and using his hypnosis CD, and I’ve found the exercises very useful. I’ve long been convinced by the power of visualisation to change your reality (I’ll give you some examples in a minute) but these exercises go further, using the techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programming to help neutralise negative thoughts and emotions. I’m not exactly clear what NLP is but according to this site it’s about finding a better way to communicate with your subconscious in order to get what you want. Sounds good to me.
This entirely accords with the practice of yoga visualisation and affirmation. In yoga you change your thoughts by cultivating more positive ones; not by suppressing or denying the negative but simply by focussing more and more on the positive. As McKenna says, ‘You always get more of what you focus on.’ That is why people who focus on the negative all the time are never happy: even when good things happen they are still focussing on the down-side (much like the news media.) In yoga we also use affirmations to cultivate positive thoughts and experiences. It is very important when creating an affirmation, to avoid negative words. So for example, instead of saying ‘I don’t smoke’ or even ‘I am a non-smoker’ you would substitute ‘I am free from smoking.’ Come to think of it, advertisers do the same thing: whoever came up with the suffix –free must be rolling in it.
So: one or two examples from my own life where visualisations have helped me. Before Christmas I was thinking of getting OH a radio. OH is notoriously difficult to buy presents for: unless you go for something related to drinking coffee (and those options were exhausted long ago) you’re pretty much stumped. Last year I got what I thought was an interesting couple of books which have languished unread on the bedside table. But this year a radio was the clear choice: the one in the kitchen, being smothered in cooking oil and penetrated by steam, had ceased to provide anything like a clear signal and besides, I had seen the perfect thing in an electronics shop up the road: a great radio with the added righteous glow of supporting a local shop. Just one problem: the radio cost £80 and I only had £30.
Not to worry: McKenna to the rescue! For I had acquired his book by this time and was already practising the NLP exercises, so I set about visualising the radio. There were times when doubts would kick in and I would think about getting a cheaper one, but I had my heart set on that radio and so I oriented all my thoughts towards it too. Christmas was getting closer, but I wouldn’t give up. Then, with only three days to go, we got some Christmas money in lieu of presents. Was it enough for the radio? Hell, yes! Did I bomb down to the shop and get it? Hell yes. And is it a success? It really is.
Of course the other side to all this is appreciating what you have when you have it, but I’ve already blogged about that here.
I can’t tell you what my current visualisations are aimed at but it’s big. Really big. Because as Thoreau says, you should build your castles in the air where they belong; then you build the foundations under them.