Q. I just don’t understand the concept of visualization, especially the difference between a visual sensory preference. Please explain!

A. The term visualization is simply a more modern label for active mental picturing—seeing something in your mind’s eye. You’ve likely done this many times and not realized what you were doing.

For example, imagine that you are going out for dinner to a restaurant that is very familiar to you.

  • Picture in your mind’s eye what the front of the restaurant looks like.
  • Picture what the street looks like on which the restaurant is located.
  • Picture you favorite dish at that restaurant... what does it look like?

giraffeHere’s another one. Picture a giraffe in your mind’s eye. If you have never seen a giraffe, look at this little cartoon character.

Now close your eyes and mentally picture a giraffe you have seen or this little cartoon character.

When you can do this easily, imagine in your mind’s eye that the giraffe has purple spots instead of brown spots. That’s visualizing. You can do this almost anywhere and at any time.

Many athletes, musicians, and other performers mentally rehearse important actions as they prepare for their events. Some mentally picture an ideal performance over and over, which gives their brain an internal map to follow. When they actually perform, their brain and body follow these pre-established configurations.

Combine visual and mental rehearsal with physical rehearsal in order to practice in advance for a specific event. Close your eyes and picture the performance in your mind. Accompany this visualization with approximate physical movements.