An Introduction to Guided Visualation Part I
Written by: Michelle Belanger
I have been leading groups in guided visualization for more than fifteen years now. I got my start through an aunt who introduced me to Carl Jung’s concept of active imagination. Jung was a student of Freud, and, like his teacher, he was very influential in the founding of modern psychology. Because of how the ideas were first presented to me, I approached active imagination through the context of modern psychology. So, when I first started doing guided visualizations, I used them mainly to help people gain a better awareness of subconscious material pertinent to this life now. I started with the basic guided imagery taught to me by my aunt, and then I researched Jungian archetypes on my own.
Once I had a pretty firm understanding of the archetypes, I started to innovate on the original technique, integrating various universal symbols into the guided imagery in order to help my audience unearth issues and problems that were nagging at them just below the surface of their everyday thoughts. I did this for both individuals and groups, and demonstrated the technique in several classes with great success.
As I learned more about past lives and regression techniques, I applied the same basic principles to visualizations intended to help unearth past life material. By harnessing Jungian archetypes, I am able to construct a loose framework of images that lead individuals to a point where they are typically able to achieve some level of remembrance. The archetypes are very handy, because they have a universal appeal, and they speak on some level to every person in the audience regardless of their background or level of education. There is a point where the guided visualization stops, and this is where it goes from a group experience to the experience of the individual, becoming very personal and frequently very intense.
This is part one of a series of exercises designed to introduce you to the art of visualization, also known as active imagination. This exercise is designed to help you identify your style of visualization based on which of the five physical senses appeals most strongly to you. Visualization techniques serve as the underpinnings for a wide variety of metaphysical disciplines, including guided imagery, past life regression, healing with energy, item construction, and numerous magickal workings.
Defining Your Style of Visualization
Think back to a time when you visited a park. Take a moment to call the experience to mind, going over what the experience was like.
Now, take a moment to write a short paragraph about the experience. Describe the location and the people or things you encountered. Describe things in as much detail as possible. Don't overthink the experience but write it out exactly as it comes to mind.
Now, go back over the short description you've written out. Circle all of the descriptive words you used throughout the paragraph.
Are the words you used to describe your experience visually descriptive or do they appeal more to one of the other five physical senses? If it helps, isolate the descriptive words and write them out in columns based on which sense they appeal most strongly to.
Looking over this comparison chart, name the one sense your description of the experience seems to relate to the most. Now consider your relation to this sense. Do you normally process experiences in terms of this sense? How much does imagery tied to this sense appeal to you?
Most “visualizations” are written in terms of visual imagery. This is because many people are very visual thinkers, and when they imagine something, they see a picture of it in their mind. However, not everyone's imagination works this way. Some people are more auditory and others are more sensual. Still others relate best to scent or taste.
Before you start cultivating the technique of visualization, it's important to know what kind of visualizer you are. Visualization plays a fundamental role in how you do everything from energy work to meditation and will-working. How you visualize something also plays a vital role in how you perceive and translate your perception of things that lie beyond the realm of the five ordinary senses.
If you are more auditory than visual, you will know that there should be more of a focus on that sense in your visualizations. This way, they will appeal to you more profoundly. The more you can identify with the content of a visualization or guided imagery exercise, the more likely you will be able to harness it as a tool for mental focus and personal transformation.
Also, when you are perceiving energy, you are far more likely to process those perceptions in terms of the physical sense you resonate with. Knowing exactly how you tend to process this kind of information is crucial to honing your perception of subtle things.
Because there is a bias toward visual imagery in the majority of writings on these topics, you might feel that you're doing something wrong when you don't “see” things exactly as others describe them. But if you already know to expect to “hear” them instead, you have a better chance of accurately judging the validity of your perceptions.