More than two-thirds of human perception occurs through the eyes and vision. This is uniquely human and is one of the major factors behind the tremendous progress that humans have made compared to any other living species on earth. In us, our sensory perception of sight, through the eyes, is more active than our special sense of smell, hearing, taste, or touch. Our thinking, speaking, writing, reasoning, and planning, our past, and our future are all connected directly or indirectly with pictures or images in our brain. During the night when our other senses have become dormant, our inner visual sense is awake taking us through the endless world or dreams. The best of poets, musicians, writers, scientists, and statesmen were great daydreamers. We called them visionaries because of the dominance of the vision or images in their work. For the same reason, we are more compassionate to the blind than to people who have lost their sense of hearing, smell, or even touch.
Eyes are so important and private that we don’t like anyone staring into them directly. Eyes are the entry point into our private world and into our souls. We don’t want anyone to access that world. Other qualities of the eyes and vision are that they are extremely flexible and adjust, moment to moment, according to the situation. Our other special senses are either inflexible or have little adjustment capacity. Because of the flexible nature of the sense of sight, visual memories can readily be changed, controlled, and altered to enhance or minimize their impact. We have the capacity to reframe visual memories. We can reduce their size and change their color to achieve the desired impact.
If we like certain people, places, or memories more than the others, we can enlarge them in our minds, make them more vivid and deeply colorful. Such changes will fill our minds with joy. On the other hand, if other visual memories are unpleasant, we can make them small and colorless and allow them to disappear. This makes them less unpleasant and therefore easier to live with.
If we allow unpleasant, sad, fearful, and negative visual memories to continue for a long time, they take hold of the brain and become deeply etched into its matrix. From this deeply etched position, they affect our body, all our future thoughts, and our emotions. It can be difficult to get rid of them. Such memories may become part of the cells of our body and thus affect our organs, muscles, and other tissues. Thus, memories can cause various pathologies.
Such effects of memories are being studied in an emerging branch of medicine called Psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrinology. This simply means that each thought or emotion as memory affects our brain. It affects the brain’s neurochemicals and nervous system, immune system, and endocrine glands. Each memory affects the whole body in either a negative or positive way. Each moment we create either heaven and or hell within us by storing these memories.
When we are sad, depressed, in crisis, or anxious it is useful to intentionally remember good and pleasant memories. Writing about good memories or remembering them by looking through a photo album or through videos, may help us. It is also desirable to be in the company of those people who bring such memories to our minds.
Drawing a life map, which shows us our experiences and how we have lived our life since birth, may show us that we had many more beautiful moments in our lives than we were aware of. When we are depressed or anxious it is difficult to remember all the good things which life bestowed upon us. Our minds may get into the vicious cycle of delving into and dwelling upon the negative and dark side of life. Making a life map may help us in realizing that life has not all been a sad affair.
A wonderful and positive thing about visual memories is that we can let go of them; we can change and control their patterns for healing and relaxation and use them as a path for spiritual growth and transcendence. The most important religious and spiritual symbols in our world emerged from the collective visual memories. We can access them, focus on them, and take their help to walk further into the unknown realm of the universe within and the universe without. Important spiritual experiences, which transform us, are visual in nature and relate to the universal symbols or archetypes, which Carl Jung described beautifully.
All religions use visual symbols as a tool for transformation. Earth religions such as Tantric Hinduism and, particularly, Buddhism place their emphasis, not on symbols, but on the techniques connected with elaborate and complex visual imagery. Hindu gods and goddesses and Buddhist mandalas are tools used in visual meditation.
Another powerful use of visualization is to create our own images and memories to alter and heal specific illnesses. We can give pain, or an illness such as cancer, color, shape, size, etc. Then, depending upon our temperament, we can use the image or images created to erase, melt, wash, integrate, or destroy, the area of pain or illness. We use the image, light, or color to bring the pain or illness under our control and to change its pattern. Such an effort may change the outcome of the disease and help in healing.
If part of the body is weak or paralyzed by focusing on it, trying to channel energy using our visual focus, we make that part of the body stronger and more active.
In our mindscape, walking through a valley, beach, or forest, climbing a mountain, or meeting someone who really doesn’t exist is like creating our own fascinating universe. Wandering into it, as a child with total freedom, creates joy. We can be the creator of our own happy state through the power of visualization. Most writers, painters, poets, scientists, visionaries, and musicians use this power.
Visualization is re-learning the art of daydreaming – the art of which we were masters as young children.