“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
Did you know, mental practice can increase one’s belief in something? For instance, Nathan Sharansky, a computer scientist who spent 9 years in prison in the USSR after being accused of spying for the US has a lot of experience with mental practices. While in solitary confinement, he played himself in mental chess, saying: “I might as well use the opportunity to become the world champion!” Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!
A study looking at brain patterns in weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they only imagined lifting. [these are called mirroring neurons]. In some cases, research has revealed that mental practices are almost as effective as true physical practice and that doing both is more effective than either alone. For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. He found that a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. However, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.
Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!
So try meditation and visualization for yourself. Think about what you want to achieve and really visualize it. You might be surprised by how much it helps you reach your goals.
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