I’m often asked what the ‘right’ visualisation is for certain conditions. The truth is, there’s not ‘the’ right visualisation, just the one that’s right for you. So long as what you’re imagining is wellness, then you’re doing it right.
The brain, in many ways, doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary. Take a simple example of stress. Your brain responds to a stressful situation by releasing stress hormones. But your brain also releases the stress hormones when you remember a past stressful event or even when you vividly imagine one.
I’ve talked a lot about benefits of kindness in other articles. For example, I’ve talked about the impact of kindness on mental health, through how kindness feels as well as how it induces changes in brain regions, plus how kindness impacts the heart, immune system...
I’ve written a lot about the links between kindness and ageing, and part of my focus has been that kindness is the opposite of stress, at least in terms of how it makes us feel and the physiological consequences of those feelings.
One of the most important advances in the neuroscience of the placebo effect is that in studies so far, belief, or expectation, shifts biochemistry, causing the brain to produce what it needs to produce to deliver the result the person believes is supposed to happen.
I recently chatted with a girl who has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. Now in her late 20s, she’s taken painkillers for years. When she was first diagnosed, a nurse instructed her to imagine her painkillers travelling to her joints and then dissolving into little particles and spreading out over the joints, soothing them and reducing swelling and pain.