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Feb 25

Visualizing Intentions

In the book How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman explain the latest research findings on how we can use our desire, focus, and faith to see our intentions realized.

“When you clearly articulate your intention or goal in writing and speech, your frontal lobes can more efficiently direct your motor cortex to carry out your desire as you actively engage with others in the world.”

The frontal lobes are often called the CEO of the brain. It is the place from where the executive functions are carried out: paying attention, making plans, creating structures, thinking logically. The good news is that no matter what ‘shape’ your brain is in, even if you are easily distracted, you can train your brain to stay better focused on your intentions.

If you contemplate your intention on a regular basis, even if only for a few minutes a day, your brain begins to relate to your idea as if it were already an actual object in the world. Then, the brain is stimulated to create related ideas on next steps to take.

No one likes to think about unpleasant outcomes, yet most of us do this when we worry or dwell on past disappointments. But what if you spent time contemplating what excites you, and on what you would really love to accomplish but don’t quite know how?

“The longer you focus on your goal, the more real it begins to feel, and if you stay focused long enough, you’ll alter the neural circuits in your brain.”

By visualizing and thinking about what you would really like to happen, ideas float to the surface of your mind, and you can take your intentions into the world.

Here are some suggestions on how to go about this.

1. Relax: One way to do this is by slowing your breath. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. On the out breath, count one. Fully exhale, and let your lungs fill up on their own. Do this for 10 breaths.

2. Try to imagine something that is entirely possible. Start with something small. Training your mind is like training a muscle.

3. Visualize: immerse yourself in positive images associated with your goal. The brain is built to envision thoughts and ideas.

If possible, keep your mind on your goal for five to ten minutes a day, in a relaxed way. You might do this first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Before my book, Outer Beauty, Inner Joy: Contemplating the Soul of the Renaissance, was published, I spent many, many, days regularly envisioning it in bookstores. One day it actually did appear in the bookstore, and I went in and signed a few copies.

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
-John Quincy Adams