Before you dismiss it all as ‘cosmic and woo woo’ it is interesting to note that David comes from a scientific background: he worked originally in the field of chemistry for a pharmaceutical company working on several research projects. One trialled 100 people with cardiovascular disease, half of whom took a new drug, and half given a placebo tablet. The drug worked: 75 per cent of the patients improved, but here’s the really good bit, so did 72 per cent of the patients taking the placebo!
David became fascinated with the science of the brain and eventually left to become an author and researcher on how the brain works and how the mind affects the body, and the impact of meditation and visualisation on the brain, to how visualisation can be used to facilitate self-healing.
As athletes everywhere gear up for the Olympics David is convinced that most of them will be using visualisation techniques to improve their performance. According to David, energy flows where attention goes, so put simply what you focus on is what will be. In 1994 Harvard University researchers did a controlled study where half the participants practised going up and down a simple scale on the piano for two hours every day. Their brains were scanned daily and after a week of so areas of their brain that controlled their fine motor skills had literally grown by 30 to 40 per cent. Another group were asked to simply imagine, to visualise that they were playing the scale for two hours daily and unbelievably their brains also grew by the same amount.
So can visualisation have a great part to play in the fight against serious illness? Our thoughts have a massive impact on our healing capacity, this is not to be used instead of medication, treatments, therapies (and prayer!) but in addition. It is well documented that many cancer patients have used visualisation to ‘blast’ away and reduce their tumours during chemotherapy to great effect.
It could even work for weight loss – researchers found that when people visualised eating a meal – really putting their focus and attention into imagining a full meal, they ate less when it came to actual mealtimes. Be careful though – don’t go imagining a big cream cake… the brain can’t distinguish well between that which is real and that which is imaginary so that sugar might stimulate the brain to produce insulin to mop it up!
Another very exciting study showed that people who exercised improved their fitness levels (muscle strength) by 28 per cent, the other group simply thought about exercising three times a week, yet their muscle strength also improved by 24 per cent!
Wow! Time to put my feet up and imagine that workout …