Meditation 101: Visualization

Visualization is a powerful way to propel us toward our goals. Envisioning a positive outcome keeps us from getting caught up in the fears and what ifs that can abound when one is making an offering from the heart. When we acknowledge our desire to make something and to succeed we help to cement our intention. You may want to have your journal nearby to write down any ideas that come up that contribute to your finished project.

If you have a performance coming up, set aside time at least 2 weeks in advance to imagine yourself going through your performance perfectly. You will learn so much, from memorization to your level of nerves to things you might need to communicate to other people on stage about the desired experience.

Try this:

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. If sitting on the floor is uncomfortable, you can raise your hips on a folded towel or pillow, or, you can sit in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground, your back supported.

Let your spine rise out of your hips. The crown of your head reaches toward the ceiling, allowing your chin to drop slightly.

Let your eyes fall closed bring your awareness to the third eye (the space between your eyebrows). Take 3 breaths to center yourself.

From the space of your third eye, bring your upcoming performance to mind.

Let the performance come to life in full color. Be specific with yourself, seeing in your mind’s eye the space you will perform in, you in your performance attire, the hall filled with adoring fans. Watch yourself walk out on stage, take your place and sing through your entire set. Observe your breath and your body  and how they change throughout the performance. Can you feel yoru rbeathing change or your body tighten in response to areas where you are less comfortable? In time you can remedy those in your practice and then re-visualize and experience a drop in your nerves. Observe how you feel to witness your completed project. Envision others receiving it positively as well.

Feel confident in the idea that because you feel called to create it, your performance is needed by the world. You are offering your gift to the world each time you create and you build a connection to others by sharing your artistry.

To end the visualization, take 3 complete breaths and open your eyes.

Stilling the Lake of the Mind

One of the yoga teachers who has most profoundly influenced my own yogic path is Rod Stryker. It was through his workshops that I finally found a way of meditating that worked for me (i.e. I actually did it AND got something out of it!).

In one of them he talks about ‘stilling the lake of the mind’. That image of my mind as a body of water that is often full of thoughts causing rough waves clicked for me. The many thoughts prevent me from really seeing or hearing my inner, authentic voice which is powerful, but quiet, as opposed to my fear voice which hollers at the top of its lungs and makes all the waves to begin with.

What I learned from my meditation practice is not only that difference, but also that when my mind is quiet I can see and hear my true self. My quiet, inner voice fearlessly speaks what is true in my heart and the ability to express what is in one’s heart lies at the center of creativity.

I took the above picture at a family vacation home in Maine. As I looked out over the lake early one morning, I was struck that the stillness of the morning water, before any boats have driven by or the winds have picked up, is exactly what my quiet mind is like. Just as I can see the entire tree reflected in the water, rather than the distorted version later in the day, I see myself clearly when my mind is still and quiet. A still mind allows me to open to creativity and discern what I want to express with my art.

How still is the lake of your mind? It takes practice, but over time a meditation practice is invaluable to hearing your authentic voice.

Why Meditate?

Let’s face it, our brains are cluttered, busy, extraordinary places. At any given moment we might be thinking about what happened yesterday, where we need to be tomorrow, wondering what to eat for lunch, wishing our space was quiet, all at once AND all while “working”. I put the word working in quotes, because, really, are you working if your mind is busy with 9,000 other things at the same time?

Do you think your mind is quiet? If your work is singing, try this: the next time you practice, stop yourself and speak aloud every thought that comes into your head while you are singing. If your work is writing, you can try the same thing, but stop typing and speak aloud every thought that enters your mind that isn’t the text of what you are working on. Ditto for photography, painting, quilting…or just making dinner.

When you think of meditation, do you think of someone who can just sit down and completely empty their brain of any thoughts and dwell in peace and serenity? Well, that’s a nice thought! But, does that thought also make you think, no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks can I do that?

If you do feel that way, you aren’t alone. While the goal of meditation is a quiet mind, there is still SO MUCH benefit that comes from meditating even if your brain is still active. Meditation can go on even while you are thinking. Whaaaa?

Yup, you don’t have to be able to stop thinking about yesterday-tomorrow-thatexwhowrongedme-thechildwhowasupinthenight-whatamIgoingtohavefordinner-andwhataboutmybutt to get something out of meditation.

You see our brains are mold-able like silly putty. We can create new neural pathways and we can learn new ways of being. Studies have shown that 20 minutes a day over 8 weeks creates growth in the hippocampus a part of the brain that is associated with self awareness and compassion. The same study showed a reduction in the amygdala, that part of the brain that makes you think a lion is constantly chasing you. I don’t think anyone in that study would report that their brain was totally quiet for all the time they were meditating.

Beyond the brain effects, there are a host of physical and mental benefits as well. This is a great graphic from a Huffpost article about what Meditation can do for you.


If you are in a creative field, meditation can fuel your practice. When your mind is quiet your intuition speaks and you tap into the flow of creativity that is innate in all of us. Meditation gives you room to believe in yourself and your talents. And, through creativity we are able to unlock our sacred path and how to travel on it.

As a practice, meditation is just like anything you want to learn. You have to do it regularly to get better. With time and practice you are able to quiet your mind faster and more completely. You may never find that blissful, silent void of enlightenment, but as I mentioned earlier, you don’t need it to find benefit!

So, hop off the fence and start meditating!