Achieving our goals is not always easy. What if we could increase our chances of making our dreams reality by visualizing nailing that upcoming presentation at work, creating a mental image of crossing the finish line at an annual marathon or charity run, or perhaps simply by picturing ourselves learning to make a gourmet meal?
Recently, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon, journalist, and professor at Emory's School of Medicine appeared on Deepak Chopra's Infinite Potential podcast to discuss how to get our brains back on track for success. They explained how brief cognitive training may help set us up for success by "rewiring" neural connections.
"The rewiring of your brain is a result of neuroplasticity, which includes two things: neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and synaptogenesis (new connections between neurons). You can enhance the growth of those two things," says Chopra.
How? Visualization of the future.
In the podcast, Chopra cited a scientific review summarizing several studies that showed that the human brain cannot discriminate between a memory and a vision of the future. So, when you practice visualization of future events, it helps to do so consistently so that this image can be "locked in place" to draw upon for inspiration until your goal is met.
According to Chopra, long-term rewiring takes practice: approximately 5-10 minutes per day for six weeks.
Athletes have long been known to use the power of visualization by picturing scoring that winning goal or imagining themselves break a world record in front of a crowd of 50,000. For star athletes and entrepreneurs alike, goals are more often met when they visualize success in something specific so that fear is kept at bay, leaving no room for self-doubt or picturing failure.
Positive feelings of confidence and clarity that accompany visualization are key. While your brain does all the hard work rewiring connections, imagining success regularly allows you to relax and focus on the work needed to make each goal a reality.
How exactly does the brain form new connections between neurons? By undergoing synaptogenesis or synaptic plasticity, a process that enables us to learn and remember. Learn more about this process below: