5 Ways To Power Up A Visualization

visualizationImagery speaks to us profoundly as sentient beings, from our psyche to our spirit but also to the intelligence that is within the physical self. Imagery can help us construct a dream, heal our bodies and manifest an aspiration. It gives the mind something to aim for and in some cases a blueprint to follow because we got to see it first in our mind’s eye.   Below are 5 ways to fuel a positive vision of how you’d things to be:

1)   Start by thinking about how you want to feel.   Getting in touch first with the emotion will then help the mind to create a scenario that matches that feeling state and deepen its experience. Placing yourself in the familiarity of feeling inner calm for example will create a more direct path to know that same calm past the visualization.

2)   Let yourself go there. Many of us do not tap into the power of visualization because we stomp down the process before it can even take bloom. Telling yourself that you don’t have time or that “ It could never happen like this” keeps you in box. Instead, see where your mind can take you. If you are seeking peace, follow your imagination to that beach sand warmed by the sun or smell the pines along that mountain trail.

3)   Engage most if not all of your 5 senses to bring them alive in your mind. In your visualization, what does the ground feel like under your feet? What does the air smell like? What are you seeing that pleases your eyes?

4)   Let yourself make changes whenever needed. This is YOUR visualization and it does not have to follow any set formula. Imagining yourself climbing to the top of a mountain may have helped inspire you to go for that promotion but it doesn’t work on the day you are looking to release stress.

5)   Be in the mix…don’t just watch. Research has shown that visualizations of positive change are more effective when the person experiences the imagery through the point of view of being in their own body as opposed to watching themselves as if on a television screen.

Debra LeClair Psy.D is a doctoral level psychologist and certified life coach, who helps people to find greater access to creative flow, career fulfillment and inner wisdom.   

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Clearing Doubt to Keep Your Eye on the Prize

By Debra LeClair Psy.D.

If we were to peel back most peoples’ heads and hear what they were thinking, it would astonish you to hear the dread, fear and self-doubt that surrounds the everyday.

“What if I screw up the presentation?”

“I think I came off too strongly on my date.

“What’s wrong with me that I can’t get my finances together?”

While it’s true that some of that dread alerts us to issues that need to be problem solved, the majority of the worry takes us out of the moment and plants us either in the past or the future, or a combination of both. For instance, you might find yourself thinking, “He’s always undermining me in meetings, wonder what he’s going to say in front of the team tomorrow.” With that, your mind has a fictional picture to focus on, which almost always, exacerbates the stress.

What if instead of living in just the worry, you shifted perspective by consciously thinking about the outcome you’d like to see unfold?   In other words, you would purposely enroll your imagination to think about how you’d optimally like to see things transpire. eye on the prize

Moving into the process, we first have to find a place for the dread and fear since it’s not just a matter of trying to block out the automatic negative thoughts and feelings. Begin by just noticing the doubts and insecurities that are coming up. Give yourself a little objective space with those. Acknowledge that you are having those thoughts and feelings and then label them. More specifically, as you feel the doubt come up, label it at “there’s a feeling”. Likewise a thought comes up about a scenario going badly, label that as “just having a thought”. As you do this, in your mind’s eye, allow them to be placed onto a cloud that floats away.   They may resurface but by continuing to place them outside of yourself they have less power to hijack your mind and throw you off your better game.

Next, begin to identify what you want to a feel. Maybe you want to experience being confident and energized. Guide yourself into what that actually feels like. Notice the energy rising in your body. Become aware of how you hold yourself when you feel the confidence growing. If fresh negative emotions come along to try and knock you out of the more positive experience, just place that nagging feeling onto the cloud as well.

By sticking with the way you intend to feel and the outcome you want to see, you have now given your brain something positive on which to place its focus.   Research has show that the mind tends to move toward creating that which is in its sight. As a gymnast years ago, I was taught not to look at the ground but to the end of the balance beam, to keep myself squarely on top of it. It’s similar to why you want to “keep your eye on the prize”, as behaviors, attitudes and ideas align with the picture you are continually giving yourself.

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Shaking Off the Winter Blahs

winter blahs

Despite the freshness of a new year and the promise of making 2015 your time to shine, its also at this point that the winter blahs set up shop. Here are a few tips to get back your mojo:

1)   Take something off your plate—We often push off what we couldn’t get to in the fall or through the holidays, onto the new year. Except its not like there are extra hours in the day that emerge once the calendar turns. Get clear on how something is adding to the quality of your life. Than ask if it would do more for you to nix it, at least for now.

2)   Break with routine and do something new—The winter months can leave us more susceptible to falling into ruts. Changing up your routine can antidote just going through the motions as it wakes up the brain. Even better is to engage with something that you’ve never done before or something you love but have not tried in a while.

3)   Go inward–If we consider the rhythms of the nature, winter is a time to invite in the quiet, to heal and to contemplate. For some, fighting that rhythm is like swimming upstream, leaving a feeling of exhaustion and even frustration. Consider journaling, meditation, drawing, taking a spiritual retreat, or giving your energy to that which stokes your imagination, (maybe its time to start gathering your thoughts about that memoir you’ve always wanted to write).

4)   Assess your Vitamin D levels–A trusted physician recently told me that everybody in the Northeast could use more Vitamin D through the darker months. One way we get Vitamin D is when it is synthesized through uncovered skin with the help of sunshine. It may be worth investing time in getting blood work done to see how low it is within your system and then addressing the deficiency through appropriate diet, supplements and sunlight exposure.

5)   Pay attention to how foods are affecting you–We look for comfort foods at this time of year. That includes starches and sugars that often lead to crashes in energy and you only wanting more of the sweet stuff. If you are going to have treats, eat them mindfully, really tasting them so that your brain satiates on the experience. Also then pay attention to how any of your food and drink impacts how you feel both in terms of mood, attentiveness and physical energy so that you can be better equipped to break any downward spirals or prevent them from happening in the first place.

Debra LeClair Psy.D is a doctoral level psychologist and certified life coach, who helps people to find greater access to creative flow, career fulfillment and inner wisdom.


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How To Power Up Your New Year’s Resolution

2015To change anything you need good tools. This especially applies to the quest of achieving the New Year’s Resolution.   Since shifting our habits involves transformations that have to happen on the psychological (mental and emotional) and physiological (body) planes, it follows that our tools have to impact both those arenas as well.   One such tool is the strategic use of the ability to imagine a new reality. Otherwise known as visualization, this practice has brought success in everything from athletic achievement to job interviews to healing disease.  It works by expanding the power of the mind to unite with the senses of the body to create a blueprint for consciousness to follow into actual creation.  In other words, by using  your imagination in this way,  you have now experienced what you want to manifest and that gives the mind the spark it needs to light the path towards that visualized outcome.

There are many ways to use visualization but here is one set of steps that may help you overcome the usual obstacles that come with a New Year’s Resolution.

1)   Before starting the practice, take some time to think about what the missing ingredients are to you moving into fulfilling your goal. Examples might include patience, clarity or energy.

2)   Now imagine someone that truly exemplifies those qualities, whether it’s a character in a film, historical figure or someone you know. The idea here is to allow yourself to really explore what those assets look, feel and sound like so that the connection is made of how to cultivate those qualities in your own domain.

3)   Now imagine yourself as if these qualities were already a natural part of your repertoire.  Visualize being in your own body as you confidently deliver a presentation or feel the rise in energy to get up to go for a morning run.

4)   If negative scenarios or voices of self-doubt emerge, use your power of visualization to see yourself getting rid of them. Personally, I like to think of a big cartoon foot, like the ones you see in Monty Python stomping on any of the BS my fears may introduce into the picture.

5)   Let the gumption rise to bring  the desirable qualities into your daily living.  Then practice those qualities in big and small ways.

6)   Repeat your visualization a few times a day, even for just a few minutes to get your mind and body primed to follow the positive path you are forging.



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Why Is It So Hard To Chill Out?

By Debra LeClair Psy.D.

work stress

Most of us know a bunch of good ways to relieve stress and do something positive for our bodies. But just knowing it, doesn’t mean we are going to make room in our days for those healthy activities.  Why is that?  It  is a human tendency to be highly swayed by the current state we are in.  If our world is traveling around us at the speed of sound, and we’re swept up in that wave, then so is our nervous system.  For our brains, it’s very difficult to imagine a different experience.  We lose our ability to conceive what calm feels like because in our brain’s estimation, its like swimming against a rip tide current.  Within a split second the brain decides that the effort is too much to shift gears and that it makes more sense to stay with the frenetic pace.

The same holds true for exercise, (another stress reliever).  First, the alarm clock grabs you out of a dream and then beckons you out onto what you imagine as the icy tundra of floor that leads to some other arctic journey of morning exercise.  Again, the experience may be perceived as so difficult that the mind cannot motivate itself to give it a try.

One way to minimize your present reality being so juxtaposed with your desired state is to put a tiny time limit around your intended goal.  For example, if you are looking to reduce stress, setting the objective to just closing your eyes to focus on your breath for 30 seconds can feel doable.  Here’s the thing, that small change in behavior might be enough for the time being or, now that you got yourself to breathe, you might find that you can go longer with greater ease.   Either way, the idea is that you now have a bridge to get things shifting.

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Stuck On A Problem? Use the Mind Body Connection

By Debra LeClair Psy.D

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”   -Albert Einstein

meditate at work But how can you shift your level of consciousness?  There is a practice that first connects the mind and body which then opens up the brain’s ability to access neural pathways that lead to creative thinking.

The practice is to start with a few minutes of just noticing your breath. Specifically, become aware of the sensations of breathing through the coolness of the air on the inhalation and the warmth on the exhalation.  This allows you to arrive into the present and to calm the nervous system.  From there, you can ask yourself a question such as, “What is a positive outcome I want to see?” Then watch where your mind goes. You may find this to be a very productive shift, especially as ideas that may have not occurred to you before start to emerge. Anecdotally, I have had clients and students tell me that consciously uniting the mind and body has allowed them access their intuition and better connect to the perspective of their intended audience, whether it be creating a presentation or developing a piece of impactful marketing material.

Please note that this practice of contemplation is not about letting your mind wander, especially as it moves into its usual litany of stressful thoughts. It’s about purposely using the calm and clarity of the mind that you have created through a meditative process to let your deeper thinking and understanding rise to the top of your awareness.

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How To Follow Your Impulse to Evolve

By Debra LeClair Psy.D.

What does the cross-section of neuroscience, spirituality and psychology offer in regard to cultivating your own evolution as person?

Positive Change

Our ability to change—a habit, a behavior, an attitude begins with being able to truly connect to that person we want to be. To do that, involve your senses.   How would it feel to put your hands around your waist and be 5 pounds lighter?   How will you look when you see yourself fitting into clothes that are 2 sizes smaller? Research has shown that when a person is unable to relate to a future imagined self—when that future self is experienced as being so different that they might as well be someone else, motivation is lost and the old ways of doing and thinking about things returns.

“Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you are than thinking”  Eckhart Tolle

So be honest with yourself, if going for a goal of starting a company that will be in the Fortune 100 feels like science fiction, go with what does resonate with who you are now and could envision yourself becoming—a entrepreneur who launched a small company that is moving into the black. Still too big? How about seeing yourself as a small business owner that is working with it’s first client? The big idea here is to synch up with that picture of your life that feels real enough to touch and amply inspirational to cause you to move in its direction now and over time.


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A Simple Blueprint for Creating Life Balance

Work life balanceSummer provides us an opportunity that can help us throughout the entire year. Its hard to imagine work-life balance until you find that sweet spot where you know, even if its for a day that, “ Oh yeah, this is what it feels like.” Taking a break, or better yet a retreat, is a way to bring that about within your awareness. Retreats give you some distance to look at the inner and outer trappings of your life with objectivity.

Whether it’s an afternoon away from the bustle or a week away from it all, both put you in touch with what balance really is for you. From this space, an exercise to try is to segment a piece of paper into four columns, then label them as follows:

1)   What’s Working

2)   What’s Not Working

3)   What Changes Can I Make

4)   Resources Needed

Filling each column out gives an overview of how your life is experienced by you. The formula that is creating work-life balance is highly individualized and often changes as time passes. Knowing what is feeding you and what is draining your energy is illuminating in itself. Deciding what shifts can be made and what you need to activate those shifts provides momentum to put a small step or even a whole plan into action.

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A Mindfulness Excerpt

An excerpt form Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment — and Your Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Making A Clean Sweep: Living A Fulfilled Life

By Debra LeClair Psy.D.

There’s a reason that spring gets associated with cleaning.   After being enclosed in layers all winter, we are happily pulled out into the sun to wake up.   Energized, we yearn to shed what we no longer need or what is no longer serving us.

Planting successThis awakening is the opposite of being on autopilot.  Looking at our routines, tasks and beliefs with a new eye creates the clarity to assess what is truly vital to our bigger picture.  It not only gets us to think outside the box, it gets us to literally kick ourselves out into something better. Coming into a fresh perspective is one of the most underrated tools to turn dissatisfaction into fulfillment.  Powerful questions help us get there.

Take a pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and ask yourself:

1)  What (thoughts, feelings, sensations) do I want to experience most?

2)  What is already in my life that connects me to those desired thoughts, feelings and sensations?

3)  What is in my life that is a barrier or obstacle?  Do I need to go around it, move through it or eliminate it altogether?

4)  What supports do I need to make changes in eliminating or minimizing the obstacles?

To give an example, Sara wants to feel a sense of calm and confidence. Her weekly yoga class, date nights with her spouse and learning how to paint are what she identifies as building that peace and belief in herself.   But between work and her child’s school, she serves on three committees.  These commitments mostly add to her stress.  The idea of resigning from any of the committees fills her with guilt.  It seems easier to “suck it up” and just stay put.

Asking the questions above of herself, Sara was able to gain sight of her desired path. That focus loosened the guilt that had wrapped itself around Sara and as a result, she chose to try on a new life as an experiment.  Sara was fueled by the realization that she felt so much more connected to her family and actual work when she wasn’t drawn in so many directions.  Keeping that awareness in the forefront, Sara decided to step down from two of the committees, with the idea that she could return in the future.  That last part was important since it alleviated much of the uncomfortable feelings she had around giving herself space to try this new lifestyle out.  Liberating herself just enough from the guilt propelled her towards a less stressful existence.  Once there, that was all she needed to cultivate a life lived in greater fulfillment.



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