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What is visualisation?

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Rising Star
Visualisation is a common part of practice in most of the old spiritual teachings, and has been widely accepted in the scientific community to achieve certain states, ie relaxation.

How ever I have been wondering for quite some time, what is visualisation actually?
Anyone know of some take on a scientific explanation on how it works, and what its limits are(according to science, where the limits probably are differently outlined then in spiritual practise)
And if you have experience practicing, what do you think are its limits?

Also Ive been wondering on the difference in buddhist teaching between the vipassana practice, where one under no circumstances should visualise anything, because the goal is to purify sensation, on the other hand there is metta practice, where one is visualising the well being of humans, therefor trying to force ones will upon reality. Any one versed in buddhist philosophy can shed light on how the two go together?

And do any of you bellieve in and practise regular visualisation? If so, what have been the outcomes, and what is in your opinion most likely the mechanism behind its work?
Imagination is where it is at. Creative thinking and allowing the mind to visualize unhindered can bring about wonderful new perspectives.

I have practiced Shamanic journey for a couple years now and enjoy the creativeness it brings out in my mind. When I first started visualizing my journey it felt forced. Things were pretty foggy and lacked a certain control. The longer I did this practice, the more I found things started to become more full of color, light, and much more substance. The experiences changed into something that felt real.

I do not visualize when I meditate but found that my mind wants to visualize all on it's own. I witness this in myself. Thoughts come in and they go. Visions come in and they go. Each visualization brings about a certain emotion. When the emotion of love comes in I slip into it. I allow it to radiate in my body. I then visualize this love sending out into the universe wherever it may be needed. When I do this I feel peace and serenity.

Another visualization I do is when I want something in my life. I imagine I already have it. I think about it like it already exists in my life. I have found that when I really concentrate on this feeling of already having it, the need for whatever it is I was wanting disappears. The outcome does not matter. It does not matter if I receive what I was visualizing. In my mind I already know what it will feel like when I get it.

All in all visualization has proved helpful in many aspects of my life.
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