The Power of the Mind – Train your Kids to Visualize

Slow Down!

I am all for deep breathing and slowing things down – at least I say I am, in truth my mind, and my life, in general are huge whirlwinds, no, tornado’s would be more accurate, multiple tornadoes of to do lists, tasks, kids, housework and jobs, I’m somewhere in the middle juggling everything and sometimes letting things slip. Life is busy.

But I noticed something recently, after having a procedure done in hospital (nothing serious), my blood pressure was being monitored. When I let my thoughts slip towards something negative or overwhelming, my blood pressure dropped and an alarm or beeping sound started on the machine that was monitoring me. When I took a deep breath and lifted my thoughts up, the alarm or beeping stopped and my blood pressure veered toward being normal again, this went on for about half an hour. I found it fascinating. There it was in front of my eyes, proof that what we think, affects our bodies. Of course I already knew this in theory, think about when you have a test or exam and how nerves make you feel sick or jittery. Our thoughts have a direct link to our bodies.

Heal

I then, (out of curiosity on this subject) watched a documentary on Netflix called ‘Heal’. There were some really mind blowing stories on there about people who were able to turn things around in relation to very serious medical problems,  by changing their thinking. There was no one method, there were a combination of things that helped the people studied in this documentary. (I recommend you to have a watch of this sometime). Western medicine wasn’t dismissed, but there was talk about combining both and Eastern and Western medicine. A huge part of the documentary was about the beliefs held and visualizations. Click here to see the trailer. 

Stress

We talk a lot about stress and the illnesses that are caused by stress. It stands to reason, that when we are sick or someone in the family is sick, it causes even more stress on everyone. And so the vicious cycle continues – that stress can cause more illness or damage to our immune system. Even though Kelly Mcgonigal (A Harvard Professor) says in her famous TED talk (How to make stress your friend) that its not stress itself but how we think of stress that causes the damage. Instead of thinking ‘Oh no I’m so stressed, this isn’t good for me’ we can train our minds to think ‘Oh look my heart is racing and I’m sweating… I’m stressed, and this is my body stepping up to the challenge of what I’m facing’. We can’t get rid of stress, but we can change our thinking on it.

Kids

Imagine if we taught our kids how to harness the power of their minds, to focus on all they have, continuous gratitude for their bodies, family, friends, their home, toys etc etc. Not to focus on what they don’t have or what they feel they’re missing. To believe in themselves and to trust their decisions, and their ability to cope with what life throws them. The law of attraction says that anything you focus on, you attract into your life. If you keep saying ‘I don’t want to fall’ or telling your child ‘be careful don’t fall’ you can bring that very thing about because of the repetition of thoughts – all the subconscious mind hears is ‘fall, fall, fall’. Our sub conscious is not fully understood, but we know it doesn’t know the difference between what we imagine and what is real. This is why visualizations can be so powerful, it can trick our subconscious mind into believing something. And then our bodies react and get on with it.

It works both ways – keep thinking about what you don’t want and it may turn up, the subconscious mind is basic and doesn’t take notice of ‘don’t’ or ‘can’t’ or any negatives.

INXS and the Easter Egg

You may think what a load of nonsense.. that’s your choice. I know that I managed to win concert tickets to INXS in London when I was 17, and met the band at the after party with one of my best friends- from believing I was going to win a competition on the radio. Co-incidence? maybe? Maybe not. I don’t have it working perfectly for me, but I know on a few occasions it has.

I taught my girls how to visualize themselves winning things. It was a few years ago, the week before the Easter holidays and there was a large Easter egg being raffled in each class in my kids school. My girls kept talking about wanting to win it, but didn’t think they would so I taught them what can happen if you put your mind to it. Sienna my eldest didn’t really get around to practicing(a decision she lived to regret), and Grace my 2nd child, she did it with gusto. The last day before the holidays I was waiting for them both, at the school gate, I was thinking to myself, this could all go terribly wrong! But then out came Grace with the biggest smile and massive big Chocolate egg in her arms- ‘Mammy it worked I won!’ I was so happy for her and also quite impressed. She now practices visualization when she has a race or any kind of competition or raffle. It doesn’t always work, but it gives her huge self belief. It has to be realistic, not some crazy once in a million chance.

Sport

Many Olympic athletes and those at the top of their field use visualizations to help them with their mindset. Michael Phelps, the American Competitive Swimmer, is the most successful and decorated Olympian in the World. He won 28 medals, 23 were gold, and he used visualization every night from the age of 12, when his Mother would help him relax and allow him to see himself swim the perfect race. He won his first gold medal at age 16. He says ‘You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.’ Where milliseconds mattered, he mastered the belief that he would swim flawlessly and win each time he swam- in his head he had won a thousand times. However, lets not forget all the training he also did and the hard work. Visualizations and the law of attraction only works when we take action to make it happen too. The difference is, visualizations give us the self belief which make it all possible. I’ve helped some kids and teenagers get back on top of their game in sport – footballers losing confidence after an injury, a runner vomiting from nerves and a talented gymnasts with a mental block, it can happen at any age. There are many areas in our lives where visualizations work in helping change our beliefs.

Tips for successful visualization:

  1. Get your child to relax and take deep breaths – this is best done at bed time when there are less distractions. Visualizing only works when we slow down and switch off our chattering conscious minds! It’s the only way to work on the sub-conscious mind.
  2. Ask them to listen to your voice, and if they drift off ask them to gently bring their attention back to your voice, and what is being said.
  3. If they find it hard to relax; start by asking them to relax various parts of their bodies, or talking them through a relaxing situation – for example, walking on a beach or in a meadow. Get them to use their senses for example – hear the waves crashing and smell the sea air.. or smell the fresh flowers and feel the wind in your hair… the more of the 5 senses you engage the more realistic the visualization is.
  4. Now that they are relaxed ask them to see themselves just before the in the situation they need help with – for example imagine the morning of a big race or match, or dealing with mean kids in the school yard, talk to them about how calm and focused they feeling, how they know they can do it. You talk them through the details of what they want to happen (You should discuss it with them first of course and agree this). Again use all the senses that you can in the visualization, you can even record it and play it back each night.
  5. You can leave it to their own imagination, and not talk them through all the detail, once you trust they won’t end up playing out the worst scenario in their head. End the relaxation by counting from 5 to 1 to ‘wake them up’ or if you want you can let them drift off to sleep with the positive thoughts in their head.

Happy Relaxing and Visualizing

Caoimhe xx

Caoimhe O’Grady Tegart : Child & Teen Life Coach
The Confidence Clinic : Empowering Children and Teens

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