Imagine something. To form a visual image of something in the mind.
Create a positive mental picture of something. To create a positive mental picture of something such as a desired outcome, in order to promote a sense of well being.
We visualize all the time. When I start to clean up a messy kitchen I see, in my mind’s eye, a clean and attractive space. When I’m packing my truck for a trip to the mountains I look forward to being there.
Visualization is the first step toward achieving what Pilates called the mind-body connection. Visualization can be done before the action we are preparing for. For example, it’s common to see a boulderer standing in front of a rock moving her hands in the air imagining, visualizing, the sequence of moves she will do as she unlocks the problem she faces. This kind of visualization can also be communicative. Say you have two boulderers studying the same problem. Now they are both moving their hands about as if they are climbing, but they are showing each other different possibilities, often quite enthusiastically.
Not all sports allow for such a demonstrative style of visualization as climbing. But an athlete in the locker room before a game can rehearse plays in his head. He can see himself eye to eye on the line of scrimmage.
I had a teacher who made a great analogy:
Doing something without mental preparation is like trying to jump on a moving train while you’re standing still.
But how about visualizing our movements in real time as we take action. Seeing ourselves catch the ball as we do it re-enforces our chance of success. If this seems like a stretch, think about the opposite, seeing yourself drop the ball as you are in the moment of trying to catch it.
I’ll try to describe this from a climber’s point of view. Movements are seen in the mind’s eye as we are performing them. We’ve all heard someone say “it was like I was on the outside looking in”, or I was “in the zone”. At the risk of engaging in psycho-babble, I’ll suggest that such an experience can be transcendental.