Visualization focus training

Here are the initial exercises that help you to develop visualization capabilities. They are also good for controlling your focus and mindfulness.
 

1. Photograph

Find a photograph, and take your time to analyze it. Memorize every detail you can. Then simply close your eyes and try to recreate it in your mind. Bring in as much as you can: the colors, the birds in the sky, the freckles on the skin — whatever is there. Open your eyes to get more detail if you have to. Remember that this is not a test: do it until you get good at it.

2. Object

For the second exercise, we’re going three-dimensional. This time, take up a small object: perhaps your pen or your keys. Again, analyze all the details and memorize it. Take your time. Now, close your eyes, and see the object mentally. The challenge here is to start rotating it. See every detail, but from all angles. If you feel comfortable, begin to bring in some surroundings. Place it on an imaginary table. Shine a few lights on it and imagine the shadows flickering.

3. Focus

You start with a point. A black point on white background is very precise and holds your focus. When your focus is fully attracted to the point, you start to increase it into a circle. The circle encompasses several things and you can bring shapes into and out of it with the power of your mind. Increase the circle as much as you can without loosing intensity of your focus, and bring in a simple inanimate object: a flower, a statuette, a candle. Make the object rotate and dance in your imagination. Try to experience it with all senses. When the object becomes lively try to transform it into a specific person. Visualize the person in all details. Generate a conversation with the person, to the point where you are drawn into conversation. At some point both the circle and the person disappear, and you drift to magical landscapes created by  your imagination as the result of your conversation….

 

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36 Replies to “Visualization focus training”

  1. So, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’ve tried for 10 mins to remember the order of these t-shirts and I still haven’t managed to do so. This is the picture https://ununsplash.imgix.net/photo-1416339698674-4f118dd3388b?q=75&fm=jpg&s=e9c6df03cae5fa7db7e86ed8272fd838

    First, I tried to just look at the picture without thinking, without subvocalization, just observing. When I closed my eyes, I couldn’t see that picture again, just a bunch of t-shirts.

    Then, I started counting the t-shirts, and take them 3 by 3. This helped a bit, but at the end of the 10 minutes, I still didn’t get the full order of the t-shirts.

    Probably I’m having problems with ordered lists, but I’m confused why the image dissapeared when I wasn’t subvocalizing it.

    1. When memorizing objects, it is important to find some sort of meaning. If you want to memorize these t-shirts it may be best to create a story. 20 objects are just the limit of linking method, above 20 you will need chunking (treating the shirts in groups of 5 with a separate story for each 5 shirts.).
      Below I color-code the shirts into some zen text
      Black-green-gray-black= soil grass cloud soil = from the ground came the grass from the cloud came the rain on the ground / bamboo forest
      White-green-gray-blue-white-orange = snow covers grass cloudy sky, snowflakes under sun light / winter morning

    2. hey, although I’m just a beginner at that field (i had taken a whole course at recalling techniques) i would recommend you to focus at the sequence of the T-shirts separately. I’ll give you an example:
      -first i took a very general mental image of the picture- shirts, a board with numbers, the shape of the hangers
      -after that i started memorizing the sequence of the shirts. for that i used the black coloured shirts as a mile stones and this way i just made in my head from the back to the front a series of 3 flags

      1. This method I sometimes call “anchoring”. Apparently the black shirts were and anchor for you.
        Anchors draw your attention and break otherwise endless sequences.
        Sometimes you have an anchor and sometimes you don’t. Then you use fixed size groups.

        1. Hi Lev,

          I almost use anchors to remember or store anything in my brain.
          While storing I put an anchor with near by images, places and time. For eg if I want to remember a name of my new friend I look for an anchor of where I met him and at what time i met him and this helps me to remember his name.

          So how are markers different then anchors? Are they same thing?
          Is this method correct or can we improve this method?

          Thanks,
          Shafi

          1. Anchors are a type of markers used to “Bookmark” the visual associations rather than summarize the text. They need to be much easier to recollect and less accurate to the details of the text.

  2. Wow, this was a very good advice! I managed to remember all of the colors after about 2 mins by using a similar analogy, from the beginning t-shirt to the last one: soil -> grass on soil -> a gray rock table on the grass – > with a bowl of water(blue) which on top is frozen (white) -> which has on it another bowl (greenish) -> with soil in it -> with grass -> and if you water it, -> ice will be on top -> and an orange lotus flower! This was easier than I expected! Thank you for the advice!

  3. One question: do we start exercise 3 (Focus) with a real black dot on a real whiteboard, or is it already an imaginary point and board?
    Cheers,
    Rui

      1. Dr Lev,

        Will i be missing out a lot if i completely skip the third exercise – focus. I am making it a point to practice the photograph and the object exercises. i intend to completely leave out focus, be it a dot or a cyclic motion, like you have commented a few posts below.

        1. You can skip an exercise as long as you keep the general training order as recommended:
          1. Visualize markers
          2. Get perfect retention
          3. Suppress subvocalization
          4. Use saccades
          5. Optimize retention vs speed

  4. I have a question, more so a problem.. when i try to imagine white board funnily i end up looking at black sketchy board. It is very chaotic. I tried focusing on imaginary black dot as soon as idea of white board touches its lost. what can i do??

    -Mohit

    1. People are different. A small percentage of people cannot focus sufficiently well on a stationary object. You could try imagine a cyclic motion, like a wheel. If this does not work, perhaps this particular exercise is not for you – try other exercises instead.

  5. I am having difficulty doing the 3rd exercise in the visualisation focus training. Its where I have to focus on a black point in a white background and expand the point into a circle. Any suggestions as to how to overcome this exercise?

    1. Occasionally people have issues morphing objects. This should not hinder your progress in the course, more of suggest to work with less flexible markers. Jonathan’s almost tangible markers will probably work for you.

  6. Please clarify “3. Focus”, : First line says “You start with a point. A black point on white background is very precise and holds your focus” , is this black point and white paper are imaginary , with eye closed or . One can start with physical paper and a black dot in center and then imagine the remaining.

    1. Whatever works for you. Eventually [couple of days] it should become imaginary. Please notice that occasionally (~10%) students do not complete this exercise for reasons I do not understand, without further effects in the course….

  7. This exercise reminds me of the book “Drawing With the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. Am I correct to assume that the vocal part of our brain should be as silent as possible? I mean we should absorb as many details as possible in the image but not assign names as we’re normally used to doing.

  8. Hi Lev,
    I am thankful you made this course.
    I try many techniques but fail.When I find your course I think this will work for me.
    I started your course and fail many time in first exercise.But now i crosses my first level.
    I want to learn 3 language and progress in personal and professional life .
    I hope this will work.

  9. When my eyes were closed and try to imagine the object, I use subvocalization every time, like “the pencil is black with many scratch on it, especially on the center of it.” Is it normal?

  10. When you talk about the 3rd step of your focus visualization exercise, not sure what you mean focus on a point. Do you mean, focus on a point on a white wall or a white sheet of paper or something? Or just visualize a point? And then focusing/visualizing on that point, does it matter if there are things in the background? Bring things into the it..you mean bring random mental images into the focal point? Is this an imaginary focal point, or are my eyes open and I am bringing mental images into the increasing circle around a dot on a piece of paper?

    1. Start training with a black point on a plain white paper sheet.
      When it is easy [say from second day of training], just visualize a black point on a white wall.

  11. One thing I might recommend… this seems to be an excellent course, but it is a bit discombobulated. It would be really great I think if we could just go straight through a course… i.e. do this 10 minutes, this 10 minutes, this… bla bla on a schedule. Instead of having to go to this website, this blog, this, that… a lot of energy is spent just figuring out what we need to do and keeping things organized. It would be better if we could just spend that energy/time going directly to the exercise… no thinking required. But I also know this is something in development… hopefully down the road one day:). In the meantime, I’ve printed your study schedule, and have a bookmark for every exercise I should be doing. I then have made a schedule for week 1, 2 and 3 with checkmarks by the exercises, and in some cases printed instructions just after the exercise, and I will check them as I go through them. But it takes a lot of energy away from the actual exercises… thanks!

    1. Thank you. This is an interesting feedback. We are constantly improving our course and our resources. Maybe one day we will get our resources coordinated better.

      1. Hi Lev,

        The FOCUS visualization technique is brilliant. While I am focused on the black dot, my mind is forced to stretch the dot into a circle and do creative things to the circle and experience that with all my other senses. At the end of 5 minutes, my head is paining. I think the point is to easily visualise any object correct? Meaning a picture should immediately pop into my head when I see a word right?

  12. For the object and photo exercise, I try to recall the image by sketching it with as much detail possible to make sure I have 100 percent retention (is this recommended?). But I realize that my memory sometimes makes up the color and shape of the object if I cant recall it correctly. So is the point of the exercise both visualisation and retention? Or should I just be comfortable visualizing details of any object?

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