Everyone has the ability to mentally create and visualize any chosen object. However, most people lose this ability through lack of practice and a tendency to overload the mind with verbal concepts. The capacity to visualize internally remains, but it is dormant. It is only the artist or so-called primitive people who retain this ability to think in terms of pictures as opposed to words. Many anthropologists who have studied aboriginal and seemingly uncivilized people in different parts of the world, have noticed a fundamental difference in the way they relate to their surroundings and to life in general. They have noticed that these people tend to think or conceptualize in terms of mental pictures. They have much less tendency to think in terms of words, ideas and theories than does modern, scientific man. The whole mental process of perception appears to be different. But actually the only difference is that these primitive people function and perceive from a more fundamental level of the mind. That is, whereas modern man functions and lives on the surface of the mind, these other people function from deeper layers. They are more in contact with their own psychic levels.
There is nothing wrong with thinking and working in terms of ideas and concepts. This is an integral part of modern day life. Without this, science and the modern world could never have evolved and you would be unable to read these words. But at the same time, continuous functioning at this level tends to limit the awakening of the powers of the mind. The deeper levels of the mind do not function in terms of words. They function in terms of psychic pictures. Therefore, to expand one’s awareness of the inner workings of the mind, to explore the deeper realms, it is necessary to open up this ability to perceive mental impressions in terms of psychic visions. It is necessary to develop receptivity to pictorial mental impressions. One must remain open to the possibility of inner mental experiences in terms of visions.
All yoga practices help to increase this receptivity to psychic manifestations of the mind. A particularly good method of unfolding this faculty is by consciously creating mental pictures. This is the purpose of the following practice – object visualization at will. It supplements a similar practice called recall by revisualization.
At first you may find this practice difficult. Please do not worry. Most people will have this problem, especially those who are intellectually inclined. You have been habituated to thinking only in terms of words, but with practice and time you will find this technique easier and easier to perform. Furthermore, as you relax more and harmonize your life through yoga practice, you will also find that the practice becomes progressively easier.